I love to have a map and to know exactly what is expected.  When we began our journey homeschooling the high school years, elective credits were both exciting and a little bit overwhelming.  What should go in this box?  Are there right and wrong ways to use elective credits?  What if I lead my child down the wrong path?  Many of the same questions that have been asked about other areas of our homeschool journey and even parenting in general.

Relax. There is really no wrong way to complete elective credits!!!

Here are some suggestions of how to start looking at elective credits based on our experiences thus far.

  • Develop Passions for Further Study – Our oldest, who is about to embark on her college career in English Literature, utilized some of her elective credits to take additional classes in line with her anticipated major.  This has helped her to test out if she still loved it after extra study in the area. It also helped to present her as serious about her passion in letting her transcripts exhibit how she decided to spend her time during her high school years.
  • Life Skill Development – Homeschooling through the high school years is just one element of our parenting in general.  My husband and I discussed different life skills we wished for our children to have before going to college or entering the work force after high school graduation.  Some topics that evolved into elective courses were basic computer skills and use of Microsoft Office, Personal Finance, Apologetics, and Critical Thinking.  For some of these courses we did use formal curriculum.  Others we used real life to build these skills to a proficient level.  For example, our local library offers free computer classes.  These classes offer a starting point, but definitely are not enough hours in length to develop proficiency or meet the hour requirements for electives.  So we began incorporating projects in their other classes that required them to develop and exhibit skill in using these tools.  Similarly, we used a formal curriculum for personal finance, but then supplemented this with opening up a checking account in the child’s name.  They were then taught to balance their checkbook, keep a clear ledger, and account for their finances as they earned money from employment during high school.
  • Career Exploration – What better way to know that you enjoy something than to try it?  This is true of ice cream flavors, hobbies, dinner menus, and yes, career paths.  We encourage our children to seek mentoring roles, internships, and part-time employment opportunities in different areas that they may be considering as career options.  They are also encouraged to give serious consideration to career suggestions that they hear repeatedly from others that comment on their skills and talents.  A typical credit in high school is equivalent to 170-180 hours of instructional time in most states.  A student can fulfill these hours by working 20 hours per week during the summer months in an area that they wish to explore.  This can be done in a paid or volunteer role as long as there are skills being developed and knowledge being learned.
  • Grace for Changing Paths – One of our children began her high school years feeling led to pursue further education and a career path in agriculture.  Her first two years of high school were used to complete coursework in Agriscience and Horticulture.  During the summer between her sophomore and junior years in high school, she felt her interests changing in wanting to work more in a health profession with people.  In shifting gears, she now felt “behind” in her science studies.  We chose to shift the courses in Agriscience and Horticulture to elective credits.  This allowed us to fulfill some of those credits allowing her to spend additional time on the other more traditional science courses.  If we had left those credits in the Science area of her transcript, she could have felt burdened to fulfill not only the additional traditional science coursework, but also shoulder additional hours for Elective credits in other areas.  For this reason, please remember that your child’s high school transcript is a fluid document until you begin wrapping things up at the end of the junior year and into the senior year.

There are countless ways to utilize elective credits to build skill, expand knowledge, and broaden horizons.  The most important element is taking advantage of these credits to tailor your child’s education to who they are and where God might be taking them next.  And by all means, don’t forget to have some fun with them along the way!