Many homeschooling parents have a mental block when it comes to high school. Though you may have homeschooled throughout your child’s entire educational career, it suddenly seems impossible to attempt those last 4 years. Please don’t feel this way! While there is a little more research into state requirements and some extra bookkeeping involved, it can absolutely be done. And YOU can absolutely do it! If you’re feeling inadequate to the task, visit our How to Homeschool High School hub for answers to all your questions!
Okay, now that you have a good starting point, let’s talk about electives. Homeschool electives may look a little different than most public or private school electives. But like in every other area, that is not a bad thing! In this article, we will address these topics:
- What constitutes an elective
- How many electives are required
- List of high school elective ideas
What Constitutes an Elective
The majority of classes a high school student will take are part of the core or required curriculum. Of course, these include Science, Mathematics, Social Studies, English/Language Arts, and PE. While the student must take these classes in order to graduate, they are able to have more input when it comes to electives.
For example, most states require a certain number of foreign language credits, but as it is considered an elective, there isn’t a certain language requirement. This is where the beauty of homeschool shines. Where most traditional schools will only offer one or two foreign language options, your child can choose a language that interests them. If they want to take German, Italian, or Japanese instead of Spanish or French, they can do that!
How Many Electives are Required
Unfortunately, there is not a nationwide standard. Each state has a different set of regulations and requirements for obtaining a high school diploma. Visit this page to find out what your state requires.
Be sure to check your state requirements periodically because they are constantly changing. For instance, the Nebraska Legislature recently revised a statute stating that beginning in the 2023-2024 school year, a course in personal finance or financial literacy will be required for graduation. Usually, there will be a certain time period before new requirements take effect, such as in this case in Nebraska, but a good rule of thumb would be to check for state or local changes before buying the next year’s curriculum.
List of High School Elective Ideas
Once you know how many electives will be required for your state, then comes the fun part! Because there is the freedom to choose electives, you and your child can take this opportunity and make it work for them. It’s important to note here that depending on what your child’s post-graduation goals are, some colleges look for certain electives on a high school transcript, and we will note those below with an asterisk. (*)
Electives can and should be enjoyable! Is there a career they are planning toward? They can take some classes to learn more about that field. Do they have a particular area of interest? Find an elective that makes them excited! This is the opportunity to dig in and really foster and encourage a love of life-long learning. Honestly, when you see what all is out there as an elective option, the hard part will really be narrowing it down and choosing! Here is a list of homeschool electives to get you started.
Whether or not your state specifies a foreign language requirement, it is always a good idea to include one as a credit or two… not just because colleges and universities look for it, but it’s also one of those very helpful life skills.
- Duolingo offers over 30 language options. While colleges may not be impressed, if your kid is a Trekkie, they can use Duolingo to learn Klingon and get a foreign language credit. Homeschool for the win!
- Rosetta Stone is another great option with over 25 languages to choose from.
- TalkBox.Mom is a subscription box that involves the entire family and offers Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Hebrew, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Russian, and Romanian!
- Acellus Academy is an accredited, online school. If your child is wanting to take a language elective that you don’t feel comfortable teaching, let them do it for you! They offer Spanish, French, and German.
- Looking for Latin? Memoria Press, Classical Academic Press, and Compass Classroom are some options for homeschool curricula that offer a Latin course.
- One that many may not think of is American Sign Language. It is a beautiful language, and always helpful to know. ASL University offers free video lessons, or if you’re looking for a complete curriculum, Start ASL has an online or offline curriculum.
This is another big one for colleges looking at transcripts. Many jobs now require knowledge in these areas. So it’s a very good idea to get a jump on things through a high school elective.
- KiwiCo Crates are a great, practical way to add STEM to your homeschool. As a subscription box, everything you’d need by way of instructions and supplies is inside, making it fun for them and convenient for you!
- Khan Academy offers free, online coding and computer science courses.
- CodeWizardsHQ has live, online coding classes perfect for a high school elective.
- Time4Learning is a great online option that provides an Environmental Science and a Probability and Statistics class.
Not only do colleges look for these types of electives, but even if college isn’t in your child’s future, these classes provide information that will be helpful and equip them as they step out into adulthood.
- Personal Finance courses – Knowing how to balance a checkbook, create and stick to a budget, understand investments, and other basic skills will be addressed in these courses.
- Public Speaking – You may not initially see the need for a public speaking class, but at some point in your child’s life, they will be glad to have the knowledge they’ll gain through this course.
- Study.com: Public Speaking, DSST Principles of Public Speaking, How to Write a Speech, Public Speaking Study Guide
- Outschool: High School Speech and Debate, Introduction to Public Speaking for All Levels, Dynamic Public Speaking, Private Lessons: Improve Your Public Speaking, Master the Secrets of Powerful Presentations, Public Speaking Camp, and more!
- eDynamic Learning: Public Speaking 1a, Public Speaking 1b
- Business/Professional Writing – Colleges and businesses will be looking for someone who can write professionally. This skill is sadly lacking in many high school graduates, so knowing how to sound professional will help your child go far.
- Home2Teach: This website exclusively offers different online writing classes. Whatever writing help you need, you can find it here.
- Study.com: Comprehensive English, AP English Language, Technical Writing, Developmental Writing, Academic Writing Essentials
- Power Homeschool: AP English Language and Composition
- Take Lessons: This website offers private writing lessons tailored just for your student.
- Home Economics – This class used to be a staple in schools, but it has now all but disappeared. Whether you have a son or a daughter, this class will help prepare them for life after high school.
- Plain and Not So Plain: This site is run by a mom of 10, and she has created a curriculum that includes 3 home ec classes – Home Ec Kitchen Skills, Home Ec Personal Household Skills, and Life Skills for Guys. You can purchase the books or download the curriculum for free on her website!
- 7Sisters: If you’re thinking, “I can teach my kids this stuff without a curriculum!”…you’re absolutely right! This post explains how to create a home economics course that works for your family!
- Gather Round Homeschool: This is a bit of a different take, but their unit study, “Living off the Land,” includes candle dipping, soap making, sewing, canning, and more! They also have a “Farming and Food” study which includes learning how to create a shopping list, recognizing the different prices of food and what can affect that price, observing the difference between organic vs. non-organic food, imported vs. local food, fair trade, and more.
This category includes music, art, graphic design, performing arts, etc. These are great options to explore when looking for electives that will help your child pursue an interest.
- Hoffman Academy: Take online piano lessons and put music theory to practice!
- Music in our Homeschool: Music Appreciation, Music History, Singing Made Easy, Composer Studies, and more!
- Learn to Play: Interested in learning to play an instrument? They have you covered! Learn to play guitar, ukulele, mandolin, violin/fiddle, banjo, drums, and more!
- LIFEPACs by AOP: Art Units 1-10
- Creating a Masterpiece: Whether your child is looking to learn painting, sculpting, watercolor, woodburning, or something more, they can find lessons here!
- The Hands-On Homeschool Virtual Co-op: Let this online co-op do the work for you as they take this virtual art class!
- ARTistic Pursuits: High School Book 1- The Elements of Art and Composition, High School Book 2- Color and Composition, Sculpture Technique- Construct, Sculpture Technique- Model
- Other Arts Classes
- Film School 4 Teens: Intro to Filmmaking, Advanced Filmmaking, Acting 4 the Screen, YouTube 4 Teens, Photography 4 Teens
- Schoolhouse Teachers: Filmmaking, Image Editing and Creation, Intro to Graphic Design, Photography, Photography Challenge
- Outschool: From Snapshot to Fine Art, Exploring Songwriting, Careers in the Performing Arts, Creative Mixed Media Photography, Pointe Ballet, Hip Hop Dance Course, Dance Conditioning, Musical Theatre Variety, and more!
Does your child already have a certain career in mind? If so, taking electives in that field is a great idea so they can either get a head start learning basics they will need to know…or see that this may not be the path they want to take after all. These websites offer electives in several different career fields.
- eDynamic Learning: In their CTE (Career and Technical Education) electives library, they offer many courses in the areas of Agriculture, A/V Technology, Business Management, Education, Finance, Government, Health Sciences, Hospitality and Tourism, Human Services, Information Technology, Law, Manufacturing, Marketing and Sales, and STEM jobs. Basically, if you’re looking for it, they probably have it.
- Study.com: This site has online classes in Management, Marketing, Economics, Business Law, Accounting, Business Ethics, Information Technology, Human Resources, Finance, Banking, Computer Skills, Business Intelligence, Communications, Criminal Justice, Civics, Counseling, Anthropology, Genetics, Anatomy, Earth Sciences, Nursing, Veterinary, Architecture, Psychology, and more.
- Acellus Academy: They offer classes in Business Management, Electrical Technology, HVAC, Info Management, Medical Terminology, Plumbing Technology, Accounting, College and Career Readiness, Instructional Standards in Education, and Agriculture.
As we’ve mentioned, electives should serve a purpose, but they should also be enjoyable. After your child has done their due diligence, let them choose something fun! There is SO MUCH out there, but here are a few ideas.
- Nexbooks: Build Your Own Computer, Kid Business Owner, Know Your Car, Tools 101, How to Adult, and more!
- If you’re looking for some great faith-based electives, check out these from Masterbooks: Worldviews in Conflict, Biblical Archeology, Apologetics in Action, and more!
- Campfire Curriculums: ER Life, Camping, Island Life, Home Defense, Volcanology, Square-Foot Gardening, Beekeeping, and more!
- Though we have already mentioned them several times in other categories, Outschool and eDynamic Learning have literally tons of fun electives! Seriously. eDynamic Learning has over 200 elective courses, and Outschool has over 100,000 online classes for all ages.
This list was by no means exhaustive, but it does give you a starting point for high school electives. These classes are ideas to be done at home or online, but these aren’t the only options. You can also search for a local homeschool co-op for your child to take electives in a group setting.
Another idea is to check out a local college for dual enrollment classes. Try a local gym for martial arts or other types of classes for a physical education credit. Or try an art studio for in-person art classes, or a local theatre or acting troupe for performance arts credits. There are truly so many options to help your child earn their necessary credits and have fun learning!