Homeschool electives can be so many different things, that they can take you and your student in many directions. Depending on the elective, you may be less likely to find specific standards and guidance from national organizations and your state’s department of education. This article will give some ideas about how you might go about elective instruction in homeschool.
What Kinds of Courses Might You Consider for Homeschool Electives?
Some of the courses that are offered as elective courses in public and private schools and online schools include Foreign Language, Music, Speech/Drama, Vocabulary, Keyboarding, Computer Applications, Home Economics, Shop, and Etymology. In your homeschool, you might take different approaches depending on the background you have in the subject and the type of course it is. For example, some courses require specialized equipment or costly supplies, some work best if your child can interact with other students, and some are quite difficult to teach if you do not have experience yourself.
In general, some approaches that can be used for electives include:
- teaching them yourself
- enrolling your child in a public or private school for a particular course or two
- using an online course option
- hiring a tutor
- using a local teacher who works outside of the regular school setting
- enrolling in a local community college course
- joining a community group (for example a children’s choir or youth orchestra or theater group)
Ideas for Particular Homeschool Electives
Foreign Language is one of the homeschool electives for which you can find National Standards from the American Council of the Teaching of Foreign Language at www.actfl.org. But while you may feel comfortable teaching a foreign language you know or one you don’t know if it doesn’t need to be spoken (like Latin and Ancient Greek), a really complete understanding of a language has to involve speaking and listening and culture, not just learning about grammar and vocabulary. This is a situation in which taking advantage of other’s expertise and the classroom experience offered in local schools or some online schools could prove particularly valuable. When you get to upper levels, the Advanced Placement (AP) materials from the college board may also prove helpful.
Music and Speech/Drama
Music and Speech/Drama are also homeschool elective with National Standards available from the National Association for Music Education and presented on the ArtsEdge site along with the standards for Dance, Theater and Visual Arts: artsedge.kennedy-center.org. Unlike Visual Arts, both Music and Speech/Drama are arts in which ensemble work is necessary or critical to developing certain skills. These aspects of the art are more easily addressed in a setting with multiple children, whether within the homeschool family or outside. This doesn’t mean that there isn’t quite a lot you can do alone with a single child: only that there are other aspects to the art. Local performance venues, park and recreation departments, community theater and music groups, and performing arts groups may all have opportunities for students to participate in ensemble situations.
Private music lessons are also one of the ways that students often learn about music, no matter what their schooling situation is. Instruments are often available to rent or rent-to-buy, if you’re not confident that music will be a life-long love for your child, or the purchase price is very high.
Vocabulary and Etymology
Vocabulary and Etymology are courses that focus on very specific areas of the language arts, and here it is easy to teach from a book even if you’re only one step ahead of your student. Because vocabulary is important for college application tests like the SAT, and because etymology helps build vocabulary, you will find many resources in this area that have an SAT focus. There are also books for people of any age, word-a-day calendars and websites, and many other tools for helping students expand their vocabulary.
Keyboarding and Computer Applications
Keyboarding and Computer Applications can both be taught through computer software. There are specific programming instructions and games and many computer applications come with videos, tutorials, and manuals, all designed to provide instruction in their use. There are also trade books for all major software applications to extend your training opportunities. Educational pricing is often available for software, so try that route before making your purchase.
Home Economics and Shop
Home Economics and Shop may be classes that fit right into place in your home, if anyone in the household is fairly good at cooking and at shop. Because shop can require tools and equipment that are costly, and because online options don’t cover the hands-on experience needed, you might want to look into a course at a school or private lessons. Cooking training is often offered at parks and recreation departments, which have the facilities necessary.