One of the reasons parents homeschool their children through high school is to make education relevant to life after graduation. I encourage parents to develop skills and abilities in areas of their teen’s interest. Life-skill electives are a wonderful way to incorporate topics of interest with relevance. Building on God-given interests and talents can significantly help motivate students as well.
Unlike academic subjects, life skill electives don’t require curriculum, and students usually don’t take tests to determine grades. Instead, students complete a series of projects in increasing levels of difficulty to determine course grades. Because life skills are non-academic electives, students must complete a minimum of 60 hours for a 0.5 credit (1 credit in IN & ID, 2.5 in NJ, and 5 in CA), and a 1.0 credit (2 in IN & ID, 5 in NJ, and 10 in CA) requires students to complete a minimum of 120 hours. Read here for more information on evaluating high school credits.
Parents who have these life skills make wonderful teachers, but if your teen needs outside instructors, here are some ways to find suitable teachers. To inspire your creativity, consider the following options:
- Baking or Savory cooking: Many local cooking schools have sprung up in malls and local shopping centers, so look here for a local cooking school. With cooking shows on TV and streaming online, the world is at your fingertips. Find a cooking show your family likes to watch; then have your teen attempt the recipes demonstrated on the show. By recording or streaming the program, your teen can work alongside the chef using the pause button. This helps when learning new techniques. You can also download recipes you find online.
- Building and Construction: This encompasses cabinetry, wood-working, framing, dry walling, plumbing, tiling, maintenance, etc. Construction supply stores offer classes to the public, and many are free. Also browse the internet for free workshop videos and storage ideas.
- Computer Science: teach students to program a computer.
- Computer Skills: Teach students to use common computer software applications such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint
- Drama and Musical Theater: Connect with a local community theater group. These organizations produce live performances throughout the year. Explore upcoming productions and mark audition dates in your calendar.
- Driver’s Education. Check out this article to find out if parents can offer Driver’s Education and/or behind-the-wheel training in your state.
- Fashion design, quilting, and sewing: The Martha Pullen Company, Sewing with Nancy, and Threads Magazine are great resources for anyone with a knack for design. Also visit a local sewing supply store as many offer sewing classes. Also be sure to ask for information about local quilting guilds.
- Gardening and Landscaping: Xeriscape videos and project videos are the places to go for the green thumb in your family.
- Industrial Arts: This includes resources for automotive maintenance, basic circuitry, carpentry, electronics, and woodworking. Also contact an automotive repair store to see if they offer a free automotive maintenance class. Search the website of a major home repair chain to find free videos on home maintenance.
- Musical Instrument or Voice Instruction: You need a local instructor, and personal recommendations from satisfied parents are a good way to find great teachers. Consider approaching a church worship leader or a member of a band for other recommendations. In addition, contact a local music supply store as most offer instrument instruction.
- Personal Finance. Find a few free resources on finance here, and be sure to check out one of our earlier blog posts on 5 Things Your Teenageer Needs to Know About Money Before College.
- Visual Arts. Also visit a local art supply store because many offer mini courses you can combine to formulate an elective.
Students can work on life-skill electives during the school year or reserve them for summertime activities. To better understand how to document these electives on a transcript, check out our recent newsletter. These are fun, innovative, and career-orienting ways to challenge teens. I encourage you to add electives that inspire teens to learn new skills and create enthusiasm in the process!
Photo Credit: Graphic design by Charity Klicka.