High School Electives: New Class Options Turning Throw-Away Classes Into Enriching Experiences for Students
Homeschool parents have the opportunity to make a significant impact on their child’s college and career preparation by handpicking the elective classes they bring into their home. These electives can be more than just a fun break from the more academically charged classes like math and science. They can give students the opportunity to explore a broad range of degree and occupational interests before making a costly or time-consuming commitment, like enrolling in a college course or pursuing an internship.
Yet a number of factors are leading homeschool parents to omit elective classes their children might otherwise like to take. For example, their main curriculum provider may offer only a limited or uninteresting selection of electives, while signing up with another specialized elective provider may be viewed as too much work. In some cases, parents may not be comfortable signing their child up for classes on topics they know little about. After all, what if their son or daughter has questions? And many other parents aren’t aware of new, full time schools that offer these specialized courses as well as core requirements all under one roof.
In this article, parents will learn more about how to better align their child’s interests with elective courses that will help them prepare for college and careers in the global economy. Similarly, parents will learn how to map their child’s interests with the offerings of curriculum providers to enhance their child’s high school experience. Parents will also learn that offering a broader selection of elective courses to their children does not mean taking on a management headache for themselves.
Breaking the Elective Rut
Homeschool parents typically like to work with one curriculum provider to help their child meet all their graduation requirements. This works great if the school provides electives that captivate the student, prepare them for college and help them sample careers. If the school falls short in the electives department, then the student will miss out on a terrific opportunity to prepare for the future.
This approach is easy for parents, of course, because they can continue to work with one main curriculum provider. However, this “quick pick” scenario does not maximize a child’s educational experience, since the student’s particular interests may not be addressed.
In fact, this challenge is often preordained, as many homeschool curriculum providers just “cover the bases” when it comes to elective class options. This is because many are focused on mimicking what the student would find on a regular high school campus, with courses like PE, keyboarding and speech. But meeting the public school standard certainly doesn’t mean the classes are worthwhile, meaningful and challenging to the student. Especially as school budget cuts have further narrowed elective class diversity in recent years.
Parents that provide these courses to students are increasingly being met with bored, inattentive children. This ultimately leads to frustrated parents, who question the quality of the education they are providing and/or performance of their child.
But elective classes don’t need to be a necessary evil. They can help students flourish in their studies, gain confidence and better prepare for graduation. When parents take the step of matching their child’s interests with cutting-edge elective courses they will see the benefits to their child almost instantly.
Signs of Elective Trouble
Curriculum providers often aim to be a one-stop shop for parents, providing all the classes a student needs to graduate. As mentioned above, this works great as long as the breadth of the elective coursework provides value to student. This approach is favored among parents, as working with one provider is straightforward and easy. Parents also tend to flock to coursework they are familiar with so they can easily offer guidance to their child.
But being in this comfort zone does not equate to the best learning environment for a child. It can actually stunt a child’s educational growth and discourage continued education. The good news is this can be corrected quickly and easily. First, parents should look for signs that the elective courses they’re providing may be falling short. For example, students may appear bored with the topic, state that coursework is not challenging enough or doubt the long-term value of the class (“When will I ever use this information again?”).
If your child is exhibiting any of these signs, now is a great time to evaluate some alternative elective class options. This may require that parents step outside their comfort zone and work with a specialized online elective class provider. Yet many parents will be surprised to learn that extending these challenging courses to students won’t be a painful, taxing process.
Parents that work with a curriculum provider that offers a broad array of elective classes have the shortest path to meeting this objective. Simply dust off the provider’s catalog and let the child pick classes that interest them most. These parents just need to have an open mind; trust that instructors will guide your child to success.
Parents that need to team with a new curriculum partner to gain access to cutting-edge elective classes will be surprised to learn that many online elective class providers offer a very simple enrollment process. Once a student is signed up, students gain access to their elective classes online and can begin immediately. Instructors guide the students along the way, so no questions go unanswered. Many classes are available for a flat price with little or no equipment purchase necessary.
Since instructors guide the student step by step, parents can be confident their student won’t receive a bad grade just because they are not experts themselves. By layering these unique classes onto their child’s schedule, parents can ensure they are providing an educational experience that will last a lifetime.
Many parents are excited to learn that these specialized elective providers sometimes offer all the core requirements too, leading them to switch their main curriculum provider. This streamlined approach provides the student with a strong framework for meeting graduation requirements and preparing for college.
Align Elective Classes with Student Interests
Parents and their children have a wide variety of elective class options. So much that they may become overwhelmed when researching providers and class descriptions. However, the process doesn’t have to be daunting. It can help to follow these five easy steps.
Elective Options Are Nearly Limitless
Many of today’s elective class options provide students with the unique opportunity to explore exciting, fast growing 21st century careers. Students that begin exploring their occupational interests early on are poised to make more confident decisions when they select a career or sign up for college classes and pursue internships.
Three new elective disciplines, digital arts, computer science and business & innovation are quickly gaining widespread popularity among students because they offer a sneak peek at today’s fastest growing careers.
Digital arts classes like computer aided design (CAD), Flash animation and web design give students a glimpse into cutting-edge digital careers. Computer science classes like C++ programming and online game design help students explore fast-paced technology careers. Business & innovation courses like marketing and entrepreneurship help students dip their toe into the exciting, high-demand careers of today’s global economy.
As an example, our online education company, Giant Campus, was recently honored for developing an online game design course designed specifically for high school students. Nominated as Best Instructional Solution in the Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA) awards program, Giant Campus’ online game design course is aimed at students that want to learn how to design Flash games online.
The course helps students develop the skills they need to design a variety of games for the Web using Adobe Flash, the world’s most popular authoring tool for online games such as Bejeweled and FarmVille. Students also learn basic programming concepts using ActionScript, the native scripting language of Flash. By the end of the course, students develop a fully functioning multi-level game that they can share with peers online.
Electives Brighten Your Child’s Future
Since many students don’t pursue careers directly related to core high school curriculum like social studies and foreign language, every step should be made to ensure elective courses are provided as options and give students a taste of careers that interest them most. Electives should not be viewed as “throwaway” classes students must take to graduate, but opportunities to sample different careers before making a long-term commitment.
In addition to sampling careers, students that take specialized elective coursework can enhance their graduation portfolio. This can give students a competitive edge when applying to colleges. And once enrolled, students have more experience to draw from when picking classes, studying and taking tests.
“I like that Giant Campus Academy helps me sample careers in business and technology while I take my core requirements for graduation,” said Charlie S., Giant Campus Academy student. “This is helping me figure out what career and college paths make the most sense for me. I’m really excited about the future.”
© 2010 by Everyday Education, LLC
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