Choosing Electives for Homeschooling High School

Most states require a certain number of electives for high school graduates. Although non homeschoolers might think that the choice of electives is limited for homeschool students, we’ve found the opposite to be true. We have so many choices that it’s sometimes hard to choose just a few. Occasionally we have to pay for electives that traditionally schooled students would have free access to, but there have also been electives that we’ve been able to do for no charge.

When my oldest was headed into 9th grade, I was very concerned about what to count as an elective and how much credit I should give. Does it have to be a year long course? How do I count hours if I want to use a non traditional elective that isn’t really a class? What kinds of classes should we count as electives?

I took some time to talk with a friend- who also happens to work for our homeschool legal group- to make some sense of electives. She encouraged me to have Kathryne do a variety of things as electives. This gives her a well-rounded look when colleges see her transcript. One of the first steps in determining electives is to find out your state’s graduation requirements and see how many electives are required. Probably you’ll have more than enough, but it’s nice to know for sure as you are choosing classes and curricula.

Homeschooling high school electives

Here are a ten of the subjects we’ve counted as electives as the kids head through the high school years. You can also pick up a free High School Planning Packet here (no email required). This packet has a diploma worksheet, summer plan worksheets, awards sheet, and volunteer hours worksheet.

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Because we use a Christian worldview based curriculum- My Father’s World– Bible will always be included as a class. There is no Bible requirement in our state’s graduation requirements, of course, so Bible is always counted as an elective. Our curriculum actually gives an grade for Bible, showing us what to grade and count so that’s very helpful when I go to average grades. But you can create your own evaluations to determine grades as well.

If your curriculum doesn’t include Bible, The Most Important Thing You’ll Ever Study is a great Bible resource and can easily be used as a Bible credit for high school. I used it with my middle school students and worked through it with them, but high school students could do it independently. It’s a Bible survey course, and students can work through it reading the entire Bible or reading an overview.


I loved ARTistic Pursuits when I was able to review for them last year, so I encouraged Kathryne to do art as an elective and use one of their high school books. She started out this past year using that, and she made it until Christmas doing the projects in the book. She was getting a little tired of it and didn’t like it as much as I had, so we finished out her art elective with art appreciation from Kahn Academy. Kahn has a variety of art history courses, and she chose the Renaissance art.

I try to encourage my kids to take some type of art elective even if they don’t love art. I think that art appreciation with a basic knowledge of artists and art techniques and periods is a good thing to have. Masterpiece Society is a homeschool art resource that offers art appreciation classes as well as art technique classes. Most of the resources can be used by students of multiple ages, and they would make great high school art courses.

Early Childhood Education

In Kathryne’s 9th grade year, she was my assistant director for our preschool choir program at church. I made her responsible for all of the lesson planning, and she helped in the actual teaching on Wednesday nights. I questioned about how to include this on her transcript because I think it would look good to a college if she considers a degree in the education field. The friend who works for our homeschool legal group told me to document everything she did for this as well as approximate times and that this would be enough to count her work as an elective.

If you have a child interested in any sort of volunteering experience like this, look for ways to count their experiences as electives. There’s no better way to actually provide them with an opportunity to practice and learn about something they may want to end up doing long term as a career. And really, that’s what electives in high school should do!


Kathryne is interested in doing something in the field of science as a career pursuit. She’s always been interested in psychology. So I found this Homeschool Psychology course that she completed as an elective last year. She learned quite a bit, though, and this made a good elective. Psychology is a great elective because liberal arts colleges typically require some type of basic psychology class for all freshman/sophomore students.


Cooking was part of a co-op class that we were involved in during Kathryne’s 9th grade year. The kids cooked extensively through the US states in one semester and through world cultures in the other. Because it was only an every other week class, I counted it as 1/2 credit. This works well for classes that don’t meet every week and aren’t as involved.

If, like me, you aren’t a super cook, find friends to do this with. I’m sure there’s a mom in your homeschool circle who’s a great cook and would be willing to offer classes if you purchased the needed materials for the cooking projects.

Schoolhouse Teachers

This year, Kathryne has picked several electives from Schoolhouse Teachers.. For one monthly fee, you can use the classes available for all of your kids. There are classes going on live and classes that have been archived. Your student can take the classes in your house, on your own time, for one price.

Schoolhouse Teachers is a great high school electives resource because electives can get pricey for homeschooled students. When we have to pay for everything separately, it’s hard to choose electives that the child likes and that are economical, not to mention electives that will look good on a transcript. I’ve found some really good electives on Schoolhouse Teachers.

Computer and Coding Classes

There are many professions for which kids can benefit from computer skills. Programming and coding are just a couple of these. Kids who leave high school with knowledge about computer systems and programming can use those skills in various jobs or use them to be a virtual assistant to help earn money while in college.

Some computer classes are pricey, but we found the Webucator site from a mention at Easy Peasy All-in-One-Homeschool. Homeschoolers can take any of the self-paced Webucator classes for free using the code HOMESCHOOL (all caps). My son has taken a number of them as electives, including HTML and Javascript programming.


Although music has never been “my thing”, I’ve made a point of at least exposing my kids to great music, classic musical pieces, and well-known composers. If you have a high school student interested in music, it’s a great elective to add to his curriculum.

We’ve used a variety of classes from Music in Our Homeschool. I like them because they are online, self-paced, and require little prep or prior knowledge from me. We used Music Appreciation of the Romantic Era this past year, and there are also high school courses for Middle Ages- Classical Era music and 20th Century Music. In the introductions, you can learn how to count these courses for high school credit.

Life Skills

When my second child started high school he knew that he likely would not want to attend a four-year liberal arts college. He wanted to be able to dive into the work world and be independent as soon as possible. That’s just his personality. I decided a life skills elective would be great for him because it would help him to learn those skills needed to live independently.

I used Life Prep for Homeschooled Teenagers. It guides kids through car purchase, health and car insurance purchase, finding an apartment, using a credit card, investing money, and more. It was great for my son, and he learned so much through it. It also gave us great opportunities to talk about some of these things he’s going to need to know when he moves out on his own.


My oldest had an interest in reading Shakespeare in high school and had a few plays required in her high school curriculum. I found How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare by Ken Ludwig when I heard it mentioned on a podcast. The book is designed for a parent to use with kids of all ages, but I had my daughter work through it independently as a high school student. It guides kids in learning about a variety of Shakespeare’s works by having them memorize passages and explaining background information.

If you’re looking for a free Shakespeare resource, Ambleside Online has a great page with a Shakespeare rotation that has a recommendation for how to cycle through the plays during each school year. This would be good if you want to use Shakespeare as an elective for each high school year.

Homeschooling high school electives
It doesn’t have to be difficult to choose good electives for your homeschooled high schooled student. We’ve found that the harder thing is narrowing down the choices and picking what’s best for our finances and for the transcript. (Don’t forget to pick up your free High School Planning Packet).

Homeschooling high school electives

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