Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Some homeschooling parents thrive teaching "electives".  I'm putting the word in quotes because I think many of you will agree that they shouldn't be considered optional.  I'm in the same camp.  I think that art, music, physical education, foreign languages, etc. are a crucial part of a child's education.

My problem is, when it comes down to it, I tend to drop the "electives" ball.

While in my head I know that these subjects of study are important, I get so pre-occupied with the importance of other subjects like math, reading, history, Bible, and science that I have sometimes have little energy and motivation to then tackle art and music once the other subjects are finished at the end of the day.

I could put them first.  We certainly wouldn't forget about them then.  But it's math and spelling that Sam dislikes the most, so I've decided that for his benefit (and mine), they need to be gotten out of the way as soon as possible.  Sonlight has great resources for many electives, but, alas, they don't come to your house and teach them.  You still have to get out the books, discuss, give assignments, oversee and evaluate/discuss again.

What would I really love?  For someone with skills and passion in these different areas to come out to my house and teach my children for me.  For free.

Strike one.

My second choice would be to join a local co-op that would provide these subjects in a group setting.  Unfortunately, the one we tried to join in the fall is full and had to turn away 13 or so families because they are full (a wonderful dilemma to have).  A new one may be forming, but life is too full right now to join in the planning and organizing.

Strike two.

We have an excellent homeschool PE class that is taught by an experienced PE teacher that Sam has participated in the past two years, but I can no longer sign up one child to an activity (two days a week for 45 minutes) while my other two and I try to amuse ourselves.  I need activities that incorporate at least two children.  Because I'm setting higher standards on my use of time...

strike three.

So, here is where we stand this very second.  Jamey has decided that he will teach Sam how to play the mandolin.  They will have scheduled lessons.  Sam will have songs to practice.  He will have to play in church.  Some friends are thinking about setting regular times to meet at the local indoor pool, so our kids can get some exercise without them really knowing it.  As for art, I'm giving this book a try on recommendation from Sonlight so both Sadie and Sam (and I) can get in some drawing time.  Sam is still working through his Spanish Rosetta Stone lessons, although I'm getting a little resistance now that the lessons are getting more difficult.  We hope to continue it into the fall.

None of this is set in stone (although we've purchased the book and Sam is psyched to start it).  I am putting my foot down and declaring publicly that this year I will be more consistent this year because "electives" are important.  They're not everything and I dare say that they're not as important as some other subjects (you can disagree with me here if you like- that's okay), but they do help round out a person.

So, please tell me.  If you homeschool, what do you do for electives?  Are you one of those parents who thrive in their midst or are you like me- wholeheartedly on board but struggling to make it happen?  If you don't homeschool, what are the electives that your kids enjoy the most or that you wish would be available to them?

I need all the inspiration I can get.  September is fast approaching. Pin It


  1. As you know, I'm just starting the homeschool journey here, but my husband is giving our daughter scheduled piano lessons and we plan to sign her up for our homeschool group's drama and PE activities. That's it for now.

  2. You could enroll your kids in Mavis's "Pinata Making 101" class. Although the class is free (you just pay for supplies) It's only open to very select group of kids around the country.

    Children are mailed a note card with instructions and a picture each week until the project is completed.

    Upon verification (student must mail a photo of their finished pinata) they will be rewarded with all the appropriate "pinata fillings" to use at their next party.

    It's something to look into. :)

  3. Relatives! If you have family living near by, find out if there are any talents that you can source for one hour a week. Right now, we have an aunt who teaches piano. When I was young, my grandmother taught my sister and I painting. With family, there are no age restrictions!
    If your kids are interested in drawing, I would also highly recommend Draw Write Now. There are many books in the series with increasing difficulty. You draw a step-by-step picture (in as much detail as you want), then you copy a paragraph of facts about that picture.
    Good luck! With three kids ages 1, 4 and 7 I know exactly what you're talking about!

  4. Maybe it's a good thing I didn't homeschool...I think I'd ONLY want to do elective!! lol

    When my boys were in grade school I volunteered a few times to teach "art class". I just chose an artist...say Picasso. Then I taught them (going on memory was about 6 years ago) his style of art, his technique and showed examples. That part was quick...bullet points...then we got to the GOOD stuff...making art! There was no right or wrong...creativity cannot be "graded" in my opinion. There is nothing worse than squelching a little person's creativity. Being able to express ourselves is SO IMPORTANT.

    I also did a lesson on "pointillism"...making art with dots. This was really a fun one...I chose an artist who used this techinique...we learned about him (can't remember who it was!!!)...then...made art in that style.

    Collage is always fun...cut from magazines, use colors from the photos to make a flower or a persons face...whatever you want.

    Ink blots...or paint blots...

    So...obviously I'm sticking with one favorite!

    There are endless options...we could brainstorm more if you want...lemme know! :)

  5. It sounds like you have given this alot of thought...well done! Mandolin fun! :) Our children take music lessons at the local music school. I have done an art class with them...about 8 (or was it 12?) lessons that they all were together fact, we were the only family that signed up and so they had one on four attention from the teacher. The boys have all played hockey in a Christian league...lower pressure and more fun than the minor hockey league. We do swimming lessons in the summer months. A wonderful outlet for the children is just creative play...such as building a tree fort or digging a hole...I think that is something your children probably do alot of...very wonderful!! Great learning opportunities there. Another thing we want to do is begin volunteering at a local soup kitchen or regularly visit a nursing home...these are opportunities for service that I think are so important. Keep up the good work and enjoy the journey! :)

    Many blessings,

  6. I was thinking about that comment I sorry to sound like I was trumpeting my own horn...nasty!! :( I find it difficult to get in all the *extras* too...and sometimes the *basics* even suffer...lest it should sound like I have it *all together*!! :) Most important is that our children love and serve the LORD and live their lives to please and honour HIM!!

    I really wanted to come back to clarify.

    Many blessings to you!

  7. Hi! New here to this site - you can blame Mavis for that;
    I also have a hard time getting the 'electives' in to the schedule. Thankfully a sweet lady at our church offered ballet classes - free(!)- for the homeschool girls. We also have an informal gym time for all homeschoolers in the church; and we get to use the church gym for that; so the kids play organized games (exercise in any form is good!) while the moms visit, watch, and/or stuff bulletins.
    Art is harder. I want to teach it, but don't make time. I tried the Draw Write Now books. I liked them, but my kids don't want to work through the process because "it doesn't look like the one in the book!" Our family doesn't have much talent in the drawing area. Last year I made Friday an easy school day, with art as a class instead of one of the 'harder' ones, like say, science. We just did random things, whatever I came up with for the week. And once again I am hoping this Sept. to be more diligent about incorporating fun electives, so school will not be 'boring'.

  8. With three kids in home school this year, I personally feel a bit overwhelmed. I think I just need time to work the kinks out. We do do art, but beyond that my days are full with just getting school done. I am using A Beka and it is just time consuming. I love their books tho.
    I love joining in activities, but I find that it is not practical to always be on the go for activities. I agree with you...going to an activity that only one kid can be in...well I would rather find something that they can all be involved in. We are very blessed to have a great homeschool group here that gives us a lot of oportunities to do things that the whole family can be involved with, and since we are in another country, we can get some cross cultural opportunities as well. We are blessed also to have a lady who comes to our home and teaches our kids Japanese every week. And the cost is low which is a great blessing. And I think I have rambled on...

  9. Hello,

    I am a grandmother and helping to homeschool my granddaughter. This will be our second year at it. I understand the challenges of getting the kids into a co-op program. Those classes fill up quickly here too. I am watching email daily to see when our list is going to be out and taking help with me for sign up day to try and get her into at least 2 classes.

    It is hard to think about electives when trying to address and handle so many subjects in a week.

    We were given a piano from another homeschool family and will be looking for someone to teach lessons near our home this year.

    My thoughts on "electives" are, all those hands on things the kids may help to do daily can fall into the category of electives. Also too, the best way to get ideas is to just ask the kids what they would like to learn to do or learn more about. They will fill your mind with ideas.

    If we had more kids right near where we live that were homeschooling, I would like to hang blankets on the clothes line and find plays for the kids. Let them spend a few weeks practicing, learning lines and then invite all the families over with lawn chairs to see their performances. I think that would be a blast. I would let them decide on props and just help them along the way to make it their own production. I think that would be so much fun!

    Let us know what electives you decide on. I would love to hear what you and the kids come up with.



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