Math, check. Reading, check. Spelling, check. And the list goes on until we get to the music, art, and foreign languages. Usually, we drop the ball when it comes to teaching or incorporating lessons that aren’t a part of our natural skill set or if those mandatory lessons take more time than we anticipated.
Three Reasons You Should Make Time for Electives
Strengthen the core academic areas
Electives can be used to make weaker areas stronger. Foreign language lessons can help a student who struggles with grammar or language arts skills become stronger in English by causing them to hone in and learn the rudimentary elements of the language which can be hard to do in our native language since we mostly speak without much thought to which part of speech our words are falling under. We use electives such as creative writing to keep language skills up to par without the pressure of workbooks or full-fledge language arts curriculum. Art can be used to introduce or teach geometrical concepts such as angles and symmetry. Incorporating electives isn’t just about having fun, but they really can make those tough subjects easier.
Offer variety to the learning environment
Having a routine keeps the learning environment in check, but it can also create a predictable learning environment which for some can be boring. Now, school doesn’t always have to be exciting but there should be space for learning activities which bring a gleam to the learner’s eye. For us, art and new languages bring a spark to our learning environment. I was guilty of allowing the routine to take over because it’s safe and predictable, but it didn’t always offer a challenge because they were in the habit of doing the next thing. In order to break up the routine, we now have space in our day for learning new electives throughout the school year. Art has a permanent space while languages are in rotation between ASL, French, Spanish, and Latin. The variety also allows them the opportunity to choose which languages or new courses such as architecture really speak to them.
Challenge the teacher as much as the student
Do you shy away from art, music, or other elective courses because they aren’t natural to you? Consider teaching them as an opportunity to challenge yourself. Mostly anything you would like to teach has been taught by someone else before which means there are resources which can help you teach your child. I am not fluent in any other language which means when I speak in Spanish or sign, I sound and look like a beginner. I am okay with this because my purpose is to introduce my daughters to other skills and languages not to make them masters. By simply making the introduction to them, I have afforded them the chance to decide if they would like to further their knowledge of the specific topic, and if they choose we can decide to ask or pay a more suited person for help. I have also given myself the chance to learn something new and give my brain some exercise.
Electives shouldn’t be on the backburner, but instead, they should be used to make your learning environment stronger and enriched. They can help your learner work through the hard things without feeling intimidated. They can open up doors that maybe your student didn’t know exist. They can be just the catalyst you need to do more hands-on learning with your child.
What are your child’s favorite electives? Do you keep them a priority?
Latonya Moore blogs regularly at Joy in the Ordinary where she writes encouraging posts for home educators and anyone else who needs a boost.