Improved Outcomes: How to Meet High School Students’ Needs with an Effective Course of Study

Are you familiar with the typical course of study for high school students? It’s critical information you should have so that you can design an effective course of study for a high school homeschool. Thankfully, there are some commonalities to most courses of study that make it easier to plan and implement one in your homeschool.

How to meet high school students' needs with an effective course of study or typical course of study for high school

Effective Course of Study for High School Homeschool

Generally, a typical course of study generally involves studying English, math, science, social studies, and electives such as fine art, foreign languages, physical education, and sometimes occupational skills. You can plan your child’s high school curriculum based on these generalities.

However, I encourage you to also check with any colleges, universities, and trade schools your child is interested in attending. Specific requirements shift from school to school and from state to state. 

Four Years of English

The typical course of study in the United States requires that kids study English for four years. English in high school is similar to language arts for younger children, although, in my experience, it includes more literature, discussion, and writing assignments.

Often the four years of English on the transcript look like English 9, English 10, English 11, and English 12. You can find English textbooks for each grade or choose a series of books you and your child would like to read, discuss, and write.

Standard Options for English Classes:

  • American Literature
  • British Literature
  • World Literature
  • Fiction Writing
  • Mystery Writing
  • English 9, 10, 11, and 12
  • English 1, 2, 3, and 4

Three Years of Math

The typical kid will take at least three years of mathematics in high school. Most high school math classes are sequential, so which classes kids take depends on how far they progress in math through middle school. 

The typical math sequence includes three or four of these classes:

  • Algebra
  • Geometry
  • Algebra 2
  • Precalculus
  • Calculus

Be aware that some schools want to see kids take a math-intensive course their senior year of high school. These courses include math classes and math-intensive science courses such as chemistry or physics.

Two or Three Years of Science 

You’ll find that an effective course of study requires two or three years of science. However, a child who wants to head into a STEM field in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics would benefit from a full four years of science study. 

Typically kids study at least two or three disciplines of science, although they may take a second year in a science discipline they enjoy. Be aware that sometimes schools want to see specific science courses on a child’s transcript, such as physics, chemistry, or biology.

Potential science courses:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Earth Sciences
  • Astronomy
  • Environmental Science

Three Years of Social Studies

Essentially, the study of social studies is the study of human society. You’ll find that this encompasses all history and geography courses as well as government, economics, civics, and anthropology. 

The best part about social studies is that you have enough flexibility to design a course of study that will intrigue your child as they work through high school. You can use these history tips to help you get started!

Types of social studies courses:

  • Ancient History
  • World History
  • American History
  • European History
  • Asian History
  • African History
  • American Government
  • World Governments
  • Anthropology
  • Economics
  • Civics
  • World Geography
  • Psychology

Electives in an Effective Course of Study for a High School Homeschool

While kids will study English, social studies, math, and science almost every year of high school, there’s room in the typical course of study for electives as well. 

Two Years of Foreign Language 

Most universities expect teenagers to take two years of a second language. These languages include French, German, Japanese, Chinese, and Spanish. Often, universities will also count American Sign Language and Latin as second languages as well. 

I encourage you to double-check with any institution your child may consider applying to if your child would like to study a non-traditional language.

Just as a heads up, two years of a foreign language is two years of a single foreign language, such as French 1 and French 2. Taking two different foreign languages each year will only count as one year of foreign language instead of two years. 

1 Year of Physical Education

The study of physical education helps teenagers learn how to develop and maintain a healthy lifestyle by studying physical movement and behaviors. In a public high school setting, kids usually take a gym class. However, weightlifting also counts.

You can adjust the physical education class to meet your child’s specific needs and interests in your homeschool. Your child could work through many popular sports throughout the year or spend the year focused on one specific game they love.

Some examples of physical education classes include:

  • Physical Education
  • Popular Sports
  • Weightlifting
  • Track
  • Football
  • Tennis
  • Racquet Ball

One Year of Fine Arts

The term Fine arts is broad and covers not only formal artwork such as painting and sculpture but also includes music, architecture, and drama. Again, you’ll find that the study of fine arts is broad enough to tailor it to your child’s interests, although you can give your child a fine arts appreciation class that gives kids a superficial overview of the area of study.

If you have a kid who loves movies, consider developing a year-long study of movies. You can also tailor it down to include only Anime moves. Take a look at how to draw anime. And how the films are directed, voiced, and edited.

You have the same options for music, art, and architecture. Spend a year studying orchestra or jazz. Consider looking at architecture throughout the ages or studying modern architectural styles. The options are yours!

Common fine arts courses:

  • Anime
  • Jazz
  • Orchestra
  • Band
  • Choir
  • Art Appreciation
  • Art History
  • Drama History
  • Architecture

Other Elective Classes in an Effective Course of Study for a High School Homeschool

Sometimes other elective classes, such as vocational classes or business classes are included in an effective course of study for high school students. These classes can include woodworking, welding, or electronics classes. In addition, you may find sewing, computer programming, or typing classes. 

The goal is to expand a child’s skills, interests, and exposure to other topics beyond the basic four subjects.

Elective classes to consider:

  • Sewing
  • Computer Programming
  • Typing
  • Welding
  • Electronics
  • Wood Working
  • Baking

Tailoring an Effective Course of Study for High School Homeschool

As you plan your child’s effective course of study for a high school homeschool, be sure to customize it to fit the needs of your child. Yes, high school students will need to study English, math, science, and social studies. But which specific classes you choose is up to you. 

You can also combine subjects to create a class that’s greater than its whole. For instance, I took an incredible American Studies class that combined American literature with American history for a well-rounded and in-depth course.

So be creative as you create your child’s course of study, and choose a course of study that will fascinate and engage your teenager.

Sara Dennis
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