From the HSLDA E-lert Service:


10/9/2008 2:08:19 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
HSLDA's Homeschooling Thru High School Newsletter -- October 2008

HSLDA's Homeschooling Thru High School Newsletter
Benefits of Electives and Extracurricular Activities

Dear Friends,

Now that September is past and you have settled into your school
routine, we thought it would be a good time to discuss electives and
extracurricular activities. What are the differences between them?
How do they benefit your teen? And, how do you best document them?
Let's start by discussing electives.


Electives are considered part of the academic course load that makes
up your teen's high school program. They are evaluated and awarded
credit and then included on a high school transcript. An elective is a
course that is not required, but a course that your teen opts to take.

Even though your plate may be really full with trying to teach the
core courses such as English, history, science, math and foreign
language, keep in mind that elective courses are important to include
in your high school program. Choosing some courses of interest to your
teen will motivate him and provide the needed panacea to complete
those less interesting, but "required" courses. These electives help
colleges and employers to learn more about your teen -- his interests,
abilities, character traits, and so forth. You can also use elective
courses to give your teen samplings of various careers to consider.
Including one or two such courses each year of high school will
fulfill the number of credits most colleges expect to see on your

There is an array of choices for elective courses. It's wise to choose
a mix of courses such as academic and practical courses, as well as
courses in your student's areas of interest. For example, your son
may wish to study astronomy or your daughter may have an interest in
computers. Maybe you want your teens to learn some life skills
(financial management, first aid, home management, etc.) before
leaving the nest. All of these courses fall under the heading of
electives and will be given credits and grades when included on the

If you would like a list of possible electives, the article "Preparing
for College" will give you some

Likewise, on our high school website in the Individual Curriculum
section,, you will find a
variety of courses to use as electives. Under Life Skills,, we provide sources and
resources for teaching these useful subjects.


Now let's turn our attention to extracurricular activities. These are
defined as activities that fall outside of the academic program. Such
activities are not awarded credits or grades, and they are not
included on the high school transcript. However, extracurricular
activities are a key component of your high school program, even
though they are not considered a part of the coursework completed.

It's important to leave time for extracurricular activities because
they enrich your teen's high school years. As with electives,
extracurricular activities can motivate your teen to develop her
abilities, serve others, teach a skill she has to others, and more.
This participation is another window through which colleges and
employers learn about your child. Additionally, extracurricular
pursuits may provide sources for letters of recommendation for both
college and employment applications. And don't forget -- these
opportunities are also fun for your teen!

Often, parents do not have trouble finding extracurricular activities
for their child to join. Rather, the tendency is over-commitment and
participation in too many extracurricular activities to the detriment
of your teen's academic work. A good rule of thumb is to have your
teen participate wholeheartedly in just a few extracurricular
activities while focusing and excelling in those he chooses.

Sometimes your teen's post high school path will help to determine
what activities in which to be involved. For instance, if your son will
enlist in the military after high school, then participation in a
sport to develop team spirit or in Boy Scouts to learn leadership and
survival skills will prepare him well. If you daughter is thinking
about a career of public service, then volunteering in the community
or on political campaigns will give her a close up view of possible
careers. Maybe your teen has hobbies. Encourage him to spend time in
these; you never know if they'll lead to a lifetime career.


A frequent question we are asked is, "Should I use this activity as
extracurricular or as an elective?" This can be a fuzzy area because
there is a personal aspect to defining an activity as extracurricular
or an elective. Not only does your decision rest on what the activity
involves, but also on what your teen plans to do after high school.

Let's say that your daughter is a dancer and has roles in her studio's
dance recitals. You may choose this activity to fulfill your
daughter's PE credit and show it on her transcript, by naming the
course, giving a grade and awarding credit. On the other hand, your
daughter may be pursuing dance as a future career and isn't just
taking lessons, but is also taking exams to achieve various levels of
expertise, going to summer dance camps, auditioning for dancing roles
in theater productions and so on. In this instance, you may want to
use this activity as extracurricular by keeping it off the transcript
and including it on an extracurricular sheet. On this attached
document you will be able to briefly describe her level of expertise
and experience. Remember that on a transcript you are limited to
course title, grade, and credit earned. If the activity warrants more
description, it is probably better to consider it an extracurricular
activity rather than an elective.

Whether you use an activity as an elective or extracurricular, it is
important to keep records. For an elective course, a course
description, number of hours logged or the textbook used, grade given,
and credit accrued are all necessary records.

Even though the extracurricular activities do not appear on the
transcript, it's important to keep track of them. Parents think they
will never forget when Johnny hit that homerun to help his team win
the championship and receive the trophy. You won't forget the event,
but you may have difficulty remembering who the coach was and dates of
participation. Keep a simple time log, note any honors or awards
received, and save contact information for coaches, teachers, or
supervisors who had oversight of your teen.

These records will come in handy when your teen is completing college
applications, applying for scholarships, or preparing a resume for job

Again, please remember that there is no right or wrong way to think of
a particular activity. But, in the end, you'll need to make a
distinction between calling something an elective or extracurricular

Enjoy the beauty of fall and join us next month as we discuss ways to
receive high school credit while becoming physically fit -- just in
time for those holiday smorgasbords!

With respect for you diligently teaching your teens,

Becky Cooke and Diane Kummer
HSLDA High School Coordinators

NEW on the Homeschooling Thru High School website:

Encouragement article:
"Homeschooling the Rebel" by Deborah Wuehler

New Resources:
Outsmarting the SAT: An Expert Tutor Reveals Her Proven Techniques,
Strategies, and Confidence-Building Exercises That Will Maximize Your
Score by Elizabeth King

All-American Colleges: Top Schools for Conservatives, Old-Fashioned
Liberals, and People of Faith, by John Zmirak, Editor in Chief

Business Course:
Homeschool Entrepreneur

Intercollegiate Studies Institute Essay Contest


October 10, 2008 -- Map Your Future,
Indianapolis, IN
(Becky and Diane)

November 10, 2008 -- Chapelgate Home Education Program (CHEP)
Marriottsville, MD, Contact: Lisa Hamby

November 22, 2008 -- Chesapeake Community Church
Joppa, MD, Contact: Donna Hepler
(Becky and Diane)

March 7, 2009 -- Central Savannah River Area Home Education
Association (CSRA HEA) (Augusta, GA),

March 27-28, 2009 -- APACHE (Peoria, IL)

April 2-4, 2009 - MACHE (Minnesota)
(Becky & Diane)

April 17, 2009 - Second Annual HSLDA High School Symposium
(Purcellville, VA)
(all new seminars and breakout sessions)
(Becky, Diane, and other speakers -- more details to come, but save
the date!)

May 22-23, 2009 -- CheNH (New Hampshire)

July 17-18, 2009 -- AFHE (Arizona)

-> Is customer service an art or a science?

For us, good customer service is both an art and a science
-it should appeal to our members and be effective. Consider what
our members say about us:

The freedom HSLDA allows me to have as I homeschool is wonderful!
They handle the law and I get to dedicate the time to my daughter.
- National City, CA

HSLDA members since 1993, our membership is just as important to
us as our children's curriculum. Thank you HSLDA for all you do on
our behalf! - West Valley, NY

More reasons to join HSLDA...

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