Even though English, Math, Social Studies, and Science form the foundation of what most people consider school, electives are equally essential. Our homeschool electives reflect our Christian faith and my children’s unique interests. This year, the twins studied Bible, Apologetics, Art, Computer Programming, and two Foreign Languages. Read on to explore the resources we used.
In previous years, we emphasized the importance of reading through the entire Bible. When we joined Community Bible Study this year, we changed our focus to in-depth study of a single book of the Bible—Genesis.
Every week, the girls and I completed daily Bible study lessons at home. We drove to a nearby church each Friday morning for our Community Bible Study Class. While I discussed Genesis with other ladies, the twins examined the same passage in their middle school class.
The study helped them deepen their understanding of God’s Word. The community aspect helped them form friendships that may last a lifetime.
The girls also completed a two-week apologetics study using one of our favorite Crew Review products: Forensic Faith for Kids.
Together, we read a fictional story that wove together forensics and apologetics to help the girls learn how to defend their faith. Supplementary online videos and printable worksheets enhanced their understanding.
Although the twins were able to solve the mystery of the lost puppy quite easily, the book helped them consider important questions about their faith. When they encounter tough questions that challenge their worldview, I want them to be equipped to find the answers. Forensic Faith for Kids helped them build these essential skills.
Since visual art is not one of my passions, the twins are self-taught artists. Inspired by their older sisters, they enjoy expressing their creativity through drawing, coloring, and painting.
Frequently, they practice drawing from images they find online. They have also been using YouTube videos to expand their artistic repertoire and learn new techniques.
Artistic expression is not confined to our home. As we explore the world around us, the girls often take along cameras to practice their photography skills.
At the end of each chapter, she completed a DIY programming project and took a short quiz to be sure she understood all of the concepts.
Working through the book for about 20 minutes a day, it took her about ten months to complete it.
As she neared the end of Code for Teens, my husband checked out Coding Games in Scratch from our local library. Both twins spent a couple weeks learning to code in Scratch using the book as a guide.
Languages fascinate my family. During the first half of the school year, the twins spent some of their free time learning Japanese. They explored the language informally, making use of various resources: Mango Languages, DuoLingo, and even Anime episodes on YouTube. I often heard them singing songs together in Japanese.
When they took a sudden interest in Chinese later in the year, they began using DuoLingo and Rosetta Stone to learn Mandarin Chinese. Each day, the girls spent at least 15 minutes improving their language skills.
Since most of their electives have been unstructured, I am not assigning grades for these subjects.
Even so, I am proud of what my girls have accomplished as they’ve explored and learned independently.
The twins are continuing to pursue several “elective” topics this summer. Every day, both girls eagerly sign into DuoLingo to learn new Chinese words. Their drawing supplies frequently adorn our “crafting table” as they advance their artistic abilities. The girls recently joined an informal summer Bible study that will meet on Thursday mornings in June and July. How awesome that they are eager to keep on learning when school is out!
Although I’m not planning to assign many electives in the fall, we are looking forward to participating in Community Bible Study again. And as we prepare to take a family trip to Taiwan, building their Chinese language skills will be essential. Any additional electives will reflect their particular passions—whether for a current interest or a topic they have not yet explored. I’m looking forward to another great school year…after a nice long summer break, of course.
How does your family approach electives during the middle school years? Please share your thoughts in the comments.