What Tweens Should Know About School Electives

Electives can be fun and support your child's education

Children using computers in classroom
Electives gives your tween a chance to learn about something that truly interests her.. Jamie Grill/The Image Bank/Getty Images

When your child goes off to middle school he or she will be required to take certain subjects. Most middle school students have to take english, math, science and social studies or history. But there are also elective classes that are available to many students. Electives are classes that your student may choose to take and that aren't required. The electives your child's school offers may differ from electives at other schools.

Be sure you know a little about the electives your child's school offers, and make sure you and your child discuss the options available. Below are a few considerations when it comes time to sign up for middle school electives.

School Electives and Middle School

  • What Electives are Available?: It's important to know what elective classes are available at your child's school. The middle school may send your child home with a list of electives to choose from, or they may go over elective possibilities at orientation or when your child attends the school tour or open house. Electives will vary from school to school, but options may include:
  • Band
  • Orchestra
  • Foreign Language
  • Home Economics
  • Art
  • Computers
  • PE or Physical Education
  • Theatre Arts
  • Culinary Arts

Many schools also offer a rotating elective course, where students rotate among three or four choices, changing every nine weeks or so. So, for example, your child might take art for nine weeks, and then computers for nine weeks, and then a foreign language for nine weeks, etc.

This option is an ideal choice for students who aren't sure which elective to take, and it may give them the opportunity of figuring out what most interests them.

  • Think About the Time Commitment: Before your child signs up for an elective, he or she should know a little about what that particular class requires from the students. For example, if your child signs up for band there will probably be a few required concerts that your child must commit to. If your child signs up for theatre arts she may be required to stay after school at certain times during the year to prepare for a play or other production. It's important to know how an elective will impact your child's schedule before signing up for the class.
  • Allow Your Child to Choose: You may have been in the band when you were in middle school, and you may hope that your child chooses band as his elective. While it's important to stay involved in your child's middle school experience, it's also important to allow your child to make a few decisions on his own. If your tween is really excited about taking art or theatre class, then it's likely that your child will put a lot of effort into the class, and hopefully get a lot out of the class. Demanding that your child takes an elective that he or she doesn't want to take will only set the stage for resentment and possibly, even a bad grade.
  • Think Ahead: Many middle schools will allow your child the option of choosing a different elective every year. For example, your child may take Art in 7th grade, and Home Economics in 8th grade. But you should make sure that you understand whether or not electives your child is interested in have prerequisites. For example, can you take Art II in 8th grade if you didn't take Art 1 in 7th grade? Think ahead when helping your child choose his electives.
  • If your child's school offers few elective choices, after school activities may be a great way to introduce your tween to other learning experiences. Local museums may offer after school activities, as may your local library. Enrichment opportunities are a wonderful way to broaden your child's education and infuse some fun into it as well. 

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