Choosing Elective Credits for Homeschool High School, Interview with Meryl van der Merve

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: Choosing Elective Credits for Homeschool High School.

Choosing Elective Credits for Homeschool High School

Choosing Electives for Homeschool High School, Interview with Meryl van der Merve

Today Vicki is joined by our fellow podcaster, Meryl from Homeschooling with Technology. We are going to talk about choosing competitions for electives in homeschooling high school. This is a rich way to develop a marvelous transcript, especially for college-bound teens (although competitions can develop the skills for any homeschool high schooler).

Meryl, as you probably know, is from South Africa. She has homeschooled her kids here in the States and is now running two competition teams for local homeschoolers  (Quiz Bowl and Science Olympiad) as well as running her popular online academy FundaFunda Academy.

Choosing elective credits for homeschool high school, competitions can be a way to build elective credits that show a teen’s interest and skills.

Choose competitions that:

  • Build a teen’s interest
  • Explores a brand-new area that a teen may find she likes
  • Develops a skill that will look good on the transcript

Once you and your teens choose a competition, keep a log sheet of hours they spend. If they are working on a competition that can turn into more than one elective, keep separate log sheets for each elective. Here’s a post with details on logging hours for credits.

Competitions aren’t just good for building powerful transcripts and they are not just for highly competitive teens. Whether a teen is naturally competitive or more laid back, competitions can build some necessary life skills, too. Meryl explains a couple of those skills:

Try competitions to build fun electives and a powerful transcript

The ability to win and lose

Life is about winning and losing. Job interviews, games, and lots of other things. Teens need to be able to handle the wins and the losses with grace. Parents can use the winning and losing with resilience, growth mentality, perseverance, grace and compassion. This requires guidance and conversations. (And good winning and losing on the parents’ part, too.)

Tell teens:

  • Keep trying, you will keep getting better
  • When you win, be gracious and remember how you felt when you lost.

You do not start out being skilled as skilled as you need to be, you learn skills as you do the competitions

This is a wonderful thing about competitions. When teens choose to engage in a competition, they spend time on it and learn, develop and hone skills.

One wonderful thing about many competitions is they provide materials for the teens that will help them increase their skills. For instance:

Cyber security competitions provide manuals on how to do the work of the competition. PICOCTF is one.

National History Day gives lots of information on how to do research.

Competitions give teens the time and experience to find and develop interests and abilities.

Meryl tells the story of her daughter competing in National History Day. Meryl encouraged her daughter to make her project a film presentation rather than the traditional project. Her daughter liked the ideas, so explored the how-to’s of film projects. She loved the process so much that she became a film major in college and will soon complete her PhD in Communications.

Another story Meryl shares is one of her students participating in Science Olympiad because her friends were doing it. She was not really that interested in competitions but she wanted to do something special with her friends. One of the competitions she participated in was about ecology. She became so excited about the things she learned preparing for the competition that she is now in college studying Environmental Science. She would not know she was interested in Environmental Science if she had not had her Science Olympiad experience.

Choosing Elective Credits for Homeschool High School, Competitions can help with college scholarships

In a competitive college admissions situation, competitions on the transcripts can help give a homeschool high schooler an edge. (This is especially true with national type competitions.)

Competitions can help you write a strong college application essay

Whether your homeschool high schooler wins or loses a competition, there are learnings and personal growth that can be great essay topics. Narratives are good fodder for these important essays.

Competitions teach teamwork

This one of the powerful soft skills that can open doors for jobs. Anytime teens work together on a group competition, they are learning necessary teamwork skills.

How do you incorporate competitions into electives?

When your homeschool high schoolers are working on a competition, log those hours! Show these on the transcript as electives.

For example:

  • Science Olympiad teens can earn elective science credits in the different science areas of their competitions.
  • National History Day teens can earn elective social studies credits based on their project.
  • Poetry Out Loud can earn elective credits in poetry or public speaking.
  • Scholastic Art and Writing Awards can earn elective credits in writing and art.
  • If they are learning other skills, such as film making, they can earn elective credits in that.

Join Vicki and Meryl for competitive ideas!


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Choosing Electives for Homeschool High School


Vicki Tillman

Blogger, curriculum developer at, counselor, life and career coach, SYMBIS guide, speaker, prayer person. 20+year veteran homeschool mom.

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