By Angela Hurd
I have a high school student. Do I need to cover all the subjects required by state law every year?
The simple answer is yes.
You need to show proof in your year-end portfolio that you have covered all of the required subjects. However, keep in mind that your separate high school transcript will reflect the courses that your student has taken. For example, the transcript may have Physical Education as a course listed in the 9th grade year even though your student will continue doing physical activities throughout all four years which will be reflected in the portfolio. Your transcript may list Engineering as a course in the 11th grade year, a class that you can use to cover Math and Science through the portfolio. In other words, the high school transcript reflects the specific courses that your student will take each year; the portfolio shows how you will cover all the general subject areas.
What are your options for covering subject areas? You can teach all of the subjects separately every year, or you can keep in mind that many subjects overlap, and what you are doing in one subject area may “count” for another subject area. Be sure to be clear in your portfolio where you have covered each subject area. For example, if you did Human Anatomy and Physiology for Science, then for the Health section of your portfolio, you can put in samples from that class with an explanation that Health was covered during that time.
Here is what needs to be covered every year as per Maine state law:
English and language arts, math, science, social studies, physical education, health education, library skills, fine arts, Maine studies (in one grade between grades 6 and 12), and computer proficiency (in one grade between grades 7 and 12). Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 20-A, § 5001-A(3)(A)(4)(a)(iv).
Here is a list that may help you think about overlapping subjects:
- English/Language Arts—this subject can cover nearly all of the other subjects through reading and writing about topics in the other subject areas. For example, if you are not covering Health as a separate, specific class, you can choose to read and write about topics related to Health (nutrition, emotional health, spiritual well-being, mental wellness, physical health and healing, etc.) If your History class has reading, research, and writing, that may also double as an English Language Arts class.
- Math- there is often times Math embedded in Science. If your student is taking a Computer Science class or a Chemistry/Physics class, Math will be covered heavily in those subject areas. If your student is working on Home Sciences, you may be managing money/banking, working with and experimenting with recipes, measuring fabrics for making clothes, etc.
- Science- Science can also come from Health and PE as you are learning about body systems, chemicals that affect mood, foods that your body needs, exercise and its effect on hormones, etc. Science can also be a part of Social Studies when you are examining cultures and places—the terrain of the land, minerals found in different places, food preferences of cultures, etc.
- Social Studies-Social Studies has a wide array of topics—Geography (which can be applied to Science when you are studying the ins and outs of the Earth), Anthropology (Social Science) when you are studying the sociological aspects of peoples and cultures, Media Influence on Societies and Social Mobility (Math and Science), Biblical Studies, Politics, Economics (Math), Law, Sociology, and Communication (ELA).
- Physical Education- this subject can be covered in many ways. Any movement for the purpose of well-being counts. Keep track of when you are walking, hiking, biking, swimming, climbing, mowing the lawn, raking leaves, cutting wood, dancing, anything you do as a family that involves movement. You student may also be a part of a sports team, have a YMCA membership, are learning martial arts, etc. Or you may have a program that you are following. Keep in mind that Physical Education is part of your regular lifestyle.
- Health Education- Health can also be covered through Science and Social Studies. If you are studying Human Anatomy or Biology, that is also a Health topic. If you are studying social behaviors in cultures, that is a health topic. Also, if you are running a curriculum for Health, you can do that once a week for the four years of high school, rather than running it every day for a semester.
- Library Skills- Library Skills can be covered in your other subject areas through research writing—learning to differentiate between a credible source and a non-credible source, navigating search engines, using online libraries and databases, creating an appropriately formatted bibliography and citing sources correctly within your paper/project, etc.
- Fine Arts- Fine Arts can come in many forms—music-vocal/instruments, drawing/painting, sculpting, general art, web design, graphic design, dance, drama, film-making, photography, fashion/clothing design, song-writing, mixed media, jewelry-making, crafting, woodworking, knitting/crocheting, baking/cooking, etc. Also, your student may already be doing some things as hobbies that would satisfy the Fine Arts requirement.
- Maine Studies (in one grade between grades 6 and 12)- Maine Studies may show up in your student’s Social Studies work and sciences. And every time you visit a museum or a fort, you are experiencing Maine and learning more about the state. Every time you talk about seasons changing, go apple picking, visit a maple sugar house, go kayaking, eat a lobster, play in the snow, go fishing, etc., take the time to learn about how those activities came about and how they are connected to Maine tradition, then keep track of it.
- Computer Proficiency (in one grade between grades 7 and 12)- This skill will show up in all of your classes. Any time your student types a report, creates a power point presentation, uses mixed multi-media, researches on the Internet, sends an email, manages a webpage/Youtube channel, codes a video game, posts on an educational message board, takes an online class, etc., he is using computer skills. This skill may be used directly through a class or through a hobby.
Angela Hurd received her BA from Northwestern College in St. Paul, MN in English Education/Bible and was an English teacher for 18 years at Belfast Area High School in Belfast, ME. She is now gratefully homeschooling her two young sons in her small town of Morrill. She loves reading books with her boys, talking about politics with her husband, singing worship music, and learning something new every day!