What Lessons Are Taught in American High Schools?
American high schools offer a range of courses and electives that teach students various skills and information. While the specifics of what is taught may vary from school to school, there are some common lessons that are typically taught in American high schools.
This blog post will outline the five main types of lessons that are taught in American high schools: academic, social-emotional, career/post-high school readiness, college preparation, and health/wellness.
Additionally, it will explore how each type of lesson contributes to a student’s overall education.
The academic lessons taught in high school are the bread and butter of a student’s education. Academic lessons are designed to give students a well-rounded understanding of the world and how it works.
Academic lessons are important because they provide students with the knowledge and skills they need to be successful in college and beyond. In addition, academic lessons help students develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
Some of the academic subjects high school students need to graduate include:
High school students must take several English/Language Arts courses in order to graduate. These courses typically focus on reading comprehension, writing, and grammar. However, some schools also offer courses that teach students about literature and global cultures.
All high school students are required to take at least one math course. However, many students take multiple math courses over the course of their high school career. The math courses offered in high school typically include Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, Trigonometry, Pre-Calculus, and Calculus.
Science is another subject that all high school students need to study. High school science courses typically cover topics such as biology, chemistry, and physics. Additionally, some schools offer courses in environmental science and human anatomy.
All high school students must take at least one social studies course. Social studies courses typically focus on American history, world history, and government/civics. Additionally, some schools offer courses in economics and psychology.
While not required by all schools, many high schools offer foreign language courses. These courses give students the opportunity to learn about other cultures and how to communicate with people who speak different languages.
Some of the most popular foreign languages offered in high school include Spanish, French, German, and Mandarin Chinese.
In addition to academic lessons, high school students also learn social-emotional lessons. Social-emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which young people develop the skills they need to navigate the social world. SEL skills include self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.
SEL skills are important because they help students navigate the challenges of adolescence. Additionally, research has shown that SEL skills can lead to improved academic performance, increased college enrollment, and reduced juvenile crime. Some of the ways high schools teach SEL skills include:
Many high schools incorporate SEL lessons into their regular classroom curriculum. For example, a high school English teacher might teach a lesson on managing emotions. Or, a high school history teacher might teach a lesson on empathy.
High schools also provide students with opportunities to develop SEL skills through extracurricular activities. For example, student government organizations often require students to work collaboratively to solve problems.
Additionally, service-learning clubs give students the chance to learn about social issues and how to take action to make positive changes.
Career/Post-High School Readiness Lessons
In addition to academic and social-emotional lessons, high school students also learn about career and post-high school options.
These lessons help students identify their interests and skills, explore different career paths, and learn about the steps they need to take to achieve their goals.
Some of the ways high schools teach career, and post-high school readiness lessons include:
Many high schools offer courses that focus on career and post-high school readiness. For example, some schools offer courses in financial literacy or college prep. Additionally, many schools have guidance counselors who meet with students to discuss their plans for after high school.
High schools also provide students with opportunities to explore careers through extracurricular activities. For example, many high schools offer internships or job shadowing experiences. Additionally, some high schools have programs that allow students to take college courses for credit.
Some high schools partner with local businesses and organizations to provide students with community-based learning experiences. For example, a high school might have a partnership with a local hospital that allows students to shadow doctors and nurses.
In addition, many schools have partnerships with colleges and universities that allow students to take college courses for credit.
College Preparation Lessons
High school students also learn about the college admissions process and how to prepare for college-level coursework. These lessons help students understand the steps they need to take to apply to college and the types of courses they need to take to be prepared for success in college. College preparation lessons include the following courses:
The most popular college preparatory courses are the Advanced Placement (AP) classes offered by the College Board. These are semester-long courses that culminate in a standardized exam. A score of 3 or higher on an AP exam can often earn you college credit, saving you time and money on your degree.
Honors classes are similar to AP classes, but they do not always culminate in an exam. These classes can also prepare you for college-level work and may give you an edge when applying to competitive colleges.
The International Baccalaureate (IB) program is another option for college prep. IB courses are offered in high schools worldwide and can lead to a diploma recognized by colleges worldwide.
Many colleges offer dual enrollment programs that allow high school students to take college courses for credit. This can give you a head start on your degree and let you get a feel for college-level work before you even graduate high school.
In addition to taking college preparatory courses, most students will also need to take standardized tests like the SAT or ACT. Colleges use these tests to assess your academic readiness for higher education. Doing well on these exams can improve your chances of getting into your dream school.
High school students also learn about health and wellness. These lessons help students understand how to maintain their physical and mental health, as well as how to prevent and respond to health risks. Health/wellness lessons include the following topics:
Nutrition lessons teach students about the importance of eating a balanced diet. Students learn about the different food groups and how to make healthy choices when choosing what to eat.
Physical activity lessons teach students about the importance of being physically active. Students learn about different ways to be active, such as through sports, fitness activities, and dance. They also learn about the benefits of physical activity, such as improved physical health and increased energy levels.
Mental health lessons teach students about the importance of maintaining their mental health. Students learn about different aspects of mental health, such as stress management, emotional regulation, and coping with anxiety and depression. They also learn about the signs and symptoms of mental illness, as well as how to get help if they or someone they know is struggling.
Substance abuse lessons teach students about the risks of using drugs and alcohol. Students learn about the dangers of substance abuse, such as addiction, overdose, and accidents. They also learn about the signs and symptoms of substance abuse, as well as how to get help if they or someone they know is struggling.
Sexual health lessons teach students about the importance of maintaining their sexual health. Students learn about different aspects of sexual health, such as contraception, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and healthy relationships.
They also learn about the signs and symptoms of unhealthy sexual behavior, as well as how to get help if they or someone they know is struggling.
It is evident that academic lessons are important in high school but social-emotional, career/post-high school readiness, college preparation, and health/wellness lessons are also necessary. Each student’s experience in high school should be tailored to their individual needs so they can be successful after graduation.
If you are a parent of a high school student or are considering enrolling in high school, contact High School of America today.
Our experienced counselors will help you choose the right program for your teen, so they can get the most out of their education.