One of the first questions I had when I decided to homeschool my son was “How do I know what to teach?” As with so many other issues related to the journey of homeschooling, one must take this question one step at a time, line upon line.
First, I would suggest that as your child’s parent, you are the best judge of what your child needs to learn. I realize that does not necessarily help you figure out where to start, but it is a fact that you always need to keep in mind.
The great part of homeschooling is the ability to be flexible to your child’s level of learning and his or her needs for each day. When your child was learning to walk, you did not force it on him or her: you followed the child’s lead and encouraged him or her along the process.
Similarly, if your child struggles with a math concept, you can spend extra time practicing that particular concept rather than pushing forward to where you feel you “must” be. Follow the needs of your child as he or she learns.
Further, you can teach what your child wants to learn in a given day or time. My son showed an interest in clouds so we did an impromptu lesson in cloud types and the water cycle. I learned along with him. Homeschooling provides the flexibility to meet your child’s needs and interests as they arise.
Next, know your state’s laws. If you live in the United States, some places have much stricter laws about homeschooling. My state treats homeschooling like a private school, so I face very little regulation of my schooling choices. Check out the Homeschool Legal Defense Association for a list of state-by-state homeschooling laws. If you live in a strict state, you may want to join HSLDA for legal protection.
And then there are resources available to you. On this blog and on my facebook page, I strive to share free educational resources that I’ve discovered. The internet has a wealth of information on what to teach and when to teach it.
Here are some online curricula lists that may be beneficial to one starting out homeschooling.
- Common Core State Standards. These are the standards on which public school teachers base curriculum choices, and on which students are frequently tested. The standards emphasis learning to think critically and may provide some guidelines of what grade level learns which concepts.
- Core Knowledge. These lists of ideas sequence of educational ideas come from the series by E.D. Hirsch (What Your ___ Needs to Know).
- Baltimore Curriculum (draft) lessons. These curriculum outlines provide monthly teaching plans and schedules for Kindergarten through fifth grade.
- Ambleside Online. This is a free Charlotte-Mason based curriculum for twelve years.
- Easy Peasy. I just discovered this option. It is a complete, Christian homeschool curriculum through eighth grade.
There are a wealth of paid curriculum options as well. This is just an example of some places you can go for free to determine what you should be teaching when.
If you have a free curriculum guide that you can recommend, let me know and I’ll add it to this list.
How do you determine what you teach to your children?