What should I be teaching? For some homeschoolers, the answer to this question is simple. Each year they purchase a curriculum package from a reputable publisher (ABeka, Alpha Omega, etc.), which contains all the subjects needed for their child’s grade level. Homeschoolers doing this can usually be pretty confident that they are teaching what they need to be. But for homeschoolers with a more eclectic style, deciding what to teach can be a bit more overwhelming. This is especially true for homeschoolers that use a variety of free resources, write their own curriculum, or do not use traditional curriculum.
Don’t worry so much about what you “should be doing”.
Children learn at different rates, have different learning styles, and different interests. This makes it very difficult to say what all children of a certain age “should” be learning. The beauty of homeschooling is that your child can learn at his own pace. Sometimes that will likely mean moving at a faster pace than public schools in some areas while moving at a slower pace in other areas. When homeschooling, there is no need to rush through concepts your child needs more time to grasp or bore your child with things he already knows.
But, I’m still worried…
I get that. I’m a worrier and planner, too. It can be reassuring to have some sort of guide to loosely follow so you can feel that your child is on the right track. Having a guide to follow can help you determine if your expectations are reasonable and age appropriate. Knowing what is typically expected at a certain age or grade level can also help you pinpoint problem areas that you may need to focus more time on. Fortunately, there are many resources available that you can use as a guide.
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World Book’s Typical Course of Study
World Book’s website offers a free course of study guide for all grades (preschool through 12th). This guide includes all major subject areas and is very thorough and well organized.
Hewitt Homeschooling offers free learning objectives for kindergarten through 8th grade. The objectives are provided in a PDF file, which makes it convenient to print or save. All major subject areas are included.
Free Scope and Sequences
Many curriculum publishers list their scope and sequence online. Looking at several of these will give you a good idea of what is typically taught at each grade level. Here are a few scope and sequences from reputable curriculum publishers:
What Your ___ Grader Should Know Series
This affordable book series provides a detailed plan for preschool through 6th grade. Key concepts in all of the main subject areas are included. The books provide teaching tips and ideas. There are also sections (short stories, poetry, etc.) meant to be read aloud to the student and numerous full-color illustrations and photographs.
What Your Child Needs to Know When: According to the Bible, According to the State
This book is an excellent resource for Christian homeschoolers. The goals outlined in this book will help you prepare, teach, and evaluate your children from a Biblical world view. The book includes checklists for kindergarten through 8th grade.
Weaver Skills Evaluation
Weaver Skills Evaluation is designed to help the parent learn their children’s strengths and weaknesses. The book provides comprehensive listings of what your child should learn in each grade from kindergarten through 6th. This book may be used by any homeschooler, not just those who use the Weaver Curriculum.
Common Core and State Standards
If you wish to see how the curriculum you’ve planned for your child compares to what public schools are teaching, you may want to take a look at the Common Core Standards for math and language arts. If you live in a state that has not adopted the Common Core Standards or you would like to see the standards for other subject areas, simply do a Google search for your state’s standards. (Freedom Homeschooling does not endorse or support Common Core.)
Yikes, that was a lot of info!
Now you may be wondering which of the guides or scopes & sequences listed above is the best to follow. First, I don’t recommend treating any of them as a rigid checklist to be followed without change. They should be treated as suggestions. The ability to personalize and tailor your child’s education to their individual needs is a major benefit of homeschooling. However, since many of the resources listed in this post are free, I recommend taking a look at several of them. Recommendations can vary a lot from one source to another, so it’ll take looking at more than one of them to determine when various skills or concepts are typically taught.
A Little About High School Credits
When planning credits for your high schooler, it’s a good idea to look at the graduation requirements for public schools in your state. These can usually be found on your school district or state department of education’s website. Even if homeschoolers in your state are not required to have particular credits for graduation, these requirements can still serve as a guide. If your child plans to attend college, it is also important to find out if the colleges they are considering require specific credits. Here are some articles for additional reading on high school credits:
While many states allow parents to complete freedom in planning their children’s education, some states have specific requirements. It’s important that you familiarize yourself with your state’s homeschool laws. Contact your local school district, state department of education, or HSLDA for more information.