Planning Your Homeschooling Curriculum
15 JULY 2016 | BLAIR POWERS
Now that you have decided to homeschool, you have the daunting task of planning how to get it all done. Below is some basic information about how to plan your year of schooling.
How do I know what classes my child needs?
This will depend on where your child enrolls. Ultimately, whoever is the keeper of your child’s grades and transcript will determine the classes your child needs in order to advance to the next grade level. These requirements vary, and some umbrellas are more flexible than others. In high school, a good guide to follow is the state’s graduation requirements, which can be found on your state’s Department of Education website. In grades K-8, at minimum, students need to complete a course in language arts, math, science, and social studies every year.
How do we ensure we are covering enough content for the year?
Most curriculums and textbooks have pacing guides that you can follow so you can complete the necessary skills within a traditional school year. Some online or homeschool curriculums even present how many hours a week you should spend with the program to stay on target. If you are using a selection of different materials to cover the skills, you can find pacing guides and curriculum outlines on the state’s Department of Education website and often on your local district’s website as well.
Don’t leave the pacing all up to your child! Schedule a regular weekly time where you either assess and grade what they have done, or check in on the progress they are making in their online curriculum. Some families can get caught up in the flexibility of homeschooling, so that when the end of the year comes, they realize they are far behind what they planned to cover.
How do I know if my child is progressing?
Don’t go at it alone. Get support from community resources and get information by participating in standardized testing. In the state of Tennessee, homeschool students are required to take a standardized test in grades 5, 7 and 9. Which test they take will depend on where you are enrolled. Your umbrella should offer a standardized test however if they don’t or if you need to have it done in a different time frame. Call around to other places in your community that do educational testing. If you are enrolled directly with the district, your child will probably take the state testing.
When homeschooling, we recommend you do testing every year to gauge a student’s progress and adjust your curriculum as necessary. Many families see traditional testing as something they can get away from when homeschooling, but we see it as a way to gather information about your child. It will also give your child the experience of taking this type of test. If your child plans on going to college or potentially re-entering public or private school, they will need the information these tests provide, and they will likely have to take more of them in the future.
Ultimately, when homeschooling, don’t think you need to do everything on your own. Rely on resources that are already out there for teachers and reach out to community resources that can help supplement and support your homeschooling journey!