This time every summer, I get serious about planning our next year of homeschool. Since I teach two different grades, and they aren’t the same ones every year, it’s not an automated thing. I have to study each year to be ahead of my students, but I have the unique advantage of knowing what they have already learned and also knowing what their skills and talents are!
I create curriculum each year for our students, and the results are a personalized education. For me, that means a great deal of planning and gathering material during the summer. I thought I might give you all some insight into how that’s done, if you’re interested in doing homeschool planning for your own family!
First, I begin with scope and sequence. Scope is what will be learned, and sequences is when. What to learn, usually the most difficult question to answer, is tackled first. There are so many schools of thought on what should be learned at every age, but my very favorite resource for this step is called “The Educated Child” by William Bennett. Dr. Bennett has great lists of what should be learned each year of Kindergarten through Eighth Grade. I use his lists like a buffet, picking what we would like to learn and study for each year. We stick very closely to what needs to be learned for Math and English, and then have fun with the rest! For each child, I create scope (what) lists. My scope list is simple enough that it is usually a one page document.
Once the scope is tackled, the sequence (when) can come next. For each school child, I have a list of what we need to learn per month, broken down into the nine-ten month time frame of a school year. I leave the entire month of May, which is usually beautiful weather, to prepare for testing in June. That gives us time to have fun field trips in May along with early off-season vacation days. In this way, I’m planning out the school year by subject and task!
Planning comes next, making my scope and sequence fit into the dates we have available. Between birthdays (six birthdays) and anniversary, bank holidays, and dad’s homecoming or leaving dates, it can be difficult to schedule the hard work of learning!
At this stage of school planning, I usually begin to gather materials. I know what needs to be taught, and then look for fun ways to teach those lessons. We love books, well, all except my youngest child. (I do believe he’ll come along soon.) Reading the material we need for history during literature accomplishes both tasks well! Reading founding father biographies and documents will grow vocabulary, complex reading skills, and civics knowledge. “We hold these truths to be self-evident…” is much better reading material than “See Jane run.” Our standard for reading is high, but that means the children will do well in college classes. We make reading lists and pour over them for each child. What does he enjoy reading? What does he/she need to read at this stage in life? What will help shape ideas and values in our children? Math lessons do not include morality and values, so those curriculum choices are easier! History, Geography, Science, Arts, and any electives all need materials to teach, and my job most of the summer is to research what’s new and see what the kids might enjoy! I’ve found many online resources for music and art appreciation, and we’ve also been known to use college level textbooks for those subjects!
Once gathering is complete, I go back and fine tune our exact schedule, adding in which books go into the literature portion of our school day, and what tasks correlate with which literature pieces, For example, my 15 year old needs more writing practice, so each and every book will include an assignment for a written paper, perhaps some on computer, so that she gets used to that format! She will likely have less reading time than usually built into her days, and more writing time!
That’s mostly my process. I also begin the year with some method in mind for record keeping each day. I don’t enjoy that aspect of teaching, so it’s good for me to put that into place early and remind myself to do it often! This year, I’m using an Erin Condren Teacher Planner for homeschool, and that is a separate post! I’m planning to use a specific area for record keeping, so I look forward to showing you all our EC hacks!