The best way I’ve found to plan a homeschooling curriculum is to break it down, then break it down again and again until you’ve got a manageable amount of information to work with. As always, I advocate as much planning as possible, a significant level of organization, plus a few other tricks to help you along the way!
Break It Down
It can be overwhelming to try to plan a whole homeschooling curriculum, that’s why I strongly recommend you first break the curriculum down into subject areas. From there, you can decide on the topics you wish to cover over the period of a year, the sub-topics and finally the lesson plans themselves.
Have in mind specific learning objectives for each subject area before you start. This will assist you in deciding on the topics you wish to cover. Don’t worry too much about detailed lesson plans but do be specific about what you want to achieve in each lesson. Also ensure you allow time in each lesson for revision, follow up and your own critique of how it all went. If you’re so inclined, you can also include testing time on a regular basis.
You can get curriculum ideas from homeschooling groups online or in your local area, homeschooling websites and also from your state education department.
Don’t Forget Why You’re Doing This
Document your reasons for homeschooling. Put it up in a prominent place so you remember why you’re doing this and to help keep you focused on what you want to achieve.
Have A Timeframe In Mind
How long do you wish to spend (and have your children spend) homeschooling? Make sure you detail this on a daily, weekly, monthly and annual basis so you know what your commitment should be and so you stick to it!
Keep in mind that homeschooled children generally take less time to complete lessons than children in regular schools. As a general rule, I find that homeschooling my children takes 3 hours or less daily. This will, of course, differ, depending on the age of your children and their ability for independent study, but half a day is usually sufficient for most homeschooling situations. The rest of your child’s day can be spent pursuing personal interests or in independent reading, study or specialist lessons such as music, sport etc.
Keep Up The Interest
To keep both yourself and your child motivated and interested, it’s a great idea to develop a curriculum or learning topic around a particular theme of interest. Does your child love pirates? Well, a month of pirate related activities and lessons is a great way to keep the interest up. Themes can transcend across all subject areas – math, English, science, social studies, art, music, etc.
Make sure you also include some free time for your children to independently learn or play (depending on their age level). If they show an interest in a lesson beyond its conclusion, allow them to spend some independent time exploring the topic on their own.
Excursions are a great way to escape the ‘classroom’, extend a learning objective or create a new one. The obvious places to visit are zoos, farms, museums, galleries, exhibitions, aquariums etc, but don’t limit yourself to these. A train or bus trip, a visit to an ice-cream, toy or chocolate factory, a visit to an old person’s home, even a library or park trip can all be great learning opportunities.
It’s all in the planning – the more you plan and document in the beginning, the easier and more successful your homeschooling experience will be. Take advantage of your local community and online resources and play to your child’s interests. With these tools under your belt, you’re well on your way to becoming a successful homeschooling parent.