How to put together a homeschooling curriculum for the first time

Tips on managing lesson lengths, playing to your family's strengths, and getting support when you need it. 

If you’re new to homeschooling, getting started and putting together a homeschooling curriculum for the first time can seem daunting. What are the best resources, and where do you begin to look? 

Should a homeschooling curriculum reproduce a traditional school program, or should you try something different?

Every parent taking on the homeschooling challenge will have many questions. Fortunately, with a bit of research, putting together a homeschooling curriculum can be a lot of fun and not just hard work. Here’s where to start. 

Research school curricula

If you’ve never put together a homeschooling curriculum before, you may struggle to create a teaching plan that’s appropriate for your child’s grade or age level. So, it’s always a good idea to browse example lesson plans by grade or age. You don’t have to follow them exactly, but it’ll give you a good grounding in how school lessons are structured, how much material is typically covered for a specific age group, what language is used, and so on.

You may find over time that your kid is a fast learner, and you’ll be able to introduce concepts and exercises intended for more advanced learners, but it’s always a good idea to start age-appropriate and then move up as you need to. 

We have some great how-to curricula resources to get you going: 

Brush up on the subjects you’re planning to teach

Let’s face it: for many of us, remembering what we learned in school in a subject we didn’t study in college can be challenging, at least at first. It’s a really good idea to read a book (or two) on the subject you’re about to teach, preferably one written with your age group in mind. 

Have a teacher in your subject area in your family or friend group? Ask them what their favorite textbooks or lesson aids are and what they would recommend you read to understand the subject better.

Even if you don’t have professional educators in your subject area at hand, putting together a short teacher’s reading list for yourself will make organizing a curriculum much easier. 

Even if it’s just something from the ‘For Dummies’ series or a short introduction how-to series, you’ll refresh your subject knowledge and get yourself into a better frame of mind to teach.

But remember, just because you are homeschooling doesn’t mean you have to teach every subject. You can outsource whole areas of your homeschooling program, including: 

Getting another set of eyes is helpful for any homeschooling parent. It’s also inspiring to see how other families homeschool and how they use or don’t use, the curriculum. 

Putting together your first lesson? Less is more

Cramming as much information as possible into each lesson can be very tempting. However, you’ll find that no matter how brilliant your kids are, they’ll completely shut down and stop following the lesson if they feel overwhelmed. 

As a general rule, two or three concepts per lesson is the maximum, and if the concept or idea is complex, then just one may be enough. Illustrate each idea with as many examples as you can find, and your student will be much more likely to remember the concept you’re teaching. 

Learn from other homeschoolers and play to your family’s strengths 

Whether you chat in person or virtually, learning from other homeschoolers is really helpful. What did they wish they knew when they started? What’s their homeschooling style, approach, methodology, and philosophy, and how has it changed? 

Hearing these stories will give you insight and solidarity as nothing else can. 

You might find that you’re Type A, and writing detailed lesson plans help make you feel on top of your game. Or you might find that your kids don’t respond and just want to learn through play. Focusing on how your unique kids learn and what approach best fits you as an instructor is critical.

It might help to overprepare and start with a set lesson “script” so you know you have a plan and then adapt as you gain confidence and see what works for you and your family.

Take advantage of multimedia teaching aids

Whether this is audio or video clips or pictures, the more senses your lesson stimulates, the more likely it’s to be effective. Salem State University has a great list, including dedicated websites with audio-visual teaching aids, like Open Culture, relevant Ted Talks, virtual field trips to online museums, or even showing something relevant on YouTube works. 

Case in point: this writer once tried explaining the concept of rhetoric to a child with learning difficulties. We were getting nowhere. However, once I showed her a recording of a passionate speech about feminism, she was hooked: she got it, just like that.

Experiment with lesson lengths 

Did you know that a child’s attention span varies depending on their age? 

It’s helpful to remember this when putting together your first homeschooling curriculum. It’s not just younger children that may benefit from shorter lessons: teenagers often have trouble concentrating for all sorts of reasons, and you may find that they get more out of the class if you give them a 10-minute break in the middle.

Choose an interesting topic – and support it with real-life examples

One of the reasons this writer passionately hated Physics at school was that it seemed like the most boring subject with no relevance to real life. If only she had had a fascinating NASA physicist for a teacher…

Of course, different kids will have different preferences, and sometimes a kid just won’t like a specific subject. If you hear that ‘math is boring,’ even though you’ve tried your hardest to convince them otherwise, they may be into other topics more. 

In many cases, kids find a subject interesting based on how it’s presented to them. Try to research relevant news articles about things that interest your kid. For example, it’s a lot easier to teach biology when you know your kid is obsessed with dolphins/tigers allowing you to build a lesson around that interest. 

And if you don’t know what they’re interested in, ask them!

Get outdoors every once in a while

Tapping into your child’s interests doesn’t just apply to teaching sciences, either. From poetry walks to teaching physics and biology using nature and material objects, the great outdoors is a resource that traditional schooling often doesn’t leverage enough. 

Depending on your kid’s temperament, you may find that they’re better able to concentrate on challenging subjects or lessons while walking or working on the patio. 

Again, teaching outdoors can work equally well for younger and older children. It’s a good idea to make outdoor lessons a regular and scheduled part of your curriculum, so your child knows when it’s coming.

Incorporate ways to test their knowledge

No one likes tests, but there are ways to make them engaging and rewarding. From research projects to presentations and even handmade objects to represent what they’ve learned, there are many ways to test your kids on their knowledge without feeling like they’re sitting stressful exams. 

At this point in your teaching journey, you may want to ask your child what they enjoy doing the most: do they like writing, presenting, or making stuff? Let them lead on this: let them choose their way of demonstrating their knowledge to help them stay engaged.

Ideally, testing little and often is better than leaving it all for one big project at the end of your course. You can also combine many smaller tests with one bigger one at the end to emulate the school curriculum more. 

Know when to look for more support

Building and delivering a teaching curriculum can be a challenge, but just because you’re homeschooling doesn’t mean you, or your kids have to learn on your own. 

Whether you want a full curriculum, have some gaps you need filled, or have certain subjects you want to outsource, Outschool is here to help. Our mission is to create a place where kids can learn on their own terms and explore their passions. 

Outschool Staff

Topics Related to Homeschool

Schooling Approaches
Semester
Social Club
Arts & Crafts
Circle Time
Writing
Tutoring
ESA
Math
New Hampshire EFA
Texas SSES
North Carolina ESA
Texas SSES
Virginia ESA
Virginia Learning Acceleration Grant
Arizona ESA
Group Homeschool Clubs
Homeschool Clubs
Visions In Education Homeschool
Homeschool Curriculum
Homeschooling In California
Charlotte Mason Homeschool
Homeschool Diploma
Homeschool High School
Homeschool In North Carolina
Homeschool Math Curriculum
Homeschool In Indiana
Homeschool Spanish Curriculum
Homeschool In Washington State
Homeschool In Iowa
Homeschool In Florida
Homeschool Science Curriculum
Homeschool History Curriculum
Pre-k Homeschool Curriculum
Homeschool Kindergarten
Homeschool Writing Curriculum
Homeschool Activities Near Me
Homeschool In Georgia
Homeschool Spelling Curriculum
Homeschool In California
Sea Homeschoolers
Homeschool Language Arts Curriculum
Homeschool In Oklahoma
Homeschool In Virginia
Homeschool In New York
Homeschool Classes Near Me
Homeschool Reading Curriculum
Homeschool Hangout For Girls
Excel Academy Charter School
Cabrillo Point Academy
Blue Ridge Academy
Granite Mountain Charter School
Heartland Charter School
Sequoia Grove Charter
The Cottonwood School
Visions In Education
Golden Valley
Monarch River Academy
Yosemite Valley Charter School
Ocean Grove
Sky Mountain
South Sutter
Mission Vista Academy
Pacific Coast Academy
Challenges
Group Unit Studies
Homeschool Association Of California
Charlotte Mason
Waldorf Inspired
Waldorf
Saxon Math
Montessori
Reggio Emilia

Explore 140,000+ classes led by qualified teachers

Similar Homeschool articles

Homeschool classes

Homeschool Hangout
Stacey Keysor
8-13
Ages
4
Learners
$2
Per month
Homeschool Social Group: Middle School
4.83(49)
Fiona
9-14
Ages
30
Mins
$9
Per class
Homeschool Huddle - An Inclusive Social Space for Homeschooled Teens
Teacher Elisha C.
13-18
Ages
25
Mins
$3
Per class
Homeschool Huddle - An Inclusive Social Space for Homeschooled Tweens
Teacher Elisha C.
8-13
Ages
25
Mins
$3
Per class
(325)
Homeschool Mentorship
Fiona
1-on-1 Tutoring
13-18
Ages
30
Mins
$28
Per session
The Homeschool Hub
Julie Alvarez - celebrating neurodiversity!
8-13
Ages
5
Learners
$8
Per month
1st Grade Full Homeschool Curriculum
4.75(36)
Cherry Learning Center by Mrs. Berry-Cherry
5-7
Ages
50
Mins
$17
Per class
Traveling and RV Homeschoolers Group
Fiona
13-18
Ages
0
Learners
$5
Per month
Pre-Teen Homeschool Homeroom
Jenny Simonson M.Ed.
10-13
Ages
2
Learners
$6
Per month
Homeschool Tutor
Becky McCourt
1-on-1 Tutoring
5-14
Ages
30
Mins
$45
Per session

Topics you may be interested in

About
Support
SafetyPrivacyCA PrivacyLearner PrivacyTerms
Outschool International
Get The App
Download on the App StoreGet it on Google Play
© 2024 Outschool