If the pandemic has taught us one thing about at-home education, it’s the fact that you want to offer your child the very best homeschool curriculum possible. Whether it's the first time you're creating a homeschool program or you're updating your current plan, it can feel like an overwhelming task to find something tailored to your child's specific needs — especially with all the available information out there.
The good news is, it’s not as impossible as it seems. There are now plenty of high-quality, curated, and interactive homeschooling programs that you and your child can access.
Yes, it might seem daunting at first, but now that you’re on this exciting journey, remember that you’re working towards one important milestone — your child’s authentic learning. So, to help you get started, we’ve come up with this comprehensive guide to ensure that your quest to create a top-notch homeschooling curriculum is a success.
How do you get started homeschooling your child?
As true to all learning endeavors, you have to start with the most essential aspect — your purpose. Why did you decide to take the homeschooling route for your child? Your reasons can guide you when you set your child’s journey goals. At the same time, this can help you make informed decisions when choosing among the different methods and teaching styles while researching homeschooling options — including course work in math, science, languages, and more.
From there, you'll want to assess your state’s homeschooling requirements and regulations. There could be legislation requiring you to file your intent to homeschool on specific dates and submit an individualized instruction plan. You can find more detailed information about each state’s laws for education and homeschooling. Even the pandemic has raised the stakes, so you can now find updated legislative action about homeschooling that could work to your advantage.
How do you learn about building a top-notch curriculum?
To create a top-notch curriculum, you have to build a good foundation. Complying with your state’s legal requirements is the first step. Another building block is to learn as much as you can about homeschooling. To have a good grasp on what you need to start creating your own learning curriculum, you can start by doing the following:
- Research different homeschooling methods
- Attend homeschool conferences, if possible
- Look for local homeschoolers and connect with them
- Find learning resources appropriate for your child’s needs
- Incorporate a support network
What should you consider when building a curriculum?
There are several elements that should be included in your child’s homeschooling curriculum:
Grade level and age group suitability
Explore what is being taught in traditional schools, public or private, in each grade so you can make sure that you can also cover the same topics as students within the appropriate age group.
Essential learning topics
Once you’ve identified what subjects should be included, you’ll then need to do your own research to ensure that you’re up-to-date on each specific topic, especially if you’re not familiar with the subject. Include essential learning competencies that your child needs and branch out to lifelong learning skills that your child can use after graduating.
An actionable timetable
One of the benefits of homeschooling is you have better control of the pacing and speed of coverage. You can use the recommended curricula and timetable for each subject — or depending on your child’s learning style and capability, you can also modify the curriculum.
The best thing to do is to create a schedule based on units instead of individual topics. In this case, you can list all the possible topics within a unit that you think your child can cover within a certain timeline.
Interactive learning activities
Another advantage of creating a homeschooling curriculum of your own is you can include as many interactive learning activities as possible whenever it’s relevant to the subject area. Learning is never just about absorbing theoretical knowledge. Help your child become more engaged with learning by including the appropriate interactive activities in each subject area. You can include field trips, museum exhibits, volunteer works, attending community events, and even hands-on, creative projects.
When creating a homeschooling curriculum, you have the freedom to choose the best resources out there, especially with how readily accessible resources are these days. You can use textbooks or alternative resources, like multimedia-rich eBooks, picture books or comics, video clips or movies, and even toys and interactive educational games. There are also various online resources and applications that you can use as part of your child’s homeschool learning tools.
Types of Learning
If you’re new to homeschooling, or even if you’ve already been using it for a while now, learning about these different ways to homeschool can help you ensure that how you’re teaching your child is aligned with their educational goals.
Roughly, there are eight main approaches that you can choose from when selecting the type of learning you want for your child’s homeschooling curriculum:
- Classical Style
- Charlotte Mason Style
- University Model
- Unit Studies
You can explore the first seven of these main approaches through this comprehensive guide. The eighth is generally not a method of teaching but more of a philosophy you and your child can abide by if it’s something that could work for both of you.
Organizing what you can teach vs. supplementing outside classes
Sometimes, there are topics that can be more difficult for you to teach and outside of your field of expertise. The good news is there are easy and affordable ways to provide homeschool classes outside of your expertise. Based on the list of the subject area you have curated, identify which units you think you could cover on your own and the ones that you think you need to supplement.
You can either hire a private tutor or an in-home teacher for the latter. You can also choose to join small-group classes — where you can share the teaching cost with other families. You can find affordable ongoing online classes here to supplement your homeschooling curriculum. Or, for subjects that are out of your expertise, you can also find semester-long courses on core curriculum topics.
Tips on finding outside classes and resources
When it comes to creating a top-notch homeschooling curriculum, looking for outside classes and resources can be daunting. Here are some tips that you can follow so exploring your options can be as stress-free as possible:
- Start with the resources appropriate for your child’s learning style
- Reach out to your chosen local homeschoolers support group
- Keep yourself updated with new homeschooling trends with online information and by attending conferences, if possible
How to compare different curricula
Finding the perfect homeschooling curriculum for your child may seem overwhelming, especially with all the readily available curricula you can find on the Internet. When choosing one that works best for your child’s needs, the best thing to do is to look at the most crucial components first.
According to Salimia and Ghonoodi (2011), these are the four most common points that you need to consider when you are comparing different curricula, whether it be for homeschooling or not:
Objective: Try to look for a curriculum that has SMART objectives. These are the objectives you want to implement, which you can modify and improve along the way for as long as the curriculum can provide what your child needs.
Content: Look for a homeschooling curriculum that will help you deliver content appropriate for your child’s age group and capability. Just remember that its content should not just be all theoretical, but it should also be something that can easily be transferred to real-life applications.
Methods: Other than the content of the curriculum, the types of methods that you will use to deliver all content are also essential. Knowing your child’s learning style can be a very good starting point when you’re evaluating the methods of the curriculum you want to emulate.
Evaluation: Create a curriculum to help your child measure their learning as authentically as possible. Don’t limit your forms of evaluation to pen-and-paper tests, but look for assessments that will also measure their performance and skills in various subject areas.
You may not create the perfect curriculum on your first try but you can keep what works and stay open to evolving your plans. To supplement your homeschooling curriculum, you can find affordable ongoing online classes, especially for subject areas that you find difficult to teach on your own.
Creating or changing a top-notch homeschooling curriculum may feel overwhelming, but with the right resources and with some guidance from those who have experience crafting a curriculum conducive for homeschooling, you’ll soon find yourself with a curriculum that’s perfectly suited for your child's learning needs.
Still not sure where you should start? Download our free how-to get started with homeschooling eBook and get more in-depth information on creating a homeschooling curriculum from scratch.