5 STEPS TO CREATE YOUR HOMESCHOOL CURRICULUM
One of the things I was intimidated by when I started looking into homeschooling was the curriculum.
First of all, I didn’t know there were so many. Second of all, we are supposed to put one together?
Naturally, I gravitated towards boxed curriculum. These are usually core subjects grouped together by grade. Most have daily lesson plans, teacher’s manual, student workbooks, and they spell out exactly what to do each day.
I was thinking, oh yes, this is what I am going to do. Ain’t nobody got time to put a curriculum together!
However, I soon realized that a boxed curriculum was not going to fit my son’s style of learning and I would probably waste a lot of money if I went that route.
So, I started looking into crafting some sort of curriculum for him and these are the steps I took.
These are the steps that I am taking as well. They may not be as comprehensive as some out there, but I think to have a framework and a simple curriculum plan will be just as helpful.
STEP 1: ASSESS YOURSELF
I think it’s very important to assess ourselves, the home educator, in the process of creating a homeschool curriculum.
How much time do you have? Realistically, how much time do you have for homeschool instruction, hands-on activities, outdoors play, crafts, as well as planning and preparation.
If you have multiple kids with really young ones at home, you may only be able to do 1 or 2 hours of direct student instruction a day and then let the kids learn through play, in nature, or videos the rest of the time.
If all your kids are school aged and ready for instructional time then you may be able to do more.
Most of us are not only juggling homeschool. We have house chores, meals to cook, errands to run, and appointments to keep as well.
Think about how much time you have for homeschool each day of the school year. It could be 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the afternoon, it could be 4 hours straight per day.
There’s no right or perfect answer here, it really depends on you and your household schedule.
Also, think about how long you want the school year to be.
Most states require 180 days of student instruction in public schools. Does your state have a specific requirement for how many days you have to homeschool?
If so, you should adhere to that. If not, you have some flexibility here.
You can decide to follow the public school schedule in your town and start homeschool in the end of August and end the school year in the middle of June.
You can do a quarterly system, teach year round, or however you wish.
How confident are you in homeschooling?
If you have an educator’s background or you are just naturally good in this kind of stuff, you may not be so intimidated when you read through the scope and sequence of a curriculum or when going through the online homeschool curriculum catalog.
But, for some of us it is intimidating and it will require some time. We may need a curriculum that already has everything laid out and ready to go.
Either way, whichever one will help you excel and not burn out is the best.
I used to think, oh, it’s best to tailor fit everything to my child’s interests and way of learning. But, the reality is that I am not someone who can look up a topic of interest and be able to whip up math, science, Bible, and reading lessons from one topic.
In other words, I am not naturally a “Unit Studies” person.
As much as I want to pursue that method of homeschool, I am just not there yet. So, I need something more structured for now and that’s okay.
STEP 2: ASSESS YOUR CHILD
It’s important to observe and know how your child learns best and what their interests are.
Learn how they learn.
PAY ATTENTION TO HOW THEY LEARN BEST
My son, 6 years old, is able to express that he likes doing workbooks but “not too long.”
He is also able to tell me that he prefers to do a little in the morning and a little in the afternoon. He is definitely able to tell me what he is interested in.
My youngest is 3 and she is more hands-on and visual.
- Here is an article that talks about the different learning styles and how we can help our kids learn the best.
- Here is a quiz on learning style that you can ask your child (or how you notice your child learns).
PAY ATTENTION TO THEIR INTERESTS
I like to bring the kids to the library and see which books they gravitate towards.
My son will pick out any solar system books or flags books right now because those are his interests. This is where I, as a mom and his educator, need to pay attention because his interests will guide me as I create his curriculum for the year.
The older they get, the more they will be able to express what their interests are. If we provide them with a nurturing and learning environment they will find some great interests.
If your child is not one who expresses him or herself easily, then as a parent, you may have to ask. Show them different books, different pictures on the computer, different sports or activities and ask what they like and don’t like.
At first, I had some reservation about teaching only what they are interested in. I feel like I would be spoiling them because they get to learn what they want.
I was thinking, no, they should learn this particular topic even if they are not interested because it’s important.
While, there’s nothing wrong with that I came to realize they are quite young and they have their whole lives ahead of them.
If I force a subject or an instrument, even an important one, I would only push them away or they may do it just for the sake of pleasing mom or dad.
If they have no interest right now, I can always try again at a later time. Everyone has different interests and develops them at various times in their lives.
The most important thing for kids when they are young is to develop a love to learn.
STEP 3: HOMESCHOOL METHOD
If you’ve researched different homeschool methods or styles (same thing) then you can skip this step. However, this is an important step to consider when putting together a homeschool curriculum.
If you haven’t given time and thought to your homeschool method (or style) do so now.
Go through this list for the different homeschool methods out there, see which one fits you, your child, and what you believe would be the best for educating your children.
Some people will mix two or three homeschool methods, you don’t have to stick to one unless you prefer that.
Also, you may start homeschool and realize that it’s not the method that works so you may end up choosing a different homeschool method and that’s fine.
This is the great thing about homeschooling, we can choose a method that is best for our children and meet our standard of quality education.
STEP 4: CHOOSE YOUR CURRICULUM
Ideally, you would have a budget before flipping through a homeschool catalog or browsing one online. I wrote about How To Budget For Homeschool HERE if you are interested.
Keep these things in mind when looking through a homeschool curriculum catalog:
- Your homeschool method
- Time available
- Your style of teaching
- Your child’s learning style
- Your budget
One way to get started on how to choose your curriculum is to browse through a homeschool catalog. You will have an idea of what’s out there for each grade or subject.
Here are some online homeschool catalog I personally go through:
OR you can go directly to the curriculum’s website, for example:
There are many more out there if you Google it, but this is plenty to start with.
CONSULT HELPFUL RESOURCES
I highly recommend Cathy Duffy’s website where she reviews a boatload of homeschool curricula by grade and subject. She also has a book which I use to help in my homeschool curriculum decision, 102 Top Picks For Homeschool Curriculum.
Check your local library and see if it’s available there, if not, it’s $18 for the e-book. They don’t sell the hard copy anymore.
This is another book that is highly recommended for putting together a homeschool curriculum. I have never read it (although I plan on getting it soon) so I don’t have an opinion on it, but it is well recognized in the homeschool community. Again, I would check your local library first and if it’s not there you can consider if this is worth purchasing.
I would also research for free curriculum, because why not.
Here is a list of some free curriculum out there:
- Easy Peasy All-In-One Homeschool (By a homeschool mom, one of Cathy Duffy’s Top Picks. Complete and free online homeschool for K-12. No sign in required. It’s all free, bless her heart. There are books available for purchase if you prefer not to use the screen. You can also print out the curriculum for free, if you prefer. I HIGHLY recommend checking this one out, I use her reading program for my son).
- Ambleside Online (Charlotte Mason method. Free curriculum with links to purchase books or free online books. Free daily and weekly schedules. Support groups available).
- K12 (This is a tuition-free online public school. Available in most states).
- Khan Academy (Free. All free. Strong math and science program, but there are other subjects, including test preps).
- Curriculum Pathways (Free online curriculum for English, math, science, social studies, Spanish from K-12).
- CK12 (Another free online homeschool curriculum, Flexbook textbooks are free online and mainly for middle schoolers and high schoolers, although there are science Flexbooks for elementary kids).
Do keep in mind that a lot of these free online curriculum require screen time learning.
If you are concerned with that see if you can print out the materials or you may have to go with another off-screen curriculum (which I prefer for younger kids).
STEP 5: PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
Now that you have given thought to:
- Your teaching style and ability
- Your child’s learning style
- Your homeschool method
- Your homeschool budget
- Your choice of curriculum
You are ready to put together your curriculum.
Below is what I did for my son’s Kindergarten curriculum. I just opened a blank Word document or you can write it all down on a piece of paper.
Below is a weekly lesson plan that I got off of Teachnology.com for free. I just write in the curriculum book or program and page number or lesson for each subject from Monday to Friday.
WAS THIS HELPFUL?
I hope you have found this helpful. Sometimes, I do get long winded but I don’t want to give you guys any half-hearted stuff here.
I know the frustration of putting a curriculum together! Please let me know if you have any questions in the comments section below.
Also, let me know below what your favorite curriculum is right now, it could be for any subject. I am curious!