I got an email from someone a few days ago from someone who said they were in “full blown school panic.” She is considering homeschooling next year and is wondering how to start planning. And not only that, she wondered, “How do you even know what to teach?” I thought it was about time to write about planning again… especially as I start looking ahead to next year.
How do you decide what to teach?
That’s both an exciting and daunting place to be, isn’t it? I think all of us feel like that as we consider the possibilities for next year. There are just so many options! Since there is no “set” homeschool curriculum, it is a wonderful opportunity to create an educational plan that best suits the style and interests of our children and families. That said, that can be extremely intimidating for someone just starting out!
I thought I would lay out some things I consider when planning for the upcoming semester. Plus, at the end of the post I will link to other similar posts I’ve written on planning and preparation. I’m sure other’s will also have some amazing thoughts and pointers too because every homeschool family takes a slightly different path and different approach to homeschooling. If you are just starting out, be sure to reach out to others locally and online for pointers, suggestions, and support!
What are my first steps in planning for a homeschool year?
First, I consider what my child has already learned. This would be especially important to think about if I were taking my child out of traditional (public or private) school for the first time. I would jot down some of the topics they have already studied and consider covering something new.
I would also consider *how* my child learns best. Does my child do well with hands-on activities? manipulatives? worksheets? listening to stories? reading?
Third, I would consider what my child is interested in. My kids definitely express interests in certain topics. My son, for example, has been really intrigued by diseases (and you’ll see evidence of that here on the blog with the CDC unit we did on West Nile Virus… or the page we did on diseases when something goes wrong in protein synthesis in our Cell Unit). Meanwhile, my daughter loves animals… and we incorporate different projects for her from time to time too.
I try to brainstorm ahead of time some of the ways we might study a particular unit and try to think of any idea that might work well:
- field trips
- hands-on activities
- lapbooks or interactive notebooks
- talking to an expert
Finally, I look over some of the things I *hope* my kids will learn in elementary and middle school (K thru 8th grade). I have a basic checklist of topics (mostly I carry that in my head, though since I have a blog, of course I’ve written down my thoughts and shared them here on the blog! Here are some recent posts I shared:
- Homeschool History Checklist
- Homeschool Science Checklist
- Language Arts Homeschool Checklist
- Homeschool Science Unit Checklist for Elementary and Middle School
- Finding a Homeschool Math Curriculum
I constantly assess where the kids are and what skills we should work on. I run things by my other homeschooling friends and (constantly!!) think about what holes we are leaving. Granted, *every* child will have holes in their education (whether in public, private or homeschool)… but what I scrutinize is… do they have the skills they need to learn more on their own in the future.
In the meantime, you might be interested in some of these posts on getting started with homeschooling. These posts help answer some basic questions about homeschooling:
- How to Start Homeschooling
- What are Some of the Benefits and Challenges of Homeschooling?
- Creating Daily Homeschool Procedures and Routines
- How and Why Did We Get Started Homeschooling?
- How many homeschoolers are there in the USA?
- Advice to New Homeschoolers
- 11-year Old Shares Her Thoughts About Homeschooling
- How Long Will We Keep Homeschooling? (Homeschooling Through High School)
- Back to (Home)School Shopping List
- What Happens in a Homeschool Day — Our Week or 2 in Review (K, Gr. 3, Gr. 5) — A glimpse into our homeschool that helps give you a flavor of what our homeschool routine looked like.
- What We’ve Been Up to Lately (Grades 1, 4, 6)
- How to Get Started Homeschooling with Unit Studies
- What About the Social Aspects of Homeschooling? - This post includes a long list of activities homeschooled kids can get involved in.
- Homeschool Questions Answered: Why do people homeschool?
- Homeschool Encouragment: To Homeschool You Need…
- Time and the Busy Parent
- How to Start Homeschooling After the Holidays
I hope you find something useful! I’ll see you again soon here or at our Homeschool Den Facebook Page. ~Liesl