How to Plan Your Homeschool Curriculum

A happy African American family, mature mother working from home on her laptop, while her daughter is homeschooling and doing her homework

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Whether you're new to homeschooling or you've been homeschooling for several years now, planning your curriculum for the school year is the cornerstone of homeschooling. Even if you plan to use an online homeschool curriculum, it still takes some initial research and planning.

If you have never created your own plan for teaching at home, this can seem like an overwhelming and daunting task. But taking the time to personalize the curriculum you will be using for your kids this school year can make your homeschooling experience much more meaningful and individualized for your children. So, if you are planning to homeschool, here are some things to consider as you decide just what your kids will be learning this school year.

Review Your State's Requirements

When it comes to homeschooling every state has different guidelines, and sometimes these guidelines change. Start by consulting the Homeschool Legal Defense Association for a list of your state's homeschooling laws and regulations. You want to be sure you are following your state's rules when you begin developing your curriculum.

Likewise, some states require that you teach certain subjects. And some even take it a step further and require you to teach a specific curriculum. While you want to be sure you do everything your state asks of you, you also can still get a little creative in how the curriculum is presented. Just be sure you make following your state's rules a priority.

Set Goals

Every good plan begins with a set of goals and objectives—things you want to accomplish throughout the school year. Of course, the list doesn't have to be exhaustive and can be fine-tuned. But knowing what you hope to achieve or what milestones you want your child to reach will become the foundation of your homeschooling plan.

For this reason, it's important to sit down and think about not only what skills you want your kids to master, but also what goals you hope to meet. This process will not only help you build your homeschool curriculum but it also will give you a way to measure your results. Plus having homeschool goals will help you and your kids stay on track throughout the school year.

Ask For Advice

If you're new to homeschooling, it's important that you talk with people who have experience with homeschooling. Doing so can save you a lot of time and energy—especially because they can steer you away from curriculum or programs that they have found challenging to use or ineffective.

They also may be able to provide you with resources and suggestions that would otherwise take you hours of research on your own to find.

Reach out to local homeschooling co-ops and groups and ask for their recommendations. You may even want to consider joining a group in your community.

Most likely, you will find that homeschooling communities not only enrich your experience and provide socialization opportunities but also add much-needed support and encouragement.

Start Small

If this is your first time preparing your own curriculum, most homeschool parents recommend that you start small. Begin with one subject—preferably one that you're strong in and go from there. Also, be sure to be flexible in your planning. Resist the urge to be overly detailed and rigid.

The beauty of homeschooling is that you can move at a pace that is comfortable for you and your kids. There will be things that your kids grasp right away and you can move through them quickly and there will be others that you want to spend more time on—especially if it's a subject area that your child wants to know more about.

Talk to Your Kids

Remember that homeschooling gives your kids independence when it comes to learning and promotes a growth mindset. So be sure to talk to them about what they want to learn or if they have ideas about what the homeschooling environment should look like.

You also should find out if there are particular topics that interest them. Try to incorporate things that they really want to learn.

For instance, if your child has a fascination with marine life, try to incorporate a unit or two about that subject. And, if your child has always wanted to learn about computer programming consider adding that to your school curriculum.

You may even be able to find some camps or workshops to supplement their love for computer learning. The key is to allow your kids to direct some of what they will be learning this school year.

Consider Supplementing

Some parents set out with the goal of creating an entire year's worth of curriculum from scratch. But for a first-time homeschooler, this can be overwhelming, especially if you made the decision to homeschool at the last minute and are rushing to get ready for the school year. Or, maybe you feel a little unsure about teaching your kids some more difficult subjects that your state requires.

To help alleviate some of the burdens you're experiencing, consider supplementing your curriculum with some outside resources. There are some wonderful online homeschooling programs that kids can take that teach things like foreign languages, physics, and chemistry.

You also could consider getting an online tutor for your child in a particular subject like statistics or calculus to help with those topics. And some homeschool co-ops even provide group teaching for more advanced topics where they pay to have a professional teach their kids in a group setting.

The key is not to let your unfamiliarity with a topic keep you from homeschooling. There are lots of creative ways to get your kids the instruction they need.

Schedule Related Activities

Every homeschool family needs to have some extracurricular activities and field trips planned into their curriculum. So pick things that complement your lessons as well as things that your kids are interested in.

For instance, if you are studying marine biology this school year, be sure you plan a trip to the aquarium. You also may want to look into any small workshops your kids could participate in at your local aquarium or zoo.

Likewise, your homeschool curriculum should include some music, art, and physical activity—even if your kids are not that interested. The goal is to expose your child to many different things.

Even if they think they won't like something upfront, they may decide after trying it that they love it. Think of it like trying a new vegetable. Exposure is important. Just let them have a say in what they try.

For instance, if you want your child to do a physical activity once or twice a week, let them pick what that might be. And don't be afraid to think outside the box. For instance, physical activity is about more than soccer, volleyball, and basketball.

It also includes yoga, taekwondo, horseback riding, swimming, hiking, and so much more. The same is true for art and music. Get creative with your options and have a little fun with it.

Draft Your Ideal Routine

Once you've decided what you will be teaching, you need to think about when this will occur. In other words, you need to plan your homeschooling schedule. For some parents, this might mean devoting an entire day to one topic. For another family, it could mean blocking off certain hours each day for different topics.

Start by writing down what you would like your homeschool day to look like. And then, experiment with it for the first week or so.

Don't get discouraged if things don't go exactly as planned throughout the day. Even in a traditional school setting, the teacher doesn't follow the lesson plan exactly as they intended.

Take note of where you might need more time and feel free to eliminate some extras that aren't working for your family. Ideally by the end of the first month or so you will have a routine that fits your family's needs.

Add Service Learning

Learning involves more than just adding knowledge to your kids' lives. You also need to equip your kids with good character. As a result, you may want to brainstorm with your kids about how you can give back to the community. You could even create a service-learning project and add a few lessons to the community service.

For example, if your family wants to address food insecurity or hunger in your community, brainstorm ways you can help. Perhaps this means donating to a local food bank, volunteering at a food pantry, or even packing lunches for the homeless.

Do a little research to see what your community has available. Then supplement the volunteerism and have your kids to a unit on food insecurity in the U.S. You could even have them do a presentation to the rest of the family or make a YouTube video.

Another option for service-learning is to teach your kids about diversity. Look for opportunities for them to volunteer with different community groups that address racism. And, then have them study racism in the United States.

The important thing is that your kids are not just learning about math, science, and English, but they also are learning about the world around them.

A Word From Verywell

When it comes to homeschooling, it's important to have a plan and a curriculum that supports that plan. In fact, having an established curriculum helps you and your kids set off down a path with a purpose. It also provides your school year with some definition and some starting points.

Of course, sticking to that exact plan is not required. That's what makes homeschooling great for many families. At its core, homeschooling is meant to be individualized, creative, and flexible. So have a little fun as you create your curriculum. You will be amazed where your ideas will take you.

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  1. Homeschool Legal Defense Association. Homeschool Laws By State.