Probably one of the most common questions homeschoolers ask is what to teach. Even outsiders are prone to wondering how moms and dads decide what to cover each year, some even assuming that school districts provide the actual curriculum to follow.
The truth is that homeschooling parents decide exactly what to teach, and when, if ever. With the exception of states that mandate the teaching of certain subjects, such as health and physical education (required in Pennsylvania) or music and drawing (mandated in Massachusetts), parents not only decide upon the curriculum but are free to change it at any time along the way. (Find out what your state requires HERE.)
While the ability to choose is very appealing to some families, others prefer to follow an outline. Knowing what others are teaching, what is taught in schools or what is assumed to be the proper grade sequence can be comforting to those who prefer to follow a previously-designed curriculum, rather than creating one on their own.
Standard Textbooks and Curriculum Products: Books and curriculum systems are designed to be followed from beginning to end. Following the table of contents or daily lesson plan is a way to cover all of the material that the author or publisher recommends for that age/grade child. Merely teaching the lessons in order or reading the chapters in sequence can work as a spine or an entire course in those subject areas.
Core Knowledge Recommendations: A content-specific guide that parents can follow year by year, grade by grade, to insure progress of knowledge and skills for grades K-8. Used by schools and homeschoolers alike and can be followed in part, or in its entirety. Books are available for purchase, plus the entire sequence may be downloaded free HERE.
World Book Typical Course of Study: Based on research and combined with the study of national courses and syllabuses, World Book offers a free curriculum guide for parents with students PreK-12. The curriculum, outlined in a yearly format, details what is generally required for every grade across the US. It provides a detailed guide of topics and major concepts in most academic areas typically taught in homeschool. Find it HERE.
Homeschooling Helps: Several books have been written about what to teach and how to design a homeschool curriculum. These books are available from book resellers and online. Just two of the books are pictured here, but readers are encouraged to search for others on their own.
National Curriculum and Standards: Sets of standards have existed for years and are thought to insure that all classroon students are prepared for graduation and the workforce. Many states recently adopted the Common Core Standards which are purported to be benchmarked to international standards, thus insuring that students nationally emerge as competitive in the global marketplace. The Common Core Standards can be viewed HERE. Other standards, like the new Social Studies Standards and even the older NSTA Science Standards may also be helpful for seeing what is typically taught in each grade across the US.
Online Philosophy- and Method-Specific Guides: For those who have made the decision to homeschool following a particular philosophy or using a particular method, online guides can offer the structure and information needed to homeschool by grade, every single year. Charlotte Mason users, for example, may like the free Ambleside Online Curriculum, and those looking for an old-fashioned biblical education based on old texts and free downloadable books might like the curriculum plan offered by Old Fashioned Education.
Finally, families using an eclectic homeschooling approach should be encouraged to use bits and pieces of any of the above. Curricular recommendations may be used in whole or in part, or can be modified too, determined only by the needs of individual homeschoolers.
**The products pictured in this post are merely examples of the many options available for purchase or download. They are shown to help the reader and should not be misconstrued as an endorsement or recommendation for any of the specific items or products shown here. Note that, unless specified, we receive no benefit, compensation or recognition for featuring products on Quick Start Homeschool.