Thursday, January 28, 2010

How do I figure out the "supposed to's" in homeschooling?

How do you know what to teach? is the subject of next week's Blog Cruise.  This is not a question I've been asked very often, but it is a really good one to consider.

The big thing to know is that there is not one single plan out there for what a 3rd grader is "supposed to" be studying.  So who is to say whether what I'm doing is "right" or not?  I think with a lot of prayer, some planning, and maybe a bit of checking other people's scopes and sequences, that the "supposed to's" for a particular child at a particular time can be found.  But none of my four children have done the same thing in kindergarten (and Trina, my 3 year old, will undoubtedly be doing something very different from her brothers when she gets there too).  They've all done reading, religion and 'rithmetic... some have done writing, they have done some type of history or science.  But the specifics?  Those have varied.  A lot.

That being said, there are a number of things that a homeschooler can do to be sure they are teaching what they are "supposed to" at any given time.  The biggest thing though is to know that you will leave gaps.  Some of those gaps might be big enough to drive an 18-wheeler through. But you cannot possibly teach everything.  With some planning, those gaps can be in areas you aren't as concerned about.  And if they learn how to learn, then it becomes their issue, not yours.  Besides, you need to leave them something about which they can say to your grandchildren, "Wow!  How come I never learned that in school?" (Yeah, my kids hear me saying that.  A lot.)

But how do you know what to teach?  Some possibilities:
  1. One way you can be sure of what to teach is to go with an all-in-one type of a program.  This is not something I've exactly done.  But if you go with curriculum from places like Abeka or Veritas Press, even if you pick and choose a bit (3rd grade math?  2nd grade language arts?), if you are getting the "right" level for your child from everything they offer, you can feel fairly confident you are teaching what you "should" be.
  2. Find one of a gazillion resources out there that give a scope and sequence.  What Your Child Needs to Know When by Robin Sampson is a title I own.  There are resources available online though too.  I don't use them, so I don't know where to look -- I'd bet someone else on this blog cruise will link 'em though.
  3. Use a resource like the The Core Knowledge Series (link is to What Your First Grader Needs to Know), which goes from Preschool through 6th grade.  You could use the book as a basis for creating your own lessons.  Or, what I've done, is to teach what I want, and have one of these books in the van to use throughout the year to kill time.  It helps me feel like I am covering all of the "supposed to's" this way.
  4. Or, the approach I've been closer to for elementary years anyway, just not worry a whole lot about it.  I try to do a systematic math program, and learn to read, and we choose history and science and everything else based on what is available or what seems like the right thing at the time.
High school is a bit different.  Not that I feel like I need to mimic what the local public school does, but I do think it is a really good idea, sometime around 7th grade, to do some planning for high school.  I reviewed a resource last fall that I think is perfect for this.  It was by EDUDPS, called The Complete Career, College and High School Guide for Homeschoolers.

This resource helped us to see what is generally expected for a college prep transcript, and to start mapping out how this particular 7th grader wants to get there.

How do you know what to teach?  Well, in my experience, I am never quite sure I am teaching what I'm supposed to.  But I pray about it, and try to stay open to where God leads me.

The TOS Crew Facebook Fan Page is sponsoring a Blog Cruise -- a question of the week -- every Tuesday.  How Do You Know What to Teach? is planned for Feb. 2.  I plan to participate as often as possible.

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Heidi said...

Great post - again! I need to get mine typed up. The thoughts are there, just not on my blog yet.

Rieshy said...

I enjoyed reading this.

My oldest is only a few months away from graduation. He's done well but I will be doing a few things different for his younger siblings. I'd never heard of the source "The Complete Career..." that you mentioned. I'll have to check it out.