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Planning a School Curriculum

I thought people visiting this site would benefit from seeing how I plan our kid's schoolwork for the year:

  • I mentioned in a previous posting, I use "Home Learning Year by Year" as my bible for planning the kid's curriculum. Working with that book, I start out by looking to see where we are, and where we need to be by the end of the school year.
  • Looking at the calendar, I mark out all of the holidays as "no school" days, and also mark out where I think we'll take a vacation, or where it would be a good "semester" break. I figure out how many days of school we have left, and how many our state requires. This calendar becomes our assignment book. In the assignment book, I write:
  1. Monday: History, Reading, Language Arts Basics (LAB), and Math.
  2. Tuesday: Science, Reading, LAB, and Math.
  3. Wednesday: History, Reading, LAB, and Math.
  4. Thursday: Science, Reading, LAB, and Math
  5. Friday: either "Test", or "Art, Music, Foreign Language", or "Write a Report/Poem/Story"
  • Our state requires 172 minimum days at 4 hours of contact per day. Required basic education includes communication skills (reading, writing, speaking), mathematics, history, civics/government, literature, and science.
  • Then I start gathering materials. My kid loves workbooks and reading, so I find a good school supply store and start browsing. Once home, I take all of the books (including literature and reference material, workbooks, etc.) and separate according to subject.
  • I start with the easiest first: literature. I write the list of fiction he needs to read. This year was: Mystery of the Cupboard, James and the Giant Peach, Red Badge of Courage... all the way to Little House on the Prairie, Prince and the Pauper, Bridge to Terabithia, The Hobbit and Harry Potter's Sorceror's Stone. I start with the easiest, figuring a few chapters a day, and write the book and chapter numbers in the assignment book. Each day I note which chapters until it's done. The next day I write "test" and make sure I have one ready. I might give him a couple of days before he starts the next book. And so on.
  • When he reads a book that's been made into a movie, I assign watching that movie a few days after he finishes reading the book, and require a report comparing the book to the movie, and asking him to note any differences.
  • Workbooks for various topics: I assign a couple of pages a day, noting which workbook he needs to work in. When he finished one workbook, the next day might be a free day on the subject, then he'll start the next workbook.
  • I write his assignments in pencil. You never know what might happen! However, he has, at one point, erased what I wrote because he didn't like the number of pages I assigned. Keep a close eye on your assignment book!
  • When he's sick, he makes up all missed work on the next school day/days. We need that attendance in case we're ever audited.
  • Math is usually several workbook pages. Every once in a while I'll print out a sheet (or 4!) of math equations from one of the many websites. My favorite is: - grades up thru fifth, from addition to division, fractions, telling time, Roman numerals, and much more.
  • Language Arts Basics (LAB) is often several different kinds of workbooks: from spelling to writing, handwriting, grammar and more.
  • When it comes to the reading requirement, he reads aloud his history and science assignments, as well as any biographical and reference information. But more importantly, I make a list of classic fiction books he needs to get through by the end of the school year. This takes care of both the "reading" requirement, and the "literature".
  • When it comes to fulfilling the speaking requirement, once a month or so I have him give a report to write and present orally to me or Hubby.
  • History often includes world and U.S. history, geography and civics/government. We especially use local (and national) elections to help discuss civics.
  • There are days when I assign him to listen to his math cd's, or the cd for spanish or french. I might also assign him to paint a picture or draw an anniversary or birthday card for his art assignment.
  • Music might be listening to a classical music station and hum some of a piece, or make up a song to sing to us before dinner.
  • I keep a separate red binder for assignments like reports or poems he writes. I keep them in order by section (writing, math, history, etc.) and then chronological.
  • There's still another binder with reference material broken down by subject: roman numerals, math calculations, etc.
  • I take advantage of school supply sales in August, stocking up on lots of pencils, erasers, lined paper, rulers, glue sticks and more.
  • His days of attendance are tracked in the assignment book/calendar. I note on each day how much time it took for him to complete his work (including his fidgeting time) and at the end of the week, I bring down his total from last week and add this week's. I also track the days. We are usually quite a bit more than required, because we don't do school for just 9 months.... we do it year round because his brain goes to sleep when he has more than a couple of weeks off at a time!

I hope this makes schooling-at-home more clear.