Today's post covers How to Start Homeschooling, plus Educational Goals, Homeschool Curriculum, Lesson Plans, Unschooling, and Homeschool Forms.
As you prepare for the upcoming homeschool year, revisit – or create – a list of your educational goals for your children. If you didn’t reach all your homeschool goals last year, simply move them to this year’s list of goals.
Educational goals for your child might include:
* Developing a love of learning
* Enhancing curiosity in special interests or topics
* Finding joy in daily activities or hobbies
* Managing time and responsibilities better
* Volunteering in the community
Educational objectives and outcomes could include:
* Reading classic literature or books by favorite authors
* Trying more advanced science experiments and recording results
* Applying mental math skills or logic for solving problems
* Researching famous people or current events
* Focusing on daily life skills to increase abilities and self-confidence
From these goals and objectives, you can begin planning a curriculum (the knowledge and skills you’d like your child to acquire) along with creating lesson plans (the activities or studies that support or complement your curriculum).
When planning a curriculum, consider your children’s wishes and input on what they’d like to learn in the coming year. Children will often surprise you with the wonderful ideas and learning suggestions they come up with! Together, you and your children can create a curriculum that is fun, interesting, and challenging to ensure a well-rounded education.
To create a curriculum, think about your educational goals, philosophies, or ambitions for your child. Then determine the objectives or plans needed to achieve those goals. These are explained more fully here:
• Educational philosophies center on what you believe your children should learn in order to achieve happiness and success in their lives. This can include morals and values, respect and responsibility, manners and kindness toward others, faith and spirituality, a love for learning, and a love for life.
• Educational aims or ambitions for your children could include life skills and self-reliance; critical thinking and reasoning skills; creative thinking skills; the ability to work well with others; to enjoy one’s work, life, and career; to show love and respect for one’s family; to be a responsible and upstanding citizen; and to contribute to one’s community.
• Learning goals and objectives should support your educational philosophies
and aims for your child. For instance:
* Learning self-discipline and self-control is critical to a happy family life and career.
* Proper manners, social skills, and speaking skills are important when working with others or when contributing to the community.
* Good reading, math, science, or technology skills are imperative to all areas of one’s life, from daily living to getting ahead in one’s career.
* Artistic and creative skills add joy and meaning to one’s life.
* Healthy habits and life skills contribute to a long, productive life.
Write a Curriculum
Once you’ve determined your family’s philosophies, as well as your ambitions for your child’s education and the goals or objectives to support those ambitions, you can begin designing the curriculum. But don’t forget to consider your children’s interests and learning styles!
To write your curriculum, you’ll want to list your educational philosophies, goals, and objectives (see the Homeschool Forms link here), and keep them in a special folder labeled “Curriculum.” On the days when you forget where you are headed with your child’s education, reviewing the list of goals and objectives will be a great help!
A curriculum outline for Grade 5 Social Studies, for instance, could include:
* United States history
* Discovery of America and early settlements
* Colonial and pioneer life in America
* American Revolution and independence
* Westward movement
* Geography of United States
* Industrial Revolution
* Natural resources
* Cultural resources and relationships
Lessons and activities you do with your children will be based on the topics noted on a simple curriculum outline, similar to the above outline.
As you continue determining subject areas your child will study (i.e., Social Studies, Language Arts, Math, Science, Technology, Arts and Music, Health, and Life Skills), you’ll want to slant them toward the goals and aims that you have listed for your child’s education.
For instance, a goal for your child might be having a good, healthy life. Therefore, in studying the human body in Science, you might want to:
* Emphasize lessons on health and nutrition
* Focus on the way the body functions
* Learn how the bones and muscles work in tandem
* Determine how blood carries nutrients and oxygen to all parts of the body
* Research the respiratory and digestive systems
* Point out how proper nutrition, exercise, and healthy habits help the body function as it was designed to function.
As you can see, once you have your goals established for your child (for example, being a healthy individual), you’ll be able to focus on the objectives that you want the lessons to convey (in this case, how to achieve and maintain a healthy body).
Children master skills at varying ages and rates. Keep in mind that your child might read well at age 6, but another might struggle with reading at age 8. Or one child might grasp the relation between fractions and decimals at age 8, while another might not grasp the concept until age 10. One child might write well in cursive at age 9; another may not display attractive penmanship until age 12 or later. So, consider your child’s unique skills and abilities when setting educational goals and objectives.
Less Formal Curriculum
Designing a curriculum might seem like a lot of work. Yet, most parents already have an idea of the educational goals or ambitions for their children, even if they haven’t written them down in a formal outline.
Most parents are already in tune with their children’s interests, abilities, and learning styles, so it might not be necessary to document the objectives of each lesson. You might not need to go into detail regarding the studies or activities that will complement your child’s learning goals.
Unschooling is a nice option for many families. In an unschooling environment, the curriculum tends to accommodate the children’s curiosity and their interest-led activities. Don’t worry! When children are interested in a topic, they will learn! Plus, they’ll retain what they learn for a longer period of time.
If you need to present evidence of the “curriculum” you use for your “unschooled homeschool,” you can illustrate how your children’s interests and activities (such as their hobbies, experiments, creative projects, talents, discussions or books read) accomplish the goals and philosophies your family believes in – even in an unschooling environment.
Convey the unschooled curriculum with photos or short videos showing daily or weekly activities, projects, or experiments. Your child can create artwork or build models or sculptures depicting various projects. Perhaps, together, you can build a bookcase or shelves to hold the projects, sculptures, art, experiments, and displays, then take photos or brief videos of that, too. This serves as proof of continuous learning, regardless of your family’s style of home education.
To record activities in a logbook, you may use our Weekly Planner Log Book forms. The log sheets can be viewed and printed via this Weekly Planner Log link. You may use the log sheets to plan your days and weeks in advance, or to easily jot down the activities and learning events at the end of the day.
Create Lesson Plans
Lesson plans are the activities or studies that complement and carry out the intent of the curriculum and educational goals for your children.
For instance, one of your goals might be for your child to play an active part in your community as a caring, concerned individual. Therefore, you might want to create a lesson plan for Social Studies that has the objective of interacting with others for the good of the community.
Lesson plans, for this objective, could include researching the history of volunteerism in communities. Examples could include Benjamin Franklin, who helped to establish the first volunteer fire department, or Clara Barton, who founded the American Red Cross through volunteering her services. Your children could read biographies of these people, as well as books on how to volunteer. Then they could write or share their thoughts and ideas on how they could help others in your community.
Other parts of the lesson plan could include drawing posters of volunteers, visiting the headquarters of local volunteer associations, and taking an active part in community volunteer programs, such as canned food drives, clothing or toy collections, animal shelter assistance, or visiting with the elderly in nursing homes. Be sure to take photos or videos documenting these activities, too.
In our next post, we’ll cover Lessons Plans in more detail. Stay tuned!
For the Homeschool Forms mentioned here:
Homeschool forms for recording your Educational Goals and Objectives are available for viewing and printing at this link:
Weekly Planner Log sheets for recording daily/weekly lesson plans or learning activities can be viewed and printed at this link:
Or contact us at EVHomeschooling@gmail.com to receive the forms via email.
Note: Some material published here include excerpts from my book, The Everything Guide to Homeschooling, by Sherri Linsenbach, available online or in libraries and bookstores.