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Homeschooling: Getting started, part 2

In the first article of this series, I reviewed the steps that parents should take to make sure their child(ren) transition smoothly and legally from traditional schools to home schooling. This includes: researching and submitting necessary state department of education paperwork, creating a school year and school day schedule, choosing subjects and books/ materials, and setting learning goals. What’s next? This article explains how to plan each subject along with projects, quizzes, and tests to ensure your home school is successful.

1. Create a curriculum calendar. This is not the same as creating a school year or school day calendar. A curriculum calendar breaks down each subject you’ll teach so the material is spread evenly across your school year calendar.

Use the school year learning goals you created along with the state or national subject standards for each class you’ll teach. Read the entire state or national standard before finalizing your curriculum calendar. You can save time by using Excel or Microsoft Word to create the calendar or by using a blank monthly calendar template to organize your curriculum. You can find free, printable monthly calendars here: http://www.calendarlabs.com/blank-calendar.php.

Here are the steps to take to create a curriculum calendar for each subject you’ll teach:

1. Visit your state’s Department of Education website and search for standards by grade level and subject (ex: “7th grade social studies”) for each subject you’ll teach and download the Word or .pdf file.
2. Then, skim read the entire file to see what your child(ren) is expected to learn in the subject by year’s end.
3. Read the standards and divide the material so you are teaching one to two standards each week.
4. Write the numbers of the standards you’ll cover each week in the “Monday” boxes on the curriculum calendar. 5. Do this until you have planned the subject for the entire school year.

Make sure to review each subject calendar once you’re done. Look for mistakes such as devoting too many weeks to a set of standards or planning standards during weeks where you’ve scheduled breaks (i.e. a fall or spring break, if you chose to include these in your school year). A well – planned curriculum calendar will save you tons of time during your school year!

2. Plan projects, field trips, quizzes, and tests. Now that you have curriculum calendars for each subject you’ll teach, it’s time to add special projects and knowledge assessments. It’s very important to check to see whether or not your child(ren) have retained what you’ve taught them daily. You also need to schedule special subjects and other learning assessments so your child(ren) can show you they’re remembering the information and skills you’ve taught. Field trips are a great way to help your child(ren) extend this learning.

You also need to schedule projects, quizzes, and tests to check large blocks of student learning. Think of these activities as summaries. Once you’ve taught a block of content – adding and subtracting fractions, for example – you need to make sure students remember this information and can use or apply it in everyday situations. As a home schooling parent, you have a lot more freedom in assessing your child(ren’s) learning. Use your creativity and design fun and interesting ways to give your students a “learning check-up”.

Be sure to visit my blog to read part three of this home schooling series: “Creating unit and lesson plans”.

Summary

Curriculum calendars list weekly standards you plan to teach in each subject. These should be based on state or national subject standards found online and learning goals you’ve created. Read the entire grade – level subject standard (ex: 7th grade Social Studies) and use MS Word, Excel, or a free monthly calendar template to spread the standards evenly across your planned school year. Review each subject calendar when completed to check your work and avoid last minute changes later. Make sure your curriculum calendar includes special assignments and learning assessments such as projects, field trips, quizzes, and tests.

I hope you found this article helpful. Please take a minute to leave a comment, Like this post on Facebook, or Tweet the post via Twitter using the buttons on the right side of my blog page. If you have questions about whether a tutor is right for you, or if you would like advice for your unique situation, feel free to E-mail me using the “E-mail Jeff S.” button on my Wyzant tutor home page. If you have a topic suggestion, please leave it in the Comment section below.

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