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Thursday, December 4, 2014

How to Homeschool Part 3: What Do I Teach and When?

Just starting out and not sure where to begin? You're not alone! For me, the hardest part was figuring out exactly what I needed to teach my child. What subjects were required for a homeschool education? What year should I teach each subject?

Well, I found out it’s a lot simpler than I thought. Just focus on the basics until you get your feet wet. After you get a handle on the three R’s – Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic – launch into other fun activities and extra-curricular classes/courses. Essentially, begin with the basics then add on electives from there. Electives are courses that come after the basics. They are courses that you would love to teach and would love for your child to take, but they contain information that is not really needed at this point in his education.

For every year of a child’s education, there will be different basics. The basics for a high school student are different than the basics for an elementary student. In fact, the basics for a first grader and a fifth grader are different as well. 

Below are the basics for each grade level and suggested electives. Please be aware that your state may have additional requirements.

Kindergarten Basics
Phonics- Learning to read is the only true requirement for this age. You can expect that very bright children will read fairly independently during this year. However, some children are not ready to learn to read in kindergarten.

Kindergarten Electives
Math readiness- learning numbers and basic adding
Art and crafts readiness- learning to use scissors and glue and following basic instructions
History/Science/Geography readiness- being exposed to these subjects through read alouds, media, and field trips
Lots of outdoor playtime

First Grade Basics
Phonics
Introductory Math
Handwriting

First Grade Electives
History/Social Studies
Science
Art
Foreign Language audios or videos

Second Grade Basics
Phonics
Reading (for some)
Math (including math facts)
Handwriting

Second Grade Electives
History/Social Studies
Science
Typing (should be taught early but need not last an entire year)
Art
Foreign Language audios or videos

Third and Fourth Grade Basics
Grammar* (phonics for late readers)
Spelling
Reading
Math (including math facts)
Handwriting

Third and Fourth Grade Electives
History/Social Studies
Science
Art
Geography
Foreign Language study

Fifth Grade Basics
Writing
Grammar*
Spelling
Reading
Math (including math facts)

Fifth Grade Electives
History/Social Studies
Science
Art
Geography
Foreign Language study

Sixth Grade Basics
Writing
Grammar*
Spelling
Literature
Math (including math facts)

Electives
History/Social Studies
Science
Art
Geography
Foreign Language study


*It's important that the child learn the basic grammar concepts for common knowledge and standardized tests. However, the purpose of grammar is to teach proper writing format. If a child reads a lot and proper grammar is used in the home, the child need not spend years on the study of grammar as its proper usage will come naturally. 

Seventh Grade Basics
By seventh grade, the student’s basic work increases significantly, but your teaching time decreases. Most students are able to learn independently.

Writing
Literature
Pre-Algebra (or complete review of basic math)
Science
History and/or Geography

Seventh Grade Electives
Art
Foreign Language study

Eighth Grade Basics
Writing
Literature
Algebra (or Pre Algebra)
Science
History and/or Geography

Electives
Art
Foreign Language study

Ninth – Twelfth Grade Basics and Electives
*See my College Crash Course posts for more information about high school.

English- 4 years (Literature and Composition)
Math- 4 years  (Algebra, Geometry, Algebra 2, plus another math)
Science- 4 years  (Biology, Physical Science, plus two more)
History- 2 years (American, World)
Government- half year
Economics- half year
Foreign Language- 2 years
Fine Arts- 1 year
PE- 1 year

Remember that your measure of success as a homeschool mom is not how many presidents your child knows or how much Latin he can recite, or if he’s reading high school level texts at seven years old. Your measure of success is your child’s heart–his heart for God, the confidence he has as a child of God, and his attitude. This should be the focus of the early years. When your child’s obedience and love for God are strong and secure, he will have the maturity required in middle and high school to take responsibility for his academics and pursue his passions with purpose.


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