I love planning and organizing, so I actually start planning for our next school year when we’re about two-thirds of the way through the current school year. By that point I know what’s working (or not) and where we need to go. Last year was my youngest daughter’s final year of middle school. Wow! Time flies for sure! Now it’s on to high school!
Four of our kids have graduated high school, and each one has different strengths, weaknesses, and dreams. I like to tailor our schooling to those things. Building on strengths is pretty easy, but working on those weaknesses can be more challenging.
If you’re new to homeschooling, or a “veteran,” I hope some of these tips can help you in your planning! Summer is the perfect time to nail down your choices!
Cathy Duffy’s learning style categories is one of the best pieces of information out there! In 102 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum Duffy explains the different learning styles – Wiggly Willy, Perfect Paula, Competent Carl, and Sociable Sue. Each has certain characteristics and their corresponding preferred methods of learning. Your student will likely have several category traits, but usually one is more dominant.
Copyright 2009 Cathy Duffy
Scope and Sequence
Scope and sequence are what your child will learn in each grade and in each subject. This is often the biggest concern of new homeschoolers – what to teach and when. You will find plenty of guidance though once you start to look around. See a brief list of curriculum at the bottom of this post for more help.
Most years your students will take English (vocab, grammar, composition, & literature), math, history, science; in the high school years there will be certain required courses. Other possible options are foreign language, art, computer application/keyboarding, health, PE, as well as other electives.
For more information on scope and sequence check out the HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Association) webpage “Where do you start?” They have lots of information and links to books and other websites. A terrific guide to homeschool planning for late middle school through high school can be found on the HSLDA website: https://www.hslda.org/highschool/HSBrochure.pdf.
Your state requirements
Each state has different homeschooling requirements. According to HSLDA, you need to follow the state’s homeschooling laws of the state you live in (even if you’re a legal resident of another state). Homeschooling IS legal in all 50 states, but you must check with your state guidelines to find out that state’s laws. Many states have different options. For example, in Tennessee, we use an “umbrella” school, but you can also register through the school board or use a Category III distance-learning school. See the HSLDA webpage about State Laws and click on your state for more information.
- Join a support group! Support groups vary and some areas have multiple ones to meet different needs. I’ve seen groups that are ethnic, special needs, denomination specific, etc. They often offer monthly mom’s meetings for help and encouragement, field trips, co-ops (weekly or monthly classes for students), and curriculum swaps or book sales. HSLDA’s website has a great list of support groups: http://www.hslda.org/orgs/Default.aspx. Ask at your church or on Facebook too – homeschoolers love to share advice and information!
- Start simple. I can’t stress this too much. Be kind to yourself and your family and start slowly. You will find what works for you and your child, I promise! Start where you are and add as needed. My main goals in our school work are for my kids to have a solid math foundation, be able to write (thank you’s, business letters, school reports), and to have a great vocabulary by reading tons of good books.
- Be frugal. This is my personal opinion, but you can spend a bunch of money on curriculum and extras and you don’t really have to. There is plenty of free information online, and don’t forget your public library! Spend money where you need to, and save where you can.
- Once you get going take some time once a month or so to see what’s working and what isn’t. Of course your child may always fuss about math or writing or spelling, but you’ll come to realize what works (even if they don’t like it!).
Books/websites for information & curriculum
Recommended books/websites for homeschool information and curriculum:
102 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum, by Cathy Duffy
SchoolhouseTeachers.com – has lots of online courses for the whole family for a yearly price. One price covers everyone!
123Homeschool4Me has a wonderful list of “boxed” curriculum (curriculum covering all subjects by grade like Abeka, Bob Jones, Sonlight) in the post “Is a Boxed Homeschool Curriculum Right for You?”
Some of our favorites by subject:
Science curriculum: Apologia
English: Total Language Plus
For more in-depth information on math curricula, see my blog post Let’s Talk Curriculum – Math Styles & Choices. And for more information on where to get your curriculum, see my post 6 Best Places to Get Your Homeschool Curriculum.