Am I Covering the Basics?
A common question plagues nearly every homeschool parent during their homeschool years: Am I teaching enough and covering the basics? We want to know that our curriculum choices are building a strong foundation for our children, equipping them with the basics they need to pursue a lifetime of learning.
Points to Ponder
Here are some tips and suggestions for ensuring that you build a good foundation with the basics for your children.
Preschoolers and kindergartners need to play! This is the perfect age for learning colors and shapes, alphabet and numbers, and sequencing, as well as developing both fine and gross motor skills. The best way to learn these things is through games, crafts, and educational toys rather than a formal curriculum.
Early elementary is time for the basics. In fact, these early years allow much more freedom than many parent realize. Through second or third grade, do not stress if all of your energy goes into introducing your child to the foundations of math, language arts, and writing. Use this time to help your child begin to get excited about learning! Here are some ways to accomplish this:
- Spend this time discovering your child’s learning styles so as to maximize their learning potential.
- Focus primarily on establishing the basics. During these years, subjects such as science and history can just as easily be learned through living books and hands-on nature exploration as through textbooks. Establish a solid foundation in reading, math, and language arts.
- Keep electives fun and low-stress, both on yourself and your children.
Begin to Understand
In the early learning years, your child was learning how to learn. During upper elementary and middle school, that education will begin to pay off as understanding falls into place and things that were introduced in the early learning years begin to connect. These years offer a great transition time, preparing students and parents for the greater academic challenges ahead. Use this time to encourage students to discover their passions and interests.
- Don’t try to chase every academic option available. That will only lead to burnout for yourself and your child! Instead, simply increase the challenge on the foundational subjects, and let your child gradually begin to explore additional subjects of interest.
- Utilize curriculum choices in the basic subjects of math, language arts, science, and history that will establish foundations for high school without overwhelming your child.
- Select electives and extracurricular options that challenge your child but also allow him to pursue his interests.
Learn to Reason
The high school years offer so many opportunities! It is also the easiest time to ensure that the basics are covered. Explore your state high school graduation requirements, and use that as a foundation for building your curriculum. Once that foundation is laid, you can build on it in a variety of ways.
- Be creative with electives and with any flexible requirements, encouraging your high schooler to pursue interests and build a portfolio.
- Begin to talk to your child about post-graduation interests. Is college an option? Then consider top college choices, and base a high school plan on application requirements. Does your child wish to instead pursue apprenticeship or alternative post-graduation options? Focus on gaining experience in those areas now, during the high school years.
- Be intentional about electives and extracurricular activities. Allow your child to pursue things that energize her, allowing her to both enjoy and learn from her experiences.
Living books should remain prominent even into higher grades. Well-read children tend to have fewer gaps than children who have little exposure to living books, no matter what curriculum or teaching style you choose.
Ultimately, you are the expert on your children, knowing how best they need to learn. But, you don’t have to go it alone! Sometimes utilizing the experience of other homeschoolers who have assembled lesson plan guides and curriculum packages can help you learn what does and does not work for your child. Explore established booklists, purchase a lesson plan, or talk to fellow homeschoolers with similar learning and teaching styles.
Don’t be afraid to talk to traditional school teachers or check your state’s educational standards. Either option can help you see what your child would be learning in a traditional school setting. Armed with this information, you can incorporate the same topics and subjects into your school year while still maintaining the flexibility and personalized teaching opportunities that led you to choose homeschooling in the first place.
A Few More Thoughts
Our children’s education is a responsibility that we do not hold lightly. But, we also do not have to spend our homeschooling years fearful that we will leave huge gaps. By attentively managing the many resources available to us, we can confidently give our children all they need without overwhelming them or ourselves!