Getting Started With Homeschool Curriculum
Getting started with homeschool curriculum can be challenging, but there are ways to make it easier. Wondering how to take the first steps in putting together a homeschool curriculum? This article will help you get started.
Getting in Touch With Your State About Your Homeschool Curriculum
When you decide to homeschool in the United States, it is your home state that determines the requirements for your education program. So the first thing you need to do in preparing to begin homeschooling is get in touch with your state to find out about any mandates that you will need to use to shape your course of study.
States vary in how strict their curriculum requirements are. Check with your state’s Department of Education for any guidance or mandates they may have as you begin to plan your homeschool curriculum. You can find the web address of your state’s department of education here: http://nces.ed.gov/CCD/ccseas.asp
When you go to your state’s education website, you probably want to allow it to set cookies, and you want to look for any reference to homeschool guidelines. If you don’t see anything, look for a search mechanism and enter “homeschool” in the box. If this does not, try “home school,” “home study,” or “home education.”
If this is not successful, plan B is to look for contact information and place a phone call to the department. In a phone call you can both try to find a person who can guide you to a web listing for homeschool guidelines as well as get in touch with a home school coordinator, or your state’s equivalent officer.
What to Ask About
Your state may mandate what subjects you teach (at a minimum), sometimes called a minimum course of study. Subjects that are likely to be required include reading, writing, mathematics, social studies or history, physical education, health education, literature, science, and art. So it is a good idea to ask about the subject areas that must be taught.
You may be required to detail the curriculum that you plan to use: what textbooks, reading material, activities, field trips, etc., and explain the education outcomes that will result from their use. It is likely that you will have to do this for each child you teach and create a new plan in each year. So ask about requirements for submitting homeschool curriculum plans.
You may be required to have a plan for end-of-the-year progress assessments. These requirements could include an assessment by a licensed teacher, may include a student portfolio of work, and/or may include results from a standardized achievement test that the state has approved. So you should ask about mandatory assessments because this will help you determine certain elements of your homeschool curriculum.
Your child may be eligible for part-time enrollment in a public school academic program and/or participation in public school extracurricular activities. This is another area that it is important to ask about, as it can have an important effect on your planning.
Any situation in which plans have to be submitted is likely to have dates and deadlines. Be sure that you ask about any deadlines for submission of homeschool curriculum that might apply to you.
States are likely to have special guidelines for students with disabilities. Because of the way Federal law is written, school districts are responsible for screening of students in their district. This means that if you believe your child may have a disability, the public school must cover the expense of a comprehensive evaluation every three years.
If your child has a disability or you suspect he or she may, you should ask about evaluation and also find out if the public school will provide support and/or services to your child in your homeschool or through a partial enrollment program. It is likely that a homeschool plan for a child with a disability will need to describe the adaptations made for the sake of accommodation, so this is another area to inquire about before you complete design of your homeschool curriculum.
If possible, read through any information, for example pdf downloads, related to homeschooling curriculum before calling the state. This will give you a sense of the requirements and also help you formulate questions beyond those suggested here.
National Center for Education Statistics: Common Core of Data, State Education Agencies nces.ed.gov/CCD/ccseas.asp
Guidelines for Home Study in Vermont Vermont Department of Education
Alabama Department of Education Website