So you have decided how to teach and what your children’s learning styles are. Now it is time to decide what materials and subjects you want/need to gather. There is no right or wrong or “must do” list for elementary ages. There are the core recommendations of course, but this your school and you get to choose what you teach.
Once you get to middle school you will find that you will need to teach some subjects in a certain order to lead into high school. This is more important if you intend for your child to go to college. It is always a good practice to give them the education that would prepare them for more, rather than less, regardless of what they ultimately choose. Better to have the education and not need it, than need it and not have it. I see no reason to slack this for our special needs children either. Give them as much as they are capable of doing and don’t forget to challenge them, too. Children will surprise you with what they are capable of, if we allow ourselves to expect it from them.
The below table is a generic track of subjects that will prepare your child for college. You will want to look at actual college entrance requirements to tailor the below suggestions to fit your child’s needs.
This is by no means “the” list but it is a good rule of thumb and should be customized to your student’s interests and strengths. It is a place to start and begin road mapping their educational path.
Once you have determined what subjects you will teach each child, decide which subjects you can combine, if it is at all possible. If you have an age gap of 2-3 years between children, there are curriculums that are written specifically for this purpose. The easiest curriculums to cross grade levels with are science and history. Combining classes means you teach one class in place of two or even three, thus saving you time and also providing some group discussion.
Another great help in homeschooling are online resources, computer learning, and dvd led classes. Once a child is in late elementary or early middle school they may be ready to watch a lesson on screen and complete corresponding work in that subject independently. They will still need accountability from you that looks like starting the dvd for them or checking their work, but it will allow you some breathing room during the school day. DVD and computer based learning is available in practically every subject. The main drawback to this type of learning is inflexibility. If you are using a program or dvd you can repeat a lesson, but with an online classroom you must follow their schedule.
When at all possible go to home school curriculum sales or fairs to look at, get a feel for, and understand the curriculum better before you purchase it. Even though you may be able to return it or resell it, you will lose time and become frustrated with each false start.
Another great place to find information about curriculum are home school curriculum review websites. One of the best recommended is CathyDuffyReviews.com. Her book 102 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum is a fantastic resource that covers way more than just picking curriculum. If you want to understand “How” to homeschool buy this book!
Reference Books (all the below books have reviews on cathyduffyreviews.com)
102 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum – Cathy Duffy
The Well Trained Mind – Susan Wise Bauer and Jesse Wise
The Big WHAT NOW Book of Learning Styles – Carol Barnier
Countdown to Consistency: A Workbook for Home Educators – Mary Hood, Ph.D
For the Children’s Sake – Susan Schaeffer MacAulay
Gifted Children at Home: A Practical Guide for Homeschooling Families – Janice Baker, Kathleen Julicher, and Maggie Hogan
Beyond Survival: A Guide to Abundant-Life Homeschooling – Diana Waring
Give Your Child the World – Jamie C. Martin
Home Education 101 – Vicki Bentley
Homeschooling: A Guide for Regular People e-book – Christa Johnson
Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakable Peace – Sarah Mackenzie
Teaching the Trivium: Christian Homeschooling in a Classical Style – Harvey and Laurie Bluedorn
Timeline of Classics: Historical Context for the Good and Great Books – Gail Ledbetter
Home Schooling 101: A guide to getting started – Erica Arndt (confessionsofahomeschooler.com)
And there are many many more!!
Used & New
Homeschool groups also tend to have used curriculum sales in the late spring/early summer. Join the local groups or find someone who is a member and find out when they occur!