We have laid a foundation, thought about what things are important to us when establishing the atmosphere in our homes, and toured the various homeschool methods. Now it’s time to come up with a path forward — time to set goals. Here are a six ideas that may make goal-setting simpler:
1. Find a Starting Point
If you have found a particular method that appeals to you, you probably already have an idea of where you will start when it comes to covering material. Most methods have their own implied scope and sequence whether we follow a Charlotte Mason education, a classical path, or a traditional scope and sequence. If we are more eclectic in nature and not following any specific program, we can start with a standard scope and sequence (see resources below).
But it is important to remember to bend education to fit the child. Even the best educational methods out there, if followed to the letter, will serve our children a generic education — at best. Also, there will undoubtedly be ideas from other methods that we will want to include. Even if we decide on a more traditional way of educating our children, we may want to include Latin, for example.
So we can think of our preferred method of educating as our starting point. Add in those ideas that we will want to include. And we will want to use a pencil! Our ideas may morph and change as we grow and learn right along with our children.
Forsaking Our Idols
It’s just a starting point. Really!
2. Make a List
What are those things that are important to us and our family that we want our children to know before they go out in the world? This could include:
- Spiritual truths.
- Academic skills.
- Practical skills.
- Physical skills.
- Life skills.
Make a list. Put them in order of general age ability, and then further order them by importance. Depending on how many things are on our list, we may never get to everything. But each year we can pull things from the list for each child to attain.
45 Life Skills Your Children Need Before They Leave Home
Just to get you started.
3. Learn the Difference Between Skill Subjects and Content Subjects
Skills tend to build on one another. For example, we need to know how to add before multiplication makes sense. Therefore, we cover those skills in a systematic way.
On the other hand, content subjects for the most part can be covered in any order. While classical educators typically cover history chronologically, textbook publishers tend to divide world history from American history. Younger students frequently start learning “history” working from home to school to community to state to country to world. For those not yet in high school, you’ll find various science courses that cover anything and everything following no obvious sequence.
In other words, content subjects can be covered in any order.
Take advantage of the difference between skill subjects and content subjects to focus on building skills in the younger years. Yes, we can expose our young children to all types of science, nature, and history through books, observation, and field trips. But once they have the basic skills developed, then they can start a course that will build on those initial observations as they apply their skills to in-depth studies.
Skill Subjects vs. Content Subjects
By separating the two, we can work on skills in a systematic and disciplined way, while practicing those skills on content areas covered in atypical ways.
4. Evaluate Where Your Children Are
One thing no scope and sequence can tell us is where our child is. We never want to pressure a child who is behind the standard scope and sequence in a skill area, nor do we want to glorify a child who is ahead of the curve.
In a tutoring environment, we have the advantage of going at the child’s pace. This may lead to a very interesting situation:
“Why — why,” said Elizabeth Ann, “I don’t know what I am at all. If I’m second-grade arithmetic and seventh-grade reading and third-grade spelling, what grade am I?”
The teacher laughed at the turn of her phrase. “You aren’t any grade at all, no matter where you are in school. You’re just yourself, aren’t you? What difference does it make what grade you’re in? And what’s the use of your reading little baby things too easy for you just because you don’t know your multiplication table?”
“Well, for goodness sakes!” ejaculated Elizabeth Ann, feeling very much as though somebody had stood her suddenly on her head.
“Why, what’s the matter?” asked the teacher again.
This time Elizabeth Ann didn’t answer, because she herself didn’t know what the matter was. But I do, and I’ll tell you. The matter was that never before had she known what she was doing in school. She had always thought she was there to pass from one grade to another, and she was ever so startled to get a little glimpse of the fact that she was there to learn how to read and write and cipher and generally use her mind, so she could take care of herself when she came to be grown up.Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher
What Your Child Needs to Know When by Robin Sampson
Starts with where they are and what they know! Read our entire review.
5. Take a Look at Outside Requirements
Depending on your state requirements, you may need to cover some subjects in a particular order to pass a test or fulfill portfolio requirements. Older students may have college prerequisites to fulfill.
While these considerations will certainly need to be addressed and included in any road map, we need to remember that there are many different ways to fulfill the requirements!
Home Schooling Laws by State
Find the requirements for your state.
6. Form a Checklist
Finally, we can form our checklist, working from our starting point and adding in ideas we have pulled from other methods, the things that are important to us, the way we want to cover content, the needs of each specific child, and any outside requirements.
These goals will help keep us on track … and they will simplify evaluation further down the road.
Educational Bucket List — 6 Things To Do Each Day
Help for deciding what those important-to-you things are that you want to include in your child’s day.
Bending Education to Fit the Child
Crucial for going at the child’s pace.
Scopes and Sequences
- The Core Knowledge Sequence: Content and Skill Guidelines for Kindergarten–Grade 8
Recently made available as a free download to the public, this road map based on the Core Knowledge Sequence (What Your nth Grader Needs to Know) is a favorite.
- Curriculum Guide from Veritas Press K–6
Detailed classical education guide.
- Curriculum Guide from Veritas Press 7–12
Detailed classical education guide.
- Typical Course of Study
Published for each grade level by Worldbook.
You’ll find more resources on our Road Map page.