After investigating the various methods you may already have a general scope and sequence in mind. For example, the classical trivium has an implied scope and sequence based on each level of learning. Since some states require testing, a predetermined scope and sequence similar to that used in public schools may be implied. As you establish a road map keep the following helps in mind:
Keep the First Thing the First Thing
It is very easy to become bogged down in scopes, sequences, checklists, and meeting real or perceived educational requirements either from our state, families, or homeschool groups. But our road map needs to be a tool to help us reach our goals — not the taskmaster.
Focus on the child. When we keep this as our perspective, we will find it much easier to forgo the beaten path for the one that specifically fits each child.
Avoid the Gap Myth
If your mix leans more toward delight-directed studies or unit studies you may be wondering how you are going to make sure you are not leaving “gaps” in your child’s education. The first thing to realize is that educators, curriculum publishers, authors, and other educational thinkers do not agree on the body of knowledge children should be exposed to before being considered educated.
Secondly, the additional time our children spend pursuing that ever-elusive body of knowledge takes crucial time away from learning the basics — especially in the lower grades before they have the skills necessary for in-depth studies.
As adults many of us feel there were gaps in our education. While there are undoubtedly certain specific things our children should know before they go out into the world, rather than pursue content, we can provide our children with the “tools” of learning — reading, writing, arithmetic, and research. We can teach them how to reason and communicate. These tools will enable them to study any topic in-depth. We can then provide them with plenty of opportunities to practice using their tools on specific content. Any information they discover on their own will be more likely to stay with them.
“You still have a great deal of flexibility in terms of the time devoted to each course and its content. Just because you use a traditional title does not mean you must use a traditional textbook or follow a traditional method of teaching. You can adapt the program to each child’s readiness, interests, and learning style.”
Debra Bell, The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling
If we don’t set goals, we’ll never reach them. Here are a few ideas as food for thought, but you’ll want to consider those things that have a particular importance to your family:
- By the time you send your child into the world, what do you hope to have accomplished?
- What family principles, values, interests, and faith do you wish to instill?
- What are the tools with which you wish to equip your child?
- Are there specific life skills you want your children to possess?
- How will you address your child’s interests and develop his talents?
The answers to these questions and others like them will help you develop goals for each child. These milestones and the order in which they are approached will become your child’s personalized road map.
An individually tailored scope and sequence that takes into account your child’s abilities and interests is a valuable tool — but it is only a tool. It should never become a taskmaster or leave you with a feeling of being “behind.”
After establishing reasonable goals for each child, use the scope and sequence as a checklist of skills mastered; a road map of where to go next.
Incorporate Family Identity
One of the benefits of homeschooling is the development of the family identity. Each family has different interests, projects, hobbies, or businesses. Some families are into farming, canning, and raising animals; other families create their own musical group; still others run the family store. Therefore, each family’s goals and vision will be unique. Be sure to include the interests of your family in your road map.
Distinguish Between Skill and Content Subject Areas
As previously mentioned, skill areas tend to have their own implied scope and sequence as these skills build one upon another. For example, you need to know the parts of speech prior to diagramming sentences. A scope and sequence at its most useful provides stepping stones from one skill to the next in any given subject. Pick out these trails of mastery from any scope and sequence list and lay them out in a logical order.
What remains can be covered at any time. For example, content areas such as history can be taught in any order. Some may prefer the “expanding community” (starting with family, neighborhood, state, country, world) scope and sequence found in most textbooks. Others may prefer to cover history chronologically from Creation to the present. Still others choose to jump in where a recent read-aloud sparked an interest.
Delay Subject Introduction
The normal sequence in most curriculum today is one of visiting a subject, scratching the surface, and waiting until the next year to scratch a bit more. In a home learning environment, you have the advantage of knowing when your child may be ready for a particular level of study. In this case, children can learn at their own pace — waiting until they are ready to start and then delving in until the topic is exhausted, much like we do with algebra, geometry, and calculus. Grammar, for example, could be taught in one or two years, covering the parts of speech and their use once your child is reading well and has a good command of the English language.
Incorporate Learning Stages
“When you see a listing of what to learn in fourth grade, what to learn in fifth and so on, that list is made for graded schools so the fifth grade teacher will not repeat what the fourth grade teacher taught. As a homeschooler, you are free from that arbitrariness.”
Dr. Ruth Beechick, A Biblical Home Education
In a tutorial setting, grade levels have very little meaning because the educator is able to go at the child’s pace. Therefore, many skills can be combined and developed during stages of learning, similar to the trivium in classical education.
We can begin by preparing the groundwork — concentrating on the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic. Once our children have a strong foundation, we can begin a stage of logic, developing their thinking and reasoning as it applies to each content area such as history or literature. Finally, we can include a stage of in-depth studies which results in our children developing and using their communication skills.
Use a Prepared Checklist
When we allow our children to learn when a topic is at its most relevant and their interest level is at its highest, we may find ourselves covering things in a very atypical order. Using a prepared scope and sequence as a checklist can boost our confidence by helping us see at a glance that they ARE learning!
Obviously high school brings its own considerations. College-bound students may need to be aware of how many credits they are taking in a variety of specific subjects, which will set up an obvious scope and sequence. Potential colleges may have certain requirements that will need to be taken into account. While other high school students may be apprenticed or focused on obtaining life skills, a course of study may depend on our state requirements, therefore implying a certain road map.
Just remember that while we do need to be aware of future requirements, there is usually a great deal of flexibility when it comes to how those requirements can be fulfilled!
What Your Child Needs to Know When by Robin Sampson
A compilation of checklists for each subject, particularly useful for tracking skills and keeping track of what has been covered. Read our entire review.
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.
Educational Bucket List — 6 Things To Do Each Day
One more way to look at creating a road map.
Scopes and Sequences
Ambleside Online Scope and Sequence for Language Arts
Language arts helps for those following a Charlotte Mason approach.
BJU Press Scope & Sequence
Traditional Christian scope and sequence provided by Bob Jones University Press.
Classical Curriculum Scope and Sequence
Trivium-based scope and sequence provided by Classical Christian Homeschooling.
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 Guides from Veritas Press
Detailed classical education guides for K–6 and 7–12 levels in a variety of formats.
Home Educator’s Scope and Sequence
Detailed traditional scope and sequence from ACE.
Typical Course of Study
Published for each grade level by Worldbook.