View Full Version : How do you decide which topics to cover?

12-02-2010, 04:50 PM
Hi everyone. I found this website yesterday and have been reading all I can. I registered because I wanted to ask you all a question. Sorry, I haven't even posted an intro yet but I will. We are trying to get our 6 yo son into a virtual academy, but if that doesn't work out I will be homeschooling him. I've been interested in homeschooling ever since he was a baby, and have found a lot of info on it. It's just so overwhelming. When you decide the subjects you'll do (which I assume is very similar if not the same for most people), how do you determine which topics to cover within them? There are so many things to learn about of course, and I don't want my son to get to 3rd grade (when he has to do his first standardized test), and find he's learned totally different things than what he should have. Thanks.

12-02-2010, 05:28 PM
Since you have to do standardized tests, you may want to check with your local district's website. That should have the scope & sequence they use in your local schools. There's also books like Home Learning Year by Year and the books in the Core Knowledge Series (What Your Xth Grader Needs to Know). They have a generalized scope & sequence. Once you know what the public schools cover in each grade, you can add in any additional subjects or topics you want.

Personally, I go by what I deem important, my kids' interests, & their ability levels. I don't have to deal with standardized tests, though, so I don't need to be concerned with what anyone else does.

12-02-2010, 05:36 PM
This information applies if you are building your own curriculum from the ground up:
If you're in a state that requires standardized testing, you can look at your state's department of education website and look for the curriculum link (Oregon is here (http://www.ode.state.or.us/search/page/?id=230)).
The place you may want to look at specifically are Standards by Design (http://www.ode.state.or.us/teachlearn/real/standards/) (where you eventually get to a thing that looks like this- in this case (http://www.ode.state.or.us/teachlearn/real/standards/sbd.aspx)-for second grade math).
Beyond that, a book like Home Learning Year by Year (http://www.amazon.com/Home-Learning-Year-Homeschool-Curriculum/dp/0609805851/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1291329187&sr=8-1) may be useful.
If you are looking for something that may cost more in money and less in time, others can recommend publishers to look at for workbooks and the like.

Miguels mommy
12-02-2010, 08:38 PM
Every January my son takes the DOMA /DORA (http://www.letsgolearn.com/) That test compares him to our states requirements. So at the end it shows us what standards he has and has not met for his age/grade and gives us time to fill in any "holes" in his education.
According to HSLDA (http://www.hslda.org/laws/analysis/Oregon.pdf) your child has to take a standardized test 4x but only has to score in the 15th percentile. Meaning he's below 85% of the kids his age / grade and if you have a special needs child there's no testing at all. I really feel you only need to know reading and math to pass the standardized tests.
I think the courses and material really depend on what's your "end" goal, home school and life style is. For us I feel reading, math, writing, art and Social skills need to be strong in Elementary and are the main focus. My son has no idea the year (he said 1292) that Christopher Columbus came to America but can talk for over 20 min. about why, events before/after the voyages and the repercussions of that event because we put more focus on what happened not when it happened. Will he get the multiple choice question wrong, YES, and I'm fine with that because if it was an essay question he would kick butt. However this is our first "real" year of American history, we just spent three years on Myths, legends,& folklore from around the world.
Most people study: Math, Science, Social studies, Reading, Writing, and spelling/grammar is some shape or form.
Other Added subjects be: Second language, Art, Music, Dance, Heath, Gym and other activities in your community

How do you determine which topics to cover within them? We loosely follow bought curriculum (http://homeschoolblogger.com/huntingtonhomeacademy/2010-curriculum/) .

12-03-2010, 07:16 PM
Is taking the standardized test the only option?

12-03-2010, 10:09 PM
You can download the scopes for each grade level from the Calvert website. I have found those to be helpful.

12-04-2010, 05:03 PM
Thanks everyone for the advice.

Miguel's Mommy, yeah I knew that about the tests--I guess I just worry. I know I shouldn't though, my son is working at least a year ahead in all subjects right now.

Emerald, I'm pretty sure it is. The only requirement for homeschooling here in OR besides sending a letter of intent is to take the tests in grades 3,5,8, and 10.

12-05-2010, 07:37 AM
"Virtual Academy?" That's just another term for "public school at home"! Zero flexibility in the curriculum and text choices and the homework and reading. assignments

12-05-2010, 12:26 PM
Wow is it really that inflexible, Mommykicksbutt? The whole reason we want to do it is because it says each child gets a personalized education plan. And I was hoping it would keep me organized. Our son is totally bored in ps and is losing his love for learning. For the past few days I've been leaning toward just homeschooling anyway. It's kind of hard because I have depression that's untreated right now (no money and no time to get to dr), but I feel so strongly about his education that I really think I can make it work.

12-05-2010, 05:14 PM
The VA seems to be (at least here in TX) more rigorous, with much more work than what the kids in public school do. I fully see the VAs morphing into an option that lets the state and/or ISD get 'credit' for doing basically zero work. My cousin is in 3r grade and in the VA here and she is spending HOURS per day tied to the computer. She has easily 2-3x the number of assignments than my niece (who is in 3rd and in a local college-prep charter school, where my boys used to attend) does, even with the advanced curriculum there.
I am truthfully not very much in favor the the virtual academies at this point.

We cover the basics; this past year was our first year homeschooling, and so though we hit the main subjects and some additional ones, I wasn't as 'rigorous' as we're planning for this coming year. One of the advantages for us is that instead of focusing on life/earth science (which my kids have zero interest in), we can focus our science curriculum on engineering (which they're both VERY interested in).
I'll also probably be using one of the "What your X grader needs to know' books as a spine, just so that we're covering most of what needs to be covered in each grade. There WILL be gaps no matter what we do or study - but my goal as a homeschooling parent is to raise kids with a good foundation of knowledge, and with the ability to find and learn whatever else they need to know, when they need it.

12-06-2010, 09:41 AM
Years ago after my oldest was recovering from a long illness her ps school dis-enrolled her so that the district could re-enroll her in their VA (hoodlum high as it was more commonly known). This was before everything went on the web. Each and every week we were required to meet with a "case teacher" in the local library or at the district offices. The "teacher" would sit with my daughter for about 15 minutes as she looked over all her homework and reading logs. Then the teacher would give daughter her next weeks assignments and reschedule the next week appointment for her. That is all the personalization she got. We had ZERO choice of her classes, ZERO choice of the texts, ZERO choice of the assignments. This was the same story for everyone in this VA (San Diego about 10 years ago). They tell you that your child will take XYZ because that is what the kids in the warehouse ed system are doing.

I hear the same for VA on-line schools too, they are public schools at home, the state counts your child's enrollment as if they are in public school but no brick and mortar school gets the state's ed funding for you child, the state gets to keep it. All sorts of number play with dollars and reporting to make the state's public ed look good for stats and budget.

Miguels mommy
12-06-2010, 11:17 AM
I have depression that's untreated right now One of the things that helped me with getting comfortable Homeschooling with bipolar, when we first started is time4learning and year round homeschooling. On "off days" that my fuse was to short, I was too over whelmed or needed a break my son would go on time4learning or read for 2-3 hours. T4L was worth the extra $20 it gave me the peace of mind that he was still accomplishing things even though I wasn't able to help him. Other times school isn't a priority those day are vacation days.

12-06-2010, 01:32 PM
There are many great books to help you choose what to cover.
For covering the basics I like to look at the series by E.D. Hirsch Jr. http://www.amazon.com/E.D.-Hirsch-Jr./e/B000APILDS/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1