Often when I talk to people about the way we homeschool, one of their question is “how do you know what to teach next”? Sometimes it feels like the answer should be “um . . . . whatever I feel like,” but the reality is that I do have a few resources that I use to give me some basic ideas of scope and sequence.
What is scope and sequence, you ask? It’s a fancy way of saying the topics you decide to teach and the order you decide to teach those topics in. (I would never know this phrase if I hadn’t worked inside the textbook industry for two years!)
I’ve looked at a lot of books over the years, but these are the ones I come back to year after year.
I love Home Learning Year by Year by Rebecca Rupp. This is my hands-down favorite! She has gone through many state standards and other curriculums and synthesized all of them into general lists. She’ll tell you what most kids learn in any particular grade. She also suggest some websites, specific books, and curriculums for each subject. While I don’t feel beholden to stick with the grade level suggestions, I do find it helpful to know the sequence that certain subjects–like math–are usually taught in.
I also reference the scope and sequence put together in The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer. While we don’t follow the classical homeschooling model, I do like how she does history and science–spiraling the topics every four years. And she also describes what most kids do at any particular grade level. (This was the first homeschool book I ever read, and it’s first four chapters are the ones that really got me thinking about WHY homeschooling could be the right option for our family.)
I also, on occasion, will use the Core Knowledge Series by E. D. Hirsch. While these are targeted toward public schools as well as homeschoolers, the work they have done with scope and sequence is admirable. However, the difference with this series is there is one book per grade level. They actually include some text and maps for literature, history, and science. I personally wouldn’t pay full price for a series that actually puts readily available poems, stories, biographies, etc. into the text. I don’t want to pay extra for that stuff. I’ve picked up all of mine free or a yard sales for very cheap.
With summer in full swing, I’m starting to think about next fall. (It’s the planner in me, what can I say?) And I know I’ll be pulling these books off the shelf to spark some new ideas and reinvigorate my excitement for the coming year.
Let the planning begin!