Do I Need a Homeschool Curriculum?
Do I need a homeschool curriculum?
Whether you’re new to homeschool, considering homeschool or a veteran, at some point, we all ask the question, “Do I need a homeschool curriculum?”.
The short answer: ‘no’, ‘yes’, and ‘maybe!’ Read on!
What is a Homeschool Curriculum?
First, let’s define what we mean by homeschool curriculum. In a nutshell, a homeschool curriculum is a plan that we follow to cover all or part of the curriculum in an organised, systematic way. There are many different options for what this might look like, and these range from very structured to highly flexible. A good curriculum is designed to provide direction and save you time. A good curriculum will also be cost effective and good value for money. You might purchase a single subject curriculum, such as a maths textbook or you might purchase an all-in-one solution that covers every subject, such as Simply Homeschool. You might write your own curriculum. Or you might choose to fly free, with no plans. The real questions is – which option is right for you, right now. Before we work this out – let's address a quick question:
Do I need a Curriculum to Register for Homeschool in Australia?
Within Australia, all homeschoolers or home educators need to register with their state authority and to do this, you need to outline an education plan for your child (Simply Homeschool can write an Education plan for you). There are no requirements to sign up for and use a specific Curriculum or style of home school. The regulations and requirements differ between states as does the preferred format to present this information. One of the benefits of a purchased curriculum, even for some subjects, is that this can help with your plan, save you time and effort, and take the stress out of getting started on your homeschool journey. Some curriculum providers will write your plan with you, and tailor your plan specifically to your child’s learning needs and interests. In some states, this individual focus is a requirement for your plan. A curriculum may also boost your confidence, helping you to feel comfortable with your choice to homeschool. This confidence can be key, especially in states where an interview is required.
So, who does benefit from a curriculum?
We all love the idea of DIY, self-sufficiency and free stuff. We’d love to own a farm, milk our own goat, collect the eggs from our chickens, build our own log cabin, grow our own organic hydroponic veges, harvest our own flax and hand-sew our own linen clothing. We’d love our kids to be engaged with the entire process, and to run our own business on the side, where our kids learn financial independence and fabulous life skills while also being completely engaged in learning history, world geography, 2 foreign languages and a musical instrument. And then we wake up!
In real life, I buy my milk and eggs, grow a few veges, run a business, and buy clothes. I do choose to homeschool my kids. But I benefit from having a curriculum. I’m busy with real life and I want homeschool to be organised and efficient. I don’t want to spend every weekend planning stuff and researching resources. I don’t want to re-invent the wheel every day. I know others have walked this road before me and they’ve learned stuff. I want to benefit from their expertise, experience and confidence. I find some subjects harder than others, and I want something that’s a good fit for my kids. And I want community.
If you can relate, read on!
I am time poor!
“I work part-time; I’m a single parent; I am busy with multiple kids; my child is neurodiverse; our family has health issues; I run my own business; and I always feel like I'm juggling too many plates.”
“I have three kids working at different levels. School at home has been exhausting! I need something that helps me to manage my day and finish school before dinner time.”
You know that if you could add an extra, secret day to your week that no-one else knew anything about, you could write your own curriculum. You know you’re competent to write your own curriculum, but you just don’t have the time. You just want someone else to write what you'd like to do with your kids, so that you can get up each morning and just do your day. School at home style learning is inefficient. By the time you’ve done 5 separate lessons with 3 different kids, there’s no day left. Kids live and learn in the real world. The real world is integrated – not separated into separate subjects. A good curriculum will have integrated lessons for efficient learning. It will provide family friendly, integrated learning, where you cover multiple subjects together. Mostly, structured learning will be finished before lunch!
I don’t want to miss important stuff!
“I’m not familiar with the syllabus and I need to make a plan for registration. How do I know I’ve got everything covered?
“I think my child will probably go back into school in a few years. How do I make sure I don’t miss anything?”
“I love the idea of child-led learning, but I don’t think my child is ever going to take an interest in maths!”
It’s comforting to know that someone else has read the syllabus for you. Many curriculums are linked to the syllabus and this gives you a base line for what to cover. Homeschool kids learn so much in real-life. Our learning environment is rich and varied, and we know they’re learning, but as parents, our kids' education really matters, and we want to cover all the bases.
I need to be organised!
“I love To-Do Lists.”
“I need to set goals and I need a plan to achieve them.”
“I need a structure that helps me and my kids to stay focused and be efficient.”
“A good plan gives me confidence that I am on the right track and the motivation to keep going when life is busy and complicated.”
A well-written curriculum can set out your goals in an achievable way and leave you with enough energy to achieve them. Because you know what you need to do next, your headspace is free to just get up and get going. If you need structure and organisation to function, then homeschool curriculum can be a fabulous tool. Choose a curriculum that provides the level of structure and support that suits your family. Choose something that provides flexibility for days when you want spontaneity and creativity.
I need an expert.
“I feel confident to teach multiplication, but when it comes to writing, I’m out of my comfort zone and good sentences allude me.”
“Science oozes from my skin, but Geography is a foreign word.”
“I can design a website with my eyes closed, (almost), but I struggle to draw a stick figure.”
“Words, sentences and reading flow rich in my family DNA, but Year 5 maths scares me silly!”
Let’s face it, we all want our kids to have the very best education possible, but most of us excel in some subjects and not in others. When you choose a curriculum that excels in your weakest areas, you can be sure that you are providing a comprehensive, well-rounded education for your kids. Guided lessons in these subjects are a valuable contribution to your child’s education and even your own learning. Many long-term homeschool parents will affirm that they have learned more than their kids. Choose a well-written curriculum that complements your own strengths and rest assured that your child is receiving an excellent education in all areas of the curriculum.
I’m planning to travel.
“Our family is planning the big trip. I want an efficient basic curriculum.”
“We travel full-time, and we’ve been doing distance ed, but it’s way too much. Is there anything that requires less work?”
“We’re planning to take our kids out of school for 12 months to travel. I know they’ll learn heaps, but I need to register, and I want them to be able to go back into school when we get home.”
“We’re traveling and have intermittent internet – I need something that’s not on the computer.”
Kids learn so much when they travel, and you want to be free to explore where you are, not tied to textbooks, online learning and assignments. When you choose a flexible homeschool curriculum, you, as the parent, are in the driver’s seat – literally! You choose what you do today and when you do it. There are no deadlines and no minimum requirements. And a good curriculum company will support you to choose what you need and what really suits your family situation. A well written curriculum will have options for travel that require only a few resources. They will also have options for printed learning and guided face to face activities so that you can be internet free and still learning on the go.
I need inspiration.
“I want our school days to be creative, fun, engaging and tailored to my child’s interests and learning needs.”
“I want my kids to love learning and to enjoy their lessons and I want our study to connect with real life.”
“I want to teach phonics and reading in a structured, interesting way to provide my child with a strong literacy foundation.”
It takes an enormous amount of time, effort and creativity to plan this kind of learning. You can spend hours, and even days, researching the details of a topic, sourcing good books, purchasing resources, hunting for documentaries, planning excursions, finding craft materials. Most of us wish someone else could do the planning and then hand us the ready-made unit ready to go. A good curriculum will be based on thousands of hours of creative input so that lessons are well-designed for engaged learning. A good curriculum will be written by experienced homeschoolers who know how kids think and learn. Save your creativity for the things you and your kids are passionate about. Spend your creativity on child led learning to complement a curriculum you love.
I need support.
“I want someone to walk with me as I begin this journey.”
“My child is years behind, they have a learning disability and health issues. I’m committed to home education and want this to work, but I need help.”
“I feel out of my depth, but I know this is what my child needs.”
“I’m brave! I’ve taken the leap into homeschool, (or I’m ready to leap), and I’d like to know that, when I have questions, a supportive, experienced homeschooler is just a phone call away.”
I’m tired – I've been homeschooling for years. I just need someone else to write a curriculum I love.”
A well written homeschool curriculum can make the journey easier. The curriculum company will provide community and individual support from experienced homeschoolers. This means you can focus on what matters most in your family and your life, knowing that the curriculum is covered. A good curriculum will also suit neurodiverse kids with learning activities designed to appeal to various learning styles. A good homeschool curriculum will also have suitable and engaging learning activities to suit kids who are not working at grade level. The lessons will also be flexible to allow for easy adjustment. A good curriculum supports the way your family intends to homeschool and is a good fit for your family.