Homeschooling Basics: A Simple Curriculum Plan for the First Year
2017 was a year of firsts for me. One of those firsts was becoming a homeschooling mother. My sweet girl started school for the first time when we were in the thick of my dad’s hospitalization. He had his first of nine strokes at the beginning of July and it would turn out to be a very long road to recovery for all of us, a road we’re still on and will continue to be on until God calls Papa home.
Now, I’m a planner. I do NOT function well without a written plan in place. When Dad had his strokes, I hadn’t yet begun planning our school year because two months seemed like plenty enough time to get that job done before we started school in September. But life is rarely as tidy as we would like it to be and I wasn’t the kind of teacher I’d envisioned.
It was heartbreaking, really.
For the first two months we hit all of the topics we were supposed to, but Evie’s curriculum was haphazard, disorganized, and topically chaotic. I knew she was learning, but there wasn’t the kind of coherence and order I knew we both needed.
That didn’t last forever, though, and once I finally had the chance to sit down and really think through what we needed to do, I was able to plan out a Kindergarten curriculum that has been working very well for us. It isn’t perfect, but our charter is great at providing all the information we need to succeed, our Education Specialist is a dream, and we have been able to access many of our curriculum books for free through our charter’s resource center.
Depending on which charter you use, you are required to provide samples of coursework from four or five content areas which are based on your state’s content standards for elementary education. Our charter requires Evie to receive instruction in all five content areas — Language Arts, History (Social Studies), Math, Science, and Physical Education — but many charters do not require instruction in PE. We are also required to submit samples for any extracurricular instruction that Evie receives if it has been funded by our charter.
I have been blessed to have an older sister to walk me through pretty much every step of our homeschool journey and I chose our charter specifically because she has had such a positive experience with them. I have also used most of her suggestions regarding curriculum selections and have found them to work extremely well for Evie. It’s also a bonus that Evie and her cousins are using the same curriculum because having schooling in common is something they excitedly discuss when they see the same books in each others’ homes.
Once I was able to, I created a learning plan (excel spreadsheet) for Evie that spans her first year of school. It includes core curriculum selections as well as her learning path across the four basic learning areas and a list of all our meetings with her ES. Her PE curriculum is not included in this list because it is constructed mainly of local sports team participation, park play, and at-home exercise programs that she and I do together.
Our curriculum selections for Kindergarten are as follows:
1. Language Arts
- Sight Word Flashcards (Aurora City School District)
- Sight Word Readers (Amazon.com)
- “Help Me Be Good” Character Stories by Joy Berry; These books double with the Social Studies requirement. My mom gifted me most of the set, but I was able to find individual ones on Amazon. Complete sets can also be purchased on Amazon.
- Letter writing practice sheets (see below)
- Math-U-See (Primer Level: Teacher Book, Instructional DVD, and Student Workbook)
- Magic School Bus (DVD’s and Student Activity Guide by Scholastic)
4. History (Social Studies)
- Story of the World (Volume 1: Textbook, CD Audiobook, and Student Workbook)
We also implement the following worksheets which I print almost exclusively from Education.com because the printables on that website are the most comprehensive and effective:
- Letter practice
- Number practice
- Counting practice
- Shape practice
- Color practice
- Concept practice
- Fine Motor Skills practice
Finally, we use ABCmouse as a “treat” for Evie and she absolutely loves it. I find that it reinforces what she is learning in a fun, interactive way and it is always the last thing we do in our day as a reward for her hard work in areas that don’t come as easily to her as ABCmouse.
Creating a spreadsheet was the easiest way for me to wrap my mind around everything we had to accomplish throughout our first year of homeschooling and I am happy to share a template with whomever it might help — feel free to shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like me to send you the template. Otherwise, feel free to use the images provided above as a guide for one way you might structure your first year as a homeschooling family.
Teaching Evie has been such a joy. We have had our fair share of hiccups, that’s for sure, but getting a plan in place and figuring out which curriculum selections worked best for us has proven to be the foundation of a successful learning experience for both of us.
May you find what works for you and may you enjoy every step of your homeschooling journey!
Until Next Time My Friends,
The Taylor of All Trades