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Seems like just yesterday we were talking about getting ready for summer, and now, even though we are in the midst of summer, it’s already time to start planning for back to school. You may think it’s too soon, but being ahead of the game and finalizing your curriculum and other must-haves now, will ensure that you start the new homeschool year on the right foot.
There are many things to consider and keep in mind when homeschooling. And whether this is your first year homeschooling or you’ve been doing it for years, one important aspect that we don’t hear much discussion about is the importance of understanding learning milestones and what they mean to you and your children.
While most curricula do a good job of detailing what your child will be learning in each grade, some homeschoolers still have doubts and question if their children are learning what they should be for their particular age.
What should my child be learning?
If you’ve ever asked yourself that question, you are not alone. Being in charge of your child’s education is a challenging task to take on, and it’s perfectly normal to feel unsure at times.
For some homeschoolers, deciding what to teach is based on their child’s age, while others consider the grade level corresponding with their child’s age, as if the child were attending traditional schools. While this is a decision made based on personal choice, no matter which approach you take, you know your child better than anyone else and each family does what works for them. There really is no right or wrong way. If your child is learning and showing progress, you’re doing it right.
Homeschooling by age?
Determining what to teach your child for their particular age requires a bit of research, especially since we’re so used to hearing about children learning based on grade-level standards. Plus, as a homeschooler, there really isn’t such thing as teaching the norm, since you are able to customize so much of what you teach based on your child’s interests, regardless of his or her age.
With each passing year, you’re sure to notice changes in your child. Your son may develop a competitive streak. Your daughter may start to become more independent. And your little one may all of a sudden become very attached to either you or your spouse. Each age comes with its own set of common characteristics and milestones: some to be embraced, some challenging. But knowing what to expect when homeschooling by age can help you tailor your homeschool routine so that you can approach each year prepared and knowing what to expect.
For example, homeschooling a 5- or 6-year-old who is just learning to read requires more one-on-one time and assistance with overall school work. However, once a child has reached the age of 7, they will begin to gain more independence and will be able to work on certain tasks alone. As your children mature and get older, you can start incorporating more advanced topics of study and discuss them on a more serious level.
Homeschooling by grade?
For those of you that are new to homeschooling or perhaps planning to put your children back in school at some point, homeschooling by grade may be a better approach. Since each grade level has its own unique course of study and lesson plans, you are able to focus on those topics specific to your child’s grade, regardless of age.
For the most part, the core subjects of math, language arts, science and social studies are included regardless of a student’s grade level. But as children advance to higher grades, not only are they introduced to new, more complex topics, but they are also taught more advanced concepts too. For example, learning 1-digit addition in kindergarten, and then learning 2-digit addition in first and second grade. Once students enter 9th grade, keeping track of credit hours starts to come into play, as does more advanced coursework and even the possibility of dual enrollment.
Whether you homeschool by age or grade, as a homeschooler, you have the freedom to adjust your course of study as you see fit. Remember, every child is unique and will learn at his or her own pace. So as you prep for this upcoming homeschool year, seek out a flexible curriculum that allows you to customize your child’s learning to ensure that he or she will be successful at every age and in every grade level.