Updated: Nov 3, 2020
At some point throughout your homeschooling journey, you will find yourself asking the question: "why did I buy this curriculum?" We all feel that way once or twice! But not everyone knows this dirty little secret: you can create your own homeschool curriculum.
Well, why would I create my own curriculum? I'll tell you why.
You want to save money by not buying a boxed curriculum.
You don't want to commit with just one teaching style (eclectic).
You want to teach subjects not offered in boxed curriculums.
You just want flexibility.
There are a ton of wonderful curriculums out there! Some of our favorite and recommended sets are Blossom and Root, Michael Clay Thompson, and Grammar Galaxy. They offer a lot of benefits: little to no prep, done for you, take it out and go, and comprehensive. But sometimes you run into obstacles: it doesn't match your child's learning style, they lose interest, it's too much prepping to do, you want something independent, or you're teaching multiple ages!
WHATEVER your motivation behind wanting to create your own homeschool curriculum, it's a big task to undertake. You want some easy-to-follow steps and an outline of a plan - I have it for you here today!
The first step in creating your own curriculum is deciding WHAT you're going to teach. You've got a world of possibilities here. If you're not sure, then look into some education-related books to get an idea of what society expects them to learn. Counterintuitive? Not so much. This gives you a guiding point. I have linked a wonderful resource here that I use every year to give myself an idea of where to start. It breaks down each subject by grade and lists the skills that should be taught. Don't be afraid to look at different school's scope and sequence or curriculums if you can find the outlines to give you an idea, too! Your state probably has a set of standards they follow, as well, that could be a great inspiration. These starting points also give you the peace of mind in case your child decides to return to public school one day.
You don't have to follow this with fidelity unless you want to! We choose to teach history a little differently than our guides suggests, and I combine multiple skills in ELA and science. Tip: Look at the grade above and below where your student would be placed - my five year old is capable and interested in skills above her "grade level," whereas, my son is a developmentally delayed and tends to lean in multiple grades (right now 1st - 3rd).
Write every single skill you feel is important and realistic. Make a list for each child to keep track!
Basic story parts (title, author/illustrator, beginning, end)
Fables & legends
Ordinal positions (1st, 2nd, etc)
Measurements & weight
Cycles in Nature
Socratic conversations about story
Correct writing conventions (capitalization, punctuation)
My running list is always growing and changing. Sometimes, I get adventurous and think my kids are ready for a skill, and it turns out they're not. I'm not afraid to scratch it off to return to later. There are other times where we stumble onto a skill we weren't prepared to learn, so I add those in order to keep a record of what's happening in our home. It provides me with a checklist, record for portfolios, and ideas for when I forget.
I have a FREE EBOOK to help get you started!
But how do I teach these skills?
This is the fun part! Ask your kids what they're interested in learning. Wait, what? Yes! Ask your kids! Chances are they'll throw out random broad topics: space exploration, flowers, animals, electricity, etc. If they're unsure, well, you know your kids! Take some guesses based on their interests.
Write everything single topic mentioned or the ones you think of for your kids. If they are completely different, you could have separate lists. However, we tend to school altogether as a family, so we all learn generally the same topic, but I modify or assign different skills.
Animals in their ecosystem
Again, this is always changing and growing! Kids are fickle beings, and I prepare myself for that!
Okay, but when do I teach everything?
If this is your first time homeschooling ever, consider putting the most exciting topics in the beginning of your year. It'll get your kids' buy-in. Or consider going by the seasons - flowers and plants in spring; American colonization in the fall; and so on. It doesn't even have to make sense! Just assign a month!
May: Space exploration
June: Travel destinations
July: American History
October: Seasons of change
I keep hearing this word "units." How do I create those?
Look at the skills/concepts and think about what you can do per topic! If your kids want to learn about space, think about the kinds of math you can incorporate with stars, study planets or constellations, read stories/poems about space, etc. The idea of a "unit" is to create a cohesive learning topic. You don't have to tie every subject to your unit topic, but it makes it fun and exciting.
Plant identification & needs (both)
Poetry - limerick, rhyming, and haiku (both)
Repeated Addition into Multiplication (C)
Landscapes & finding them on maps (both)
Reading maps and keys (both; modified for B)
How to look closely at a picture & how colors show emotions (both)
With this simple run-down, I know what I'm teaching for science, ELA, math, social studies, and art.
Tip: Remember that skills need to build on one another. I can't teach B how to add if she doesn't know how to count or know her numbers. Think of where your child is at right now, and where you want to go in order from there.
Understood - But what do I teach them with?
Okay - the hard part is over! You know what, how, and when to teach your child. You've created some fun units that your kids will love or some they'll at least use later in life. Now you need to gather your unit resources. Write down every book you have on the topic, every field trip you could take, every person you could interview, every location you can observe, everything. Use library books, books you already own, apps, workbooks you're attracted to, materials you have at home, books you've been dying for an excuse to buy, anything! I'll use my example from above.
Photosynthesis - Smithsonian Book on Plants
Plant identification & needs (both) - Nature Anatomy, growing plants, nature walks, botanical gardens
Poetry - Shel Silverstein books, Dr. Seuss, internet for spring poems, writing their own, memorization
Reading - BOB books, letter building with sticks, Dr. Seuss (combine with poetry), library story time
Addition - adding within nature, adding while shopping, adding within stories, slowly introducing plus and equal sign
Repeated Addition into Multiplication - adding within nature, adding while shopping, introduce arrays and 10x multiplication facts
Landscapes & finding them on maps - Nature Anatomy, Ocean Anatomy, Wondrous Workings of Planet Earth, local maps and landscapes, drive to swamp/hills/delta nearby,
Reading maps and keys - world map introduction, draw maps of the house
How to look closely at a picture & how colors show emotions - picture books scavenger hunt, painting themselves, then Jackson Pollock (no true meaning necessary, just subjective emotions)
Great! Now, I want to plan out my lessons specifically...
If you truly need a lesson plan breakdown, you can do this fairly easy. But they aren't necessary to creating your own curriculum. Simply write out a week on a piece of paper. If you block out your subjects, write them out off to the side. If you know what activity you want to do, just write it on what day it should be done. If you're unsure of what activity would help teach your kids, Pinterest is filled with endless resources!
Maybe you want to include literature on Mondays, hands-on projects Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and a wrap-up on Fridays. You can have full flexibility! This is also the time where you'll decide if there's a workbook you may need, the books you'll have to pull off the shelves, and any worksheets you need to create or find. Here's a quick example:
Science: read XYZ picture books (no reference books yet) and ask questions about plants; let them ask questions; set up nature notebook.
Math: B - match rocks to number cards up to 30; C - simple addition facts as a refresher with nature materials or dry erase board
ELA: B - alphabet sounds song, match letter to sound; C - reading fiction and acting out for retelling details; Both - Dr. Seuss books and ask about what they notice (rhymes)
SS: review where we live, places we've been, and US map/states; C - show more detailed map and have him copy it
Art: review primary colors and rainbow order; look through colorful picture books and ask how pictures make us feel and why, introduce the idea that colors tell us emotions
Science: read XYZ picture books, one reference books to introduce plant needs and photosynthesis (C); copy in nature notebook; head outside to look for evidence of their needs
Math: B - simple word problems for addition to use with counters or natural materials; C - arranging arrays with materials and write repeated addition problem; 10x multiplication facts
ELA: B - match letter to sounds, read/write/build sight words BOB books; C - reading fiction and acting out for retelling details; Both - Shel Silverstein books and have them point out rhyming words
SS: have them create their own map of the house; C - must add directions and key
Art: more pictures from favorite books, matching color to emotions
That's it? YES!
Is it daunting? Yes. Does it take some planning? Yes, but... Once you get into your groove, there's no stopping you!
The simple truth is this: YOU CAN CREATE YOUR OWN HOMESCHOOL CURRICULUM! Chances are you have most of what you need, or you can easily find something to use! If you're truly wanting to take charge of your child's education, now is the time to do it!
If you're still not convinced and would rather an easy digital or print-as-you-go curriculum that you can add to, check out our shop! We provide an easy, low-prep curriculum for busy parents who want a well-rounded approach to learning.
What is Eclectic Learners Homeschool Curriculum?
We offer an eclectic, secular homeschool curriculum that combines some Charlotte Mason, Waldorf, and hygge methods, with a twist of our own learning model. We believe that by using the three Cs: connection, community, and creativity, children will grow up with the skills and conscious to become future world changers.
These units are broken up into nine week quarters in order to provide the most manageable and affordable options to parents. It can be SO OVERWHELMING to receive an entire year’s worth of content. And how frustrating is it to drop that much money without knowing if you love it or if it’ll work with your kids?
What are the three Cs?
Connection: We believe that education is, and should be, a relationship builder. We cannot be truly educated without the help of others. Humans all have basic needs, but we often forget that love and belonging is important. The time spent learning, reading, and discovering creates strong familial ties that help families bond, and meets the needs children often lose throughout their childhood. With these strong ties to their home, children are able to develop a sense of local responsibility that translates and extends to global responsibility.
Community: Eclectic Learners connects most learning through literature to a community outreach piece. For example, when reading about foster care and orphanages, students will learn to brainstorm, research, plan, and execute a way to reach out and make a difference in those children’s lives. We all have an important role in this world, and it’s important to give children the opportunity to make a change in the world.
Creativity: Most issues can be solved through creative problem-solving skills. In order for children to develop these skills, they first need to have the chance to be creative! Through easy, flexible prompts, Eclectic Learners challenges children to see their learning differently, flip the script, create, model, role-play, write, draw, and paint through their own eyes. These skills are easily transferred later for bigger problem-solving.
We look forward to helping you on your homeschooling journey!
We know it's a scary, overwhelming decision mirrored with a lot of excitement! If you still need assistance, reach out to us! We're here for you.