Home Learning Year by Year (How to Design a Homeschool Curriculum from Preschool Through High School)
I knew the basic ideas: They had to learn math, language arts (grammar, punctuation, spelling, etc.), science, and so on. But I had no idea how to break it down into skills, how to know what order to teach things in (do you teach nouns before verbs, or verbs before nouns?), or at what grade level/age they should be taught those things.
This is one of the questions that many parents who are looking into homeschooling or just starting out face. We already know the things we are teaching our children; it’s ingrained knowledge for us. We know these things without thinking about them, and depending on our own ages, sometimes it’s been twenty years or more since we learned them – so expecting us to remember when we learned them and how is just too much!
Rebecca Rupp is an author who homeschooled all three of her sons. She’s written multiple books, but in Home Learning Year by Year, she breaks it all down for us and simplifies it into something that even the most terrified beginner can read and use.
Rupp’s book breaks down homeschooling, as indicated, by year. Every year from being in preschool to being a senior in high school is given its own chapter. Within each chapter, there’s a break down of each subject, with not only skills to be taught (example: [3rd grade] Identify common prefixes and suffixes.), but explanations of what should be covered (“Third graders should be able to deal with such prefixes as re, un, and dis; and such suffixes as less, ly, er, and or.”).
She covers the basics, such as math, science, social studies and language arts, but also the “extras” such as art, music, health, P.E. and foreign language. She gives the clear explanations of skills to be taught by grade, but many are also included for reinforcement in following grades, reminding us that we have to do more than just teach the skill once – we also have to review and ensure that it’s firmly planted in the brain.
What I really like about this book is that it does cover the entire range of homeschooling years. This allows me to read ahead to the following school years and know what I’ll be working with my children on – which gives me the chance to brush up on anything that I might not be so good at, or too familiar with, these days. This is a huge advantage and a major savings (of both time and money) as opposed to having to purchase a separate book for each grade or search the Internet and attempt to find the information scattered everywhere (not to mention, determine what’s good information as opposed to what’s not.).
Another great detail of this book is that Rupp gives you recommendations on books, games, websites and more that you can use with various skill lessons (note: Some of these things books, games and websites are no longer in print, available, and/or active, but the majority of them are. Those that are not are usually replaceable with other, rather easily accessible ones.).
For some, particularly those who unschool or are just generally not very structured, they may wonder if the book is too structured for their purposes. In my personal experience with it, I find that it’s not. I don’t necessarily use the book as a strict guide map to get us from point A to point B in a linear fashion. I use it more to doublecheck our progress. Once a month or so, I sit down and I read through the chapters for the grades my children are at (and in some cases, more than one chapter may apply to each child) and I note what progress we’ve made toward a certain skill. I’ll note, for example, that the short stories they wrote had excellent sentence structure and that they did a good job of varying their nouns and pronouns and threw in some really great verbs and adverbs. So I know, then that they are mastering those particular skills.
It’s also a helpful resource when trying to determine where your child is at, in terms of grade level. For example, when I pulled my children to begin homeschooling, they were in second and fifth grade. But their school didn’t do any history, geography, or anything social studies related at all, shoving those lessons aside to focus on math and reading. So when I read through Rupp’s book, I found that I often went all the way back to first grade, and occasionally even kindergarten, to ensure I was giving them a solid foundation in those areas as we expanded into the things that were more on their actual grade level.
This book was recommended to me when I was first beginning to research homeschooling as an option for my family. And while I have definitely found a multitude of websites that I frequently refer to, this book has consistently stayed close at hand so that I can check information when needed. The book was originally published in 2000, and while some things may have changed a bit, the basic building blocks of the book are still valid and an excellent starting point.
If you’d like to purchase the book, you can get it at Amazon.com.