I Have Decided to Homeschool. What Do I Teach?

By Melinda Larke - Cherry Valley Macaroni Kid July 16, 2020

In Washington State you are required to teach 11 different subjects: reading, writing, spelling, language, math, science, social studies, history, health, occupational education, and art and music appreciation.  It may seem like a lot, but they do not need to be taught separately. Want to learn about Washington State history?  With that one topic you can teach history, art and music appreciation, science, reading and writing.  Does your child like to cook? While working on their cooking skills you can cover health, science, and occupational education.  Washington State Law does not mandate how many hours you must spend on each subject or what specifically you must teach at each grade level.  That is all your decision. I am not going to really talk about specific curriculum in this article because that is a really personal decision.  I will be more pointing you in the direction of where you can find more information and to help you to decide what curriculum will work best for you.  If you want to make sure your child is learning the minimum for their grade you can use these checklists from Seattle Public Schools. 

Another way to make sure your child is meeting the standards is to purchase a ready-made curriculum from websites such as Timberdoodle.  On these websites, you just pick your child’s grade level and order what they recommend.  Some places do let you pick and choose from a few different options, they can also help you to determine what level your child should be doing with certain curriculum. The nice thing about homeschooling is that just because your child is in say 4th grade, you do not have to stick to just 4th grade material. 

If you do not want to spend the money on a ready-made curriculum package, because they are expensive, there are other cost-effective options.  One is finding what curriculum you want to use and looking for it used.  Homeschool Potpourri in Kirkland is a used curriculum store for homeschooling families.  They have so many different types of curriculum and the employees there are a great source of knowledge of all the curriculum. They can answer just about all your curriculum questions.  This is also a great way to really get your hands on the curriculum and look through it, making sure it is right for your family before you buy it. eBay and local homeschool groups are also great places to look for used curriculum.  There are also many websites, many of whom are run by homeschool families and/or teachers, that can offer advice, supplemental activities, and their own curriculum.  Just typing a topic or subject into a search engine will come up with so many different options for homeschooling.  Some of my personal favorites are Confessions of a Homeschooler (great for Preschool and K-3 curriculum options), Teachers Pay Teachers (great to find supplemental worksheets/activities/games for all the subjects), and Pinterest.  

Ok, lets talk about preschool through 2nd grade.  If you remember, the law in Washington State is that kids don’t have to even attend school until they are 8 years old, or about 3rd grade. So, everything I just said about the 11 different required subjects does not apply to kids under 8 years old. There are also some people who believe that a child should not start a formal education until about 8 years old. Before then they should learn primarily through play and life. A young child can learn so much by just running errands around town with you, by going to the zoo, by playing games, or by cuddling on the couch with a parent and reading a book.  They do not need to be sitting a desk for hours a day doing schoolwork.  Instead think about playing games to teach them reading and math, going on field trips or just exploring the backyard to learn about animals and science, writing grocery lists to learn spelling and writing, letting them help you make meals to learn about healthy eating, etc. If you want them to sit down each day and work on their writing, spelling, and math skills it should only be 30 minutes-1 hour per day depending on their age. There is preschool – 2nd grade curriculum that you can find online, sometimes for free, or buy to help teach them their letters, numbers, basic math, the calendar, etc.  

Curriculum can be overwhelming and had to chose.  You do not have to do it all, each curriculum will teach your child what they need to know, and more expensive does not always mean better.  

Keep finding your family fun -