This post is part of a series titled, “Homeschool Q&A.” The series features questions we’ve received from parents on a variety of topics–and the answers!
Q. How do I find out what my child is supposed to know by the end of each grade?
A. The skill subjects are the most important subjects your child should know by the end of the year. For each grade level, you have two types of subjects—skill subjects and non-skill subjects. Math and language arts (which include reading, writing, grammar, and spelling) are skill subjects. They build on the material learned the year before; therefore, you can find a good amount of similarity within different curricula.
In contrast, history, science, literature, and Bible are non-skill subjects. For these subjects, the content can vary among curriculum providers and that is fine. Whether your child learns about insects in second grade or fourth grade doesn’t really matter.
To find out what your child should know by the end of each grade for the important skill subjects (math and language arts), you can look online at the scope and sequence of several large curriculum providers. Each of the following companies has a good scope and sequence online: A Beka, Bob Jones University Press, Christian Liberty Academy, Rod and Staff, Christian Light, and Alpha Omega. There are many other companies from which to choose, but the scope and sequence from these companies will give you a good idea of what should be covered in each grade.
You can also look at the tables of contents from several different math and language-arts books to see what will be taught during the year. Keep in mind that if you complete about 80-90% of the book, you have completed enough of the course to go to the next level. You will begin the next grade with a review or introduction of the material you didn’t quite complete the year before. After looking at several tables of contents, you’ll see somewhat of a consistency in what your child should know for that grade level.
There are also some helpful books that can give you the big picture of curriculum and what your child should know. Here are several resources you may want to review:
What Your Child Needs to Know When by Robin Sampson
This resource includes helpful academic-skills checklists divided according to grade level (K-8) for math, language arts, science, and social studies, with spaces to assess up to five children.
You Can Teach Your Child Successfully by Ruth Beechick
Beginning with the all-important skill of reading, then moving through writing, arithmetic, history and social studies, science, health, music, art, and the Bible, Beechick presents the basic content of each subject along with the big ideas that make it important.
100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum by Cathy Duffy
This book is a standard reference for homeschoolers. The first several chapters help you decide on the content of the subjects you want to teach and the methods that are right for your family.
What Your First Grader Needs to Know: Fundamentals of a Good First-Grade Education (The Core Knowledge Series) by E.D. Hirsch Jr.
This series–developed by parents and teachers–covers what preschoolers to third graders need to know.
Virginia Standards of Learning
This public school guide establishes minimum standards for every subject. Homeschoolers are not required to comply with these benchmarks, but they give you a general idea of public school goals for each grade.
Although this information can offer some guidelines, as a homeschool parent, you have the freedom to set the content within your curriculum to fit your child’s needs and learning level.