Image by Brandy (an entry in our Where Brave Writers Write Giveaway!)
In response to our popular post, The Best Curriculum for a 6 Year Old, a homeschooling parent asked what to do if one’s state has strict regulations and requirements. For instance, needing 180 days (totaling 900 hours) and covering multiple subjects: arithmetic, reading, spelling, writing, geography, United States history, science, health education, music, visual arts, physical education.
So, first, let’s talk about the 900 hours thing. Think back to school. How many of those hours were chipped away by taking attendance, standing in line, school assemblies, time spent waiting for everyone to get out a piece of paper and pencil? How many times did an instructor have to quiet a classroom or gin up the enthusiasm that was absent? How many times does a student sit there already comprehending the information waiting for the one or two students in the class to catch up?
When you home educate, the hours cannot be counted. You must focus on objectives. You get credit for the hours if you are achieving the objectives. It will not take as much time to teach one-on-one as it does in a classroom, so already you can figure that you will do half as much (hours-wise) but equally as much in terms of content.
Arithmetic: For grades 1-6 it is rudimentary. If you want to support that growth with a textbook, feel free. Enhance it, though, with practical application (Family Math, Living Math, Why I Hate Math, Murderous Maths) and baking, sewing, building, constructing, guessing, estimating, and more.
Reading: Go to the library every week and read read read every day. Add poetry teatimes. If you need to teach a child how to read, get a program and do it but stay tuned into your child’s skill level and joy. We do offer one (some people like The Wand as it is immersive and interactive).
Spelling: copywork and dictation will do it for your child. Promise.
Writing: Jot It Down! is our program to help you do that well for a 6 year old and stay true to their skill set at that level. Ignore the school methods and you’ll be okay.
English language: talk to your kids naturally, with your full vocabulary. Watch movies and television. Read aloud. Play word games. Be fascinated by words—look them up, rhyme them, find their opposites, turn nouns into verbs and verbs into adjectives. Count it all.
Geography: If you follow any historical fiction homeschool plan, you will naturally cover this. We used to make foods from around the world—picking a country, learning about it, drawing its flag, then making its food in a big party! The globe was a daily thing for us—spinning it, learning country names.
US History: Read historical fiction, watch Ben and Me and any other US history animated films, memorize the pledge and a few songs, pay attention to patriotic holidays, create a little timeline (but not for 6 year olds—they don’t get time yet).
Science: Explore what interests your child. Go to the non-fiction section of your library and check out books that are interesting—tornadoes, hurricanes, the Herring Gull, How the Human Body Works, plants, kitchen chemistry experiments, planets and stars, weather, birds, animals… Science is so easy to do at home. Just do it! Don’t over think it. Exposure to the natural world and our bodies goes a long long way.
Health: Teach them to brush their teeth, talk about ingredients in foods they eat, get exercise, teach them kitchen safety, show them how to build a fire safely, help them clean bathrooms.
Music: Learn an instrument, play music, sing.
P.E.: Easy! Get outside every day. Sign up for a sport. Play in the backyard.
And so on. Literally you can do most of this without books at age 6 and cover the goals of the school system. If they need to see a “work sample” in writing (we needed this in CA), I dedicated one day a month to “work sample day.” I would print out 6-8 pages of stuff to fulfill the requirement and then we would eat yummy foods and I’d help them fill them out. Then we went back to our true education. It’s what we had to do to stay in good with the system, but also true to our real objectives. You can do this! Promise. They aren’t sitting in your house. You know if your kids are learning.
Think of it this way: 900 hours of anything sounds absurd, really, and I am certain that that is not the true quantity that is being achieved for any school child. Heck, teachers get sick and have substitutes showing videos to classes for days! This is all imaginary. Declare your intention to homeschool, be conscientious, and feel good about what you do.