How To Use Homeschool Checklists
What is a checklist?
A checklist is simply a list of objectives you want to achieve. As you achieve your objective your check - or tick - it off the list. A curriculum checklist can be a useful aide in helping to plan, organise and evaluate your home education learning programs. We used checklists throughout our time as a homeschooling family. I particularly found them useful during the early years of homeschooling, and then later. Back then I used checklists I found in text books (usually derived from the 'contents' pages) or photocopied lists that other homeschooling families or from friends that were school teachers used. Over time I built a considerable collection which helped to reassure us we were always heading in the right direction with the education of our children.
As we grew more confident in our home schooling practice, I found we used generic checklists or ones from text books less often. By then I had carefully studied the curriculum guidelines of the public education system in at least three Australian states as well as a few from Montessori, Steiner and small community schools. I became adept at writing learning programs using educational jargon, although I found the process irksome and generally distracting. The task at hand was to educate, not continually report or record the process! None-the-less, thinking and working in much the same manner as a school teacher does, helped to develop and hone my confidence as a home educator.
Can unschooling families use checklists?
With the children approaching their teen years our checklists began to reflect our unschooling approach to home education. They became tailored and focussed on whatever particular subject or task the children were concentrating on at the time. In this way the checklists, although still structured in nature, were personally meaningful to the student, and were always based on what they wanted to learn. I kept an eye on my more generic educational checklist, mostly for my own reassurance, as well as being helpful when talking to others about the children's education.
A flexible approach to using curriculum checklists in the homeschool
Checklists are a general guide on them; completing all the tasks on them shouldn't be the sole focus. It's always been my observation that children jump from one thing to another when learning and developing. The learning journey is never a smooth one and the ride rarely comfortable! There are times when children seem to learn slowly or not at all, and there are times when learning accelerates so quickly through a stage that it appears as though the children have learned a skill or gained an insight as if by magic. Overall, however, when viewed in hindsight over many years, a collection of homeschool checklists offer a tidy record of relatively organised and sequential development.
I found curriuclum checklists particularly useful in the early years as a guide to devising learning programs for our children. Combined with common sense practice and a sound knowledge of where each of my children were at, developmentally speaking, we used checklists primarily as suggestions or prompts for educational activities for the children. There were many days when glancing through a checklist of art, craft or science activities before breakfast would help to frame a busy day of learning for the whole family.
Sequential curriculum checklists
Some checklists are sequential. These help you to know what to do or where to go next with your child. Flexibility is the key to success with using 'scope and sequence' checklists. These are often found in text books or school curriculum documents. They outline the skills and knowledge that the child will attain and set out the various stages or steps involved in the education process to achieve those goals.
All of the check-lists contained on this website are taken and adapted from our personal homeschooling records. They've been sourced from many places: friends, teachers, schools, books, necessity and invention. Some we used briefly, others we referred to over a period of many years. They are presented here as a suggestion only. The best way to homeschool is to create your own learning journey, based on your own particular situation and individual needs.
Education is never simply the attainment of knowledge or facts, it includes skills and understandings. Using a checklist simply to tick off a list of learning skills or knowledge belies the richness of the resource a checklist can be. I prefer to use them to stimulate my imagination, to help me brainstorm educational activities that are specifically tailored to each of my children's unique learning needs, styles and desires. I've always found that engagement in one activity sparks interest in many others.
Share check-lists and curriculum information among friends, even if they did not work for you. Please email any useful checklists to be included on this site. Remember; every home school is different, and individual children within families learn differently from one another.
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Beverley Paine with her children, and their home educated children, relaxing at home.
Together with the support of my family, my aim is to help parents educate their children in stress-free, nurturing environments. In addition to building and maintaing this website, I continue to create and manage local and national home educating networks, help to organise conferences and camps, as well as write for, edit and produce newsletters, resource directories and magazines. I am an active supporter of national, state, regional and local home education groups.
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We began educating our children in 1985, when our eldest was five. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn since they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. We hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was! Beverley Paine
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