Overview by grade

Each student is unique, and it is common to progress more rapidly in some areas than in others. This overview describes a suggested default curriculum, based on a typical sequence of study in each subject. Don't hesitate to modify the default scheduling whenever it makes sense in order to ensure the best possible fit for your child.

Kindergarten

Homeschooling at this age should focus on just one goal: helping your child to become a fluent reader.

Kindergarten traditionally starts when children are five years old. This is an excellent time to teach reading, as young children's minds are primed for language acquisition. Most five-year-olds are fully capable of learning to read.

That said, children this young usually have short attention spans and should not be required to spend long stretches of time on any task. We recommend starting with very short sessions (five to ten minutes in length) and gradually increasing the lesson time to up to half an hour over the course of the year, if the child's attention span permits. The reading sessions should be done twice daily, at the same time every day if possible.

Our curriculum uses The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading as a guide for teaching your child to read. This is a phonics-based program, which we believe is the best method for teaching reading as it provides children with both a systematic understanding of how English words are written, and the skills to sound out new words.

We recommend completing one ten-minute lesson from The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading each morning. At a separate session later in the day, choose a book at the child's reading level and allow the child to read it aloud to you, helping the child to sound out unfamiliar words as needed.

In the curriculum, books that are intended for the child to read to you are categorized under the Reading Skills subject. We start with the Bob Books series, one of the few fully phonetic book series for beginning readers. The series may be begun right away, as early books use only a few letters each. We recommend proceeding systematically through the Bob Books before your child attempts non-phonetic books, such as the simple Dr. Seuss books recommended in the middle months of the kindergarten curriculum.

By the later months of this year, your child should be ready to progress to easy readers. We have suggested a few classic easy reader series in the curriculum, but you should not limit yourself to these. There is a wide selection of easy readers on the market today, and you should be able to find plenty that fit your child's interests and reading level at your local library. Continue to have your child read these aloud to you and offer help as needed.

Throughout this year, you should spend at least 30 minutes to an hour per day reading aloud to your child. We suggest allowing your child to choose books from the children's section of your local library, and read these in addition to the classic children's books included in the curriculum.

Children vary widely in how quickly they pick up reading. However, if you complete reading lessons consistently on the recommended schedule, and spend plenty of time reading aloud to your child, your child should become a proficient reader by the end of the kindergarten year.

Note that the curriculum does not introduce writing this year. This is because the fine motor skills and concentration necessary for writing are often not yet developed in kindergartners, and attempting to teach writing in addition to the reading lessons would be too demanding for many children this age. Reading and writing are separate skills, and do not need to be taught in tandem. That said, if your child has a special interest in learning to write, it is fine to demonstrate how to form letters and let him or her practice writing for fun.

It is also a good idea to begin this year to familiarize your child in a playful way with the foreign language he or she will study more formally later on. We have included Calico Spanish as an age-appropriate option for families who choose to study Spanish.

There is no formal art curriculum for kindergarten. We recommend providing your child with basic art supplies and allowing him or her plenty of time to make artwork for fun.

Sample daily schedule:
- Lesson from The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading (morning, 10 minutes)
- Have your child read aloud from easy reader (afternoon, 10 - 30 minutes)
- Read to your child (30 minutes - 1 hour)

Optional:
- Spanish, 20 minutes 3 - 5 days per week

First grade

We recommend ensuring your child can read well before commencing first grade work. If your child is not yet a proficient reader, please complete the Reading Skills component of the kindergarten curriculum as a prerequisite to first grade.

In first grade, several new subjects are introduced: writing, math, art and (optionally) life science. Together with reading, these make up the core focus of the year.

The goal in writing this year is for your child to master the mechanics of forming letters, words and sentences. Each day, have your child spend ten to thirty minutes practicing writing. Over the course of the year, the curriculum progresses from tracing letters to writing independently.

Supervise your child's writing practice closely in the beginning to ensure that he or she is forming letters using the correct stroke direction and order. Incorrect habits established at this stage are difficult to unlearn later.

Don't worry about spelling for now. Allow your child to focus fully on letter formation, without the added pressure of needing to spell words correctly. Spelling usually improves organically in children who spend a lot of time reading, and can be taught formally at a later stage. However, basic rules of capitalization and punctuation should be introduced now.

The content of the writing doesn't matter much. One option is to have the child write out a sentence that you dictate or read from a book. You can also allow your child to compose sentences independently, or write notes to you or other family members. The important thing is to ensure daily practice until correct letter formation is mastered and your child writes easily.

We use the fun and rigorous Beast Academy books for elementary math. (The name comes from the storyline of the textbooks, in which material is presented through comics about a school for monsters.) This curriculum is produced by Art of Problem Solving, which typically offers a higher level of challenge and more in-depth presentation of the material than most American math courses. We think this is a good thing. However if the math coursework proves too challenging, we recommend delaying its introduction for up to six months, or progressing more slowly than the curriculum default. It will do no harm for your child to complete the elementary Beast Academy curriculum and start the next course (Prealgebra) a year or two later. Alternatively, you may edit the standard curriculum to substitute a math program of your choice for Beast Academy.

Your child should continue to practice reading for at least 15 to 30 minutes per day. Once your child reads proficiently, he or she may transition from reading aloud with you to reading independently. We suggest a few appropriate series in the later months to facilitate the progression from easy readers to chapter books.

Allow your child to choose any easy readers, comic books or simple series books that appeal to him or her. The priority at this level is to establish the habit of reading for enjoyment. Once you see your child reading without being required to do so, you will know that this goal has been accomplished. (This is much more likely to happen if your child is not used to relying on TV or electronic games for entertainment. We recommend eliminating or limiting screen time to under half an hour per day at this age.)

In addition to your child's independent reading, you should read more challenging books to your child for a minimum of 30 minutes per day. This year's book selections under the Literature category are too long for most first graders to read by themselves, but they are fully capable of listening to them with enjoyment and will benefit from the exposure to more advanced works.

The reading selections for first grade are all quality literature that is designed to appeal to young children. That said, if your child does not take to a book after the first chapter or two, put it aside and move on. Do all you can to ensure that reading is a source of pleasure for your child, rather than a chore.

This age is an ideal time to start art instruction, as fine motor skills are better developed, and young children are full of creativity and lack the inhibition and time constraints of later years. Our curriculum is unique in that it gives art a prominent focus on par with other subjects.

We recommend that you begin by reading Drawing With Children, and completing the exercises in the book together with your child. This book teaches realistic drawing as a concrete skill that results from learning rather than talent - a mindset that will set the stage for the rest of your child's artistic education. We then commence Artistic Pursuits, a comprehensive visual art curriculum designed for homeschoolers.

An optional Life Science course from REAL Science Odyssey includes lots of hands-on activities involving plants and animals.

Sample daily schedule:
- Math (15 - 30 minutes)
- Writing practice (15 minutes)
- Independent reading (30 minutes)
- Read to your child (30 minutes - 1 hour)

One or two days per week:
- Art project (1 - 2 hours)
- Listen to Classical Kids composer production

Three days per week:
- Spanish, 30 minutes

Once per week:
- One science reading and lab

Second grade

In second grade, we introduce the study of history. The mid-elementary and middle school years are an ideal time to become familiar with key historical people and events. By this time children have longer attention spans and a greater capacity for absorbing complex stories. Basic history education requires retaining large amounts of information, and children in the elementary years are developmentally adapted to this rather than to the analytical skills that will become important later in their education.

Unlike mainstream elementary schools, we recommend an in-depth study of world history before focusing on American history. Modern communities and workplaces are a blend of people from all over the world, and thoroughly learning world history makes it easier to relate to these diverse backgrounds. We also believe students are better equipped to appreciate the uniqueness of America after becoming familiar with world history.

The four Story of the World books are used to provide structure to elementary history. The books progress in chronological order from ancient to modern times over the course of four years. We suggest sticking to this order and completing no more than one book per year, as the later books are written at a more advanced level appropriate for the end of elementary school.

Each Story of the World book contains 40 to 45 chapters and, at a rate of one chapter per week, can be completed by the end of May. Whether or not your family does summer vacation, we suggest taking a break from structured history at this point and commencing the next book in August.

In most months, we list optional historical biographies and historical fiction literature which are timed to coincide with your progress through the Story of the World. We recommend choosing from among these to read in conjunction with each week's chapter. (If there are too many, you may save some for later by moving them to a different month in your curriculum.)

All of the history selections should be read aloud to your child. We recommend purchasing the test booklet that accompanies Story of the World (available at amzn.to/3G6nLlM), and having your child complete the tests either orally or in writing at the completion of each chapter to encourage retention of basic facts. The tests are brief and not overly demanding for a second-grader. Beyond this, there is no need for your child to memorize dates or complex details. Instead, treat history as a fun exploration of mysterious cultures and colorful characters.

Your child should continue to spend at least half an hour per day in independent reading. We recommend visiting the library frequently and allowing the child to choose plenty of easy readers or series to enjoy during independent reading time.

You should continue to read aloud to your child each day from the core and optional literature books. Do not allow other schoolwork to crowd out this time, as exposure to quality writing will do more to develop your child's imagination and power of expression than almost any other activity.

The Writing with Ease writing skills series is introduced this year. This program systematically develops writing skills via short literature-based narration and writing exercises four days per week. You may optionally supplement this program with creative writing of your child's choice.

The math curriculum becomes more challenging this year, with a separate workbook in addition to the story-format Beast Academy textbooks. Proceed at your child's own pace and take as long as you need. You can modify the curriculum to allow more time for completion of each book.

The Artistic Pursuits curriculum begins a chronological survey of art history this year. Allow plenty of time for your child to complete each week's project. The one-hour slot allotted to art by most traditional schools is not enough. A schedule that works for many families is to set aside half a day, one day per week, to focus on art. You may choose to limit history and/or math to four days per week to allow time for this.

In grades two through five, science is taught via REAL Science Odyssey courses, which have less reading than other subjects and lots of hands-on activities. The courses are arranged by branch of science rather than by grade, making it easy to combine classes for siblings in multiple grades. Plan to spend one or two days per week on science lessons and their accompanying labs.

Sample daily schedule:
- Math (30 minutes)
- Writing practice (15 - 30 minutes)
- Independent reading (30 minutes - 1 hour)
- History (30 minutes - 1 hour)
- Read to your child (30 minutes - 1 hour)

One or two days per week:
- Art project (1 - 3 hours)
- World Music for Elementary lesson (optional)
- Science lesson and lab activity

Three days per week:
- Spanish, 30 minutes

Third grade

Cursive writing is introduced this year. You may choose to take a break from other writing practice until the recommended cursive handwriting workbook is completed. After that, you should require most writing to be done in cursive for at least six months, or until your child writes as easily in cursive as in print. (Thereafter your child may choose whichever style is more comfortable.) You may continue to use the lined paper purchased in second grade for now.

History continues in third grade with a focus on the middle ages. There is a wealth of child-friendly biographies, historical fiction and literature for this period, from the Arabian Nights to Robin Hood. We recommend allowing more time for history this year to accommodate these and your child's maturing attention span. This historical period was a golden age for civilizations in the Americas, Africa and Asia, and this year is an ideal time to explore the cultures and histories of non-European peoples.

Third grade incorporates science in the form of Ask, a monthly magazine that includes articles and comics written for ages eight and up. At this age the priority is to awaken an enthusiasm for scientific exploration, and there is nothing like receiving a personally addressed magazine in the mail each month to kindle excitement in children. Each issue focuses on a different theme, and you'll be surprised by the wide-ranging knowledge your child will pick up from reading it.

To complement your child's science exploration, take frequent trips to your local library and have him or her choose nonfiction books to incorporate into independent reading time. Beyond this, documentaries such as those available on Curiosity Stream can be enjoyed by the whole family.

If you have subscribed to the optional Ranger Rick and Cricket magazines in earlier grades, they can be continued as long as your child enjoys reading them.

In third grade your child should be completing one to two short workbook pages per day in your chosen math curriculum (Beast Academy or other). Depending on the amount completed in earlier years and whether your family continues math during the summer months, you may edit the curriculum to extend the time needed for level three math.

By now your child should comfortably read chapter books for 30 minutes to one hour per day in independent reading time. Your child may be capable of reading the literature selections independently as well. We nevertheless recommend continuing to read aloud to your child at least some of the time, as long as he or she enjoys it. If you have other children, they will also benefit from hearing the literature read aloud.

If your schedule and budget allow, this year is a good time to begin lessons in piano or another musical instrument. We suggest trying weekly lessons for at least a few months, then continuing as long as your child maintains interest.

Sample daily schedule:
- Math (30 minutes)
- Writing practice (20 - 30 minutes)
- Independent reading (30 minutes - 1 hour)
- History (30 minutes - 1 hour)
- Literature reading (30 minutes - 1 hour, may overlap with independent reading if your child does the reading)

One or two days per week:
- Art project (1 - 3 hours)
- Learn Classical Music lesson
- Nature study (Nature Anatomy book) (20 minutes)
- Science lesson and lab activity

Three days per week:
- Spanish, 30 minutes

Optional:
- Salsa Spanish, one episode 3 - 5 days per week
- Piano or other instrument lesson (once per week plus practice time)

Fourth grade

You may transition to regular lined paper for your child's writing practice this year. Children often enjoy picking out their own decorative notebook, which they can use as a daily journal.

Allow 30 minutes to an hour of time for writing practice each day. Continue to complete the lessons in the Writing with Ease book. If your child wishes, you may substitute creative writing for some of the Writing with Ease assignments, as long as you ensure that he or she has mastered the skills introduced in the workbook.

Continue to check your child's work and have him or her correct any spelling mistakes. This method, along with plenty of independent reading time, teaches spelling as effectively as rote memorization and is more enjoyable.

Your child will probably be capable of reading most of the literature selections independently. You may still choose to read some or all of them aloud, especially if you are combining readings for multiple children.

We also recommend reading the weekly chapters of Story of the World together. Use the test booklet to ensure your child is absorbing the material.

Set aside at least one hour per day for independent reading at this grade. Independent reading may include curriculum literature, but should not be limited to it. Continue frequent trips to the library and allow your child to choose a variety of fiction and nonfiction books for independent reading time.

Your child should continue to do at least one workbook page per day of math, four or five days per week. You may be using Beast Academy level three or four this year, depending on the amount completed in previous grades.

With the survey of art history completed, art class becomes more technical this year. Graded graphite drawing pencils are used to introduce a range of composition and shading techniques. Make sure you provide a quality sketch pad (the Strathmore 400 series is affordable and has plenty of pages) and a graded graphite pencil set.

Sample daily schedule:
- Math (30 minutes)
- Writing practice (30 minutes - 1 hour)
- Independent reading (1 hour)
- History (30 minutes - 1 hour)
- Literature reading (30 minutes - 1 hour, if not completed during independent reading)

Three days per week:
- Spanish, 30 minutes

Twice per week:
- Science lesson and lab activity

One day per week:
- Art project (2 - 3 hours)

Optional:
- Piano or other instrument lesson (once per week plus practice time)

Fifth grade

In fifth grade we introduce an hour per day of scheduled project time. This is time consecrated for your child to work on a project of his or her choice.

What counts as a project? A project can be anything with educational or experiential value, which has a fixed goal and a tangible result. This may be a creative endeavor, learning a new skill, or organizing an event. See the activity description at www.greatbookshomeschool.com/book/project-time for more ideas.

Setting aside a specific time for projects benefits your child in many ways. It creates space for the exploration of new interests and the furthering of existing ones. It develops the ideation, planning and execution skills which are at a premium as work becomes more automated. Children who are accustomed to initiating and completing projects develop resourcefulness and a can-do attitude, and are better placed to acquire new skills as technological change accelerates. Perhaps most important, it fosters a love of building and creating which will enrich your child's life regardless of his or her chosen career path.

This year, your fifth grader will study modern world history with its focus on the birth of modern nation states. This is an appropriate time to focus on geography. By the end of the year, your child will be able to label every country in the world on a map. (American states will be learned in middle school, when your child studies US history.)

If your child has been completing one math level per year, this will be the final grade of the Beast Academy curriculum. After this, we begin Art of Problem Solving's successor middle school math curriculum, starting with Prealgebra. If you would like more time to complete the Beast Academy levels, simply edit the Beast Academy end date and Prealgebra start date as needed. The Prealgebra course is challenging and may be started in seventh, eighth or even ninth grade without detriment to your child's math education.

This year introduces the Writing with Skill series, the successor to the Writing with Ease books completed in earlier grades. These books also provide four daily lessons per week, but we suggest completing only two lessons per week to allow time for creative writing and other assignments. At this pace, each Writing with Skill level can be completed over the course of two years.

Depending on your child's interest, allocate one to three days per week to creative writing. Allow your child to choose what to write about: he or she may opt to keep a diary of personal events, mail letters to family members or even write a book. The book 500 Writing Prompts for Kids provides plenty of ideas. The Cliffhanger Writing Prompts is another good way to inspire young writers.

This year's art curriculum introduces painting with watercolor pencils. Be sure to allow at least a few hours per week for your child to complete the art lesson and project to his or her satisfaction.

Your child should be able to read this year's literature selections independently. You may nevertheless opt to continue reading aloud together as long as you and your child enjoy it. If you do, make sure to allow your child at least an hour per day of personal reading time as well.

Sample daily schedule:
- Math (30 minutes)
- Writing practice (30 minutes - 1 hour)
- Independent reading (1 hour)
- History (30 minutes - 1 hour)
- Literature reading (30 minutes - 1 hour, if not completed during independent reading)
- Project time (1 hour)

Twice per week:
- Science lesson and lab activity

Three days per week:
- Spanish, 30 minutes

One day per week:
- Art project (2 - 3 hours)
- Map study (1 hour)

Sixth grade

Sixth grade marks the beginning of middle school and a turning point in many subjects. Your child may welcome the new challenges with enthusiasm. If he or she is feeling overwhelmed, you may opt to ease the transition by editing the start date of some subjects to commence later in the year.

If your child has completed level five of Beast Academy, you should move on to a middle school math curriculum. Our curriculum includes two options for middle and high school math.

The first option is Art of Problem Solving, the successor to Beast Academy.
Unlike Beast Academy, the Art of Problem Solving books contain no stories or illustrations, and present the content in greater depth than traditional middle school courses. Our default curriculum allows two years for completion of the Prealgebra course, but you may lengthen or shorten this to suit your needs.

The Art of Problem Solving courses are excellent, but are challenging and designed for gifted math students. If your child struggles in math, we suggest skipping the Art of Problem Solving Prealgebra course, and instead moving straight from Beast Academy to the (non honors) Algebra 1 course. This course uses the Jacobs Algebra textbook, which presents the material clearly and simply and includes plenty of review, as well as an overview of Prealgebra concepts in the early chapters.

If you have been following our history curriculum in previous grades, your child will have surveyed American history as part of world history but not yet studied it in depth. In sixth through eighth grade, you will focus on American history using the series A History of US. To complement the history course, the curriculum contains a selection of fiction books that bring to life various periods of American history. (If you are outside the US, feel free to substitute the history of your own country for American history.)

By now your child should be able to handwrite easily and with minimal spelling or other mistakes. We suggest introducing typing this year using one of the fun and effective typing software packages for kids. (See the activity description for specific recommendations.) You may opt to practice typing in lieu of other writing practice to allow time for this. Once your child can type proficiently, have him or her learn to use word processing software and begin completing daily writing assignments on a computer. Typing skills are a prerequisite for next year's computer programming coursework.

Art becomes optional in middle school, but we recommend continuing formal art courses as long as your child enjoys them. This year's art course focuses on sculpture, but you may substitute the seventh grade Drawing with Graded Graphite Pencils or eighth grade Color and Composition course if desired.

Sample daily schedule:
- Math (30 minutes - 1 hour)
- Typing or writing practice (30 minutes - 1 hour)
- Independent reading (1 hour)
- History (30 minutes - 1 hour)
- Literature reading (30 minutes - 1 hour, if not completed during independent reading)
- Project time (1 hour)

Twice per week:
- Science lesson and lab activity

Three days per week:
- Spanish, 30 minutes

Two days per week:
- Khan Academy science lesson

One day per week:
- Art project (2 - 3 hours)
- Microscope activity (1 hour)

Seventh grade

In seventh grade we introduce courses in digital literacy and introductory programming. While we do not expect everyone to become a full-fledged programmer, we feel that every young person should be exposed to the basics. Coding skills open many doors, both as an employee or as an entrepreneur, and familiarity with its potential may lead an initially uninterested child to revisit learning to program at a later point in life.

The core requirement course, STEM Learning for Kids, should be completed by all students. Those who wish to progress further may then take the optional courses in website development, Android app development or computer science.

Note that typing ability is a prerequisite for the programming courses. We recommend completing the sixth grade Learn to type activity first, if your child has not already done so.

At this age many children start to be interested in political and social issues. If your child does not already read or watch news, we suggest spending ten minutes a day watching CNN 10, a news segment produced for middle and high school students which is less biased and more uplifting than typical news programs.

We round out this year's science curriculum with a selection of awe-inspiring video presentations: the updated Cosmos series, and a variety of documentaries from Curiosity Stream. Science lends itself especially well to learning via video, and this format provides a break from the reading required in other subjects.

Sample daily schedule:
- News / current events (10 minutes)
- Math (30 minutes - 1 hour)
- Creative writing (30 minutes - 1 hour)
- Independent reading (1 hour)
- History (30 minutes - 1 hour)
- Literature reading (30 minutes - 1 hour, if not completed during independent reading)
- Project time (1 hour)

Twice per week:
- Science lesson and lab activity

Three days per week:
- Spanish, 30 minutes

Two days per week:
- Khan Academy science lesson
- Watch science documentary
- Treehouse digital literacy or programming course lesson

One day per week:
- Art project (2 - 3 hours)

Eighth grade

Reading selections become more challenging this year, from the lengthy Lord of the Rings to Dickens' Christmas Carol. If you choose to read them aloud, most can be enjoyed by family members of all ages.

Plan to complete the Writing with Skill: Level 2 book by the end of eighth grade. Most of the writing assignments should be done on the computer using a word processing program such as Microsoft Word, Mac Pages or Google Docs.

If your child is using Art of Problem Solving and has completed the Prealgebra course, now is the time to start Algebra 1. Otherwise, you may delay Algebra 1 by a year or two as needed.

Our curriculum includes two options for introductory Algebra: Honors Algebra 1, which uses the Art of Problem Solving textbook, and Algebra 1, which uses the Jacobs textbook. The Art of Problem Solving textbook is a good fit for students who would like a greater challenge and are especially interested in math, while the Jacobs textbook is a better choice for students who wish to learn the material thoroughly without making math a major focus of their studies.

By the end of middle school, your child will likely have picked up one or more extracurricular activities and hobbies. This is also a good time for your child to begin volunteering for a cause that speaks to him or her. Allow plenty of time for these activities as well as the scheduled project time.

The year ends with a mini-philosophy course in the form of a book that presents the history of Western thought in the format of a mystery novel, and an entertaining comic-based introduction to logical fallacies.

Sample daily schedule:
- News / current events (10 minutes)
- Math (30 minutes - 1 hour)
- Creative writing (30 minutes - 1 hour)
- Independent reading (1 hour)
- History (30 minutes - 1 hour)
- Literature reading (1 hour, if not completed during independent reading)
- Project time (1 hour)

Twice per week:
- Science lesson and lab activity

Three days per week:
- Spanish, 30 minutes

Two days per week:
- Khan Academy science lesson
- Watch science documentary

One day per week:
- Art project (2 - 3 hours)

Optional:
- Volunteer work (once per week)