Curriculum Planning

Once you’ve figured out what you’re trying to achieve, it’s time to figure out how to do that.

First write a course description.  Then write the syllabus.  Unit plans are usually a natural part of writing a syllabus, so it should not be necessary to write your unit plans separately.  Finally, you are ready to approach your daily lesson plans.

Course Description

  • Rational:  Why should this subject be studied?
  • Objectives:  What do you want your child to learn?
  • Assessment:  How will you know if your objectives have been met?
  • Teaching Notes:  General narrative on how you will approach teaching this subject 

Sample Course Description


  • Course Name (not subject name):  “Ancient Greece” rather than “history”; “geology” rather than “science”
  • Number of Credits (not necessary for elementary level, very important for high school)
  • Course Description:  What information will be taught in this course?
  • Materials:  What textbooks, movies, etc, will be used for this course?
  • Assignments:  When using textbooks, the table of contents provides a good starting point.  Every chapter is a “unit” and you simply need to determine which portions to read each day.  When using two (or more) books, you can still use the table of contents’ as an outline.

It is possible to stop here.  Whenever an assignment is completed, indicate the date on your syllabus.  At the end of the year, you will have a record of your work.

Sample Syllabus

Some people prefer to go further, and will schedule a date for every assignment.  In a classroom setting this is important to do.  More play is built into the schedule (the teacher allows review days, or extra days for subjects that tend to be more difficult).  In the public school system, it is not unusual for a class to not complete the entire book.  Think back to your high school days – did you ever finish a math or science textbook?  There isn’t enough time to get through the entire book when working with a large group of people who learn at different speeds.

In public schools, children who are absent simply get caught-up on their own time – because make-up time is built into the schedule.   Homeschooled kids who get sick can’t “catch-up” because they’re already working at their own pace.  If you feel compelled to schedule dates for every assignment, be sure to include a few make-up days so that you don’t end up “behind schedule” every time someone gets sick.

Lesson Plans

Very few people take the next step and actually write lesson plans, because they are more appropriate to the classroom setting.  The one-on-one tutoring that takes place in homeschooling doesn’t require formal lesson plans detailing what the teacher will do, what the student will do, what supplies are needed, how long to allow for different activities, and so forth. I do not write daily lesson plans for the subjects that I teach my children.  We just look at the syllabus to see which lesson is next.

If you choose to write detailed lesson plans, you will need one plan per day per subject.  Six subjects per day, for a 180-day school year, would mean writing 1080 lesson plans per year (per child, if your children are studying different things).  Write these plans one unit at a time.  If I am meeting with a co-op, I do write plans for teaching those classes – mostly to make sure I don’t forget any of my supplies.


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