Homeschooling

How to Homeschool Part 3: What Do I Teach and When?

Wondering how to homeschool? Just starting out and not sure where to begin? You’re not alone! For me, the hardest part was figuring out exactly what I needed to teach my child. What subjects were required for a homeschool education? What year should I teach each subject?

Well, I found out it’s a lot simpler than I thought. Just focus on the basics until you get your feet wet. After you get a handle on the three R’s—Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic —launch into other fun activities and extra curricular classes/courses. Essentially, begin with the basics then add on electives from there. Electives are courses that come after the basics. They are courses that you would love to teach and would love for your child to take, but they contain information that is not really needed at this point in his education.

How to Homeschool: What to Teach When

For every year of a child’s education, there will be different basics. The basics for a high school student are different than the basics for an elementary student. In fact, the basics for a first grader and a fifth grader are different as well. 

Below are the basics for each grade level and suggested electives. Please be aware that your state may have additional requirements. 

Kindergarten

  • Kindergarten Basics
    • Phonics- Learning to read is the only true requirement for this age. You can expect that very bright children will read fairly independently during this year. However, some children are not ready to learn to read in kindergarten. 
  • Kindergarten Electives
    • Math readiness- learning numbers and basic adding 
    • Art and crafts readiness- learning to use scissors and glue and following basic instructions
    • History/Science/Geography readiness- being exposed to these subjects through read alouds, media, and field trips
    • Lots of outdoor playtime

First Grade

  • First Grade Basics
    • Phonics
    • Introductory Math
    • Handwriting
  • First Grade Electives
    • History/Social Studies
    • Science
    • Art
    • Foreign Language audios or videos

Second Grade

  • Second Grade Basics
    • Phonics
    • Reading (for some)
    • Math (including math facts)
    • Handwriting
  • Second Grade Electives
    • History/Social Studies
    • Science
    • Typing (should be taught early but need not last an entire year) 
    • Art
    • Foreign Language audios or videos

Third Grade

  • Third and Fourth Grade Basics
    • Grammar* (phonics for late readers)
    • Spelling
    • Reading
    • Math (including math facts)
    • Handwriting
  • Third and Fourth Grade Electives
    • History/Social Studies
    • Science
    • Art
    • Geography
    • Foreign Language study

Fifth Grade

  • Fifth Grade Basics
    • Writing 
    • Grammar*
    • Spelling
    • Reading
    • Math (including math facts)
  • Fifth Grade Electives
    • History/Social Studies
    • Science
    • Art
    • Geography
    • Foreign Language study

Sixth Grade

  • Sixth Grade Basics
    • Writing
    • Grammar*
    • Spelling
    • Literature
    • Math (including math facts)
  • Electives
    • History/Social Studies
    • Science
    • Art
    • Geography
    • Foreign Language study
    • *It’s important that the child learn the basic grammar concepts for common knowledge and standardized tests. However, the purpose of grammar is to teach proper writing format. If a child reads a lot and proper grammar is used in the home, the child need not spend years on the study of grammar as its proper usage will come naturally. 

Seventh Grade

  • Seventh Grade Basics
    • By seventh grade, the student’s basic work increases significantly, but your teaching time decreases. Most students are able to learn independently. 
    • Writing
    • Literature
    • Pre-Algebra (or complete review of basic math)
    • Science
    • History and/or Geography
  • Seventh Grade Electives
    • Art
    • Foreign Language study

Eighth Grade

  • Eighth Grade Basics
    • Writing
    • Literature
    • Algebra (or Pre Algebra)
    • Science
    • History and/or Geography
  • Electives
    • Art
    • Foreign Language study

Ninth-Twelfth Grade

  • Ninth – Twelfth Grade Basics and Electives
    *See my College Prep posts for more information about college prep during high school.

    • English- 4 years (Literature and Composition)
    • Math- 4 years  (Algebra, Geometry, Algebra 2, plus another math)
    • Science- 4 years  (Biology, Physical Science, plus two more)
    • History- 2 years (American, World)
    • Government- half year
    • Economics- half year
    • Foreign Language- 2 years 
    • Fine Arts- 1 year
    • PE- 1 year

Remember This

Your measure of success as a homeschool mom is not based on how many presidents your child knows or how much Latin he can recite, or if he’s reading high school level texts at seven years old.

Your measure of success is your child’s heart for God, the confidence he has as a child of God, and his attitude. This should be the focus of the early years in your homeschool. When your child’s obedience and love for God are strong and secure, he will have the maturity required in middle and high school to take responsibility for his academics and pursue his passions with purpose.


Read on for more homeschool encouragement.

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