If you register with the HEU (Home Education Unit) in QLD you are committing to creating your own curriculum plan for your children. You are taking total responsibility for their education and everything that entails. This is a pretty standard fact that a quick web search will confirm.
However, through conversations with several new homeschoolers recently, I’ve uncovered a common misunderstanding. These “newbies” (as long term homeschoolers affectionately call new homeschoolers) mistakenly thought this meant that if they signed up with the HEU they would have to literally create their own curriculum from scratch. They didn’t realise that we could purchase textbooks and programs for each subject to incorporate into our curriculum plans. I suppose they imagined HEU homeschoolers were burning the midnight oil creating worksheets and lesson plans and coming up with brilliant projects for the kids to do, all by themselves. And perhaps there are some of these people around, but most of us prefer not to reinvent the wheel, or at least not the whole kit and caboodle.
Another problem lies in the mixed usage of the word “curriculum”. In the school word, curriculum means the course of study that is designed by the state that determines what children will learn and when. Schools and teachers then select textbooks and programs to help achieve the curriculum standards. Homeschoolers however use the word ‘curriculum’ when they refer to their textbooks and programs, when in fact our textbooks are just part of our curriculum, and not the actual curriculum itself.
When the HEU directs you to ‘create your own curriculum’ they want you to outline your learning plan by answering questions like,
-What do you plan to focus on this year? How do you intend to do that? Why?
-What specific goals do you have? What are your students’ needs and strengths?
-Will you use a textbook? What else will you use? How will you use these resources?
-If you won’t be using a textbook what will your lessons contain? What will a lesson look like? From where will you gather your ideas and resources?
They aren’t asking you to outline each and every lesson for that year. They are trying to get a picture of where you are going, how and why. They are asking you to provide a summary of your homeschooling – a verbal picture as such – for each subject, so they can determine whether you’ve considered adequately the path you plan to take.
Creating a curriculum with the HEU can almost be as simple as selecting which textbooks or programs you’d like to use for each subject area. (I say almost because there is so much more to learning about a subject than just textbooks – there’s read alouds, dvds, hands on activities, excursions etc – so be sure to list all these extras as well!)
So when a HEU homeschooler says, they “make up their own curriculum” you can be certain that they didn’t actually “make up” much of it themselves at all, but instead were the coordinator of a lot of wonderful pre-made resources. They achieve their unique ‘curriculums’ by mixing and matching their own personal choice of resources together in just the right proportions for their particular students. Anyone can do it and it’s no where near as hard as it may seem. So please don’t be daunted. Ask an experienced homeschooler to help you get started or just to straighten out your confusion. I would hate for newbies to run to Distance Ed providers purely based on fear.