Clearing up Curriculum Confusion

26 Mar

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.


Posted by on March 26, 2013 in Planning and Registration


5 responses to “Clearing up Curriculum Confusion

  1. Jen in NSW

    March 27, 2013 at 12:42 am

    Just as an aside, I did some research on kit and caboodle. Isn’t Wiki awesome? lol


    From kit (from Middle Dutch kitte (“wooden vessel made of hooped staves”)) + boodle (from Dutch boedel (“property, moveable estate”)).

    kit and caboodle (uncountable)

    (US, Canada, Australia, idiomatic) Everything entirely, the whole lot.

    Interesting etymology, isn’t it?

    Best wishes
    Jen in NSW
    (who is feeling less nervous about moving back to Qld and dealing with HEU as I read your posts)

    • Tracey

      March 27, 2013 at 11:11 am

      When do you move back to QLD?

      • Jen in NSW

        March 28, 2013 at 8:27 am

        Hopefully in 2014. Not sure if it will be at the beginning of the year or later on. It will depend on dh getting work. And when our 16 year old dog passes (sadly).

        Bit hard to rent with 4 boys and a dog.

        Best wishes
        Jen in NSW

  2. Tracey

    March 27, 2013 at 2:03 am

    Ah yes, my language faux pas has been discovered and I’ve corrected it. Heheheh. But don’t cute fussy kittens could so much sweeter. Especially caboodles of them. Hehehe.

  3. Emma

    May 6, 2013 at 4:15 am

    Hi Tracey,
    I am a newbie homeschool mum in Qld and need to make my application but am a bit paralyzed by the enormity of it! Can I ask do you have to cover all subject areas in your application? And exactly what you are going to do? Cos I was thinking present my boys with a topic, do some reading and discussing and see what they want to research deeper from there – sounds too fluffy for the official process though 🙂


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