By the world’s standards there is a core body of knowledge and skills in language arts, math, social studies, and science that is essential to cultural literacy and successful adulthood. The core body of knowledge and the sequence in which it should be taught is called the scope and sequence. Depending on the curriculum, the knowledge and skills that make up this core body are taught at different ages, in different sequences, and in different ways. However, most teaching materials are created to teach children what they will be expected to know on standardized tests, so the tests usually determine what will be taught and when.
Priorities and the Younger Child
We believe there are three priorities to home schooling: (1) relationships, (2) skills, and (3) information.
Our first priority
Priority #1 (relationships) has to do with the child’s relationship to parents, to the Lord, and to knowledge. In the early years parents help children with these relationships by: (1) developing a deep, character-molding relationship with the child; (2) giving a broad base of meaningful experiences; (3) creating a sense of wonder about the natural world; (4) generating interest in different times and cultures; (5) developing a love of reading and an enthusiasm for learning; (6) instructing in the ways of righteousness; (7) instilling observation, social, and communication skills; and (8) giving the child confidence in his ability to learn.
Our second priority
Priority #2 (skills) for the elementary years is the development of skills in thinking, reading, writing, and arithmetic. The rest of the schooling process is Priority #3: information.
Our third priority
Skills generally have to be taught. Some children learn to read or to add and subtract all by themselves, but usually someone must teach them. Also, some children are naturally better problem solvers, but most thinking skills are developed by being taught right ways of thinking, either by example or through being directed to the best way to analyze different problems.
Information, however, does not necessarily need to be taught. Information can be transmitted in a variety of ways from just reading a lot of good books together, to traveling, to watching a documentary, to taking part in a historical re-enactment, to participating in a play, to doing “hands-on” activities, to taking nature walks, to raising livestock or keeping a garden. Most children can assimilate all they need to know about K – 6th grade history and science with little formal instruction.
Priorities and the Older Child
As our children mature, we parents can begin to focus on who each child was created to be. God made each of our children and created every one of them with a life purpose. Our job as parents is to uncover this purpose and to equip the child with the skills, tools, and information to fulfill it. Recognizing who each child was created to be is an ongoing process, but by adolescence we can usually see patterns of interest, aptitude, and gifting that make it easier for us to choose a course of study for high school. For example, by ninth grade we can generally tell which adult careers best suit a child and whether a child should try for a university, a community college, a technical college, a business school, or even no college at all. We can also usually tell the character, skills, and information areas that need special emphasis.