Homeschooling has long been an alternative educational option, with increasing numbers of families opting to teach their children at home. With some of the cultural shifts taking place in society, the rise in the number of homeschooling families has seen a corresponding rise in the availability and popularity of homeschooling curriculum.
A critical element of these homeschooling programs is the scope and sequence structure which provides the foundation for children’s education and learning.
1: Defining a Scope and Sequence in Education
A scope and sequence in education is a plan that structures a curriculum program, allowing for progress to be monitored, knowledge and skills to be assessed, and for educational goals to be achieved. It is used in both traditional and homeschooling curriculums and provides direction for educators and students alike, with a logical progression and specific topics set down in order. The scope part of the phrase looks at the content or material that will be covered, while the sequence looks at how it will be covered.
The term ‘scope and sequence’ is most often used in reference to core academic topics such as mathematics, language arts, science and social studies. However, it can also refer to other educational disciplines such as music, art, physical education, foreign language and more.
This reflects the importance of the goal of any educational curriculum of delivering a broadly-balanced and holistic education. The benefit for both traditional and homeschooling education is that it provides a linear plan for both teachers and students.
This includes providing teachers with the information they need to set lesson plans and assessments, and for students to understand what is expected from them. At the same time, it also helps leaders of educational programs to make evidence-based decisions about the best way to deliver a curriculum.
2: Structures of a Scope and Sequence in Homeschooling
It is important to note that while many of the principles of a scope and sequence in academic topics such as mathematics or language arts apply to both traditional and homeschooling education, the way it is set out and structured can differ. This is because the home environment offers much of the same elements of a regular schoolroom, though with some key differences such as caregivers being both teacher and parent.
The first element in the structure of a homeschooling scope and sequence will be the overall purpose. This should focus on the goals of both the parent/care provider and the child, and will often be formed around the child’s unique needs and the parent/care provider’s interests in providing an engaging home learning environment. While traditional and special education curricula applicable in homeschool often have a pre-defined scope and sequence structure and delivery, there is often room for flexibility to be woven into the design for homeschooling.
This allows for education to occur at the pace of the student, with activities and assignments adjusted to fit their developmental and educational needs. Given that parents or care providers will be the primary educator in homeschool, the structure of a scope and sequence may also need to take into account any parental or caregiver qualifications or areas of expertise.
It should also cover any topics that may need to be supplemented for which the parent/care provider does not have the requisite knowledge.
3: Benefits of a Scope and Sequence in Homeschooling
Implementing a scope and sequence in the homeschooling environment provides a range of benefits. As discussed, it provides an overarching structure and framework, and can be customized to suit the student’s educational level, pace and needs.
A scope and sequence also means that students can work through topics and skills in order, and develop a strong foundation to build on. This aspect will be quite important in the event that students choose to enrol in a traditional school in the future, as their educational background and structure will easily transition. The use of a scope and sequence in homeschool also makes it easier to plan lessons, giving both parents/carers and students something to work on weekly or monthly, and something to plan and ease into.
This means that home learning time can be scheduled and optimized, even with busy family and career commitments. Finally, the use of a scope and sequence can also create more opportunities for learning and can even shed light on topics and subject areas that a student may wish to pursue further.
A scope and sequence in homeschooling provides a logical structure for both teachers and students alike, allowing for progress to be monitored, knowledge and skills to be assessed, and for educational goals to be achieved. The plans that make it up offer both students and educators flexibility to work within the structure that suits best, and make it easier to plan lessons, create a strong foundation of knowledge and understanding, and even give way to further opportunities for learning. Homeschooling can offer a tailored approach to delivering a quality curriculum and the scope and sequence is the foundation on which it is built.