Parents new to homeschooling often ask, “What homeschool subjects do I need to teach for each grade? Also, how do I keep track of hours?”
The answers vary depending on what state you live in, since homeschool laws differ by state. Since many of our homeschool members live in Kansas and Missouri, we’ll give a brief rundown of these two states in detail:
Kansas homeschool subjects
According to the KS Dept. of Education’s website: “In Kansas, each school district develops its own curriculum and teachers decide on how they will provide instruction to ensure student learning.”
Kansas considers homeschools to be non-accredited private schools, so just like other private schools, homeschoolers in Kansas can decide their own curriculum and instructional methods.
KSDE has a list of “curricular standards” here (as always, feel free to adjust and tweak for your unique homeschool): https://www.ksde.org/Agency/Division-of-Learning-Services/Career-Standards-and-Assessment-Services/CSAS-Home/Curricular-Standards
Kansas also doesn’t require you to track hours. The only time-related requirement is listed on this PDF: “Classes must be held for a period of time which is substantially equivalent to the time public schools are in session. The time required for public schools is at least 186 days of not less than 6 hours per day, or 1116 hours per year for grades 1-11.” (https://www.ksde.org/Portals/0/ECSETS/FactSheets/FactSheet-HomeSchool.pdf)
Please note that the law says substantially equivalent, so that doesn’t mean you have to spend all 6 hours each day for 186 days.
If you’re covering a day’s worth of academic material in as little as 1-2 hours, especially in the early grades, then you’re good to go. You can also count weekend field trips, outside activities, etc. One of the great benefits of homeschooling is its flexibility and customization to each family’s schedule!
(Bonus resource: See our step-by-step guide to starting your homeschool in Kansas.)
Missouri homeschool subjects
Homeschoolers in Missouri have three requirements (see a detailed breakdown in this Q&A with HSLDA attorney Scott Woodruff):
- Keep track of samples from your child’s work.
- Keep a record of periodic assessments (such as quizzes, tests, etc.).
- Keep documentation showing 1,000 hours of instruction during the school term that you set.
Of those 1,000 hours, 600 need to be in what are sometimes called core hours (reading, math, social studies, language arts, and science). The other 400 can be in electives, or anything you wish (e.g. PE, foreign language, sports/athletics, etc.).
Now for the record-keeping part, or the documentation of those 1,000 hours. Many homeschoolers use a daily log, using whatever mode of record they most prefer: a notebook, form, spreadsheet, or app.
A sample daily log might look like this: “Language arts: 30 minutes. Math: 1 hour. Science: 30 minutes.”
By the end of your school term, you should have documented at least 1,000 hours.
(Bonus resource: See our step-by-step guide to starting your homeschool in Missouri.)
So how does this translate to teaching homeschool subjects by different grades (as well as different ages)?
You can find a wealth of free, online checklists and guidelines to establish developmental and academic milestones for every grade level. For example, Hewitt Learning offers this downloadable PDF of learning objectives for grades K-8.
However, as the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) eloquently explains, trying to “fit” your child and homeschool solely by grade levels may be the wrong approach:
“Maybe the reality that your child doesn’t neatly fit into a certain grade mold for all subjects is the reason you’re homeschooling in the first place!
Homeschooling offers you the freedom to meet your child where they are—which may be 4th grade in math, 6th grade in reading, and 3rd grade in writing!”HSLDA
In fact, some fascinating research by the Indian nonprofit organization Pratham suggests that educators should ditch the “grade-level” mentality for another approach: Teaching at the Right Level, or TaRL:
“At the instructional level, the approach works by assessing children’s learning levels using a simple tool; grouping children based on learning levels rather than age or grade; using a range of engaging teaching and learning activities; and focusing on foundational skills rather than solely on the curriculum; and tracking children’s progress.”Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL). 2018. “Teaching at the Right Level to improve learning.” J-PAL Evidence to Policy Case Study. Last modified September 2019.
Did you catch that – grouping children based on learning levels rather than age or grade? What a novel concept!
And yet, homeschooling does just that by giving you the freedom to customize your child’s education according to their specific needs and strengths.
Liked this post? See more about homeschool record keeping in this article.