Homeschool State Standards
We've been homeschooling for the past 5 years.
The 2020 - 2021 school year will mark our 6th year homeschooling!
For each year we've homeschooled, we've followed our Homeschool State Standards, which are the same as our state's educational standards.
Our first challenge came when we started homeschooling back in 2014.
We started homeschooling just before it really became popular, and readily accepted, here in California, for non-religious families.
We are purely secular homeschoolers. Not an easy task as the majority of homeschool materials and homeschool resources were geared towards religious homeschoolers.
At that time it was still a challenge to find quality secular homeschool materials.
And when we did find materials geared towards secular instruction, they were crafted with public schools in mind, which have their own set of biases.
Thankfully, every year since, I've noticed more and more publishers releasing secular materials and more educational resources readily available geared specifically towards the secular homeschool community.
You can find some of our favorite secular homeschool curriculum choices, for multiple grade levels, here. (Coming Soon!)
The other challenge we faced was knowing what our state required of us in order to receive credit for a subject area and to receive credit for a grade level.
We needed to know our state's educational standards.
Like how many hours of instruction?
How many days of scheduled instruction?
And, what competencies needed to be meet for each subject area, at each grade level, during the school year to qualify as passing for our state?
What are Educational Standards?
According to the Department of Education: "All states and schools will have challenging and clear standards of achievement and accountability for all children, and effective strategies for reaching those standards."
The educational standards are what your child needs to know and needs to be able to do.
It has nothing to do with curriculum.
The curriculum you choose is how your child will learn those standards.
Most states have adopted the Common Core State Standards.
As of this writing, eight states have not.
Being in California, we follow the Common Core State Standards.
While educational standards, including common core, set grade-specific goals, they do not define how the standards should be taught or which materials should be used.
And, as a homeschooler, that's totally up to you!
Problems with State Standards
Back in 2014... that seems like so long ago and yet just yesterday, you know? I digress...
Back in 2014, the specific state standards were not as readily available, or as easily accessible, to homeschoolers as they are today.
And, to make matters a tad more complicated, the state standards are not consistent or uniform across all 50 states.
This is super important to keep in mind if you're planning on moving to another state.
What one state requires many not be required by another. This can be a good thing... less work or hoops to jump through.
Conversely, what one state accepts for completion of a subject area, or passing of a grade level, may not fly in your new state.
This can become problematic for a mid-year residence move. So keep that in mind if you're planning on changing states mid-school year.
Homeschool State Standards
One thing is the same across the board.
Your state standards apply regardless of how your child receives their education.
It doesn't matter if your child is homeschooled, attends public school, private school, or a charter school.
Your state standards apply to all of them.
Thankfully, having the state standards readily available at your finger tips makes it much easier to choose your curriculum, plan out your school year, and tick off those requirements as you go.
Three Ways to Find Your State's Education Standards
The first way to find your specific state's education standards for each grade level, and subject area, is via Google.
Simply Google: "(state name) standards for (said grade level)" e.g. California standards for 10th grade.
From there you can find your specific state's education standards organized by grade level and subject area.
The second way to find your specific state's education standards for each grade level, and subject area, is via your state's Department of Education website.
Google: "(state name) and Department of Education" e.g. California Department of Education.
I will tell you now that the National Common Core website is a cluster.
If you like spinning your wheels, you will surely do so on that website.
Personally, I recommend you go straight to your state specific website to obtain the state standards for your child's grade level and courses of study.
I print out our state standards for each grade level and subject area and compare them to the table of contents in our curriculum choices.
If you're using a quality curriculum you will find most everything your child needs covered in that material.
And, you can always supplement materials, as necessary, if there are gaps.
If you piecemeal your curriculum, or plan on using unit studies, having a list of your state 's educational standards on hand makes it easier to manage what you need to cover.
If you're just not sure how you wish to homeschool yet, (boxed curriculum, piece-by-piece, online, co-ops, learning center, tutor, unschooling, etc...) starting your plan with your state standards in hand is a great way to help you plan out how you wish to integrate the subjects you need to cover to make sure you're completing your grade level requirements in whichever way you choose to homeschool your child.
Once you know each of the subject requirements, you can decide on the materials you'd like to use to help your child meet those state standards.
Lastly, you can refer back to your state standards throughout the school year to make sure you're dotting those "i's" and crossing those "t's" as you go!
The opinions expressed here are always my own unless stated otherwise. Some of my links are affiliate links. If you click a link and buy something, I receive a commission for the sale. It doesn't cost you anything extra and you are free to use the link or not as you choose. If you do use my links, I appreciate your support!