Homeschool Core Curriculum

Homeschool core curriculum is defined as the central, key, and most important elements in a curriculum or the curricular elements that it is thought are needed by all students or the curriculum that is required for a degree. It is distinguished from other courses that may be termed electives or supplementary. The homeschool core curriculum is guided by the state curriculum mandates. This article explains more about homeschool core curriculum and how it differs across the United States.

What Is the Homeschool Core Curriculum?

In South Dakota, the curriculum instructions from the state department of education is limited to mandating two topics: language arts and mathematics, and only the “basic skills” skills of these. In other states, such as Pennsylvania or New York, you’ll find a good deal more detail. But knowing the subject areas that are to be covered is not enough information that you can teach from it. Moreover, in most cases, if we’re talking about the high school level, it isn’t even enough information to give your child the education they will need if they wish to attend college.

Homeschool Core Curriculum vs. College Preparatory Curriculum

The most stringent homeschooling guidelines, like those in Pennsylvania and New York, still do not match the recommended high school accomplishments for students who wish to be accepted to college. First of all, it does not specify sufficient credits in core courses. This is how Pennsylvania and New York requirements line up with college recommendations:

Subject Pennsylvania New York College Board Recommendation
English 4 years 4 years 4 years, include British and American Literature
Math 3 years 2 years 4 years, including Algebra, Geometry, Algebra II, Trig/Calc/ or Stats
Science 3 years 2 years 3 years, including biology, chemistry or physics, and earth or space science, advanced physics or advanced chemistry
Social Studies 3 years 4 years 3 years including 1 yr US history, ½ year economics, ½ year US government, ½ year world history or geography, ½ year extra.
Foreign Languages 2 years minimum
Arts 1 year Highly recommended
Computer Apps Highly recommended
AP courses Highly recommended
Health ½ year
Physical Education 1 year
Electives 3 years
Arts and Humanities 2 years

Second of all, the homeschooling mandates include no mention of AP courses, which are becoming increasingly important in college admissions. Two and a half years ago, I had a child applying to college and was told by an admissions officer at one of the University of California campuses that they expected 8 to 13 AP courses for applicants who could expect to be successful in the quest for admission.

Working Backwards

So, if you’re set on preparing your child for college, it is in your best interest to work backwards, in as much as you can anticipate what will work for your child in high school. Start with your best guess at the high school subject list. Then work backwards. For this to be accomplished, what subjects need to be covered in middle school? To accomplish that, what has to be accomplished in elementary school?

If you are working with any organization, such as a provider of distance education, a curriculum publisher, or a homeschool association, present your plan and get advice on it so that you can choose curriculum that will support both your child and this plan. Whether provided through a textbook series, a Great Books program, or an online service, the curriculum will provide the day-by-day, lesson plan-by-lesson plan approach that will get you from point A – your entry point into the world of homeschooling – to point B – the point at which your child successfully graduates from high school having received acceptance from a college which is well-suited for him or her.