You can homeschool without using a curriculum if you wish. One of the ways you can do so is through an interest or project based approach where you involve the students in planning your school year. This approach takes into full consideration the interests of your child. This particular method is best for elementary to middle school students, but with some out-of-the-box thinking, can also be used for high school students, albeit with some tweaking. This method also presumes that your child is still exploring areas of interests and have multiple areas of interests.
Take a sheet of paper, or start an excel sheet on Google for easier recordkeeping, and start listing different areas of interests such as Ocean, Sewing, Caves, Solar System (you get the idea) on a piece of paper. Generate as extensive a list as you can. If you have multiple children, make a table and put each child in a column. Have them rate the areas on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being ‘most interested in’ and 1 being ‘least interested in’. Based on this, you can generate unit studies, or research-based projects that they will do as part of their Science or History.
Divide the Year Into Quarters
When I decided to change our homeschooling method and make it more interest-based, I divided the year into quarters, and each child would pick a topic of the highest rating for each quarter and do a research-based project around that topic around the subject of history and science. At the end of the quarter, each child presented their history and science projects in our homeschool ‘Science’ and ‘History’ fair. I graded their presentations and projects and each child received a certificate for that quarter. You can also incorporate literature into it by looking up fiction that are related to the chosen topics. Dividing the year into quarters just ensures that your child explores several topics in the year and gets more breadth as well as depth. However, you can play around with this, depending on what works best for your family. You can even just do this for one quarter of the year, and go back to a curriculum if you wish, or use another other method.
If your children are in a homeschool co-op, you can organize a quarterly ‘Project Fair’ for them to share their projects and research with each other. During the school year, you can even mix and match homeschool method/approach and do this for Science and History and still have them use a set curriculum for math, such as Teaching Textbooks, Math U See, Math Mammoth, Kumon, Saxon, etc. By creating projects based on their chosen topic, they are also doing Language Arts/ English as they will most probably be researching using research techniques and writing their reports. They can also write poems, or stories revolving around their topics. If they are presenting using a laptop, they will most probably be employing presentation techniques and learning presentation skills. If they use fiction that are related to their topics, they will be doing literature too. Even math can be incorporated into their chosen topics with some digging.
You can try this method for a year, half of the year, and experiment. I did this with my kids in upper elementary and middle school years, and they enjoyed it. It is a hands-on approach and self driven. So if you’re looking for a teaching idea that would give you some time off, this might be a worthwhile idea especially if you have older more independent kids. If you have a child that needs help researching and making a project, this can be fun for you too as you and your child learn together.
Juli Herman is a homeschooling mother of four children, two of which are now in college. While pursuing her BSc. in Computer Science, she had her first two children. By the time she completed her final year, she was 100% certain of two things; stay home with her children, and rekindle her love of learning. As a bibliophile, Juli naturally instilled the love of reading to her children from a young age. Homeschooling became an obvious choice of education for her children as she read more about it. Through living a homeschooling lifestyle where love of learning is placed on a pedestal, she witnessed her children blossom into their respective areas of strength. Now that she has been homeschooling for over 19 years, she is glad she documented the journey on her homeschooling blog, which went through its own growth. Blogging has served as a great reminder of both the blessings and challenges of homeschooling to keep her going with the youngest child. Through it all, homeschooling has taught her a lot about the true meaning of tawakkul.