Setting up a curriculum for your homeschooled children is important and it can sound scary. It doesn't have to be difficult, however. There are plenty of complete and economical (and even free) resources available, and most of the work has been done for you already.
Make sure you have a list of the subjects you need to teach, and remember that the list is very different for preschoolers and middle school students. Preschoolers and Kindergartners work letters, numbers, shapes, and colors. Grammar school students work on Math, Reading, Writing, Art, History, Music, and Science. Life skills, advanced math, specialized sciences, and other classes are added for middle school and high school.
Review your state's standards
There are some national standards, but make sure to review your state's educational standards for each "grade" you have students in. Do a search for your state's Department of Education. Once you're on that web site, search for "science standards," or "math standards," and other subjects.
For instance, I am in Colorado and I have two kids in fourth grade math. The Colorado website lists these skills:
- Whole numbers and fractions (What do they mean? How are they used?)
- Place value and number order (What place is the 4 in 4,123? Is it units, tens, hundreds, or thousands? Which number is bigger? 4,523 or 4,532?)
- Use numbers to measure, count, and order. (How long is that piece of paper? Who is fifth in line?)
- Develop some number sense to determine if answers to problems seem okay. (Is 450 a reasonable answer or approximation for 4 x 110?
I completely rewrote what the Colorado says in the above bullets. The state standards don't always make a lot of sense when reading them. If you get confused, go to your local library or bookstore. At the bookstore, find the workbooks and look up that grade level and subject. Once you review the material, your mind should be able to attach the work in the books to the verbage on your state's site. Most of us haven't been in grammar school in a while.
Get a copy of "What Your X Grader Needs to Know"
There's a series of books called the Core Knowledge Series that list what you should teach your child. They areWhat Your Preschooler Needs to Know, What your Kindergartner Needs to Know,..., What Your Sixth Grader Needs to Know, and more. Go to the book store, your library, or amazon and look through the table of contents and you'll see a list of stuff to teach your kids. Even better, the actual book has information on all those topics.
Look at the classic's education
Check out the book The Well-Trained Mind. The book promotes several concepts including, given the same material, kids get different things out of that material at different stages of development. It's good for a kindergartner to have the Odyssey read to them, and it's good for a high school student to read the Odyssey. Both kids will get something different out of the Odyssey, and ideally they absorb the story at different stages of their life. Additionally, the book promotes the idea that all knowledge is interrelated. You need to understand math to learn and do science, and science is dependent on math. Science's development is important to our world history and how societies have developed.
After you have determined what you need to teach your child, look for that material. I recommend the library. Even if one particular book isn't at your library, you can find other similar books or have your library request the book from another library.