FAQ

The curriculum

We provide a complete curriculum for kindergarten through twelfth grade.

Yes, it is designed to serve as a family's main homeschooling curriculum. However, it may also be combined with other curricula or even used as a supplement to a traditional in-school education.

The curriculum is compiled from carefully selected external materials. This allows the student to benefit from the world's best educational sources in each subject, and it creates space for the inclusion of great books on a wide variety of topics.

In elementary and middle grades, our curriculum includes the following subjects:

  • Literature
  • Writing
  • Math
  • Art
  • Spanish
  • History
  • Science
  • Nature study
  • Typing and computer programming (middle school)

Our high school curriculum includes the following core and optional courses:

  • Language Arts: Honors Literature and Writing 1, 2, 3 and 4
  • Math: Honors Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2, Precalculus, Calculus, Counting and Probability,
  • Art: Drawing, Painting, Art History
  • Foreign Language: Spanish 1, 2 and 3; Chinese 1, 2 and 3
  • Social Studies: World History, American History, Remarkable Biographies, American Government, Entrepreneurship, Religious Studies, Future Studies
  • Science: Biology with Lab, Chemistry with Lab, Physics, Astronomy, Psychology
  • Technology: Web Design, Full Stack Programming, Android App Development
  • Skills For Life
  • Philosophy

In elementary and middle school, subjects are taught as a combination of a textbook or online course "spine," along with a wide variety of supporting books and materials. Language Arts consists of the Writing with Ease / Writing with Skill writing curriculum which provides a strong foundation in expository writing without being overly time-consuming, and lots of great, enjoyable children's literature which progresses in difficulty to prepare students for reading adult books in high school. The math curriculum for first through twelfth grades uses the fun and challenging Art of Problem Solving curriculum, with various other materials as optional supplements.

Art uses the Artistic Pursuits curriculum, and science uses REAL Science Odyssey along with a collection of our favorite children's science books. History is taught using Story of the World and Story of US as a "spine", biographies and other topic books, and historical fiction. For foreign language, we recommend Homeschool Spanish Academy during elementary and middle school. All other courses are taught using a variety of living books, affordable online courses and self-directed activities.

Most high school courses use a combination of Great Courses lectures, textbooks, movies and fiction and nonfiction literature for adults.

We estimate that parents will need to spend one to two hours of dedicated time per day for elementary grade children. Much of this time will be spent reading together (the curriculum allows you to combine readings for multiple children). In upper grades students spend more time on schoolwork but are also able to complete more of the projects and readings independently, so the time commitment is normally reduced in later years.

In addition, while a child is reading or working independently, a parent should be present and provide enough supervision to ensure that the child stays on task.

One of the advantages of homeschooling is time efficiency: the time requirement can be adjusted to suit a child's age and attention span, and generally less time is needed to cover an equivalent amount of material to what is taught in a classroom setting.

In the early grades, we recommend spending no more than an hour per day on formal academic work, with the remaining time (one to two hours) spent reading and being read to. This gradually increases to four to five hours per day spent on curriculum material in upper grades, plus an hour or more on self-directed projects.

In our experience, the attention spans of most five- and six-year-olds are too short for a formal academic curriculum to be productive. Also, many children this age lack the fine motor coordination necessary to write well.

However, children this age and even younger are fully capable of learning to read as long as sessions are kept brief. For kindergarten, we recommend two ten-minute reading lessons per day, in addition to the time you spend reading to the student.

We adopt a hybrid approach that draws inspiration from Charlotte Mason, classical, project-based and unschooling principles, while maintaining a middle ground that we feel compensates from the weaknesses of each approach. You may read more about our approach to homeschooling here.

Our curriculum does not have any particular religious or political orientation. We encourage parents to share their own views with their children and provide any desired religious instruction, alongside the subjects taught in our curriculum.

Our biology courses include study of evolution, and history courses cover the development of all major world religions.

In elementary and middle school grades, we do our best to choose materials that are neutral and inclusive, and leave discussions of religion, politics and other partisan subjects to parents.

While our high school curriculum likewise does not advocate any particular religious or other agenda, it does include works and authors that express religious and other views. There are two reasons for this. One is that in high school, students read original works of literature and philosophy from Western and other cultures. Removing the works that have a religious or partisan tone would deprive the student of the chance to experience much of humanity's greatest writings.

The other reason is that high school students are nearing adulthood, a transition that entails questioning received beliefs and developing one's own view of the world. Exposure to alternative world views is part of this process and, we believe, essential to becoming a thoughtful and educated person.

Rather than avoid contentious topics, we aim to achieve balance by presenting high school students with a wide variety of readings. Inclusion of a particular work in the curriculum does not necessarily mean that Great Books Homeschool agrees with the author's views. (This would be impossible anyway, as many of them contradict each other.)

As always, we strive to offer a range of options in our curriculum rather than a rigid list of requirements. If a particular reading is not appealing, we suggest parents simply remove it from their family curriculum.

How to use the curriculum

In the early grades, your child should read the easy readers (such as Bob Books and Frog and Toad) aloud to you, and the full-length chapter books are intended to be read aloud to the child. You may read them aloud yourself, or use recordings such as Audible.

In later grades the choice between reading aloud and independent reading is up to you, depending on your child's reading level and how much time you have. Many children enjoy listening to family read-aloud sessions well into their teens. You may choose to read some books (such as more difficult ones or books you personally enjoy) aloud, and assign or allow your child to select others for independent reading.

We recommend purchasing course textbooks for writing, math, art, history and science (second-hand is fine). Other than these, you should be able to procure most of the core and optional books from your local library. You may wish to purchase your favorites keep in your home, but this is not required.

When you add a new student, we walk you through a course selection process in which you can choose a program of study appropriate to your child's level for each subject. Your selected courses can be edited at any time from the Edit Courses page.

Beyond course selection, you can move books and other curriculum items to different grades or months, remove books and add your own, and assign books to multiple students in your family.

You can also customize the start and end dates for your academic year, and add vacations to produce a customized schedule for your family.

Yes. Younger children are capable of enjoying higher-level books that are read aloud to them, and we suggest that you involve all children when you read chapter books aloud. You can add these readings to the other children's curricula using the "Add student" option in the customization section displayed next to each book.

One of the greatest advantages of homeschooling is that it allows each student to move at his or her own pace. The default curriculum is only intended as a starting point, and we encourage you to modify it to fit your child's needs using the Edit features available in your account.

Ensure that the material is well learned and your family is not feeling rushed. Students can complete these courses up to two years later than specified, and still be well prepared for high school math.

A major goal of our curriculum is to produce lifelong readers, who read for fun outside school requirements. We therefore recommend only reading books that your child enjoys. We make an extra effort to include books that have high entertainment as well as literary value, especially in early grades.

We do suggest that you have your child learn what a book is about and read at least a few pages before rejecting it. Some of our children's favorite books were ones that they initially expected to dislike, based on the cover illustration or some other superficial impression. If your child doesn't take to a book after giving it a fair try, put it aside. You may be able to return to it when the child is older.

We suggest one of two options. First, if the subject materials as a whole are too difficult or too easy, consider moving to a more or less advanced course for that subject. This can be done using the "Edit Courses" page of your account, which also displays the typical grade level for each course.

If you would like to keep the current course but change the difficulty level of individual books, you may substitute books as desired by removing or rescheduling books in your curriculum and adding new ones. Each nonfiction or fiction book in the curriculum is ranked by difficulty, from easy readers (reading level one) to challenging adult literature (level ten). You can view each book's reading level in the book profile page. To find books of an easier or harder level, go to the Explore Books page and use the filter options to display books of the desired reading level. You can then add new books to your curriculum from the book profile page.

Next to the book in the Materials, Weekly Schedule or Daily Checklist screen of your account, click the "Add more students" option, then tick the checkbox next to the name of each participating child and click the "Save" button. The book will then appear in each child's curriculum, along with any updates you make to start and completion dates.

Your account

Membership includes a full K - 12 curriculum for each student in your family "out of the box," along with full access to our daily, weekly and monthly schedules, planning, customization and record-keeping tools.

Our curriculum for kindergarten is completely free. For other grades, the cost is $49 monthly for your whole family.

Financial need-based scholarships are available. Please contact us for more information.

In the "Your Account" page, click on "Membership" then on the "Cancel Membership" button.