How to Identify and Close Homeschool Curriculum Gaps

As a homeschool mom and former public school teacher, I find joy in implementing an excellent curriculum. I eagerly await the end of our homeschool year to choose the next school year’s curriculum.

Finding the best homeschool curriculum that suits each one of my children’s needs is an incredible feeling.

However, when our curriculum is subpar or lacks the necessary tools to teach my children, I worry they have fallen into the danger zone of homeschool curriculum gaps.

Are struggling in your homeschool journey, whether choosing the right curriculum or staying on target, I am here to help click here for more information and sign up for your free 30 Ask Me Anything consultation today. And ask me anything about homeschooling!

Homeschool Meme

Texas teachers have to attend weekly teacher meetings (depending on the school campus) and as well as staff development training throughout the school year. During most of these meetings, one of the main topics usually discussed is how to implement curriculum effectively, including how to close achievement gaps. Each school district prides itself on closing the achievement gap based on the result shown from comprehensive state testing (STARR).

No campus in the district wants to wear its campus shirt of shame as the state testing scores are announced at the annual district meeting. What a way to start a school year, am I right?

The best way teachers can predict how well their students will be successful at the end-of-year exams or state testing is how far apart their achievement gaps are in their classrooms and on campus.

Homeschool Curriculum Gaps

What are gaps in my child’s education?

Generally speaking, a child’s education gap refers to some information, skills, characteristics, or knowledge that children need to know or possess. But for some reason, they don’t have the skill or lack the necessary skill to progress in their education successfully.

For instance, when my 6th grader continually asks me what a verb means (a topic covered in previous grades) and as she moves on to the story writing process. Or when my 3rd grader is unable to skip count but the curriculum calls for learning multiplication facts.

Do you see what I mean?

As a parent and teacher, my job is to identify that my child needs further practice and perhaps not move forward in her curriculum until the desired skill is at the mastery level. Or until their development level shows otherwise.

How do gaps happen?

Both public-school classrooms and homeschool classrooms are not immune to gaps in a child’s education.

Gaps are considered part of any learning process. Assessing a child’s learning gap and providing each child with the specific help they need can be difficult in a public school setting due to the student-teacher ratio. My consensus has always been just because said school district created a benchmark (checklist) that states all first graders must know x amount of skills on said the curriculum at a 65% rate of passing, does not mean she possesses the necessary developmental skills to successfully continue her education.  

Checklists are not an indicator of mastery skills or a standard of development. In other words, school systems don’t have the luxury of affording each child an education in which each skill on said checklist is absorbed at mastery level. Meaning does that child understands and knows the desired skill set outside the context of the list.

As homeschool moms, we are not immune to falling victim to gaps in our child’s education. Like public-school teachers, we only have so much time in our day before our homemaking job starts calling. All the hustle and bustle of needing to cook a meal, clean the bathroom, or wash a laundry load, leaves little time to breathe. But the best part of being a homeschool teacher is if my child has a gap in her education, I can take care of her misunderstanding personally and provide the best homeschool curriculum possible for my child to succeed.

What does trying to find the best homeschool curriculum look like?

How to address and fill in curriculum gaps?

As homeschool teachers, the best thing we have going for us is time and curriculum. We can add to or take away from our homeschool curriculum if we find an error and or rearrange our schedule to fit our students’ needs. One size fits all is not in our vocabulary. Nor are we bound to the constraints of an 8-3 teaching schedule.

If you are interested in a free block schedule template click here and gain access to my free resource library.

Identifying the gaps.

Knowing the root cause of your child hitting the wall will help you identify where the problem is stemming from. For me, the best way to get to the root of the problem is through observation and testing.

I take note and observe how fast my child is learning this new skill. I try to choose a curriculum or create a test based on what they are learning and administer it via narration or on their own. Once I’ve determined the root cause of my child’s issue, I can develop a strategy to implement into our schedule to help my child overcome her lack of skill or fill in her gap.

If your current curriculum does not come complete with exams or creating an exam for your child is not an option, there is a hack for that. Or better yet, an app for that. The fastest way to address any learning gaps in our household is to use a learning game or app that tracks my child’s learning process. I like to double-check my own teaching from time to time.

Some of our favorite supplemental learning apps we like to use in addition to our curriculum which provides remedial work, or replacement work are…

Reading Eggs – offers a 30 day trial period complete with a placement test for the whole family.

Time for Learning – This is a self-paced curriculum that offers flexibility and academic freedom. Parents can track their child’s progress with weekly report cards.

Outschool– this platform is relatively new due to COVID, but is great for customizing my child’s specific learning needs virtually with other students who may be struggling to learn the same concepts. Some classes can be pricy though.

Starfall or Endless Alphabets are great apps for younger children.

Do your research and you’re sure to find an app that works for you.

The best approach to close any learning gaps.

Once you’ve identified your child’s area or areas of struggle, now is the time to develop a strategy for how you will approach any learning gaps your child has. Here is a list of some of the ideas we have tried to close any learning gaps our children have;

  • added to or changed our curriculum
  • changed my teaching strategy or method (adopted a hands-on approach)
  • adjusted our block schedule to include time for review
  • taken a whole family approach by incorporating our whole family into a game night review including rewards
  • added an additional rewards system

Extra work for any student is difficult, especially when school work takes place at home with distractors through the home. Adding reward systems into the learning process gives children something to look forward to and a sense of accomplishment not to mention time management.

Consistency and Ownership

Math and reading are two subjects my children struggle with. Letting go of additional electives or changing the curriculum to focus on the subject area or areas your homeschooler lacks is okay to try.

When one of my daughters develop a gap in her reading, I let go of her history curriculum and added extra spelling, handwriting, and phonics apps into her schedule. For my oldest, I chose a science curriculum that helped foster her math skills to help bridge the gap in math.

Being persistent is critical. Allowing your child to take ownership of their daily schedule will grant them the freedom to close educational gaps on their own with little protest. Don’t forget to make learning fun!

Homeschool quote

The goal of any school system whether homeschooled or otherwise is that children learn to learn.

Lastly, if you homeschool still struggles to fill in any learning gaps and you feel is not developmental its okay to see help or locate an outside tutor.

Enjoy the time you have with your homeschooler and remember “A teaching degree is to homeschooling as a culinary degree is to grandma’s cooking…it just can’t touch the love, care, and personal standard that only she can stir in”. – Dawn Shelton

Jaclyn

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