What is a “Scope and Sequence” and why should I care?

A scope and sequence is a plan or a road map of what topics to teach and the order to teach them in. Basically, it’s a plan. When you think of math, for instance, you know that ‘math’ covers a lot of different topics. The most common question I hear when I talk about planning your own homeschool program is “What should you teach first? What comes next?”

chage-tang-226843A scope and sequence is a plan for the order in which different topics are taught in a particular subject. You could come up with your own, if you wanted to. But, I know I like to have the order of things laid out for me because I’m always worried about what I “should” teach first or about whether I’m missing something critical. A good scope and sequence from a reputable source can be a huge help.

Why do I need to know about this scope and sequence stuff?

Think of it as a roadmap or a plan of attack to help you plan a good sequential study of a subject. None of us want to be ‘that homeschool mom’ who skipped an entire chunk of something in a subject that turned out to be critical. Rather than ‘reinvent the wheel’, why not use a tried and true scope and sequence for the subjects you plan to teach?

Most established curriculum publishers offer their scope and sequence documents on the internet for free, so potential customers can tell if their program is a good fit. Well, folks like us can use those documents as a great shortcut to planning our own home education program.

Basically, you pick a scope and sequence you think would work for your child in whatever subject you want to teach. Then, you print it out and save it for reference. You use the scope and sequence as a guide to what topics to teach and in what order. You pick the free resources and materials of your choice to teach each topic. Just check off each topic as it is mastered. Not only do you have a plan, you have a record!

We have links to some scope and sequence documents that you can find on various websites. Please note that all of these sequences are planned for curriculum that are NOT FREE. You don’t need to buy the curriculum unless you want to. You can use the scope and sequence as a roadmap to create your own.

Don’t forget to check your local school district web page and your state’s department of education website because some of those might list a scope and sequence that you might find useful.

Don’t worry about grade level, look instead at the skills and go from there. Different programs teach different skills in different grade levels, so it isn’t necessarily useful to use grade levels as a way to choose what to teach. It’s better to see what skills have already been mastered and start with the first skill that isn’t!

If you are interested in what scope and sequence I find useful, I use the World Book Encyclopedia Typical Course of Study. Worldbook used to have the suggested course of study for each grade level in a handy pdf form, but that seems to have disappeared from their website. You can still view the “Typical Course of Study” on the link below. 

Typical Course of Study from Worldbook Encyclopedia

Hewitt Homeschooling, a popular homeschool publisher, has put together some “learning objectives” for kindergarten to grade eight that you might find useful. They include all of the academic subjects plus art, music, and character development. Worth a look.

More Scope and Sequence for the win!

If you are interested in looking over a few more of these “scope and sequence” documents, here is a whole list of links to the scope and sequence documents for a whole collection of popular homeschool programs
Time 4 Learning Scope and Sequence
A computer-based curriculum available by subscription. Their scope and sequence covers kindergarten to grade eight.

Singapore Math Scope and Sequence
A popular mastery based math program. This list of scope and sequence documents covers kindergarten to grade eight.

Bookshark Scope and Sequence
Literature-based curriculum with scope and sequence for language arts, science, and social studies for grades k to 8.

Saxon Math
A popular spiral math program. Scroll down to find links to scope and sequence documents for grades k to 12.

Hake Grammar and Writing
Scroll down for the link to this popular grammar and writing curriculum for grades 4 to 8.

Moving Beyond the Page
A popular, unit study based curriculum that includes language arts, science, and social studies. Click on the link, then click on ‘Read More’ for the age level you are interested in, then scroll down and click on “Summary of Skills”.

Core Knowledge Sequence 
This is a scope and sequence for preschool to grade 8.

K12 Grades K to 8
This is a link to the scope and sequence for the popular online program K12 for grades k to 8.

K12 High School
Check out the scope and sequence for high school for the online program K12.

Cambridge International School
Scope and sequence for a rigorous international school.

One thought on “What is a “Scope and Sequence” and why should I care?

  1. Pingback: Using Free Material 101 – Sunshine Homeschool

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