We are newbies to home schooling this year and I have a question that has been bugging me for a while. I already have curricula ready for both of my kids (11yo DS and 13yo DD) for all subjects but I am constantly trying to learn more myself, through the internet (forums like this!) and books, looking for tips and techniques to make our year as successful and fun as it can be.
After reading a thread on the WTM forum about learning styles and teaching techniques, and having read books like the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens/People and Practice Perfect, I feel it is important for DH and I to sift through all of the curricula and set some goals in each subject for the year, for each unit, and each lesson. Over the next two weeks we are going to try to do just that and plan for at least the next two to three months. We will officially start school the day after Labor Day.
My question is, how do you decide what exactly you want your child to take away from each lesson or unit? Whether you plan ahead or figure it out as you go, how do you know you are going into enough depth for their grade level? My kids would be entering 6th and 8th grade, and I want to make sure that they are well prepared for whatever might lie ahead, whether they want to enter high school at some point or go to college. But I have NO idea how much an 8th grader should know about ancient civilizations or at what level they should be able to analyze and write about a classic book!
Most of the curricula we are using work for a range of grade levels (6th-9th grade) which is a pretty big range if you ask me. How will I know when enough is enough at 6th or 8th grade? I am afraid I won't be able to find that comfortable space in between too easy and too hard. If I find some of the material is too easy, some is just right, some is too hard and they need help, is that the sweet spot where I know they are at the appropriate level?
Am I just over thinking everything? Would common core standards at least give me a place to start? I just feel like if I don't have a way to measure how much we are all learning they will somehow fall behind. I don't want to give tests but I do want to know by discussing the subject with my kids that they are absorbing the material at a level that is appropriate for their age/grade.
Thanks in advance for your support and advice.