Planning an Educational Program & Reporting on Progress
Your main responsibilities as a home educator are to show that you have an educational program and to demonstrate that your child is making educational progress. This information will explain the basics of how to do this.
Creating an Educational Program
According to the Home Education Policy & Procedures document, an educational program is defined as, “An organised set of learning activities designed to enable a student to develop knowledge, understanding, skills and attitudes relevant to the student’s individual needs.”
Planning your educational program is about having an idea of what you’re going to do – having some kind of direction.
Some moderators will give you a template they want you to use for your planning. This is a suggestion. You are not required to plan in any one particular way. You are entitled to find a way to plan the program that works for you.
There may be elements that you will plan for the year, but planning a term at a time is what’s standard. There are two main approaches to planning an educational program, and each approach can be personalised to your needs.
Listing activities & resources
One way to create an educational program is to make a list of all the activities you plan to do in each of the Learning Areas relevant to your child’s year level. This list can be dot points of things you plan to do, including excursions, classes, using textbooks, online learning, workbooks, sport, workshops, community or interest groups such as Scouts, and so on.
With home education, everything your child does can be part of their learning and education – not just formal learning experiences, and as such, you can include life experiences, practical activities, places you might visit in the community, travel, daily life tasks such as cooking or shopping, play and exploring their interests as part of your program.
You should also list the resources and texts that you plan to use too – books, videos, documentaries, people and places your child can learn from, equipment, games, technology etc.
A list of activities you plan to do and resources you may use in the term ahead provides a sufficient program. Your moderator may send you a template you can use to create your list in each subject area, but you can also organise your list in any way you wish.
Your program (list of activities and resources) is not set in stone. You don’t have to do everything on your list, so feel free to write down all the ideas that you and your child have for things you might do in each subject area.
Planning activities for curriculum outcomes
If you are concerned about making sure your child covers everything in the curriculum that is expected by the Department of Education for their year level, one useful way to plan an educational program is as follows:
a) Choose either the Scope & Sequence document or the Achievement Standards (these are explained in our Curriculum section).
b) Cut each outcome from the Scope & Sequence or each sentence from the Achievement Standards onto a separate index card. You could also use a simplified version of the curriculum too. See our section on shortcuts to understanding curriculum jargon.
c) Start by sorting your cards into two piles – things your child already knows or can do (learned from school or life). Put them aside.
d) Take the left-over cards and sort them into two piles again – things that your child can learn or practice through life experiences, conversation, activities they’re already doing (eg sport, Scouts, music). You might like to make a note on the back of the card as to what your child does or will do that helps them learn that skill or concept.
The other pile is things that you may need to teach directly or organise an experience/activity to cover the concept. You could use a class, mentor, program, online learning, workbooks, workshop, excursion, incursion, or another method.
e) Take the pile of things outcomes or achievement standard sentences that you think your child will need an organised activity or other help to learn. Divide that pile into 4 terms. This will give you an idea of what you need to do each term in order to ensure you are covering every aspect of the curriculum. Of course, you can move cards from one term or pile to another too.
People sometimes use the card system to keep track of what their child has done too – writing on the back activities or resources the child did to accomplish those outcomes. It’s worth noting that home-educating students are not expected to cover every one of the outcomes and that students can work at the year level that suits them, but if you want to be 100% sure of covering the curriculum, the card method is one of many that works well for planning.
Reporting on Your Child’s Progress
Progress is defined as “to develop towards an improved or more advanced condition.” Progress is how your child is developing over time, not how they compare to others.
Reporting on your child’s educational progress is an important part of home education. There are several ways main methods people commonly use, but there are other ways to report on progress or to customise these three methods.
1. Using the ‘scope & sequence’
a) Print out the Scope and Sequence for each subject area or download the Microsoft Word version so you can do this exercise digitally.
b) Choose 3 coloured highlighters or digital highlighting colours and assign each a meaning: Accomplished, Working on in, Not yet started.
c) Work through each outcome and highlight it with the relevant colour. Some subject areas are very short and easy to understand, while others are longer and will take more effort to decipher. Our Understanding Curriculum Jargon section will help you with this.
Using the Scope & Sequence documents provides the moderator (and yourself) with an overview of where your child is at in reference to the curriculum. Looking at the colours, it is easy to see what a child has accomplished in terms of the curriculum outcomes, what they are working on, and where the gaps are.
Keep in mind that you don’t need to accomplish every outcome within a year and that it’s okay for your child to be working above or below their year level as long as they are making forward progress. When you are highlighting the Scope & Sequence, you can also highlight outcomes in other years than your child’s age if that is relevant to them.
2. Using the ‘achievement standards
This method of showing your child’s educational progress is much like above. Instead of the Scope & Sequence, use the Achievement Standards for each subject area for your child’s year level.
Some people print these out and then highlight which outcomes (each sentence is an outcome) has been achieved. Others create a table of some kind where they copy and paste each outcome, allowing space to add a comment about what activities and resources their child has used to accomplish the outcome or a general comment about their progress in this area.
3. Written Report
Some people like to create a written report on their child’s progress in each subject area, a little like the Christmas letters people used to send to family overseas, talking about what their child has done during the year. In this situation, your comments are mostly focused on education – how is your child progressing, what have they accomplished, what are they currently working on, what challenges have they had and so on. You can write about their interests, social life and personal development too.
Some people enjoy doing this and find that it’s something they can look back on in the future, but there is no obligation to write a report if that’s not your style.
Showing Evidence of Your Child’s Progress
In addition to showing what curriculum outcomes have been accomplished, you will also need to show your moderator evidence of your child’s learning. Evidence is a general collection of materials that can include photos, work samples, videos, portfolios, workbooks, written reports, lists, discussion, and more. Not all outcomes need written or tangible evidence.
Evidence of learning and progress can include:
- worksheets used in planning a project or in identifying the areas to be researched for some topic;
- showing workbook and textbook activities;
- showing evidence of progress in an online learning program e.g. copy of progress results;
- reports, stories, letters or other projects;
- dated writing samples which show progress over time;
- records of research projects: planning, note-taking, draft writing, editing, and final presentation;
- completed projects that incorporate learning achievements that have occurred;
- showing a diary or other records of the activities where learning achievements have occurred including PowerPoint presentations, photography, internet searches;
- showing a reflective journal (where the child records what they learned about a topic or experience or describes a concept);
- describing or permitting the student to describe some home education experiences and achievements;
- describing an experience that has not necessarily any tangible evidence but was an occasion for a child’s personal achievement or discovery;
- showing photographs to support engagement in natural learning activities supported with a description of the activity and a comment about what was learned;
- presenting an art portfolio; and
- showing short video clips (or photographs) of drama performances, recitals, participation in concerts.
When it comes to collecting evidence of your child’s learning, it pays to develop the habit of keeping any writing, drawing, and work your child has done. You should also keep certificates, reports, handouts, photos, and anything else relevant to your child’s learning. If you get into the habit of keeping samples of what your child has done and also dating work samples, it’s not difficult.
“Mrs Strawberry” on Teachers Pay Teachers has printable labels (template for Avery stickers/labels from Officeworks) and printable “I can” labels and rubrics of curriculum outcomes that you can print and put on work samples or use for planning.
* Please note: HEWA has no affiliation with the products or stores listed above.
A Summary: What do I Show my Moderator?
All of the information can be summarised into the following three points:
1. Show Your Child’s Program
A simple way to do this is to make a list of activities you’re planning to do in each subject area and resources you’ll use to help your child learn.
2. Show Your Child’s Progress through the Curriculum
Print out the Scope & Sequence or Achievement Standards and highlight the outcomes/skills accomplished.
3. Show Evidence of Your Child’s Progress
Show your moderator photos and work samples of what you’ve been doing since their last visit or since starting home education.