In Hawaii, we are required to have a curriculum (not present it) and at the end of the year, we write a report of what we did. This is mine for an early grade but I believe it works for any age.
STATEMENT OF CURRICULUM
From the first report we sent in, we have made it abundantly clear that we are emphasizing character traits and will not be pursuing formal studies to any degree until our son is clearly ready. To quote from my 1989 Year End Report, “We are basing our home-education program on the premise that children eagerly and easily learn those things for which they are developmentally ready.” Our main references for this approach are the works of five authors: John Holt, Raymond Moore, Jean Piaget, David Elkind, and Rudolph Steiner (also see John Dewey, Arthur Gates and E. Thorndike). Each in his own terms urges parents and teachers not to rush children into academic studies. Piaget labels the ages seven to eleven the “concrete-operational” period and finds that this is when academic pursuits can most successfully be begun….Their own research and that of others led Raymond Moore and his associates at the Hewitt Foundation to set an age of at least eight to ten as the point at which to begin academic work. If there’s any doubts, they urge waiting until even later.
David Elkind makes a good case for “growing up slowly” in his well known book, The Hurried Child.
In my 1990 School Year Report, I included 4 more pages of quotations supporting the educational approach of emphasizing character and happiness in the elementary school ages. As A. S. Neill of “Summerhill wrote, “I hold that if your emotions are free your intellect will look after itself.”
I also quoted Daniel Greenberg Free at Last, The Sudbury Valley School, “We felt that the only learning that ever counts in life happens when the learners have thrown themselves into a subject on their own, without coaxing, or bribing, or pressure….In order to be true to ourselves we had to get away from any notion of curriculum, or a school-inspired program. We had to let all the drive come from the students, with the school committed only to responding to this drive…We figured that everyone, with the help they could muster at school, could find out for themselves what was and what wasn’t necessary to know in order to get where they wanted in life.
“This tied in rather closely with the character traits we were hoping to foster. More than anything, we wanted people to experience the full meaning of responsibility. We wanted them to know what it is to be a responsible person — not just from books or lectures, or sermons, but from everyday experience.” Thus it has been clear from the start what our curriculum is and why we are pursuing these goals as the major emphasis of our curriculum:
A. POSITIVE SOCIALIZATION AND SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
Cares for the welfare of others and takes responsibility for their welfare; is friendly and kind; has good manners; contributes to the goals of groups to which he belongs; is fair and honest in his dealings with others; cares for plants and animals and helps preserve the environment; contributes to making this a better world especially by engaging in volunteer work without expectation of personal gain.
B. INTELLECTUAL DEVELOPMENT
His natural curiosity, concentration, and love of learning is preserved; has a love of books and a wide vocabulary; understands that the purpose of reading, writing and talking is communication; math ability commensurate with his need; is extroverted and confident of his ability to find answers to his questions; has expanding knowledge of the world at large and of the various laws that govern its functions including political and physical.
C. VALUES AND CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT
Has a high level of integrity; is cooperative yet stands up for his own beliefs; knows he is a loved member of a fully functional family; is learning such important lessons as that strength does not need to mean aggression, that bad actions do not necessarily mean bad people, and that peace begins with each of us; is learning positive lessons from his father and other males what it is to be a male and a father; understands the interrelatedness of life; is free of prejudice and has the courage to stand up to peer pressure; is learning our religious beliefs and is respectful of the religious beliefs of others.
D. PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT
Is physically fit, knows and applies rules of good health such as proper nutrition, exercise, stress management, sleep and fresh air. Cares for his body without catering to it unnecessarily, is aware of and can avoid dangers such as drugs, alcohol, and AIDS; enjoys participating in a variety of sports for the fun and exercise, not just because of the competition.
E. SELF SUFFICIENCY
Understands the various machines and appliances in his environment and is achieving competence in their use; contributes to the family by doing chores commensurate with his ability, can take care of his own needs such as making his own meals, cleaning up after himself, entertaining himself without adults or TV or video games, and using his phone book to call up friends; understands from first-hand experience the relationship of work to the accomplishment of ones goals and has observed a wide variety of occupations and possible careers.
Is playful and has a good sense of humor and knows how to have fun without harm to himself a others; has observed and participated in disputes and learned how to negotiate to resolve them to a win-win end; is loved and loving; is learning how to deal with so-called negative emotions such as anger and grief; has his self-trust intact and is aware of the strength of the force for good in the world and energetically engages in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
G. AESTHETIC SENSE
Enjoys numerous types of art, music and dancing both as a spectator and as a participant; enjoys the theater (as in plays, not movies); cares for his possessions, including taking care and pride in his appearance; appreciates the peace and beauty of nature; is creative.