Tuesday, 16 September 2014

The Australian Curriculum and Interest-led Learning

Earlier this year, another home educator asked me the following question which I have given a lot of thought too and will answer in this post: 

"I love the way that you're so child led but how do you make sure that you've ticked all those pesky Australian Curriculum boxes if you don't know exactly what you'll be doing each term?"

In Australia, homeschooling is a legal and legitimate opinion for educating children. For registered homeschoolers, most states and territories require some reference to and understanding of the Australian Curriculum (NSW homeschoolers use the NSW Syllabuses for the Australian Curriculum) in their homeschool planning and registration. So here are the steps I take to implementing an interest-led approach to our home education while still covering the Australian Curriculum for our registration requirements.

Step One - Read the Curriculum
Before registration, I read through the curriculum and the outcomes that my son, based on his age, would "need" to cover as we all need to have some knowledge of the curriculum for the purpose of registration. As I read through the curriculum, I write down ideas about things that I think might interest my learner that could be covered by the suggested outcomes in the curriculum. Topics such as space (Earth Science), butterflies and human body (biological sciences), simple machines (physics), can cover a number of subjects and are all based on my sons interest of nature and space.

Step Two - Discuss/Brainstorm with Learner
Next, I discuss with my son about what he wants to learn in this next year. We talk about what books he may want to read, what math he is thinking of doing or would like to do, what topics he may want to explore. We discuss what his goals are for his learning and see if there is anything that he would like to work on or improve. So for example, at the beginning of this year, my sons goal was to read and write better so we looked at different programs and we both thought the All About Spelling program would work as it was hands-on learning. 

Step Three - Write Your Plan
Once we have discussed possible topics my son wanted to cover and what resources he would like to use, I would write our homeschool year plan based on our discussion and for the purpose of registration. I listed the topics under the subjects areas, outlined by the curriculum, and fill in as much as I can based on his interest. For example, I knew my son had a few model car kits that he had brought so there was a great possibility that he would put them together at some point during the year. So I wrote this into our plan under the subject of technology and art as he had to paint them and construct them (this ended up to be a very successful project that lasted a number of weeks). 

Step Four - Review Weekly
So once our plan is approved by registration, it is put aside and we only refer back to it every so often. However, to continue with our child-led learning, we start each day with a little discussion about what my son wants to do for his learning. Most of the time, this works as my son knows what he wants to do. 

An average day usually consist of maths (he does a mixture of book work and hands-on activities), science as he loves this topic and physical education (swimming is a must during the hot part of the year). Because my son has dyslexia, English is something that we focus on first thing each day with shared reading (we do lots of reading, a novel or two a week) and working on our spelling program.

Sometimes my son easily directs his own interest and will set up an "interest shelf" of all his equipment, books and learning tools that he is using for that topic. He originally started doing this so his younger sisters could not touch "his stuff" and so it was easier for him to get to them quickly. Other times I will set up an interest shelf for him based on a conversation that we have had, such as our fraction shelf, as a way of encouraging him to explore that topic further. We had talked about fractions while cooking and this was my way of encouraging it further.
Step 5 - Documentation
Like many homeschoolers, I have found that a great way to help show that the curriculum is being covered, where registration is concerned, is document the learning. I record, or document, my son's learning by taking photographs of his learning and then put it all together when it comes time to re-register. A little description about the learning from the photos is all I do to show how the outcomes are being covered. 

Another way that you can document the learning is by keeping a checklist of all the outcomes (above pic). This is just a simple "tick off the outcome" sheet when the learner has completed them. In saying that, my son easily completed all the science, history and geography outcomes for his age group/grade in the first few months of the year! So in a way, documenting can seem meaningless but it is a way of keeping record, for registration. My son actually enjoys looking back at his work (he calls it his picture gallery!) and likes to see how far he has come and what he has learnt so there are positives in documenting other than just for registration! 

 Finding Your Child's Interest
Kate from An Everyday Story, has written a lovely piece about Identifying an Interest for younger learners and a similar outlook can be used for older learners too. I have found that by spending time talking and playing with my children, an interest or two is easily discovered. 

I am by no means an expert on interest-led learning. These are just some of my thoughts and where I am at on my own learning journey. I am still learning about how to best support my son's interest-led learning without interfering or directing it in a way that he is no longer interested. If you would like to continue to follow on with my learning on  interest-led learning, you can find me on facebook and on instagram.


  1. Thank you for sharing this! I believe that working with my children's interests is the best way for them to learn, but I tend to get caught up in what they are "supposed" to be learning. I like the way you are able to do both, without sacrificing the interest-led learning :)

    1. I find myself at times getting caught up with the same thing, of looking at where my child should be at in regards to grades/levels and what he should be learning for his age. It is a struggle I have at times too so you are not alone there. Interest-led learning has a lot to do with trusting my child and allowing him the time and space to learn at his own pace and about things that are of interest to him, which is why we homeschool! I still struggle with finding a balance between supporting his learning journey and making sure I don't take over his learning. So I remind myself that there is no point in learning about something when you are not interested.

    2. thanks for good information all education information and results from here

  2. Thanks for sharing. This has answered some questions for me too - love what you're doing Suzie! Great work!

    1. Thanks Bekka Joy! I really appreciate your encouragement!

  3. Student curriculum is really important. It shoudl adhere with the developmental needs of students. I've heard about homeschooling and have read stories of how others successfully deal with its demands. Good luck!