What if, instead of asking what you should teach your child next week, or even tomorrow morning, we start by asking: “what do they need to know and be able to do at the end of their homeschool time with us?” It’s a different way of approaching home education, and it turns out that when parents design instruction this way – focusing on where they want their kids to go rather than how best to get them there – everything falls into place much easier!
Backward Design is a simple yet effective way to plan your homeschool year. By starting with the big picture and then refining your focus on what needs to be learned and how it will be measured, you can create a homeschool that ensures your kids learn effectively while achieving the desired results.
For other homeschool planning methods be sure to check out How to Use SMARTER Goals.
What is Backward Design?
The three-step process of Backward Design begins by establishing the desired results and working backward to figure out how best to reach them.
- The first step is to identify the learning goal or objective.
- Next, determine how you will measure progress.
- Finally, create a learning plan based on the first two steps.
“If you don’t know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else.”– Lawrence J. Peter
Why use the Backward Design method
Backward Design focuses on learning rather than teaching. As homeschool parents, we traditionally choose a curriculum and go from there. The Backward Design method helps us strategize our homeschool by thinking about the end goal before we begin planning or choosing curricula.
The incorporation of Backward Design in your homeschool means that every task and piece of instruction has a purpose. This eliminates doing certain activities for no reason other than to do them, which can be frustrating or boring for kids. Plus, the clarity of the curriculum and parent’s goals translates to a transparent learning experience.
Download my free Backward Design graphic organizer to help you plan.
How to use the Backward Design method for homeschool planning or curriculum development
Backward Design can be used to break down your Homeschool Vision Statement, plan for each subject matter, or create your curriculum or unit of study. Note: this homeschool planning method will ultimately unbind you from any curriculum and allows you to pull together from different resources.
Step 1: Learning Goals
List your homeschool goals for the year. You may want to do this separately for each subject matter or divvy up your Homeschool Vision Statement.
Step 2: Learning Evidence
List ways your child will show their learning using higher-level thinking skills, for example, completing a project, essay, written reflection, oral demonstration, quizzes, etc.
Step 3: Instructional Plan
- Ask yourself what skills, concepts, and facts your child needs to learn to achieve the learning goal(s)? What tasks will they need to do for the goal(s) to be fulfilled?
- From this list of skills, concepts, and facts, develop a plan that includes resources. You may want various types of materials, or you may find one type is enough depending on your child’s learning style.
- Educational games
- Videos on YouTube, Curiosity Stream, etc.
- Items for project-based learning or science experiments
Drawbacks with using the Backward Design method in homeschooling
This approach does not work for everyone, but it is worth trying for anyone who feels that they would like to have some plan in place. The main drawback is that this is not an open-and-go method. It requires some thought, input, and time, but I think it is well worth the effort as it is a great way to plan for your homeschool year. It helps keep your homeschool on task, and the work upfront will add less stress down the road.
“If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.”– Zig Ziglar
If you’ve ever tried to plan your homeschool year but felt like it was a daunting task, this post is for you. Backward Design can help simplify the process by starting with what needs to be learned and measuring success before making any decisions about curriculum or resources. Doing so ensures that our children are learning effectively while achieving desired results in all areas of their education.
Have you used Backward Design in your homeschool?
I would love to hear how you plan for your homeschool year!
Xuan Klevecka is a Southern California-based homeschool mom, wife, and sometimes purveyor of vintage goods. She’s an Enneagram 5w7, a lover of good food, and a former middle school history teacher. You’ll either find her looking at road maps and daydreaming about her family’s next epic adventure or perusing recipes and cooking up a feast for the brood.