Have you ever wondered what is considered a “typical” course of study at a particular grade level? Documents called “scope and sequence” charts attempt to answer this question. Basically, a scope and sequence spells out the full content of a particular curriculum (scope) and the order in which the curriculum presents that material (sequence). There is nothing particularly mysterious about a scope and sequence document, though it may be couched in more “educationese” than necessary. 

There is also nothing sacred about a scope and sequence chart (although some state legislatures, enamored with outcome-based educational “content standards,” would like to think otherwise). Like a formal curriculum, the scope and sequence document should be considered only a tool to help a home-schooling parent, not an end in itself. You should always do what is best for your child; some children need a different curriculum or a different sequence entirely from what a purchased curriculum presents.

Scope and sequence materials encompass a variety of different kinds of documents. These are the most common:  

1.  Publishers’ scope and sequence charts: These scope and sequence documents present the content and sequence of a particular textbook. Almost all publishers will provide you with a free copy of the scope and sequence for a textbook you are interested in purchasing. Some are available online. Here are three examples from publishers familiar to many home schoolers: 

• Saxon Math (http://www1.saxonpub.com/school/SS_NCTM.html) 

• Bob Jones University Press K-12 textbook scope and sequence, all grades and subjects (http://www.bjup.com/resources/overview/) 

• A Beka Books, all grades and subjects (http://www.abeka.com/ABB/Resources/2001ScpSeq.pdf) 

2.  Home-school curriculum scope and sequence charts: Many complete curriculum packages were either originally designed specifically for home schoolers, or adapted well for this group. Many home-school curriculum publishers provide scope and sequence charts for the entire year’s curriculum, ranging from very basic (Alpha Omega LIFEPACS and Sonlight) to extremely detailed (Veritas Press). Here are several examples: