top of page
  • Writer's pictureKatie Lane-Karnas

VT MCOS for unschooling 6-8 year olds

Updated: Mar 12, 2021

A young child's open hand holds an iridescent, geometric rock.

An unschooling child’s Minimum Course of Study ("MCOS"; part of reporting requirements in Vermont) is going to reflect some of the general topics that she already enjoys. In science, a kid living on a farm could list “life cycle of animals;” a kid into dinosaurs could list “characteristics of dinosaurs, exploring scientific theories and fossils.” A child who is more likely to be cooking or making slime can list “beginning familiarity with science process skills.”

Writing the minimum course of study broadly and thinking in terms of topics your family loves allows for a wide range of activity that align with the MCOS when you do the reporting at the end of the year.

When listing a topic such as “seasons,” samples at the end of the year—for your parent portfolio or the teacher assessment--could be a photo of the child’s drawing that includes a season; a picture book read about the seasons; a photo of the child outside in winter and note “observing local ecosystem in all four seasons;” or a photo of the child’s garden and a note “learning about plants changing in each season.”

Google whatever your child likes to do along with “learning objectives” or “first grade objective.” Pre-K and K objectives tend to be more aligned with a play-based, broad, and more traditional approach to education, and can easily apply to all of the early ed years. A search for “Lego objectives grade one” returns TONS of lesson plans that list subjects and skills covered playing Lego, along with useful education jargon to grab. Teachers do the same thing for planning their classes! Use these search results to make an MCOS, or to list what your kid did at the end of the year.

Disclaimer—these sample ideas are shared from my experience as a parent, and from helping other parents think through their MCOS/portfolios, in the spirit of encouraging the articulation of unschooling-friendly reporting in Vermont (I have no relationship with the state).

1. Basic Communication Skills: Reading and Writing

· Writing letters

· Vocabulary

· Creating more detailed storylines (this can be with dolls/figurines)

· Developing characters (drawings or comics that show character understanding)

· Extending storylines and characters

· Make a puppet play

· Addressing an envelope

· Beginning writing conventions (spaces between words, initial capital letter, left-to-right, use punctuation)

· Beginning alphabetization (finding books at library in alpha order)

· Phonics

· Memorizing or recognizing frequent word spellings (sight words)

· Using sign language to enhance communication

· Memorizing verses/poems/holiday song

· Writing a postcard/letter

· Phonemic awareness

· Identifying number of syllables

· Creative writing (parent dictates child's invented story)

· Organizing plans or items in a list

· Increasing ability to express ideas in discussions with others

· Vocabulary: learning new words in another language

· Handwriting

· How to research: use a field guide

· Strengthening pencil grip: using chalk, working with clay, writing in sand

· Ordering the sequence of events in a story

2. Basic Communication Skills: Math

· Addition

· Subtraction

· Word problems

· Using a calculator

· Anno’s Math Book, How Much is a Million?, or other picture book about math

· Using coins and dollar bills

· Following multi-step directions

· Measurements (cooking, sewing, music or dance, building project)

· Symmetry

· Shapes and orientation

· Create representation of an object using 3D (blocks or clay)

· Sorting and describing by attributes (rocks, birds, plants, beads, etc)

· Math games (Rat-A-Tat-Cat, dice games, Uno, etc.)

· Calendar

· Time

· Exploring angles/speed/velocity/friction/distance/directions (skiing, skating, biking, skateboarding)

· Using tangrams/abacus/beads/unit blocks to represent math concepts (base ten; geometry patterns; four operations; etc)

· Spatial orientation: up/down, left/right, in front/behind, under/over, next to, skipping over

· Musical concepts (ascending and descending pitch, whole and half steps, distance between notes, representing rhythm and pitch pattern in notation, patterns, steady beat)

3. Citizenship, History and Government

· Map skills

· Stories from cultures around the world

· Learning about an historical figure

· Our family’s history (family tree; immigration path; holiday traditions; etc)

· Community helpers

· Local community (identifying important buildings and landmarks)

· Town Meeting Day

· Geography (a puzzle, or game)

· Field trips to local businesses

· Barre granite

· Abenaki people and culture

· Historic cemeteries/churches

· Modern and historic farming in Vermont

· Early American farm life

· Vermont railroads

· Interviewing family elders/anyone

· Identifying differences and similarities between (wherever you visit) and VT

· Comparing and contrasting cultures

· Seasonal holidays and family traditions

· Volunteering to help the community (shoveling the skating ice; Green Up Day; Community Lunch; visiting a neighbor)

· Vermont rocks and geology

· Vermont covered bridges

· Vermont artist and studio

· Early human history

· History of evolution on Earth

4. English, American and Other Literature

· List of authors or books you plan to read

· List of genre you plan to explore (fables; non-fiction; poems; reference; fairy tales)

· Comparing the same story in print and film; comparing the same story as written by two authors

5. Natural Sciences

· States of matter

· Seasonal changes

· Identifying herbs/trees/wild edibles/flowers

· Identifying local birds

· Weather

· Space/our solar system

· Gardening

· Life cycle of a plant/frog/chicken/etc

· Raising chicks

· Characteristics of an animal

· Dissection

· Pond life

· Vernal pools

· Animals and their habitats

· Ecosystems

· Migration

· Raising a Monarch butterfly

· Experiments and scientific process

· Chemical reactions and kitchen science

· Properties of water (experiment with making a boat that floats)

· Rocks and their characteristics

· Properties of magnets

· Parts of the human body

· The human skeleton or organs

· Simple machines

· Dinosaurs

· Understanding spread and prevention of disease

6. Physical Education

· Swimming

· Playing outside in all seasons, hiking, climbing rocks

· Bicycling

· Farm chores and gardening

· Yoga

· Dancing

7. Comprehensive Health Education

· Nutrition and healthy food choices

· Talking with the doctor/midwife

· Dressing himself for the weather

· Safely gathering herbs

· Making herbal salves/tinctures

· Selecting foods from farmer’s market/grocery store

· Safe handling of chicks/puppies/etc

· Bicycle helmet and riding safety

· Dental hygiene

· Emotions and skills for handling upset

· Knife/power tools/electric fence/fire safety

· Understanding spread and prevention of disease

· Visiting the fire station and making a fire safety plan

· Water or boat safety at the pool/lake/oceanside

8. Fine Arts

· 3D sculpture (includes building with LEGO, blocks, magnets, tangrams, clay, whittling, etc)

· Drawing

· Outdoor nature art (pinecones, bark, stones, charcoal, leaves, found objects, etc.)

· Coloring with markets/pencils/etc

· Painting

· Singing alone or with a group

· Dancing

· Craft projects

· Woodworking

· Choreography

· Comic strips/cartoons

· Attending [formal or informal] performances

· Exploring an instrument

· Memorizing and performing verses

· Improvisation

· Sewing

· Needle or wet felting

772 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page