Curriculum


Chart Your Course

Determining your school focus and what you will teach is important for both direction and appeal.



Defining Your Product


There’s a good chance that curriculum is something you’ve already thought a lot about in the process of planning and conceptualizing your future school.

Many curriculum decisions just come down to what you’d like to see your school look like – do you have a certain focus or specialty in mind already? Perhaps you want to be a STEM school, or have a focus on nature, or cultures of the world, or a particular religious affiliation.

Any of these concepts from your mission statement and school values are going to help inform your curriculum.

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Standard “Must Include” Topics & Courses


You’ll find that as a private school you have tremendous freedom to develop your educational approach and selection of courses. Depending on the state where you are operating and the grade levels you teach, there may be state-mandated subjects that must be taught (see our Legal and Operating Requirements section for your state’s requirements).

Regardless of regulatory requirements, there are a several standard courses that most families are going to expect that you offer.

State Curriculum Requirements


Many states require that certain classes are taught, or that daily schedules include time for students to be physically active, even at the private school level. Be sure to check out the applicable state resource page for your location to make sure you plan for these requirements.


Grade Levels & Subjects


Regardless of the type of school you’re opening or your specific academic focus, you’ll likely want to offer instruction in the four core subjects (math, English, science, social studies), as students typically need these courses to prepare for college and/or transferring to a different school after attending yours. Remember to check your state-specific requirements to ensure you’re in compliance with regulations.

Grade Levels & SubjectsAs far as electives or other courses outside of the academic core, there are several considerations:

  • What types of courses do you need to tie into your school’s mission? Are you focusing on fine arts, sports, foreign language, public service, theology, or accelerated STEM? Any of the courses you’ll need to support your school’s overall purpose should be offered to students from the start. You can’t recruit students to a fine arts school if you don’t offer any specialty arts courses, right?

  • Consider the teaching needs you’re creating. If you’re offering Japanese, computer programming, or concert piano, you’ll need teachers who are knowledgeable in these subject areas and are potentially certified in these subjects (more on that in the staffing section). Are these types of teachers available in your community?

  • Will your school be offering religious education and is it required for all students or an optional elective?

  • Is physical education going to be offered? Some states require this, particularly at the primary level, so check your state requirements for more information.

You’ll also need to put some thought into which grade levels you are going to serve. Ultimately, if your goal is to operate a K-12 school, it might be easiest for enrollment purposes to start with K-1 or K-2 and expand to new grades each year, bringing your current students forward and eliminating some of the pressure to hire and recruit at high volumes before opening. With this strategy, you can bring on new teachers and students each year at smaller, and more manageable, levels.

One other note on grade levels: if you’re looking at serving high school students, pay special attention to typical college admissions requirements and consider pursuing curriculum accreditation through one of the regional accreditation organizations; having accreditation ensures students will be able to seamlessly go to college without running into roadblocks.

Developing Your Curriculum


Are you going to use an already-existing curriculum or develop your own?

Developing your curriculumThere many national education organizations and religious education organizations can provide curricula that are already developed. If you’re going to be affiliated with one of these groups, you can take advantage of the resources they have developed. Our associations section can point you in the right direction for many of these.

If you’re going to develop your own curriculum, it may be helpful to have an instructional designer lend a hand. Of course, this isn’t always possible. If you’re on your own, the following resources can help:

  • The University of Michigan has some great background information about curriculum design, mapping curriculum to particular courses, and using benchmarks and outcomes to guide your planning process.

  • Hunter College also has a guide aimed primarily at college departments working on getting curriculum approved, but the basics and theory are applicable to primary and secondary schools as well.

Textbooks & Learning Materials


The great thing for you about choosing textbooks and other learning materials is that the selection process is an area where teachers are likely to want to have a lot of input. Having help is always great, right? You will probably need to decide whether your school is going to have physical textbooks or if you’re taking a digital stance. And, who will provide the books: your school or the students/families? Otherwise, you can appoint faculty members to make book recommendations or do some research yourself – just remember that subject area experts are going to have insight that you might not have into the usefulness of a book, so don’t be afraid to get help here!

Leveraging Technology & Interactive Resources


Online Content

One of the most exciting things about designing a new school curriculum in the internet age is the number of technological and interactive resources at hand. Teachers in every subject area can find a variety of resources to help enliven their daily lesson plans, help struggling students, or add interactive resources.

As one starting point, we’ve put together our own list of the best math sites for teachers. A quick google search will help turn up countless resources for other subject areas as well.


Learning Management Systems

Twine LogoAdditionally, virtual classrooms and learning management systems (LMS) allow teachers to communicate with parents and students, share lessons, provide a place for students to ask questions and get help, and for teachers to provide additional resources and course content. Twine School Management Software is perfect for Independent and Charter Schools.

Such LMS functions are central to Twine, our turn-key school management software platform for independent and charter schools. For more information check out how Twine helps.

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Guide Quick-Nav



Introduction to Starting a School

Introduction

We’ve developed these 10 topics to help you along the way. Take them all in at once, or start with the areas most relevant right now.


Creating Your School Identity

School Identity

There’s plenty you can do to develop your own brand, starting right from your personal ideals and goals for your school.


Creating Your School Curriculum

Curriculum

Our curriculum pages include ideas on where to go to find materials, and different associations and educational models you may want to consider.


Legal & Operating Requirements

Legal & Operating Requirements

You need to know the requirements at both the federal level and for your state. Here are the basic details for every state.


Introduction to Starting a School

Funding & Finance

Here we share ideas for possible funding sources, and ways you might be able to start with less than you thought necessary.


Creating Your School Identity

Business Plan & Budget

Having a plan for how you’ll operate and a budget to predict and allocate funds is critical for all businesses, schools included. We’ve pulled together resources here to help with both.


School Facilities

Facilities

What facilities are right for your school? We encourage new schools to get creative, and have compiled some considerations to take into account.


School Staffing

Staffing

How can you find and recruit the right talent for your school? What qualifications or certifications are required?


School Policies & Procedures

Policies & Procedures

Here we share ideas for possible funding sources, and ways you might be able to start with less than you thought necessary.


Marketing & Online Presence

Marketing & Online Presence

Having a plan for how you’ll operate and a budget to predict and allocate funds is critical for all businesses, schools included. We’ve pulled together resources here to help with both.


School Associations

Associations

What facilities are right for your school? We encourage new schools to get creative, and have compiled some considerations to take into account.