Scout Schooling How-To

My son has been homeschooled since first grade, which was about the time we got involved in the Boy Scouts of America. Scouting emphasizes learning through fun and doing. Kids focus on building practical skills and personal responsibility.

As we got involved in the Cub Scouting program and homeschooling, I realized that much of the rank requirements met school subject guidelines required by Maryland homeschool regulations (or what I’ll just call “COMAR”). I also found that my “school” resistant kid was much more motivated when he was going to earn a patch or belt loop for a scouting achievement.

What is Scouting?

In Cubs, the program is grouped by grade, going up to 5th, and written in age appropriate ways. In Scouts BSA (formerly Boy Scouts because it’s not just for boys anymore), the rank advancement is skills-based. Older kids move from Scout rank up to First Class by demonstrating a certain amount of responsibility to learn and demonstrate new skills. The program, however, is not linear. A young person could technically get signed off on a skill for First Class while still at Scout rank. Scouts have to figure out how to track where they are in the process, set goals, and identify opportunities such as upcoming camping trips so they can complete requirements.

Almost all Scouting activities are divided into three general categories that align with COMAR’s requirements of language arts, math, science, social studies, health and PE, art and music.

  • Citizenship
    • Community
    • What it means to be a citizen
    • Flags
    • Community service
    • Leadership
  • Health & Safety
    • First aid
    • Personal safety
    • Nutrition
    • Cooking and food safety
    • Physical fitness
  • Outdoors
    • Nature and conservation
    • Hiking
    • Map skills and orienteering
    • Fire building
    • Camping and planning

Homeschooling With Scout Requirements

Cubs work on Electives that cover everything from making family trees to learning science to playing games and sports while Scouts earn Merit Badges. There are over 120 merit badges available from Digital Technology to Welding with everything in between.

On top of the regular program requirements, BSA has created a STEM program called NOVA which allows Scouts to dive deeper into STEM related topics, like Math, Physics, Biology, and Technology . If you stay committed to Scout Homeschooling, your kids can work on a Super NOVA award, which involves researching a topic, reading, writing, hands-on activities, and working a Mentor.

Documenting Your Learning

Start by looking at the activities available. Ask yourself what kinds of skills are involved in the activity. Identify the opportunities to practice those skills as part of the program.

Here’s an example of how you can map out learning objectives with a Cub Scout Rank Requirement for a second grader:

scout schooling learning chart

In addition to my learning chart, I included the following in my homeschool portfolio that I presented for my compliance review:

  • Lots of pictures – pictures of packing for the pack, the actual hike, and nature pictures my child took
  • Documents – drawings, lists made by my child, nature journal
  • Book lists – check out receipts from the library of books we found on nature identification

So for this one rank requirement we actively did something related to each of the required categories in COMAR. This is not an activity that was completed in one sitting, it was done over time. It felt more natural in terms of the activity, there was much less resistance to “school”, and in the end my child earned something that was part of his goals of earning his Wolf Rank.

Last modified on April 2, 2020

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