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Guidance on Completing Vermont's "Minimum Course of Study" (MCOS)


In Vermont, you will create your own, individualized MCOS plan. It is your personal commitment to the state. To receive credit for the year, you will need to provide 3-4 examples in the End Of Year Assessment (EOYA) that illustrate you have met the targets you declared in all 8 categories of the MCOS. When it comes to wording the MCOS, less is more! Set yourself up for end of year success by providing the minimal amount of detail to satisfy each category. It is important to remember that what you ultimately teach your child is not necessarily the same as what you include in your MCOS. After you’ve completed the MCOS, reread it while asking yourself, “how will I prove that I did this?” It’s much easier to provide evidence that you have “explored multiplication” than it is to prove that your child “practiced multiplication 5 days a week and memorized all facts from 0-12.” Even if you do plan to practice every day, and memorize every factoid, you do not need to write that on your MCOS! 

  • Consider using malleable words such as encourage, discover, explore, improve, continue, integrate, discuss, reinforce and engage. 

  • Consider using spacious phrases such as may include but not be limited to; if/when; such as. 

  • Avoid using inflexible, finite, restrictive wording such as every day; (X) number of times a week; we will master/memorize/know (a topic) by heart; all; every... Or any wording that can only be interpreted in a very black and white way. 

Below are some ideas on how to phrase your entries (in green) to allow for maximum flexibility and a successful EOYA (aka graduating to the next grade!). Wording to avoid is in red. 

Minimum Course of Study (MCOS) - Sample Wording

Will the parent/guardian(s) provide ongoing instruction in each area of the Minimum Course of 

Study (MCOS)?  

Check mark “yes” unless you plan to employ a tutor(s) for some categories. If you check “no” (meaning you are utilizing tutor(s)) your tutor will have to provide their own documentation in the EOYA as well. You can mark “yes” and still retain a tutor(s); in this care you would just provide documentation yourself in the EOYA showing how your MCOS commitment was met. 


1) Basic Communication skills, including reading, and writing (i.e. phonics, speaking/listening, vocabulary, spelling, grammar, types of writing):  


Encourage writing in forms such as, but not limited to, creative writing, song writing, and journaling. Improve vocabulary through methods such as, but not limited to, reading aloud, flashcards and listening to books on tape. (See also English and Literature) 

Note: use “see also” whenever something can count for multiple categories. Again, less is more! 

Do not write: On Mondays and Wednesdays we will complete 5 workbook pages from Phonics For Kids; practice 15 minutes of flashcards 5 days a week; memorize the 100 most frequently used English words; memorize all the different parts of speech; write 10 haikus and 3 short stories that are 12 pages long; read aloud every morning before lunch; read every Little House On The Prairie book; write out the alphabet in upper and lower case every night in pencil. 

Find suggestions for literacy here.

2) Basic Communication skills mathematics (i.e. addition, fractions, time, measurement, algebraic/geometric concepts):  

Expand mathematical knowledge in areas that may include, but not be limited to, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division and measurement.  

Do not write: Memorize all addition, subtraction and multiplication facts from 0-12; master geometry; practice math flashcards for 10 minutes every day; read Math For 5th Graders from cover to cover; compete in a math league and make it to at least the semi-finals. 

Find suggestions for math here.

3) Citizenship, History, and Government in Vermont and the United States (i.e. community action and local government, specific eras in history of VT, the US)  


Learn about Vermont and US history through formats that may include, but not be limited to, field trips, documentaries, discussions, and newspapers. May cover topics such as, but not limited to, The Constitution and the Civil War. 

Do not write: Memorize the state capitols and all the presidents in order; build a replica of the State Capitol Building; read the Boston Globe every Sunday; commit the Preamble to memory; debate current events 3 days a week at dinnertime. 

Find suggestions for history and government here.

4) English, American and other literature (i.e. genres of books, plot, responses to reading):  

List 5-10 books, or a combo of a few books and a genre. You do not need to cite them in perfect APA style.  


Literature utilized this year may include, but not be limited to, plays, short stories and titles such as (but not exclusive to): 

  1. Earth Almanac: Nature's Calendar for Year-Round Discovery; Jeremy Collins 

  2. Pete the Cat series; James Dean 

  3. Art of Problem Solving: Beast Academy Math Workbooks and Instructional text; Jason Batterson, Erich Owen 


Do not write: Read all of Shakespeare’s plays; complete the Beast Academy math series books A-D; read independently every weekday for 20 minutes; read all of the books in this list from cover to cover; go to the library every Thursday from 1-3pm. 

Check out your personal book collection for ideas, or your local library. Find suggestions for literacy related materials here.

5) Natural Sciences (i.e. the scientific method, discoveries and inventions, Physical Science, Life Science, Earth and Space Science, and Engineering)  

Explore natural science topics that may include, but be not limited to, horses, nature, geology, or other interests that may arise in the natural world. 

Do not write: Memorize all horse breeds; collect rocks from every state park in Vermont; learn the life cycle of plants by building a raised 10’x10’ garden bed in which we will grow pumpkins, tomatoes and string beans. 

Find suggestions for the natural sciences here.

* Topic Areas 6, 7 and 8 are only required if the student is 12 or younger at the time of enrollment. 

* 6) Physical Education (i.e. team sports, dance, martial arts, yoga, skiing)  

Engage in physical activity which may include, but not be limited to, going to the playground, bike riding, swimming, and dancing.

Do not write: Earn a green belt or higher in taekwondo; attend gymnastics every Saturday for 90 minutes; compete in 3 hockey tournaments; do yoga every day for an hour; learn how to tap dance; run a mile in under 7 minutes. 

Find suggestions for sports and movement activities here.

* 7) Comprehensive Health Education including the effects of tobacco, alcoholic drinks, and drugs on the human system and on society (i.e. first aid, human growth and development, and nutrition)  

May explore health, biology and first aid using formats that could include, but be not limited to, printed materials, apps, field trips and videos. 

Do not write: Will get CPR certified; attend 5 seminars about the effects of drugs and alcohol on the human body; watch 10 documentaries about health; write a 20 page research paper on the history of tobacco.  

Pull out your family a cookbook and make a healthy meal together. YES that can count towards your MCOS requirement! You may find ideas in our science resources as well.

* 8) Fine Arts (i.e. visual arts, media arts, music, dance, attend performing arts events)  

Engage in art projects based on child’s interests. Look at and talk about fine arts in everyday life by methods that may include, but be not limited to, museums tours (virtual or in person), digital art and books. 

Do not write: Paint every Wednesday for 60 minutes; visit 8 Vermont museums and write one paragraph about it when we get home; go to live dance performances 2 times a month; complete one exercise from Drawing on the Right Side of The Brain every Wednesday and Friday. 

Find suggestions for fine arts here.

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