Our generation of homeschoolers is certainly blessed with a seemingly endless supply of homeschool curriculum options. However, this can feel overwhelming when choosing curriculum, and it can make it so tempting to change curriculum frequently. Changing curriculum can be expensive and time consuming, so it shouldn’t be something we do often. Here are some things to consider before jumping from one publisher to another.
No Homeschool Curriculum is Perfect
We can ask for recommendations from experienced homeschoolers in real life and online, but no curriculum is going to be the best choice for everyone. If you want to ask for opinions, be sure to also ask for reasons behind their recommendations. I’m sure you’ve seen the discussion threads in Facebook groups where everyone lists their favorite curriculum for a particular subject. Many people answer with just the name of their favorite curriculum, which is meaningless until you understand WHY they love that program.
This is where in-person conversations are so much more helpful. You can really get a better feel for what may work for your kids. Just keep in mind that what works for your closest homeschool friends may be a complete bust for you. Every family is different. No curriculum is going to be a perfect fit for everyone. Embarking on a quest for the perfect curriculum will only lead to disappointment.
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How Much Time Has Passed
Before you change curriculum, take an honest look at how long you’ve been using the program – especially if this is your first year or two homeschooling. The beginning of a homeschool journey can be a rough ride for many reasons, and changing out curriculum is often NOT an easy fix. Is a new curriculum really going to help or are there other problems that need to be addressed? Is you child resistant to doing school work overall or is it just that one subject?
Reach Out for Help
Many homeschool curriculum publishers have dedicated Facebook groups in which users can talk about the curriculum and potential users can get a feel for it before buying. These are great resources for talking to experienced users and getting ideas for how to work through any problems you’re having with the program. Many publishers also have blogs that are filled with creative ways of using their programs. One of my favorite resources for teaching reading and spelling is over at All About Learning’s Blog.
Toss the Schedule
Many people feel like they need to follow the schedule exactly. While some of the homeschool curricula that we love provide a structured schedule, I rarely follow that schedule. It’s a guide. That’s all.
We just simply do the next day and then the next and then the next. Homeschooling can be messy! It’s okay to do Monday’s work on a Thursday. It’s okay to be on week 12 when your calendar says you should be on week 14. It’s okay if one day of work actually takes two days. Just do the next thing.
Related Post: Creating a Homeschool Routine
Use it as a Framework
Once you ignore the details of days and weeks on the schedule, it’s easy to see the curriculum as more of a framework that you can alter to meet your kids’ unique needs. It’s okay to push pause on the curriculum to add extra books, hands-on activities, videos, and field trips to expand on a topic. It’s also okay to skip lessons if that’s the best choice for your family.
However, be careful with skipping lessons for skill based subjects unless your kids have mastered the material presented. In those cases, I prefer to do 2 or more lessons in a day to move quickly through material that’s easy.
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Just Not Getting it Done
If you’ve really given the curriculum an honest shot and it’s STILL not working, don’t feel bad at all for ditching it. No curriculum is going to work for everyone. Two of my favorite money saving tips come in real handy when it’s time to change curriculum.
- Use the library when possible to minimize costs.
- Use programs that retain a high resale value by using mostly non-consumable items.
If you’ve done either of these, it will make it easier to walk away from a curriculum that’s just not working for you.
Related Post: 10 Tips to Save Money on Homeschooling
Don’t Play the Comparison Game
Last spring we finally ditched a homeschool curriculum that had been an utter failure with both of my kids. We suffered so long trying to make it work for us, but we kept with it because many of my friends (in real life and online) LOVE it. Honestly, I felt like such a loser for not being able to make it work for us. At first, I didn’t even tell anyone that we were switching.
The program we chose to try instead is often ridiculed by the fans of the curriculum we ditched because it’s a very different approach. However, it has turned out to be a fantastic curriculum for our family. Both of my kids are now making great progress in writing and grammar AND they’re having fun with it. WIN! I’m kicking myself for not switching sooner!