Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Homeschool curriculum - what if it's not working?

There are certain curricula that seems to be the "holy grail" or gold standard among homeschoolers. You know, the ones that get mentioned every time someone asks, "So, what do you use for science (or math, or latin...)?" While I'm incredibly thankful for the plethora of things we have to choose from these days, what if the gold standard just isn't working for your family? What if (gasp!) you really just don't like it? Do you keep plodding along, or put on the brakes and reevaluate?

We've used a popular science curriculum for several years now and it worked fine for our oldest. He's more of a "by the book" sort of learner. While I can't say he loved it, he did learn a lot. Enter son #2. Different kid, different learning style. Whole different ball of wax. Trying to make the popular science curriculum work for him has been a painful disaster for us both. He's an incredibly bright kid. He just doesn't learn best through the standard textbook approach. Time for mom to stop trying to put that square peg in the round hole.

As homeschool moms we take the task of choosing curriculum very seriously. After all, it's not a cheap investment. We want something that's going to get the job done, stay within our budget AND instill a life long love of learning...that's a very tall order.

So what do you do if the curriculum you purchased just isn't working? 

1. Stop! You've heard the definition of insanity - doing something over and over and expecting different results. There's no reason to continue on with something that you've already recognized isn't working. Pitch it and start over. Breathe here ladies! It will be OK...I promise.

2. Research. Post your questions to on-line forums or blogs. Chat with other moms whose kids have similar learning styles. If your child is old enough, ask them why they think it's not working. Get their input on what they might like to use instead. Pray...and keep breathing.

3. Regroup and charge ahead again! Once you've found something new to use, don't focus on how much of the school year's already gone or stress over switching things up midstream. Instead, focus on the fact that the new curriculum will give your student the tools and opportunities they need to succeed. 

So we're setting aside the "holy grail" of science curriculum for something I think will work great for him. And therein lies the beauty of homeschooling. We do what works best for the STUDENT. A novel concept don't you think? 


  1. How do you decipher if it's the curriculum that is not working or something else such as the child just doesn't like that particular subject?


    1. Good question Heather! Frustration has always been a good indicator...yours and your student's! I was able to tell based on going through several chapters using all the tools and resources we could to make it work and he still failed the test. He doesn't really care for science, but he also hates failing, so that was a good indicator. He was frustrated and since I knew he was trying I hated to see him failing. We finally sat down and talked about how he was feeling and why he thought it wasn't working. We decided it needed to be more hands-on so we sat down together, looked over several and picked one. Hoping giving him a vested interest in choosing it will help him. He's 15...so all this remains to be seen. :-)



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