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What if My Curriculum Doesn’t Work?

I Need a Curriculum Do-Over!

Have you ever felt that way? You bought what you thought was the perfect homeschool curriculum, but nothing has worked out as planned. Perhaps it worked for a while, then something changed. Or maybe it worked for the first child but not for the second. Or it’s entirely possible that it never worked at all. But a change means “wasting” all of that curriculum. What to do?

Believe it or not, almost all homeschool parents struggle with a curriculum issue at least once in their homeschool career simply because there is no such thing as a one size fits all curriculum. But, that doesn’t mean that you have failed. It simply means that a little bit of tweaking is in order.

Points to Ponder

If everything seems to be falling apart and your curriculum just isn’t working for you, here are a few suggestions to try.

Adapt

Often, switching to a new curriculum mid-year is not an option. If you find that you have to stick with what you started, then explore ways you can adapt what you have to meet your needs.

Sit down and make a list of all of the ways your curriculum does and does not work for you or your child and why. Next, work to modify assignments, head to the library to find an alternate book, or skip certain sections altogether. Instead of letting yourself and your child feel enslaved to the curriculum, make the changes necessary to make your curriculum work for you. It will take more effort on your part, but you will know better what to look for next year.

New Approach

Sometimes the problem lies less in the curriculum and more in a feeling of burnout. You and your child might just be tired of the same old thing. So, spruce it up a bit! Supplement with hands-on activities such as cooking, historical crafts, unique experiments, or art projects. Turn your current topic into a unit study and head to the library to find all the books you can to fill out your exploration. Plan a fun field trip that brings your studies to life. Sometimes simply trying a different approach to the material can breathe fresh air into your homeschool, showing you that it’s not really a curriculum problem but a seasonal struggle.

Set It Aside

When all else fails, don’t be afraid to set aside your curriculum if it isn’t working. Save it for a younger child, give it away, loan it out, or sell it, but don’t keep using it just because you fear being wasteful. It is okay to walk away from something that just will not work.

Fortunately, you do not automatically have to rush out and buy new curriculum. Depending on the time of year, you have several options.

  • Take the topics listed for the remainder of the year and pursue unit studies related to those topics.
  • Check with a friend to see if you can join forces for some classes or if you can borrow curriculum she is not using.
  • Take a look at booklists from established lesson plans and spend the year reading whatever you can check out of the library.

A Few More Thoughts

Remember that you are in charge of your child’s education. If your curriculum isn’t a good fit, you will only make yourself and your kids miserable if you stick with it. If you give yourself permission to walk away from a failed curriculum, you will discover freedom to explore how your child really learns, how you best teach, and what curricula best fit with your combined styles.

Ann is a missionary kid, second generation homeschooler, pastor's wife, and mom of three. She loves encouraging and equipping others, especially women in the homeschooling and ministry communities. Ann processes best by writing out her thoughts, and she enjoys sharing many of those thoughts on her two blogs, The Hibbard Family and The Joy of Writing.

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