When to Change Homeschool Curriculum, and When to Push Through
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You bought that shiny curriculum because your research on it (and the knowledge of how your kids think) told you it would be perfect. You bought that curriculum because your kids said it sounded good. Because you thought it sounded good. Because your friend uses it and it works for her kids. Because it was on sale at the homeschool convention. Whatever the reason, you’re now staring at a curriculum that no one wants to use and you’re wondering if it’s time to change homeschool curriculum again.
So should you change your homeschool curriculum? Well, there are a couple ways to look at it…
No, you should not change homeschool curriculum…
…if you maybe just need a break from what you’re doing.
A change of scenery can be good! If family members are feeling frustrated and bored with what you’re using, put it away for a while. Take a week to do something else. Try some quick card games, a unit study, or a field trip. See what you feel like when you come back to the curriculum.
…if changing your curriculum has become the thing to do the second someone gets bored or doesn’t understand something.
Maybe instead, you need to give the curriculum a chance. It’s great that homeschoolers have the flexibility to change, but we don’t want to become people who can’t commit to anything we buy.
…if your hubby is giving you that look that clearly says, “this is literally the 14th time this year you have decided to change your homeschool curriculum,” you might want to just tough it out for a bit and see what happens.
Then again, there are a few signs that you should change your homeschool curriculum…
Yes, you should change homeschool curriculum…
…if everyone hates the curriculum. If it’s taking actual work to make the curriculum work, it might be worth looking into something different.
…if you’ve taken a break from what you’re using and no one really cares to pick it back up again. If the thought of spending one more day with that curriculum as your guide makes you want to throw in the towel, it’s best to choose a different curriculum.
…if your methods of homeschooling or your goals as a homeschooling family have changed. Is your homeschool curriculum in line with your homeschool mission statement? It’s silly to stick with something that is no longer fulfilling its purpose.
Listen, you’re the boss of your homeschool curriculum. It works for you, not the other way around.
But here’s the thing about deciding to change homeschool curriculum…
A surprise lesson when you change homeschool curriculum:
Sometimes you elect to change homeschool curriculum and discover it’s not the curriculum that is causing the issue.
When my oldest son reached pre-algebra, he came to me and announced he no longer wanted to use Life of Fred (which we had been using for years). When I asked why, he explained he didn’t want to read the story anymore and instead, just wanted a plain old explanation of how to do a problem along with a plain old list of problems to do. Straight to the point.
Gah. Choosing a new math curriculum is never easy. He knew the things he was looking for and we researched different options together. He chose Teaching Textbooks (which we’d used w-a-y back in the beginning of our homeschool journey but he’d given up on as he didn’t—and still doesn’t—like computer based curriculum).
Thankfully we had a friend with an unused Pre-Algebra Teaching Textbooks workbook. We scooped it up from her (without the CD) and my son got to work.
However, within a couple weeks, my son was humbly asking to switch back to Life of Fred Pre-Algebra. The reason?
He had made a very important discovery: pre-algebra is pre-algebra is pre-algebra and although it might be packaged with different colors and fonts and slightly different explanations, it’s still pre-algebra.
And deciding to change homeschool curriculum doesn’t change the fact that pre-algebra is still pre-algebra.
But I’m still super glad we had that little change of curriculum. Know why?
Because it was such a powerful lesson for my son.
He was the one who figured it out. Had I tried to explain that pre-algebra is pre-algebra, it wouldn’t have come off the same. He needed to struggle through another curriculum to realize it’s not always the curriculum that causes the struggle. Sometimes it’s just the subject and you have to push through.
I’m not saying that a specific curriculum isn’t going to explain things better than one or the other, or that a certain explanation in a certain curriculum isn’t going to be the thing that helps your kid understand a subject. What I am saying is that in the homeschool community we get caught up in all our freedom and flexibility, and it sometimes causes us (and our kids) to assume there has to be some curriculum to make things awesome and easy for us—and that’s not always the case.
So even though in this situation we went back to what we had been using (Life of Fred), I’m glad we switched our homeschool curriculum, even if it was for that little bit of time. It was worth the lesson we pulled out of it—which, by the way, wasn’t even in the curriculum.
So, is it a good idea to change homeschool curriculum?
There are several reasons why you might want to, as well as several reasons to stick with what you’ve got. But sometimes it’s worth switching things up, if only for your kids to see that regardless of how the box is packaged, sometimes the contents are basically the same.