Tuesday, January 29, 2013

If It Ain't Broke: Knowing When and If You Should Change Curriculum

When we first started homeschooling 3 years ago I knew exactly what curriculum I wanted to use. I grew up on Abeka and I figured that since I knew the curriculum and it was a "boxed" curriculum, I figured it would be a cinch for me to teach my own children. What I wasn't prepared for was for it not to work. In the beginning I thought it was me. I wasn't doing enough of the script or we weren't reviewing enough. I found myself supplementing and eventually I couldn't even bring myself to open the books. Once I spoke to more seasoned homeschoolers I found myself browsing the curriculum section at Mardel and eventually settled on Explode the Code which I swear is the reason my children know how to read. That is not to say that Abeka isn't a good curriculum, but it simply wasn't working for us.

Exploring Mardel was an eye opening experience but what really opened my world up was visiting the local once a year Homeschool Book Fair. Never had I been surrounded by so many wonderful curriculum options! Each vendor knew exactly what to say to get you to pull out your wallet. I picked up a book here and a few there and dropped a few hundred that day. Thankfully, most of that worked.

Navigating curriculum choices can be overwhelming. Whether you are a new homeschooler or a few years in like we are, the allure of all the pretty books is sometimes more than one can bear! The trick to keeping your curriculum purchases in check is to be sure you know when it is really time to change.

The best advice I have gotten regarding curriculum is "the best curriculum is the curriculum that is getting done". So the first question to ask yourself is just that. Are you getting it done or is that book being shoved aside or being consistently put off until you forget you have it? If you find yourself constantly avoiding a piece of curriculum it is time to move on.

You are pushing through that curriculum that you really don't like, but you paid for it and gee-whiz it is going to be done! Right after you and your child quit crying. Some of us have the ability to force ourselves through a book. On one hand it is a great learning experience about perseverance. On the other it is a good way to find yourself overwhelmed and ready to give up all together. If you or your child dislike, truly dislike, a curriculum so much that you have an emotional response to it, it is time to move on.

In the early days of our homeschooling adventure I had no idea what my children's learning styles or what my own homeschool philosophy was. I would literally walk in to a store and say "oh that looks good" and buy it. Let's just say this didn't really work out. Take a moment to think about what you're trying to accomplish and how your child best learns. If your curriculum doesn't line up, it is time to move on.

The quickest way to burn out is let yourself get bored or overwhelmed with your curriculum, but the quickest way to go broke is to flip-flop around with it. Be sure that each time you are considering a change that you prayerfully consider changes in your child's curriculum. Just as there are times to move on, there are also times to push through it!

post signature


ourhearts4home said...

Agreed! I have learned that when I am considering a change I first ask myself if I'm hitting a wall because I've come to rely too heavily on myself and not enough on the Lord. If that isn't the issue at hand, then I start asking the Lord what needs to change and how. He's always been faithful. I haven't made HUGE changes in our school over the years, more like gentle shifts here and there in different areas. In fact, one night I woke up at 3 AM and felt like God was saying to ditch our science curriculum. WHY? I had no problem with it other than it being a bit dry. But ok, the following morning I was praying and reading online what we could use instead, and by 10 AM I had an answer. Not all answers have come so quickly though. But fast or slow, He is always faithful. :) Next year is a new season for us, and 70% of our school is changing, but that's ok, God is gently preparing me for it lol! :)

TC Harris said...

This is so true! I have changed a few times over the years, but we have come to a place where we are navigating this whole thing quite well. I figure the curriculum has to work for us, not the other way around.

hillbillywoman said...

Great post!