As the new year dawns, some of you find yourself content with the game plan from the fall semester while others may find themselves dreading the restart. For some, this is a beautiful thing – everything is running smoothly, you’ve managed to stay caught up on lesson plans and grading, and you wouldn’t have it any other way! Others, however, may start to second-guess their decision to homeschool. It’s a lot of work, and no one seems to be enjoying it. If this describes you, it could just be a matter of curriculum choice. The curriculum we choose can absolutely make or break our homeschooling experience. If you suspect that your curriculum may not be the best for your family, what can you do about it?
Tweak Your Homeschool Curriculum
Probably the easiest way to fix curriculum problems is to tweak the one you’re currently using. Regardless of your homeschool curriculum choices or homeschooling style, you can re-work the curriculum you’re using so it better suits your family dynamics. This is especially true in the case of a curriculum originally designed for classroom use. Even if you’ve purchased the “homeschool version” of a curriculum, if it was initially meant for the classroom, chances are good the only thing they’ve altered are the nouns (i.e. instead of “students” you’ll see “your child” or “student”).
You don’t need to remain faithful to the curriculum by doing every single thing mentioned for you to do in the teacher’s guide. Usually, that’s too much to do and you’ll find it overwhelming. (Frankly, even classroom teachers bypass much of the scripted portions of a lesson plan.) Skip those parts and just get to the meat of each lesson. Look over the objectives of the lesson and determine what the main goal is for each lesson. Then, skim through the guided lesson plans, paying attention to the parts you’re supposed to say (the script). If you feel it isn’t too much for one day, go for it! If it seems like “busy work” and a waste of your time, jump straight to the parts that will work for you and the sections that focus directly on the objectives.
By doing this, you’ll likely cut out a good chunk of the projected lesson time. It’s okay if the lesson is “supposed” to take 45 minutes but you find that you and your child are done in about 10 minutes! The beauty of working with just 1-2 children IS the fact that you can get a lot more accomplished in a much shorter period of time.
I found when homeschooling my six children at the same time, this was the only way that we could actually finish our lessons every day. I had to “get to the meat” of each day’s lesson. If the child was able to master it with no frills, great, if not – we would go back and learn it another way. ~ Jamie
Mix Up Your Homeschool Curriculum
There is no reason to choose one publisher for all subjects – unless that is what’s best for your family and that method seems to be working for you. In many cases, publishers excel in a certain niche subject. For instance, you may find that one publisher does a fantastic job at science and history but that same publisher isn’t the greatest when it comes to math or language arts. And by “greatest” we mean in terms of what works for your family. It may be time to select different publishers for different subjects. In many families, it works well to group all children together for science and history (as well as some electives) and to separate them for language arts and math. If what you’re doing isn’t working, try mixing it up to suit your family’s needs.
This option is listed last because it’s the most costly and is the one that requires the most change. That doesn’t mean it’s not an option; it just means it’s not the first suggestion we have for the reasons given. Since it’s already mid-year you might wonder if it’s too late to totally change your homeschool curriculum. The answer? No – it’s not too late. If the thought of losing all the money you spent on your curriculum makes you cringe, consider reselling it to recoup some of the money you spent. Whether you’re selling it online or in person at a garage sale, you should be able to get back at least a portion of what you’ve spent.
You don’t need to spend months planning (especially if you choose a homeschool curriculum that requires little to no preparation), even if you spent the entire summer planning for your current program(s). To make the transition smoother, you could start the first week doing just two subjects, perhaps one that you can do together as a family and one that will require separating the children. The following week, pick up two more, etc. until you’re doing all subjects each week.
Do you feel like you need a change already? If so, consider tweaking, mixing, or switching curriculum completely. It’s not too late (it never really is…) and doing so may just be the fix your homeschool needed!
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