Letting Go: When Your Curriculum Isn't Working



I think most every homeschooling mama has been there. You've found the perfect Science series for your daughters. It fits right in with your Classical education style, it goes along with the History period you're studying, it has experiments and diagrams and has a good emphasis on scientific vocabulary. Actually, this was my experience with my girls a few years ago. It was perfect...in theory....on paper.

I just knew it would be a winner, but it wasn't. The information was organized in a way that was different from how my children think; it didn't flow well for us. So because the information was disjointed, it effected my girls' learning. But, I was determined to make it work!

I highlighted key words, people, and phrases. I "sticky-noted" pages left and right. I gave further instructions on how to complete each assignment. I mean I tweaked and tweaked as much as I could because after all, I paid for it, right?

Wrong.

The more I tried, the worse it got for my daughters. One was just completely lost. Looking back on it, I know she tried, but she was overwhelmed with the number of tasks she had to do each Science class. The other began to see Science as a subject she didn't enjoy. Instead it was nothing more than a box to be checked off of a to-do list. So, she would complete assignments satisfactorily, but was unable to explain what she learned.

Frustrating for all involved. This happened during my early years of homeschooling and I was afraid to try something else in the middle of the school year. Even though it was clear to me that switching to a more suitable curriculum was what we needed, I froze. And we struggled our way through Science that entire year.

Reflecting on that time, here's what I learned:

It is wise to let go of the "perfect" curriculum if it isn't working for your family. I'm not talking jumping ship at the first sign of difficulty without trying again. I'm not suggesting that you don't give the curriculum due diligence. However, if you've done what you can to make adjustments and they aren't working, then changing your plans is best.

Struggling through a poor curriculum choice is a terrible learning experience. I could see the disinterest in my girls' eyes every single time we pulled the Science books out. This from girls who run outside with an insect encyclopedia to identify the butterflies in the back yard or who wait in great expectation for Ranger Rick magazines to come in the mail. I could no longer get them to engage, which meant little satisfaction in the learning process.

Make the necessary changes guilt-free. One of the best reasons for homeschooling is being able to tailor my children's education. Yes, I spent money on the curriculum. Yep, it should have worked great with my teaching method. But  I should never have felt bound by either of those things. I have access to flexibility and a ton of wiggle room in homeschooling that I can't be ashamed to use.

I'm learning to relax. Teaching from a state of anxiety and stress is not healthy, not for me or my family. The world wouldn't have exploded if I had taken a couple weeks off of Science to find a more suitable curriculum. There wouldn't have been a gaping hole in their learning had I switched to something else. In fact, my girls probably would have learned more if I'd given them that time to explore the backyard and research things on their own.

Here are two truths someone once told me that help me "keep calm and carry on" with homeschooling: 1) I have 18 years between birth and college to teach my kids what they need to know. 2) I can't teach my kids everything there is to know about everything. That perspective is freeing.

Hopefully my experience is helpful to you on what to do (or, what not to do) if you find yourself in a similar situation. If you've already faced something like this, how did you overcome it?


Also posted at Our Homeschool Forum.

2 comments:

  1. The last statement is truly freeing, and it is definitely the way I operate. I don't attempt to teach them everything, but I am hopefully teaching them how to find the information for the topic they may want to learn about in the future.

    We have set some curriculum aside because it just wasn't a fit. This year it was math. We recently started a new math curriculum because the new one I chose for this year just didn't fit.

    Thanks for sharing your story. :)

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    Replies
    1. Yes, we can place way too much on our shoulders as homeschool moms. The more I homeschool, the more I'm grateful for the flexibility.

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