When the Curriculum Isn’t Working

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We’ve all been there.  One of your favorite homeschool publishers releases a new curriculum series and you’ve got to have it. It’s so glossy and gorgeous.  Besides, all of the great reviews it got can’t go unnoticed. And — for a limited time only — it’s on sale! I mean, it’s now or never, right? You enter that coupon code and confirm your order and wait impatiently for it to arrive.

You practically skip to the mailbox because you know it’s waiting for you. Don’t worry, we won’t talk about how you know every city it stopped in and when due to your tracking obsession. You open that beautiful package, flip through, and think of all the joy it’s going to bring to your homeschool. You ambitiously start planning and anxiously await the day it makes its first appearance in your homeschool schedule.

What to do when the Homeschool Curriculum Isn't Working

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Now you’re a few weeks into it (maybe months, who knows at this point?), and it’s just not working for you, your child, or maybe both.

It was supposed to be exactly what’s been missing from your homeschool, but, ohmygosh, it’s just not a good match.  Now what?

10 Things to Do When
the Curriculum Isn’t Working

1. Talk to Your Child – Ask him what he likes or dislikes about it and go from there. There have been times when I knew the issues without asking, but there have been times when my son’s input was incredibly valuable. Unless you have that conversation, you may not know how to move forward.

2.  Take a Break – It’s okay to put that curriculum on the shelf for a week, month, or even longer and come back to it with fresh eyes. We had to do that with biology last year and we still haven’t pulled it back out. Instead, we opted to move into a difference science focus for the year. We’ll pick up biology again, hopefully in the upcoming year, and I’m not going to lose sleep in the meantime because my nine year-old can’t label the parts of an animal cell right now.

3.  Ask for Help – This one should be the most obvious, but I’m pretty bad about overlooking it. I can assure you that you aren’t the only one with a child struggling with fraction conversions, personal possessive pronouns, or whatever else may be bringing tears to your eyes.

Talk to the other parents at your homeschool co-op, post about it in a homeschool group on Facebook, or ask around in your other circles. It’s highly unlikely that someone out there won’t be able to provide you with great suggestions.

What to do when the curriculum isn't working - ask for help!

4.  Supplement – Supplementing is a lifesaver for me when the curriculum isn’t working!  A quick visit to CurrClick is usually all I need in the way of supplementing.  In fact, we’re currently supplementing with a Periodic Table Unit that I found on CurrClick because our chosen curriculum isn’t clicking with The Boy.

>> Need help with supplementing? Don’t miss
this list of my favorite supplemental resources <<<

5.  Change Your Approach – It’s taken time, but we’ve finally become comfortable labeling ourselves as eclectic homeschoolers.  We became eclectic homeschoolers because there was no one size fits all method for our homeschool subject needs.

When a traditional textbook approach wasn’t working for language arts, we made the move to classical. When that didn’t work, we transitioned to Charlotte Mason and have settled there very nicely.  We’ve been through this process with every subject and have ended up using different methods across the board.

The curriculum may not be working because your child could be like my son: classical in a couple of subjects, Charlotte Mason in most, and even a little traditional in others.  You don’t have to lock in to one method and stick with it for everything.

When the curriculum isn't working - change your homeschool method!

6.  Netflix it – Isn’t it amazing how a documentary or some selected episodes from series can drive home a point that’s not sinking in? Sometimes a different presentation of the information is all it takes to get you through a tough spot. Streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video give you access to limitless educational viewing choices and are a great way to cover specific topics or reinforce learning when the curriculum isn’t working.

7.  Visit Your Library – Sometimes a simple trip to the library is enough to help you along when your child is struggling with specific concepts. Extra reading — fiction and nonfiction — can be helpful in helping your child grasp that very thing that just isn’t clicking.

8.  Get Pinning – Some focused time on Pinterest might be all you need to regain your momentum when the you’re having curriculum trouble.  Just by searching, you can easily find supplemental ideas, games, activities, and even posts from other homeschool parents who’ve been there, done that, and lived to write about it. Sure, you’ll have to do some reading and will most likely come across a few dead ends, but Pinterest could also be what saves the day for you!

What to do when the curriculum isn't working - there's no shame in outsourcing classes!

9.  Outsource It – An online class is a great option when the curriculum isn’t working, especially if you’re having more trouble with it than your child. There’s no shame  in outsourcing it and letting someone else do the heavy lifting for you!

10.  Let It Go – Sell it or give it away.  It’s okay, I promise.  There was a time when I looked at this as defeat, but now I just call it recouping my losses!  Every curriculum choice isn’t right for every child and that’s okay.  You’ll never know until you try it out, though.

If you enjoyed this post, you don’t want to miss these:

What to Do When the Curriculum Isn't Working

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5 thoughts on “When the Curriculum Isn’t Working

  1. Excellent advice, Emily! I think all moms who have been homeschooling for any length of time have experienced this frustration. We have also become eclectic homeschoolers and it has made such a difference for us. I’ve also found that I need to use different approaches for each of my boys. One of them is a huge reader and learns best when he gets information out of a book. The other one needs more visual and hands-on learning. It just takes time for us to study our kids so that we can discover what will work best for each of them.

  2. Such sound advice, Emily! As homeschoolers, we don’t have to be tied to one curriculum if it isn’t a good fit for our children. At the beginning of our homeschooling years, we enrolled our children in a homeschool program but have slowly transitioned to an eclectic approach, as Michelle wrote above. Since we have learned to “let it go” and focus on what works best for our family, we have grown leaps and bounds. Thanks for sharing!

  3. This is such excellent advice Emily! It can be disappointing when that new curriculum doesn’t work out but there are so many options which is great.
    I really love this line and totally agree – “You don’t have to lock in to one method and stick with it for everything.” It’s been really interesting for me personally to see the methods that have worked best for my children – and it certainly can be different for different subjects!

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