Have you allowed curriculum choices to sabotage your homeschool? Here’s how to know and regain control of what your kids are learning.
I’ve shared before about my experiences with the green-eyed curriculum monster and even confessed that I’m a recovering homeschool freebie hoarder.
I really do know what it’s like to research curricula that will solve problems I don’t even have and I know what it’s like to second guess what I’m using (and loving) because something new and supposedly fabulous has come along.
Here’s the problem with all of that.
When we make curriculum the end-all and be-all of our learning, we surrender control and allow it to run the show in our homeschool.
Don’t Let Your Curriculum Choices Sabotage Your Homeschool
It’s no good for anyone if your curriculum is running a show that requires more than you can give, makes your kiddo stressed or disinterested in learning, or simply doesn’t meet you where you are. It’s not only no good, it’s how your curricula can sneak in and sabotage your homeschool.
So what do you do about that? It starts by remembering that you don’t work for the curriculum. Instead, the curriculum works for you.
Should Never Be All or Nothing.
As a Type A and ISTJ personality, I understand the appeal of working through a teacher’s manual and covering the curriculum from beginning to end.
And if you’re like me, when you look for a curriculum, you’re looking for a fleshed-out learning plan you can use to teach your children. You actually want something to tell you what to do, at least to an extent.
Even so, you have the freedom to follow the curriculum from the first lesson to the last, but you also have the freedom to skip a lesson, chapter, or unit if it’s not working for your kids. Maybe the curriculum itself works well enough, but you can’t finish it by the time your homeschool year ends.
Either way, it’s okay to close the books, choose some topical supplemental resources in lieu of the skipped lessons, or simply end your year and cover those topics next time around.
Take away: Don’t let the curriculum sabotage your homeschool by forcing you to soldier through just for the sake of finishing or because there may be learning gaps if you don’t cover some pages. There will always be other opportunities and ways to learn. Take advantage of them.
A Homeschool Curriculum
Should Never Stifle Learning.
Forgive me for a moment if I sound a little idealistic, but it’s true. If your chosen curriculum doesn’t leave margin for interest-led learning, rabbit trails, curiosity, or whatever you prefer to call it, it will lead to homeschool sabotage.
In a nutshell, you really can be so consumed with “doing school” that you miss out on amazing learning opportunities that happen outside of the curriculum.
And keep in mind that it’s not enough to expect your kids to explore in their free time. Regardless of how interested they may be in a particular topic, if they’re bored to tears, exhausted by busywork, or overscheduled, it’s unlikely they’ll be motivated to learn “for fun.”
Also, if we’ve made it more about completing the assignments than nurturing curiosity and spurring our kids to learn more, we’ve missed the point of education.
Take Away: Don’t be afraid to push pause on the curriculum if there’s interest in the topic being covered at the time. These moments of exploration foster a love of learning in ways that lesson plans could never replicate.
A Curriculum Shouldn’t
Consume Your Schedule.
Does it feel like your entire day is eaten alive by the curriculum you’ve chosen? If so, that’s a problem.
You need time for breaks, read alouds, meaningful art experiences, meaty discussions, and all the other things that make homeschooling wonderful. If there’s no room for these things, your curriculum choices are in a position to sabotage your homeschool through your schedule.
Likewise, if your curriculum requires more preparation time than you can give, it’s not the one for you. There are way too many awesome open-and-go options — I’m looking at you, Study.com — to spend your days printing, cutting out, and planning for all the things if that’s not a good fit for you.
Take away: Homeschooling is always going to be somewhat time consuming, but the curriculum itself shouldn’t control your homeschool or your life. Again, it’s not the boss; you are.
You Are More Than
Your Curriculum Choices.
Just like separating the home from the contents it contains, our homeschools aren’t defined by the curricula we purchase each year. Instead, we’re defined by who we are as families and how our goals for learning shape us.
We can use our favorite resources and implement specific ideas as needed, but we are more than the stuff we use to teach our kids each day.
Curriculum options come and go, restructure and rebrand, and sometimes even (gasp) update in order to meet common core standards. For better or worse, any of these things could happen and spur you to look for something new.
In other words, allowing a particular curriculum selection to define your homeschool is a surefire way to set yourself up for an identity crisis. It’s also a guarantee for disruption, disappointment, and stress when — not if — something happens and you’re forced to look for something new.
Take away: The brands we use are part of our learning plans, but should never be the whole of our plans. We need to know how to survive and thrive if our tried and true favorite curriculum selections suddenly disappear.
In closing, if you need to say goodbye to a curriculum choice that’s sabotaging your homeschool days, take some time to evaluate what you need for your homeschool as you move forward.
And most importantly, embrace the freedom that comes with homeschooling. You get to decide what’s enough for you and your kids throughout each day and season; don’t surrender that control to anyone or anything… even an award-winning teacher’s manual sitting on your shelf.