What If My Curriculum Isn’t Working? Change It!
Just like most homeschool parents, before we started back to school, I worked hard researching curriculum, planning what is going to work best for each child, and making out a daily schedule in order to get the work done.
Well, we’ve been in the “school mode” for 8 weeks now and I’ve already changed some things. You see, this is normal for us. If something isn’t working, and I can find a better way, I’ll just change it. This can be difficult, though, sometimes.
We spend our hard-earned money on this curriculum that we feel like we would be wasting our money if we didn’t use it. We have to ask ourselves one question:
Why did you choose that curriculum?
The answer to that question will tell you a lot of information.
For example, if you bought the curriculum because a friend said that it worked so well for their child and that it would have to work for yours, that’s the wrong answer.
If your answer was that it was the level of work your child SHOULD be at, but isn’t, that’s the wrong answer.
If your answer was that you looked thoroughly through the material, made sure that it was the information that you wanted your child to learn, and really thought that it would work for your child, then that’s the right answer.
We won’t always get it right. The best thing that we can do is to try our best to choose the best curriculum and materials for our children and then be willing to change it, if necessary.
But, how do I know that I need to change it?
Do you and your child both dread the same subject each day?
Is your child trying their best, but still not able to comprehend the material?
Does it take your child FOREVER to complete a subject each day?
If you answered, “YES”, to any of those questions, you may want to change what you’re doing.
Does that mean that you just throw the entire thing out and start new? Possibly, but usually not.
Tweak what you are having your child do
For example, our oldest son had a difficult time with writing when he was younger. He struggled with forming the letters, his hand hurt after a few words, and he just generally disliked it altogether. Does that mean that I never made him write? NO! That just meant that I wasn’t going to let it effect every other subject. We did a lot of things orally. He, or I, would read the question and then he would answer it out loud instead of writing it down. Another way was to have him only write down half of the answers and say the others. This way, he was still learning the material, but not getting bogged down with all of the writing.
Make it Hands-On
Making a lesson "hands on" is simply getting them to move in order to learn. Children need to move and, most of the time, learn better by doing instead of just listening. Getting their whole body involved in the learning uses more of the learning styles than just one.
In our youngest son’s Science lesson last week, I was to read to him 3 pages of information on the hemispheres of the Earth as well as how the Earth tilts. Boring! Instead, we bought a pumpkin and headed over to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. With his grandparents’ help, he mapped out, with ribbon, the Equator and Prime Meridian which then showed him the hemispheres. We even added in the continents to really show him that this really was the Earth. Then we got out a flashlight to be the sun and Grandpa held up the Earth at a tilt. My son got to be the “sun” and so we were able to discuss how the sun shines on different parts of the Earth differently depending on the tilt of the earth.
Lessen the Work
Sometimes, while I’m planning for the week, I get overly ambitious and think that we can accomplish so much more than reality. That’s on me, not my children. As we are moving through the week, I keep an eye out for if the amount of work is too much or not. Sometimes, I think, the curriculum writers get overly ambition and just put too much work into each lesson. Why have your child complete 50 math problems if 25 will be enough. You’re the teacher and you can make the amount of work fit your child.
Take a Break
If you know that your child is able to accomplish the work, and the amount is right, have them take a break. Sometimes, just having a 5 minute breather, helps to put things in perspective and then they can get back to it after the break.
Get a Snack
I know I start running low on energy when I haven’t eaten in a while. Let your child go get a snack and then come back in a few minutes.
Watch a Video or Play a Game
Videos and games really put life into a dull curriculum. Adding in a video about what they just read about might just help bring the information to life. Games are another good way to just get your kids moving and getting their blood flowing. Some kids learn best through games.
Reassess the Curriculum
Curriculum companies try to make their material work for most children, not just for my child. All children learn differently. Sometimes your child is just not ready for that level of work. Hold on to it and use it when they’ve grown a little. Sometimes the work just isn’t right for your family. That’s okay.
Your goal in using curriculum is so that your child will learn. Curriculum is a tool to use and sometimes it’s the wrong tool.
If something isn’t working with your curriculum, change it! Be flexible!