When homeschooling gets tough, our first instinct is to change curriculum, but that might not be the best answer.
Homeschool moms don’t seem very content, do they?
We are constantly changing things, buying things, and begging approval from others. I wonder if somewhere, deep down, we homeschool moms believe that if we keep trying, we will eventually find the one curriculum and/or method that will solve all our problems and carry us through to the end of our homeschooling days.
Today, I want to address the reasons we think we need to change curriculum and offer some insight I pray you will find valuable.
To read the entire Homeschool Information Overload series, START HERE.
I have mentioned before the many reasons homeschooling stresses us out. When we get stressed out by homeschooling, our initial reaction is to change curriculum. “That’ll fix it!” we tell ourselves. Unfortunately, we often spend a lot of time “beating the air.” (1 Cor 9:26).
Bad Reasons to Switch Homeschool Curriculum
So, let’s start this post off with some bad, or “beating the air” reasons to change curriculum, starting with…
#1 – It will solve all my homeschooling woes. Curriculum is inanimate. It can’t do anything alone. You are the one who chooses how a curriculum operates, so the answer to your trouble will not be found simply by buying or borrowing another curriculum.
(There is a flip side to this, but we’ll talk about that in a moment.)
#2 – Susie Homeschool Mom uses XYZ Curriculum and she looks like she has it all together. I used to believe that some homeschool moms had “arrived.” I was certain there would be a time when I wouldn’t question any of my decisions and every inch of my life would be in order.
I believed this because when I looked at other homeschool moms, I thought I saw this kind of perfection. I thought if I used the same curriculum and put together the same schedule I would get the same results. What I didn’t realize was that my view of these moms was one sided — the polished, we-are-in-public side.
Changing curriculum because a mom you look up to uses it is NOT a good reason. Not only do you not have a full picture of her real life, you don’t have a full picture of how she uses the curriculum. Beware of assumptions based on what you see from the outside.
#3 – You are burned out. Granted, sometimes we need a fresh perspective, but as I said in #1, you are the one who operates the curriculum. You are the one who uses it to teach. Changing curriculum may light a fire under you for a time, but your curriculum is not the real reason you are burned out.
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#4 – Your curriculum isn’t “Christian enough”. Again, there is a flip side to this that we’ll talk about in a bit, but as Israel Wayne puts it, “2 loaves plus 5 fishes does not equal a Christian worldview education.”
(Homeschooling from a Biblical Worldview by Israel Wayne)
I spent many years searching for the perfect curriculum, only to realize NOTHING fit the bill. The best way to make your curriculum Christian enough is to study your own Bible and teach whatever curriculum you happen to own from YOUR worldview. We have to be Bereans and not rely on a curriculum to handle the entire job.
Here’s a great read to help focus our own worldview:
(Assumptions that Affect Our Lives by Christian Overman)
Good Reasons to Switch Homeschool Curriculum
Now, let’s talk about good reasons to change curriculum…
#1 – Sometimes our homeschooling woes are due to our choice in curriculum. Sometimes a curriculum doesn’t click with a family. Usually, you can tweak just about any curriculum to fit your family’s needs, but there are cases when the curriculum just isn’t right.
There are a couple of things you should take into account when deciding if you need to change curriculum based on your “homeschooling woes”:
A. Every morning, you wake up dreading using the curriculum. This isn’t the same as dreading the school day or being burned out, and it isn’t the same as your CHILD dreading the curriculum. This is actual dislike of the curriculum itself. Perhaps, there is too much busy work or the curriculum isn’t theologically sound or it isn’t in line with your family’s priorities.
B. Your child is not “getting it.” You need to give this one time, but there is a chance the curriculum you are using doesn’t teach certain concepts in a way that makes sense to your child and you need to try something else rather than continue on. But again, give the curriculum time before deciding to change based on this factor. It may just be your child needs a little more exposure to the concepts to understand them. If you change curriculum every time your child comes to a difficult section, you will not get very far. It is important to teach our children to persevere through difficulty.
#2 – We need to match our curriculum to our season of life. Suppose your family has the opportunity to travel the country in a RV all year. Lugging 10 textbooks per child around, or needing to connect to the internet every day may not be the right curriculum choice for you in that season.
#3 – The curriculum does not match your family’s goals and priorities. If you have taken serious, prayerful time to work through your family’s goals and priorities, and a curriculum you are using does not point in the same direction, then you might consider changing. An example of this would be if you feel the Lord is grooming your family toward the foreign mission field, and you decide your children need some focused attention on the heart of missions, as well as gearing up for being away from a traditional study environment for a year or more. Something like this could warrant changing your curriculum approach.
#4 – The curriculum you are using is leading you away from Christ. As I said earlier, this isn’t about a curriculum being “Christian enough.” This is much deeper and much more dangerous. If you are using a curriculum that is not theologically sound, or is such a distraction that you have a difficult time staying focused on Christ, then changing curriculum is in order. An example of this is if a curriculum is so intense with extras that you rarely have time to allow your children to meditate and study God’s Word and live that Word out as a family. If this is the case, changing curriculum to allow for more margin in your day is a good thing.
I could give you bullet point after bullet point, but what this entire post boils down to is
Don’t change curriculum willy-nilly.
Changing curriculum should be done prayerfully, void of fear and guilt. Feel free to take into consideration what other homeschool moms use and like, but don’t be dependent on that information. Never look to a curriculum as your “savior”, and never ask a curriculum to be your child’s moral and theological compass.
Need help tweaking a curriculum to make it work for your family? Check out my ebooklet!
To read the entire Homeschool Information Overload series, START HERE.
Originally published in February of 2015. Updated in March of 2022.