It’s the end of another school year and it’s already time to plan for next year.
This is the time of year when I browse through curriculum catalogs and enjoy a homeschool convention (or two).
I’m not sure if there is anything more exciting than homeschool curriculum.
Wait! Let me take that back!
Books are my favorite. But curriculum comes in a close second.
I feel so studious and prepared when I have a giant stack of homeschool curriculum on my shelves. Our curriculum helps guide and shape our school year.
However, can curriculum ever become more important than learning?
Curriculum can take over. It can become the end in and of itself. It can become your master. And it can actually ruin your homeschool year.
Why does this happen?
I think the root cause is fear.
As homeschool moms, I think we can struggle with a lot of fears.
Let me list a few….
Fear that our child is not making progress
Fear that we are behind
Fear that we are failing to adequately teach our children
Fear that our children aren’t learning enough
Fear that our children will have huge learning gaps
I think these fears cause us to keep running to the latest and greatest curriculum. Soon, we forget our original goal of homeschooling – which was to help our kids learn and to teach them to love learning.
We find ourselves chasing a new goal – Finish the Curriculum!
Here are a few ways you can determine if you’re focused more on your curriculum than on learning:
- You feel like you must finish the curriculum at all costs
- You placed your child in a numbered grade level rather than assessing ability level and readiness
- Your child is struggling to learn but you feel tethered to a lesson plan
- You feel like you can’t go back and repeat lessons
- You are afraid to carry over a curriculum into the next school year
- You chose a curriculum because it seemed like the most popular option
- You compare your curriculum to what another homeschool mom is using and feel inadequate (or maybe even superior)
- You live and die by a daily work checklist that leaves no room for flexibility
- You are afraid to move through a curriculum more quickly even though your child has demonstrated mastery of a topic
- You have adopted a “get it done” mentality with your curriculum
So, what can you do if this describes you? Should you switch curriculum and find something else?
This doesn’t mean that the curriculum isn’t working in your homeschool. You just might need to use it more effectively.
If you feel like you’ve placed all your hope in your homeschool curriculum and you’re more focused on completion rather than learning, you need to change how you view curriculum.
Here’s what you can do….
Give yourself permission to start curriculum over from the beginning if your child has not mastered the content. I’ve done this more than once and have never regretted that decision.
Rather than plow straight through a program, you might need to back up a few (or 10 or 20) lessons to make sure your child has built a solid foundation. It’s ok to put the lesson plan aside and go back and do some lessons again and again if necessary.
What if you don’t finish your curriculum at the end of a school year? Should you put the book back on your shelf and get out the next level for the new year? No. Just pick up right where you left off and carry the program over into the next year. Or you can just keep going through the summer.
Take a Break
It’s perfectly ok to put curriculum aside for a month or two and work on something else. Take a short break and do some interest-led learning and come back to your curriculum later. Or maybe your child wasn’t quite ready for the concepts in that program – that’s another great reason to take a short break and work on something else before you try again.
Try Something New
Your curriculum might be working well but you just feel like you need something new. So add in something extra – put some fun in your homeschool. Try a unit study, find a fun logic book, or find some DVD’s to supplement your curriculum. You don’t have to use the programs exactly as written.
Remember, curriculum is just a tool. Make sure you use it well and that you adapt it to fit your children and your homeschool. Don’t let it ruin your homeschool.
The goal is never to complete a curriculum. The goal is to teach your kids how to learn and foster a love of learning.
Be sure to read all the posts in the How to Choose Curriculum Series
How Curriculum Can Ruin Your Homeschool