Monday, August 8, 2016

Help! My Homeschool Curriculum Isn't Working!

Hello, my friends. Welcome to the Schoolhouse Review Crew 5 Days of Homeschool 101 Blog Hop. Today the topic is Curriculum. 

So the curriculum that you’ve heard everybody rave about (including me) finally comes in the mail. You carefully plan out daily lessons….You can’t wait until your kiddos start the work.  You just know it is going to be THE ANSWER.

It’s now weeks later. You have reached your limit. IT ISN”T WORKING! What happened to the promises of engaging lessons, thriving students and a satisfied momma? You can’t even believe you let a handful of eager reviewers (including me) talk you into spending money on something that isn’t right for your kids.

Before you start sending me carefully worded emails (aka nasty notes), I want to let you in on a little secret that most veteran homeschoolers are aware of and practice on a regular basis.

We understand that every child learns differently. We also know that even the best curriculum will need adapting to fit the needs of our students and our family. 

Many moons ago, I taught a workshop to a group of Sunday School teachers on “How to make your Sunday School Curriculum work for you.”  I gave them a list of things they could do to enhance their lessons. I realize now that some of those precious teachers didn’t necessarily want to hear how to change things up…they wanted a magic solution that would suddenly bring their lessons to life.

Most of tips I am about to give you will require some effort on your part.  But you got this. You have made the brave decision to educate your children. You know them best. You can use that beautiful curriculum as a guide to help you turn your school day into a triumph.

1.       Know your child’s learning style.  Not every curriculum is a great fit for every learning style. But here is the good news. You can adapt any curriculum to meet your child’s needs.  There are several good online tests to help you determine learning styles. The Vark Questionnaire For Younger People is one. Here is another one from Education Planner.

2.       Does it seem a little dry for your energetic learners? Consider adding a project, experiments or other hands-on activities to your lessons. You don’t have to make every day a party…but adding a project or two will make things seem brighter.

3.       Some curriculums seem repetitive. This is where you can use your judgement. Does the math book contain too many problems for your child to finish without feeling overwhelmed? Assign fewer problems. You can ascertain fairly quickly if the subject has been mastered.

4.        Adjust the schedule. My son struggles with math. I can generally tell right away if this is going to be a particularly difficult subject.  We might spend the majority of our math class using the white board and working out the problems in the book together. I then assign him very few to do on his own initially.  Sometimes this takes longer than the curriculum suggests. Don’t be afraid to drag out a lesson. You goal is for your child to learn…not to get through the book.  If you have a wiggle worm, maybe you need to adjust the length of the lesson AND assignments. Don’t beat it to death.

5.       When you feel that curriculum doesn’t provide enough material or practice it is easy enough to stretch it out. You can find plenty of worksheets or books to add to your subject. 

6.       My son is dyslexic.  If I chose curriculum for him based on his reading level we would never get anywhere. A good portion of the time, I read aloud his science and history reading. Sometimes we take turns. I adore audio books, so those are a mainstay in our homeschool. Another trick I like to practice is to check out books from the library that coordinate with our lesson. By giving him high interest, low level reading material on that subject he can connect more with the material.

7.       If you child struggles with a lot of writing, consider giving assignments orally. I had a kiddo in my 1st grade class that had been held back because he struggled with writing. I found that the boy had a brilliant memory and I started getting giving him quizzes and tests orally. It made a big difference in his grades and self-esteem. We tackled his writing issues as a different issue completely.

8.       Consider “modeling’ an assignment or project. My son does better if he can see how something is supposed to look. I often will complete a notebooking page right alongside him.  It takes a bit more work, but the results are much more satisfying.

9.       If you have children of different ages and learning styles using the same curriculum, there are ways you can adapt it for everyone. Let’s say the lesson in your history book is on the Panama Canal. Your hands-on learner will thrive with a lapbook project or building project (a model would be cool!) Your visual learner will enjoy watching a documentary or checking out a book at the library that contains a visual history of the time period. Search online for a podcast or lecture about the subject for your auditory learner. Auditory learners also enjoy music. You might find music for the time period. Those simple add-ons will make a world of difference!

10.   Don’t feel like you have to use every page of the book. Really! In fact, a favorite hack of mine over the years has been to take a textbook I’ve found at The Thrift Store and simply use it as a guide. If that is the only curriculum you can get you can make it your own!  Turn chapter questions into discussions. Use lapbooks and notebooking pages as your workbooks.  Pinterest is a great place to find all manner of ideas and printables.

You are the master! Make your curriculum work for you. Don’t be intimidated to change things up.

You can find more posts about curriculum below! 

5 Days of Homeschool 101


  1. Fantastic tips and yes, you have to put some work into making the curriculum what you need. There is no magic box that you can open and it be a perfect fit. These ideas, though? Perfectly do-able and I love the way you phrased it all. - Lori

  2. Yes! This is one of my "mistakes" that I talk about making in my blog for curriculum this week!

  3. These are really good! It's so important to be able to stop and make changes when something isn't working.


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