Friday, July 5, 2013

Before You Throw out Your Curriculum....Read This!

It's that time of year.  Many of us are finishing things up and coming to an end of one level and looking forward to the new and what we'll be doing again in the fall.  This is the time where you'll find lots of blog posts about the 'new and improved' homeschooling curriculum and resources.  If you're really 'in the loop' on homeschooling things, you've probably already been receiving ads via email and mail from publishers about the new, colorful, better-than-before resources that you just 'have to have' to make it through your next school year.

I'm heading to a couple homeschool conferences and expos and know from past experiences that everything there is going to look beautiful and necessary!  Reps and consultants will be on hand to explain all the reasons why what they're offering is so much better than what someone else is offering and why I must have it in my homeschool this year.

Well, change can be good.  New things are, indeed, nice.  We all get excited about new books and such.  You may even find something that may be a better match for your family.  However, before you simply throw out everything you've already invested in, take a look at these tips to help you evaluate just what you need and what you may not.

Before throwing your curriculum out:

1. Look at your reasons for why you're considering getting rid of it.  Are your children complaining about it?  Are you having to 'fight' with them to get them to do the work?  Is this something specific to a subject/topic or does this show up across the board/every subject?  Are all your children experiencing it this way?

The answers to these questions can help guide you in figuring out whether this is simply a negative attitude, in general, towards the use of this resource or if there is something else causing the frustration.  Perhaps you're not using it as it was intended.  Perhaps you're being too rigid in your use of it.  Perhaps it simply doesn't match up with your family's philosophy and style of homeschooling (i.e. the curriculum requires heavy reliance on textbooks).

2.  Take some time (a week or two) to evaluate how it's been working for you and your children this year.  Is it too rigid for your family?  Does it require extensive prep on your part?  Does it match up well with your children's learning styles?  Are you having to suppliment more than what you would consider reasonable?

These questions are closely related to those in number 1 but go a bit further to uncover the practical uses of the curriculum.  Investing in a curriculum where you are still doing a lot of the researching and supplementing may not be the best thing for your family.  Are there parts of the curriculum that you aren't using?  Would using those additions make the difference in finding success with it? Sometimes we don't go with an entire curriculum thinking that we can make up the difference and find other things that will work just fine.  (I know I'm good for this one.)  But at the end of the day, are you investing too much of your time in search of these 'other items' that it's becoming too much?  Would purchasing those additional parts make using it more useful?

3. Can you re-purpose what you're already using to make it work without having to throw out the entire thing?  Perhaps you like how things are set up and could use the outline to add to it with other resources you already have on hand.  Perhaps what isn't working for one child will work for another, so keeping it around to try again may be beneficial.

As you can see, evaluation is necessary throughout your journey of homeschooling.  Being able to determine the purposes and uses of the curriculum you choose helps you to easily access it's continued usefulness and benefits.  You can keep yourself from getting rid of things that are still useful and at the same time let go of everything that isn't.

Try going through these questions this time around and see if you're able to make better choices for your family.  You may find that there is no need to throw out everything.  On the other hand, should you decide to go with something new, it won't be because you didn't take a thorough look at why you need something else.

How do you make decisions about changing curricula?  What questions have you asked yourself?  I'd love to hear from you.  Comment below!

Happy Homeschooling!

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