Welcome to the first day of the Schoolhouse Review Crew Back to School Blog hop! I hope you will join all of us this week as we share tips, ideas, and things we’ve learned about homeschooling. Today we are discussing one of my favorite topics, curriculum.
Ah curriculum, it can be a source of great joy or a lot of stress for your homeschool. Over the years, I have had a ton of curriculum ups and downs, but I think I’ve finally gotten a handle on how to find the right stuff. Here are a few lessons I’ve learned about curriculum on my journey:
- You probably need less curriculum than you think you do: My first few year of homeschooling I made the mistake of spending hours searching for the best deals on so many things I really didn’t need. Seriously, if there were a curriculum-holics anonymous out there, I could be the president! There was just so much fun stuff out there and I wanted to do it ALL. My mistake was thinking I could. My kids and I both just ended up overwhelmed and frustrated. Now I have learned to keep things simple. Instead of spending hours online looking at curriculum (which makes it easy to get carried away), I start by setting my goals for the year, then I search for specific curriculum that will help me meet those goals. This prevents me from getting off track and getting a ton of unnecessary stuff. It also makes our homeschool days run much better.
2. You Don’t Need to Keep Everything You Buy: For a long time I lived under the delusion that I simply could not part with any curriculum I ever got. A lot of stuff was useful for multiple ages, and I told myself I would reuse it with my younger kid, or maybe get to it the next year. But here’s the thing, what I ended up with was piles of curriculum everywhere (much to my husband’s chagrin..he said it was like living in a bookstore), and most of the time, by the time my youngest was old enough to use it, it either didn’t work for him or I decided to go in a different direction. Now I am very selective about what I keep from year to year. I try to resell a lot of my stuff, and then donate what I can’t to our homeschool group library. I put the money I earn towards the next year’s stuff. While I still find it difficult to let go of some things, I tell myself that if necessary, I can always find it again, perhaps used, if I need it.
3. Every Curriculum Will Not Work for Every Child: It is not uncommon for homeschool families to pass curriculum down from one child to the next, which is a great option. It saves you money and makes planning easy. However, one thing I have learned about my children is that they do not learn in the same way. Just because one curriculum was wonderful for my older son does not mean it will work the same way with my youngest. And you can’t force it, at least not without a lot of frustration. Again, I have my curriculum favorites, and I hate not being able to use them, but I have come to realize that it’s more important to find something that works for my child, even if that means passing up an old favorite to try something completely new.
4. Curriculum is a guide, not the heart and soul of your homeschool: At first, I have to admit, I was a slave to the curriculum. Checking off boxes, sticking to the schedule, making sure to get everything done, no matter how worn out we were or how glazed over my kids eyes were. Thankfully, I’ve learned to relax over the years. I understand that curriculum is a tool and I should use it as such. Now I base our days on what we need to accomplish to meet our weekly goals. I also know that its okay to take a break if we’re having a rough day. We can always catch up the next week.
5. It’s perfectly okay to not finish an entire curriculum in one year: To be honest, this is something I should have already known. As a middle-school teacher, I can tell you for a fact that public school students do not finish their entire curriculum in any class every year. Teachers plan based on standards/goals/etc. and focus on the most important things to teach. But for some reason, I felt like as a homeschool mom I needed to do better. I would push and push, and make myself completely anxious over not getting to the end of the book. You know what? I just graduated my oldest, and he was enrolled in classes at our local community college the last two years of high school, and he was just fine. Don’t make yourself crazy trying to get everything done. Relax, focus on the parts you feel are most important, and don’t worry too much about the rest. By the time you’re graduating their kids, they will have what they need.
6. Different seasons require different approaches: Normally I love to use literature-based, hands-on curriculum. It’s a lot of fun and gets my kids interested in what we’re doing. However, there have been years when life has just been, messy. In those instances, I’ve had to turn to online or textbook-based stuff, just because I didn’t have as much time as I would’ve liked to devote to projects and stuff. At first, this really bothered me. I felt like I wasn’t giving my kids enough, and that they would miss out on things. This usually just added to the stress I was already feeling due to our situation. But here’s the thing I learned about that, homeschool is about real life. And real life is messy. If you are in a busy, or particularly stressful, season, don’t feel bad about turning the teaching over to someone else. Find an online or computer curriculum that works, and go with it. You can get back to the other stuff when life calms down.
There are so many things I’ve learned on this journey as a homeschool mom and I’m looking forward to sharing more of them during this week’s blog hop. Tomorrow we will be talking about planning. Make sure you stop by, and see what my fellow crew members had to share about curriculum here: