20 Best Tips

When Curriculum Isn’t Working

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This post was originally published in 2011, but even after six years is one I refer back to when something isn’t clicking in our homeschool year. 

Each year we begin our school year with big intentions, excitement about the curriculum that we have in store for the year, but sometimes that excitement takes a big ol’ nosedive when something that we’re using results in frustration and tears {sometimes for the teacher as well as for the kids}.

When curriculum isn't working - www.homeschoolcreations.net

Even bigger of a frustration is when you have put quite a bit of money into a curriculum. Somehow that seems to magnify the ‘what to do?’ questions that go around in my mind.

How Do You Handle it When Curriculum Isn’t Working?

I asked you all that question on Facebook and the results were mixed:

  • Press on ~ keep working if there is a way to salvage it. Especially if it’s a component that was more expensive.
  • Put it aside ~ maybe it will work down the line with a future child or at another time
  • Move on and sell it if you can!

Out of the above, we’ve tried all three…and the last two have been effective for us ~ the first one didn’t have great results {grins}. It boiled down to me asking a few questions about the curriculum to see how it should be handled:

  1. Are we just bored with this? Could it work in a few years?
  2. Is it a readiness issue? (i.e. are you trying to use something that your child isn’t ready for yet either academically or in another way?)
  3. Is the curriculum problem just with me or the kids as well? {i.e. does it just not ‘click’ with my teaching style/format? or the way my children learn?}
  4. Is this inhibiting our children’s learning and making learning not fun?
  5. Are you using the product the way it was intended? (cough – did you read the teacher’s manual and follow their instruction? or have you tried to tweak it from the start?)

This year, we had a two things that just weren’t clicking and working. Mid-October we realized there were two programs we were using, one with the boys (history) and another with McKenna (biology) that weren’t working as we had hoped. The boys were the ones who asked us about changing our history program back to one we had used in years past, and together McKenna and her friend taking biology together helped us as we sorted through biology programs. We had previously used the biology program with Laurianna and while it is a solid program, reason 2 above was the issue – and with a high school class, we really wanted to make sure we are getting all the learning in that we can! While it did mean pulling an older curriculum off the shelf for history and investing some money into a new biology curriculum for our high school daughter, it was something we felt we needed to do.

Could we have kept pushing on with both? Most likely. Would it have caused more frustration? Yes. Would that have made learning together something enjoyable? No.

Ultimately, that’s what closed the book on that particular subject for us. Above all, my goal is to make learning something that is fun and enjoyable for our kids {and myself}. If I have a kiddo that is frustrated, pressured, and close to tears because of something that we’re using, I would much rather put it aside and find something else to replace it.

I also happen to know myself and my personality. Once frustrated {or having seen a child frustrated} it ends up souring my view of the curriculum…and truthfully, I don’t want to keep at it or try it in the future. I’m also not one that likes to accumulate things that we won’t likely use again, so I want it off my shelves and out the door.

The curriculum we put aside will be resold and we will put the sale money toward the curriculum we have purchased. I am so thankful that we have a HUGE variety of things to choose from, even though those choices can sometimes be overwhelming, and that we all have different teaching and learning styles!! It’s always a reminder to me that our kids are each different in their learning styles – and that’s okay!

That said, please know that we are ALL different. What works for one person may not work for another. What I choose to do or how I handle something may not be the way you choose to handle it.

What are your thoughts on the issue? How have you handled the need to change out curriculum when it isn’t working?


Homeschool Basics

This post is a part of the Homeschool Basics series. Be sure to read the other posts if you are just joining in. For the record, I am not an expert. I’m a homeschool mom who is sharing what she’s learned so far along the way with her own family.


This post may contain affiliate or advertiser links. Read my full disclosure policy .

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  1. Amen! Thank you for reminding us we have FREEDOM to change mid stream if we need to! We recently did this with the writing curriculum we were using. Mom hated it, kids hated it. It was not only not fun anymore but a lot of work so combine the two and we all hated it. Changed to a new curriculum and while it’s too early to say we LOVE it we definitely like it more than the old one :)

    • We had that happen several years ago (back in 2011) with a grammar and writing program as well. Stopping was hard because I’m a “see it through” girl, but oh the difference it made!!!

  2. Lisa,

    I think I may need to do a FB Live video next week sometime and also write a post about it, eh? :)


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