When Should You Change Curriculum
I am constantly tweaking what we are doing and what materials we are using to try to make my kids’ education the best it can be for their personal and academic needs, but at what point should I stop tweaking, realize something isn’t working, and look for a replacement resource? Like, is there a checklist of things you’d suggest before ditching a curriculum? Like, do A, B, C and evaluate for X, Y, and Z, then if it’s still not working, you look for something new? Or do you just keep tweaking a little at a time forever?
Homeschooling: 2 years
Child’s Grade: Kindergarten (5yo), 2nd grade (7yo), and 5th grade (11yo)
What a great question! I am certain several readers are glad you asked this. It is one of the biggest conundrums for homeschooling parents. To help, I put together a checklist.
Is the resource not working for you, or is it not working for your child?
- If it is not working for you, why? Is it:
- too parent-intensive,
- requires too much prep work,
- or needs too many expensive or hard-to-find supplies?
- Is it lacking in teacher support, such as
- guidance for how to teach the material,
- guidance for how to evaluate work,
- or suggestions about how to schedule lessons?
- Or are you getting distracted by new resources people are talking about in homeschool groups?
If it is not working for your child, what’s not working?
- Does your child have the foundational skills needed to be successful with the level of material being presented? If not, do you need to back-up and front-load skills? Or use a lower level for the materials?
- Is your child being challenged by the material? Or are they bored reviewing skills and information they have already mastered? Some students dislike materials they view as too easy.
- Does the resource provide the depth and breadth needed to meet your child’s academic needs?
- Have you done a meaningful evaluation of your child’s growth and development while using this resource and evaluated your own expectations of what their growth should be?
- Is the material being presented in a way that fits how your child prefers to learn? (example: video, textbook, live online class, audiobook, workbook, self-paced online lessons, etc) Does the resource also provide opportunities to scaffold skills in non-preferred learning modalities? This can lead to a child not liking the materials as they work on a new learning skill.
- Is the subject or topic non-negotiable? If yes,
- Is it possible that it is not the materials but instead that your child is not particularly interested in the subject or topic?
- Is there a related topic, current event, or person of interest within the subject that would help spark their interest?
- Have you had a conversation with your child to ask how they feel about the resource and what support they think they need?
A note about tweaking materials.
Good academic materials are developed by people who understand the skills, procedures, and knowledge of what should be learned in a discipline. I know this is not always true, but generally, if you have taken the time to find secular, fact-based materials, it is a safe assumption. Before you tweak materials too much, ask yourself why something is included or incorporated into the materials. Is it knowledge or a skill that is needed to gain age-appropriate mastery of a subject? If you are not sure, reach out to the curriculum developer and ask them. If you think it is a necessary component for mastery and you do not want to use it as is in the materials, make sure you are including the skill or knowledge in some other way.
I hope this helps. If you have any follow-up questions, please reach out to me. If anyone has a tip I missed, please send it in, and we will publish it in the next issue of our magazine.
Much Love, Blair
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