It’s Not the Curriculum

By Jenn Dana
This is our sixth year as a homeschooling family. We made the decision to homeschool when our son was 3-years-old. We did not take the decision lightly, and we put a lot of research and prayer into making the choice.
The first time I went to a curriculum fair, I was so overwhelmed I wasn’t sure what to choose. I ended up picking a curriculum that I like based on the very colorful pictures in their workbooks and the good reputation they had. It did the job that first year for kindergarten, but by the end of the year I wanted to pull my hair out from the stress it caused.

Our second year of homeschooling was a complete and total switch up in everything. I went with another packaged curriculum as my base for schooling and supplemented with an English and math curriculum. We did this curriculum for two years until I decided it wasn’t working either. So, back to the computer I went to look for another curriculum for my son.

Third grade started with a new curriculum and a new determination to make it work. We also decided to move, build a house, and my mother-in-law passed away from cancer during this school year. Needless to say, there was not much schooling going on during this time.
Why am I telling you all this?

I am telling you my story about trying to find the perfect curriculum because there isn’t one. It turns out that the problem I had with all my curriculum choices was me. You see, I have a habit of not following through on things. I also have a tendency to want to quit when things get hard.
Doing a self-evaluation is hard. I believe when you get to the point in your life that you can honestly look at a problem, and realize that you are the cause of it, you mature and are able to change. I was the problem. I wanted the curriculum to basically teach without my involvement. I was lazy, distracted, and not putting school work as a priority. I rarely read his lessons ahead of time, and I just kind of winged it.

I think it finally hit me when we were on our fourth math curriculum. We went through four math curriculums in four years. I wanted my son to just learn math without me really teaching him. I was very upset when realizing how far he was falling behind for his grade level. The day I came to the conclusion that I was the problem was the turning point for us. I wasn’t taking the time that I needed to help him with his math. I wasn’t taking the time—period—to help him in the subjects he struggled with. I really thought if I found the perfect curriculum that he would just get it, but he didn’t. He needed extra help and I finally started giving it to him along with his father (who is good with math). This year we have seen much improvement with his math skills. He is on the level he should be for his age and so far he is not struggling with it this year.

This is my point—sometimes it’s the curriculum and sometimes it’s not. Perhaps the way the curriculum is taught is not compatible with your child. If he is really struggling with it maybe it’s time for a change. But, if you’re like me, and you find yourself on the fourth math curriculum in as many years, perhaps it’s time for some self-evaluation. Homeschooling is not easy and I completely understand that.
Nothing worth doing is ever easy.

Take the time to ask yourself if you are responsible for any of the struggle your child is having?
Are you consistent? Do you have a routine? Do you take the time to cover the material before you try to teach it?
You cannot expect your children to learn when you are not putting in the effort to teach them what they need to learn.
Jenn Dana lives in Kentucky with her husband of fourteen years and their 9-year-old son. She spends her time homeschooling, baking, and managing their household.

1 thought on “It’s Not the Curriculum”

  1. Hi Jenn,
    I appreciate your honesty. I’ve homeschooled for over two years now and find I tend to start out with a bang and then fizzle out by second semester. I tend to let my kids’ moods (heck, even my own!) dictate how much work we do in a day.
    I am with you, a little self-evaluating can go a long way toward solving issues. You would think it’d be obvious that we would be the source of any struggle because, well, there just isn’t anyone else to blame, lol! However, as homeschooling parents, we take on this journey (many of us do, anyway) to prevent the problems we see in public or private educational settings; so, while we are indeed avoiding certain issues, there is much more room for us to create a whole new set of ’em if we aren’t too careful. Being honest with ourselves is a HUGE deal. Thank you so much for your article!

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