Out with the Old, In with the New: Don’t Marry Your Curriculum…

When I started homeschooling Sam in the fall of 2007, I felt like I had done my research and was sure in my decisions. Not only was I convinced that I’d chosen the right curriculum/program for us, I was also convinced that it would the thing we’d be sticking with for the long haul… I was ready to marry it!

After all, that’s what my Mom did! We’d used the A Beka Video Home School {now called A Beka Virtual Homeschoolcurriculum… it worked great for me and my sister… and we stuck with it through graduation.

{Yes… that’s me! Doing my school work in about 10th grade…}


It didn’t take long for me to realize that my children are not me.

And I am not my mother. {Much to my chagrin…}

I’d chosen BJU’s Hard Drive Distance Learning program {new that year & the videos were, in my mind, more “appealing,” production value-wise than the A Beka video lessons} and even though Sammi {who was my only student at the time} loved her educational DVD’s and her fun preschool workbooks… within a couple of months, she was bored with the repetitiveness of the video lessons, some of which seemed to progress too quickly for her, and the worksheets just seemed a tad overbearing for Kindergarten.

We worked through that year as best we could… afterall, I’d shelled out somewhere in the neighborhood of $600 for all those books & lessons! But in the end, we were both exasperated and I didn’t feel like Sam had really moved through Kindergarten gaining as many skills as I would’ve hoped. {Of course, now we know that she may have been struggling all along with visual processing deficiencies…}

So feeling like an utter failure with what I perceived to be the “easiest possible curriculum” for homeschooling, I was frustrated and fearful. Wasn’t I just supposed to open the boxes and go??? Wouldn’t I be starting all over if I turned away from BJU Press and looked at anything else??? In fact, I was so discouraged that it was just a coupla weeks before we were due to start things up for her 1st grade year that I even began putting things together!

Fortunately, a dear friend had just mentioned AmblesideOnline to me, so with relative ease, I pulled together the things we needed according to their site and got underway with Sam’s 1st grade year. She did remarkably well with the {what I considered} laid back approach to the various subjects and since she’d always love listening to me read to her, this was natural fit for us. This was also my introduction to Charlotte Mason.

With our 1st grade year behind us and now working on devouring everything I read about and 
by Charlotte Mason, I attended an all day workshop with Sonya Shafer of Simply Charlotte Mason. Sonya’s passion for sharing Charlotte Mason’s educational philosophies and techniques made me fall in love with homeschooling all over again! But I was still leery of sinking more money into any curriculum “package,” after having been burned with our first go ’round on that account. So we stuck with Ambleside {did I mention it’s free?} and supplemented with A Beka’s reading program, as Sam was still continuing to struggle in that area.

As that 2nd grade year came to a close, I made the trip to my first ever homeschool convention… where I was introduced to My Father’s World. I got to speak with some amazing parent/representatives who’d used and loved MFW. It seemed almost too good to be true: A Charlotte Mason principled curriculum, all put together, mapped out and ready to go. I did have some anxiety about this whole idea of purchasing a “box curriculum” but I still  bought the entire MFW Adventures set that day. I also bought the MFW Kindergarten set, because despite all my fears, I was about to broaden my journey… homeschooling TWO children!?!

My Father’s World has a wonderful following and an amazing amount of support to be found in the way of Yahoo! groups, Facebook groups, and on the MFW Message Board. We have just finished up our second year, using their curriculum. In all, we’ve used MFW K, 1st, Adventures, and  Exploring Countries & Cultures.

But if you think our story of “The Great Curriculum Swappers” ends there, you’d be wrong. Yes, we have used and thoroughly enjoyed MFW for 2 years now… but as we closed in on the end of our 1st semester back in December, the kids were yearning for a more interactive and “on their level” Science, so {based on many great recommendations} we picked up
Apologia‘s Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day. And as Sam began to encounter increasing difficulty with Singapore Math, we opted for a switch to Math-U-See. So I was left looking to my MFW materials for just History/Geography & Bible. 

Now that the kids have fallen in love with both Apologia & Math-U-See, when it came to considering which direction to go, I made the decision to forego purchasing the next MFW kit, when I was only going to be utilizing their History/Geography & Bible curricula… and to continue personalizing our materials for our needs. For the coming year, that is going to include Simply Charlotte Mason‘s “Module 1” Genesis Through Deuteronomy & Ancient Egypt for History/Geography & Bible. Which, by the way, for the lesson plans & all recommended books, will cost me about half of what MFW would. {I can’t pretend that that fact didn’t play some part in our decision as well…}

My resason for sharing all of this story with you is to say that… Your curriculum should work for you. You should not have to fight to make it work, just so you can “stick with it.”

Chainging curriculum does not mean that you will have to go back to square one.

Changing curriculum does not mean that you are a failure.

Changing curriculum does not mean that you have an inability to find the “right” curriculum.

In fact…

So do not fear change in your homeschool!  🙂

Linkin’ up over at
Holy Spirit-Led Homeschooling
for Big Family Friday! 🙂


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8 Comments

  1. Interesting post… I agree with some of it, but not sure about other parts. “Changing curriculum means you are actively seeking the best learning tools for your child.” So, if I don’t change curriculum, then I’m NOT seeking the best learning tools? I don’t think so… This year I decided to try a different curriculum (grass was greener syndrome). I went ahead and purchased it and everything. When it came, I was so disappointed. I did not like what I saw at all. So, I sold it! Went back to what we were using, and do not regret it at all. (I did look around at a few others, but didn’t see enough “better” in them to switch at this point.) Thankful for God’s direction! 🙂

    Please don’t take that the wrong way, just a different perspective!

  2. I must say, I’m a little hurt that you would think that’s what I meant, because then I would actually be saying that about my own Mom, which is *certainly* NOT the case! LOL As I wrote in the post, she never changed course, but was always providing the best learning tools for us!

    It was not meant as an “exclusive” idea. Of course there are plenty of ways to actively seek the best learning tools for your child, but far too often I think homeschooling Moms can feel as though their changing of curriculum is flighty, whim-based, or symptomatic of ADD! My goal with that statement is to affirm their efforts. I was not at all implying that those who stay the course with their curriculum are doing their children a disservice, but of course, this post wasn’t really addressing those who are fortunate enough to find a curriculum worth sticking with! 😉

    Thanks for sharing your experience! It just goes to show that a little change can even be fruitful in showing us that we were right all along! Ha ha! 🙂 Isn’t it wonderful how the Lord works those things out??

  3. You hit home for a lot of homeschoolers. It is so difficult to change, especially when you have put a ton of money down for a curriculum. I think the most important thing is to seek God first, and the rest will fall into place. Although you do have to do some leg work and research, I am a firm believer that He has a plan for every home and will lead us directly to that plan in His time!

  4. I am one of those moms for whom the thought of change causes panic! But there have been several times along our homeschooling journey (8 years now!) when we just needed to find a better fit for one or more of my children. Even though change is hard for me, I’ve never regretted changing to a curriculum that helps my children learn better or better fosters their love of learning. Great post!

  5. I started out with Abeka videos for 2 years and enjoyed it, but then we realized that the best parts of homeschooling was when we were cuddled up reading and exploring the world. I’ve adjusted our curriculum to accommodate that – using a mix of classical and CM with lots of reading and field trips. So glad I made the switch!

  6. phew “Changing curriculum does not mean that you are a failure.” This is us EVERY year – we end up changing something. change is so much easier than tears and dragging heals !!!

  7. Oh, this was me a year ago! After meandering around for a couple of years on different things, we found MFW (the year we used Adventures…which I love to this day), and I was convinced it was our curriculum “for life.” Turns out that “life” meant a wonderful year with Adventures, and a pretty good experience with MFW K the following year (though I didn’t like the handwriting) and ECC (though I had to tweak an awful lot of it). We started CtG last summer…but only did three weeks’ worth before I knew it was time to move on. Yep, we needed a different science…and I also needed more living books (from a Christian perspective) for history. And, since I was already using alternate materials for math and language, I didn’t want to do another package either…and I ended up going eclectic. And THAT has worked well, in addition to teaching me that it’s really okay – right, in fact – to switch things up whenever it becomes necessary. Nope, we can’t marry our curriculum; curriculum should be our platonic friend, knowing that most friendships are only meant for a season.

  8. I appreciate this post! I used A Beka for the first three years that I homeschooled complete with DVD’s. However, this year I have decided to take the plunge and have more control in my children’s curriculum. A Beka was phenomenal and I will still use it some. But, I will also be actively seeking new options that will match the learning styles of my kiddos! Thanks for the encouragement!

    You can find me at Learning 4 Keeps.
    I am new follower!
    Happy Blogging,
    Leah

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