4 Clues that It May Be Time to Change Curriculum

Bored girl doing schoolwork
Getty Images

After deciding to homeschool, the next choice that usually causes the most stress and uncertainty among homeschooling parents is which homeschool curriculum to purchase. We put a great deal of effort into choosing the best homeschool curriculum. We ask around. We read reviews. We look at samples. We go to homeschool conventions.

After much time and deliberation, we make the big purchase, bring the books home, and start schooling.

But what happens when the curriculum just isn’t working? Homeschool curriculum isn’t cheap. We can’t just ditch it, can we?

Yes, we can. That’s one of the biggest benefits of homeschooling. Continuing to use materials that aren’t a good fit is a mistake that could derail your homeschool and make both you and your kids miserable.

How do you know when it’s time to change curriculum?

1. Your kids are bored. One of the perks of homeschooling is that we can individualize our children’s education to make school as engaging as possible. That’s not to say that you’re supposed to become your kids’ entertainment coordinator. There are probably going to be times when school just isn’t fun. That’s to be expected and it’s a great opportunity for kids to learn that there are things in life that you do because they need to be done.

However, if your children are consistently bored with a particular subject, that may be a clue that you need to change curriculum.

It could be that the material is dry and you need to look for something more captivating or perhaps your student would thrive on something more challenging.

2. You’re bored. It may be time to look for something new if you’re bored with the materials you’re using. That can be a fine line because your students are the key players in your homeschool.

My kids are teenagers and they are using workbooks, which drives me batty because I love hands-on learning activities.

However, my teens are old enough to work independently and have a great degree of input in their curriculum choices, so it doesn't matter so much if their curriculum doesn't inspire me as long as they are engaged and learning.

If you have younger children and are still actively involved in their day-to-day schooling, however, your boredom may be putting you at risk for burnout. At the very least, your lack of enthusiasm may be negatively impacting your children’s opinion of the subject matter.  

3. Your kids are frustrated. If your kids are frustrated with the material, it’s definitely time to consider making a change. It could be that they just need some one-on-one time to understand a difficult concept or you may need to consider modifications for a child with learning struggles

You may not even need to toss the curriculum altogether. Instead, you may want to put it aside for awhile to give your child to time to reach the appropriate level of developmental readiness to tackle the material.

If the frustration persists even after you’ve tried modifications, used alternative methods of explaining the material, and given your child some time to see if readiness might be the issue, it’s probably time to make a change.

4. The curriculum no longer meets your needs. Maybe you’re an eclectic homeschooler who enjoys piecing together your own curriculum, but you’ve just found out that you’re going to have a baby or make a cross-country move. You may need to consider switching to something a bit less teacher-intensive until life settles back into a predictable routine.

Perhaps you’re a school-at-home family who has just been presented with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel the country or abroad. You may want to box up the workbooks and adopt an unschooling philosophy as you take complete advantage of the educational opportunities all around you.

It can be a difficult decision to switch curriculum particularly if you’re changing mid-year, but sticking with something that’s clearly not working can be more costly to your family than the financial toll of seeking out a better fit.