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Changing Homeschool Curriculum Mid-year

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The thing you dreaded when you purchased curriculum last fall has happened. It’s just not working. You’ve tried tweaking your homeschool curriculum, but it’s not helping. Everyone is miserable and it’s clear that it’s time to make a change – but it’s the middle of the school year. You feel like you’ve lost half the year. What do you do?

The bottom line is: you suck it up, dump the curriculum, and move on. It’s not doing anyone any good if you and your kids are all miserable. Let me offer you some practical tips for changing homeschool curriculum mid-year.

Practical tips for making a mid-year homeschool curriculum change

Start where you are.

My family has switched curriculum mid-year twice. It was only this last time that my son, who is in 9th grade now, felt that he’d lost half a year’s work. Both times, we’ve just started at the beginning of the new curriculum. Because we homeschool year round, it wasn’t a big deal to me for the kids to work January through May in the new curriculum, stop for a short summer break, and pick up again in July.

We don’t have a long break for them to forget much and we make sure to stop at the end of a unit. We haven’t had any problems picking back up.

This time, with the way our current curriculum is set up, I’m working to time it so that we end our school year just before our curriculum’s review week. That way, when we resume in July, we’ll be starting with a week of review before moving into new information.

As far as Josh feeling that he’s lost half a year, I told him we’ll just work through the curriculum, year by year, until graduation. If it turns out that he doesn’t finish every book, that’s not a big deal to me (we only switched curriculum for 3 subjects) because even when I was in school, it wasn’t uncommon not to finish all of the book. I think it’s just a homeschool compulsion to feel the need to finish every. single. book.

The one caveat to that is, we may not continue our current curriculum next year. The kids like doing workbooks (ugh!), but I plan on taking them to the curriculum fair with me this year so they can look at other workbook options. If they decide on something else, we’ll start with their current (at that time) school year level. It’s just history, science, and English, so I don’t think we’ll run into major gaps.

Use the curriculum as a tool. If there are concepts in your new curriculum that you already covered in the old, you can either use it as review or skip ahead. I like using it as review most of the time because one curriculum typically covers something a bit different or adds new information.

However, in some cases, it’s best to skip material that you’ve already covered. Because you’re teaching your kids one-on-one, it’s generally not difficult to work with them to fill in any gaps that the switch may have caused.

Use the library or the Internet.

Consider utilizing the library or the Internet for the remainder of the school year. There are many online resources for homeschooling such as:

You can also make use of the library for finding resources that allow you to continue to follow the course of your rejected curriculum’s scope and sequence for the year. Look for the following, related to the topics your student would have been studying for the remainder of the year:

  • Non-fiction books
  • Biographies of the key players
  • Historical fiction
  • Educational fiction (such as The Magic School Bus or The Magic Tree House – look for the related research guides for the Magic Tree House books)
  • Videos and documentaries

One very important thing to keep in mind, however, is that you should not allow the rest of the year to become a “throw off” year. Have a plan in place and make sure your student is progressing. Cindy West has some wonderful suggestions in her article, Homeschooling Frugally: A Cautionary Tale.

Homeschool curriculum not working out? Try these practical tips for changing curricum mid-year.

Give interest-led learning a try.

Deciding to dump curriculum mid-year can be a great time to give interest-led learning a try. You might want to purchase some ready-made unit studies or simply allow your child to delve into topics of interest.

This can be particularly effective if the curriculum you’re dumping only covers certain topics. For example, if you’re happy with everything except history, your student can continue the curriculum for his other subjects, while choosing topics of interest to study for history.

Recoup some of your losses.

If it doesn’t violate the copyright of the curriculum you’re dumping, you can try to sell it to recoup some of your investment. I typically advertise used curriculum on my local homeschool group’s Facebook page. There are some other resources, too, such as:

You might also consider renting curriculum for the remainder of the year to save money.

We’ve switched curriculum mid-year a couple of times and these are some of the solutions that have worked for us.

Have you ever changed curriculum mid-year? What tips would you add?

This post is linked to the Hip Homeschool Hop and Finishing Strong.

images courtesy of shutter stock

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Kris Bales is a newly-retired homeschool mom and the quirky, Christ-following, painfully honest founder (and former owner) of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She has a pretty serious addiction to sweet tea and Words with Friends. Kris and her husband of over 30 years are parents to three amazing homeschool grads. They share their home with three dogs, two cats, a ball python, a bearded dragon, and seven birds.

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  1. We pulled our daughter out of K but she was still ‘learning’ the alphabet, to count to 20, etc. which she had known for several years, so she half listens to the rest of the alphabet (I caught them up at the same time in Dec/Jan while everyone else was ‘still on break’) and sounds as her 3 year old sister reviews them.

    So she dumped whatever they would have been doing 2nd semester.

    I’d love suggestions for taking the 6, 3, 1 year olds to the curriculum part of the homeschooling convention near us in a few weeks. They have a free open day in the city Thursday night. We just can’t afford a babysitter for 2 whole days of a convention (and really can’t get one, either) but we wanted to look at curriculum and see if it would be worth it. Do we beg a favor and get a sitter for the hour it would take to browse the PreK/Kinder/1st subjects or go in one at a time, take tablets and baby wear? I’m not sure how helpful the 6 year old would be. I think my husband would like to at least look at the curriculum, but I do the teaching, so it would have to work for us, so we really should both look at it and decide to go with something, or forget it and keep going as we are since they’re so small.

    We’re currently doing unit studies made up from the library. I have a lot of material pulled but not fleshed out that should last the rest of the spring and go into next fall or winter if need be (and that’s only looking at one ‘curriculum’ book and copying page from the ‘fall/winter’ guide- I got a lot of mileage out of that one semester of ideas book, and could check the spring/summer one, although gardening is going to be a major part of our learning this spring and summer. Planning what to plant, budget, buying the stuff, learning methods of gardening, how far to space plants, etc. Unit studies mainly serve as our science and reading, with season themed worksheets for language, spelling, and math pulled from the internet.

    Sorry for the book, so free night of the convention: take the kids, trade so we can both look at it, then make a decision, or snap photos of favs and buy online, beg a grandparent to drive a couple of hours from one direction so we can drive an hour further away? Any ideas I’m missing? We have a very fresh homeschooling group on FB that JUST started because of the school system going wacko for next year, so I don’t know any of them yet and can’t trade kids or anything.

    1. Hi, Jill. I wish I had some tips to offer about the homeschool convention, but I’ve never been in that situation. We’re blessing to have lots of family nearby, so I’ve always had help with childcare. Sorry!

  2. We had to dump our science curriculum this year. It was SO stressful for me but ended up being a huge blessing. It opened up more time to follow their interests and I think, in the end, they’ve learned far more than they would have otherwise!

  3. We are doing this with one of our children this year as well. I just don’t feel like she’s getting what she should from what we are doing. I just ordered Teaching Textbooks Math and I’m going to give some online supplementation a shot. I know it’s already March but I just feel like this is what we need to do.

    We’ll be in the same weird unsocialized boat together!

    🙂 D

  4. We did this with our math and phonics. We switched from Horizons to Math U See and All About Reading/Speling. What a blessing my daughter has learned so much more in a week then she did in 4 months. She was struggling with reading and now she’s reading on her own. I tried tweaking and supplementing, but it she just did’t like the curriculum. Makes me so happy to hear her say how she loves school now and before it was always tears.

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