Last November, we ditched our phonics curriculum.
It might sound crazy. Maybe even a little risky, since we were in the middle of Kindergarten with my daughter.
But after careful thought and prayer, after evaluating our personal situation and then gathering advice from several seasoned homeschoolers, we happily ditched our phonics curriculum.
It’s not that it didn’t work. No, it was quite effective, and I recommend it to others all the time. There are plenty of reasons why a homeschooling mom might leave her curriculum unfinished.
Reasons to Leave the Curriculum Unfinished
1. It’s not as great as you’d hoped it would be.
Even if you dropped a ton of money on something, if it’s not what you hoped or it’s not educating your child the way you thought it would, feel free to ditch it. Yes, you’ll lose money when you have to buy something else to go in its place, but at least you’re not wasting your time with something that only frustrates you and your children. Though certainly, many a homeschooler has simply forged through until the end of the year, with plans of finding new curriculum for the next school year. That’s often a wise choice. But sometimes, it’s best to just cut your losses and move on.
2. It doesn’t meet the needs of your particular child.
Maybe the curriculum does not match the learning style of your child. A kinesthetic learner will struggle with certain resources that a visual learner flies through with ease. And if your child has special needs–perhaps they are on the autism spectrum, have sensory processing disorder, or ADHD–then you’ll want to be especially thoughtful in the curriculum you select. But sometimes, there’s just no way to know if it will work for your child without giving it a trial run.
I had quite a bit of anxiety as I chose our curriculum for this year, but I finally just had to relax, knowing that my choices can’t always be perfect. I can trust God for wisdom and simply find rest in Him, knowing that He will fill in the gaps. I just can’t be the perfect homeschooler. There is grace.
3. You run out of time.
I taught 9th grade English at a public school in Texas for several years, so let me put your mind at ease. There is never enough time! We never finished textbooks, and you know what? We never planned to finish them either! Every summer, the teachers would sit down with our list of essential skills & knowledge to create a scope and sequence–essentially, we would map out which skills we would cover during which grading period, using certain portions of the textbook and skipping others. So while I might use six different short stories to teach a wide variety of literary terms, I did not teach every single short story in our textbook. There was simply no way it could be done. The same held true for our poetry unit, our drama unit, and our sci/fi unit.
When a friend found out we were rushing to get through the last 9 lessons in our math curriculum before we got our house ready to sell, she mentioned that we could quit our math book all together and still be OK. Evidently, the last two weeks in our particular curriculum are really designed more for first graders than kindergarteners. These lessons are a bit of a preview of things to come. So if we can’t finish it, it’s OK–we’ll learn it next year.
Other homeschoolers plan on simply schooling all year, and that can be an effective way to work through all of your curriculum, if that’s what works best for your family.
4. There are other ways for your child to learn the same information.
This, my friends, is why we ditched our phonics curriculum. After using it in pre-K and in the beginning of kindergarten, we realized that the objectives had been achieved. She had learned to read and she had learned to read well. The phonics curriculum felt like drudgery, but reading real books felt like joy to my precocious 5 year old. Abandoning phonics gave us more time to read books, and I used the books to teach and reinforce phonetic skills. In first grade, she will begin spelling, which will also reinforce the phonetic rules.
So if your early science lessons don’t seem to be effective, maybe you simply need more time outside to study the bugs and trees in person.
This, my friends, is the beauty of homeschooling. We can assess our family, our children, our life stage, and our own personalities to find out what works for us.