It’s that time of year again — and homeschool conventions, vendor halls, and curriculum planning for the next school year are well underway. Have you too been checking out all the curriculum options, either in person or online? Have you been asking all your homeschool friends what they are using and how they are liking it?
Sometimes I think we get a little insecure at this time of year, don’t we? All of our beautifully laid out plans from last year begin to look a little rumpled. Despite using that math curriculum we were so sure of in the beginning, our child still doesn’t know their multiplication tables. Maybe the kids are even a bit bored with the curriculum. Maybe we are. Maybe, we think, buying that shiny new curriculum will make everything better and solve all our problems.
Before you go spending all your money on that shiny new curriculum you’ve been eyeing, review all these reasons that maybe you don’t really need the latest and greatest after all.
1. New ≠ better
We are fortunate to be homeschooling at a time when we have so many excellent options available to us. Sometimes that blessing can seem like a bit of a curse though. So many choices! And new products being produced every year! But just because something is not the latest and greatest, doesn’t mean that it isn’t any good. And just because something is new, doesn’t mean it is.
2. You can probably adapt what you have
You know that you don’t have to use your current curriculum exactly as it was intended, right? If something isn’t quite working for you, go ahead and tweak it! You can supplement with hands-on activities, manipulatives, field trips, extra assignments, or your own book lists. You can also skip over content that doesn’t suit you or your child.
Several years ago when I taught my first child to read, I used an inexpensive, no bells and whistles phonics primer. It worked beautifully, she learned to read with ease and is now a wonderful reader and book lover.
My experience with her younger sister, however, has been quite a different story. That newer, more popular curriculum with all the games, manipulatives, teacher’s guides, and beautiful readers sure started looking good.
That shiny new phonics curriculum not only looks good, but I’m sure that it is good. Many of my friends are using it and loving it! It would probably even be a great fit for my challenging student. But, it’s also very expensive. And there is nothing wrong with my old phonics primer – it’s a solid, systematic, no gimmick program.
There’s something that many homeschoolers don’t seem to realize. Did you know that you don’t have to use a different curriculum with each child in order to give them a customized education? You can adapt what you have!
I’m still using my plain Jane phonics program, but by using some new strategies, activities, and games, I’m making it work for my more hands on learner. I’ve adapted it. I’m teaching much shorter lessons, sometimes stretching out what “should” be one day’s lesson over a whole week. I’m adding games, and getting more hands-on by using letter tiles. And I’m saving HUNDREDS of dollars.
3. That shiny new feeling will wear off
There’s just something exciting about getting something new, isn’t there? I love getting new books, clothes, kitchen gadgets. But just like everything else, that shiny new curriculum will soon get dog-eared and start to feel ordinary. It’s going to lose its new car (I mean book!) smell.
4. Your current methods, resources, and curriculum are working fine
Probably every homeschooler experiences curriculum envy at one time or another. While I love hearing about and seeing what resources other homeschoolers are using with their families, I need to be on guard and not run off to replace something that is actually working well in my homeschool in favour of what I perceive to be newer and more exciting.
Just last year I was intrigued with a writing program that was getting rave reviews in a few of my online homeschool groups. It was published by a wonderful company whose products I purchase and recommend. It was beautifully laid out, had lovely illustrations, and no doubt my children would have loved it.
I decided against buying it though because what we were using was working well in our home. My student enjoyed her lessons, she was learning well, and I was comfortable teaching it. We were actively using it, we liked it, and it was effective. Why change?
5. Your homeschool isn’t the curriculum you use
Here’s what it all boils down to, mama. Changing your homeschool curriculum, buying that shiny new program you saw at the local convention, using the latest and greatest resources — that’s not what makes your homeschool.
Only you can do that. Your homeschool is so much more than the curriculum you buy! Your homeschool is the life you are building with your family. It’s your attitudes, values, and ideals. It’s the relationships you are forming with one another and with what you are learning.
Maybe you don’t need to buy that shiny new curriculum. Maybe you do. But just know that when your kids are grown, they likely won’t remember which history, spelling, or math program you used. Hopefully, they will remember their love for all things Viking, how to spell chrysanthemum, and how much fun it is to lie down in the sun on a picnic blanket with a stack of library books. And maybe they will finally remember their multiplication tables (please!), whether you chose to switch to Saxon or not.