When the Curriculum Didn’t Work!

Here we are, rapidly approaching the end of the school year. Perhaps  your year has gone swimmingly- I hope it has! Or perhaps, you’re like me and find yourself frustrated that the curriculum “didn’t work.” You’ve spent time and (maybe a lot of) money on this curriculum thinking *this* will be what helps. Only to be let down. It’s upsetting.

When the curriculum didn't work


But let me also tell you it’s okay. You and your student will get through this if you don’t give up.

Our story: This year I have two seniors. One of them, my eldest son, has disliked math from about 3rd grade and hated it from about 7th grade on. This year-after-year struggle has put a mental roadblock in his path for all things math. We ran the gamut of curricula.

Each new shipment of shiny new math books offered hope and promise.  But, inevitably, we’d be led to search for another option that might better suit my son.  And here we are. He’s graduating in a few months and we’re scrambling to just “get it done” for the final math credit.

Are you where I am? Can you relate? It sounds dismal doesn’t it? Almost hopeless, right?

Let me shout from the rooftops that IT’S NOT! Let’s flip our focus. We’re homeschoolers! We don’t have to teach to a test, and we know the love of learning and tenacity is what’s really important. Right? (Let me hear your rallying shout!)

Instead of focusing on the failure, let’s focus on the positives:

  • We have not given up! We’re going to reach the end goal.
  • These struggles have enabled me to work even more closely with my struggling student.
  • My son excels in other academic areas and interests (He just built his own PC!).
  • He’s not interested in any math-heavy careers, so he doesn’t have to excel in math.
  • Every curriculum taught us something, so nothing was a complete waste.
  • There’s time! My son is a senior, and we’re working hard to complete his math in time. But if not, there’s always next year. There is no rule that says high school has to be completed in only 4 years. Give yourselves grace.

It’s important that we moms, as homeschool facilitators, keep a positive outlook to keep our kids motivated and secure.  So now that we’re looking at the positives rather than the negatives, let’s look at our other options.

Options for when the curriculum didn’t work:

  • Keep on truckin’: Sometimes buying a whole new curriculum isn’t an option. I’ve been there. Sometimes we just need to push through and make the best of what we have. Pull any key components out that aren’t frustrating your student and work with them.
  • Shelve it: Perhaps your student is struggling because of a maturity issue. Or perhaps he’s so distraught that he just needs a break (We’ve done that on several occasions). Shelve the curriculum for a few weeks, months, or until next year.  Allow your student time to decompress and mature.
  • Sell it: If you just can’t take one more day of a particular curriculum, sell it and move on.  Don’t allow it to languish on your shelves.  Pass it on to another family who may benefit, and use the money to buy something new.
  • Call for reinforcements: Hire a tutor. It doesn’t have to be an official tutor. Do you have a fellow homeschool mom who would take your child on for that subject? Could you create a little co-op of your own and switch out subjects? Get creative.
  • Get tested: Sometimes it’s more than time our children need. There could be underlying issues like dyslexia, auditory processing disorders, autism spectrum issues, and more that could be to blame. There’s no shame in testing and identifying a problem.

Whatever the issue, don’t allow one subject to sway your confidence as a homeschool mom. You are more than math! More than science! You know your child better than anyone.  You can do this!

One last note: This post addresses the issue of struggling in one or two areas. If your day-to-day homeschool is constant stress, or if your child hates every subject, your homeschool might need an attitude overhaul (and that usually starts with mom).  Or you may have a discipline/heart issue – and curriculum won’t help that. Or it’s possible that your child may have a behavioral issue or other more pervasive learning problem that makes “doing school” difficult. Please have your child see a doctor if you truly think your child has a behavioral problem or learning problem that doesn’t seem to be getting better.

What have you done when you or your student struggled with a curriculum?

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  1. Thank you so much for this, Cheryl!
    Even after already graduating 2, I’m finding that each high school student can be vastly different! Compound that with this go-round, its my son, so I’m learning him in a different way than I know my girls!
    This post encourages me greatly!

  2. You are in the home stretch and really sound like you’re a confident, knowledgable teacher and mom. As a former teacher and current mom of a senior in high school, I have NO idea how you have hung in there! I give you a lot of credit! Having said that, I’d like to offer a couple of alternatives that you may not have tried. Khan Academy and online school. Khan Academy has become quite popular with homeschooling families as well as private and public schooled students. I used it in my classroom, as well. I recommend it to everyone! As far as online classes/courses go, I haven’t tried them myself, but I do know that the best approach to any type of learning is an eclectic one. Perhaps you’ll find an explanation on YouTube’s educational videos or something from the NAtional Teachers of Mathematics. Good luck!

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