What do you do when the curriculum doesn't work?

How ungrateful and RUDE.

We researched, surveyed, bargain shopped and finally purchased the curriculum. It was heart felt, and WALLET felt…. And four weeks in, we know it’s NOT A FIT!


I mean.

Now what?! What are we expected to do? Just keep going? Well, unhappily, that is one choice. When do you change, when do you keep going, how do you hang with a curriculum that you know in your gut is not the perfect fit for your family, for your kids. Hang tough, Momma - wade through with me and the four options I’ve discovered over the past twenty years (and five kids) and when to use them.

-CHOICE #1 - CHANGE. Maybe the easiest option, though not the most frugal. Ask yourself, “WHY doesn’t this WORK?” Choice #1 is a truly quick fix, and not necessarily an incorrect fix.  Change the process by changing the tool. When do you make this choice? I’ll tell you - when you have plenty of time, plenty of resources ($$$) and a clear goal and example of why the stinky old curriculum DID NOT work. 

If you can answer these four questions with YES, then, by all means, TAKE THE PLUNGE! 

Can you say yes? - Do you have a second curriculum choice already surveyed, researched, and ready AT hand that you ALMOST said yes to?

Can you say yes? - This new curriculum 100% fulfills the lack (problem) I saw in the old curriculum AND I have time to implement it (*no high school seniors*)?

Can you say yes? - Do I have an easy way to fund the new curriculum? 

Can you say yes? - Do I feel this curriculum is a more peaceful fit and am less anxious in various ways with the new choice?

Are you a YES1 YES2 YES3 YES4? THEN GO for it! (But maybe read the other three choices just for giggles.)


-CHOICE #2 -  Push Through. This is the least popular choice. It’s beneficial to demonstrate GRIT, frugality, endurance, patience and stick-to-it-tiveness. (Read that, …if you have kids younger than high school you DO NOT HAVE TO CHOOSE THIS ONE!) Keep on keeping on. You admit and validate to the kids, to yourself, and to your husband that EVERYONE knows this isn’t the best curriculum you’ve ever chosen, but it’s here, and it’s paid for, and we’ll grit our teeth and do it because we chose it. Turn the page, and do the next lesson! Give yourself permission to not enjoy it, but take the time to get through it. You may need to limit the complaining portion to a certain number of times or minutes each week to say why you or your family doesn’t like it, but you STILL DO IT. (Sometimes your opinion changes, by the way - so also be ready to eat some humble pie!)


-CHOICE #3 - Adjust. This choice is my favorite. It reminds me that I am teaching the CHILD, not the lesson. I have a frame work, a tool, that some other gracious soul created for me. The author is passionate and knowledgable about the subject, and they likely WANT me to succeed. They don’t know my family, nor me, nor how my child learns. So let me adjust a few things. Start with the pace. Go slower. Just for now. Try to do shorter lessons. Second, change the location. Third, change the focus - add food! Add movement! Can you add doodling or drawing? Can you read it aloud? Is there an audio component you can grab? Maybe it came with the curriculum and you didn’t even know it. Fourth, change WHO - can you add an older or younger sibling, a family member or even a pet to sit in with you during the lesson? Can you add music? Do the hands-on optional portions first, instead of skipping them. Go back to a lesson you did enjoy, and review it. Just talk about it for five minutes, or let your child “play teacher.” Role play - let the student lead YOU and see what their “perfect” history lesson (or whatever) would be. And finally —-

You know me - I have a passion for this particular tool - *ADD FLASH CARDS!* Just make a few little notes on what you do know. Break it down and see if that doesn’t encourage you to build it back up.


-CHOICE #4 - Wait. Ok. Last option (well, the last one I’m going to offer) is to just wait. Put it aside and “quit” for a time. Typically a week or two is long enough for middle schoolers and older, and a month or so for elementary ages. If you are looking at Pre-K and Kindergarten, then wait until the next quarter. Three months’ time. It likely just isn’t in window, and some other parts of life need to fall into place before you try again. You chose this curriculum for a reason, and it’s likely a very good fit for a different version of you and/or your child. So, give it some breathing time, put it back on the shelf, and mark the calendar for the re-start, tell your kids when that will be, and post it. See if it doesn’t hit differently in a different season. We’re always changing. Give it a shot and try again. Just not tomorrow.

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