Here it is–your permission slip:
You have permission to adapt your curriculum to meet your needs.
You really do. I promise.
One of the most challenging things I face, even after many (12 so far) years of homeschooling, is giving myself permission NOT to check off all of the boxes on my instructor’s guide schedule pages.
One of the biggest traps homeschool moms fall into is playing the comparison game, whether comparing your family to others, your homeschool to others, or your schedule to others. (And that includes the schedules set by the curriculum companies.) Comparing sets you up for failure, because you can never live up to those expectations. I have realized that I will never check off all of those boxes unless I make myself and my children miserable.
So, how do I plan our semesters?
Adapting Curriculum to Meet Your Needs
- Look into local events that we want to attend. Our local arts center offers educational performances of their shows, and I look ahead and decide which ones we want to attend. If our curriculum does not include the book versions of those performances, I add them to our list. For example, we have seen live performances of Julius Caesar and The Odyssey, so we read these as well, even though they are not on the “list” set by our curriculum provider.
- Take the list of books suggested by the curriculum provider and decide which ones we want to read and which ones we want to skip. Sometimes we completely skip a book, and sometimes we pick an alternative. It’s okay! When you are homeschooling multiple ages, it helps to choose read aloud books that the younger ones can listen to and that the older ones will enjoy. In addition, I skip anything I really hated, because if I don’t enjoy teaching it, my kids won’t enjoy learning it.
- Plan to get help when needed. Algebra is not my thing. Ask anyone who knows me, and you will hear about my allergy to algebra. My son is great at math, but when an unfamiliar concept comes up and the guy in the Teaching Textbooks audio lecture does not explain it, we have realized that we both need help. I have hired a math tutor who helps us each week, going over lessons with us and clarifying foreign concepts. I think I am really the one being tutored, and my son is playing along, but it sure has made a difference in our attitudes. If something is hard, it is okay to ask for help. Find another mom who is good at that subject area, and switch off with her. Form a group with a couple of families and work together to do science experiments or lapbooking projects. Take turns with the other moms to cover the things you are good at. When my kids were younger, we met with a group for science projects and field trips. I planned all the field trips, and two other moms led most of the experiments.
- Think outside the box. My kids have taken online electronics classes as their main science classes in certain years, and my younger two studied basic biology with a hodgepodge of materials when their older brother did high school biology If he was going to be looking at things under the microscope and performing dissections, there’s no way the other two were going to be left out.
- Collaborate with your kids. If there’s a certain topic they are interested in, grab that opportunity to pursue it further while they are interested in it. One year, we spent a summer learning about pioneer times while we read the entire Little House series. We incorporated lots of hands-on projects and field trips as we immersed ourselves in this time period.