3 Quick Questions to Evaluate Your Homeschool Curriculum

Is your homeschool curriculum working? 

How do you know your homeschool curriculum is working?  Curriculum should be one of the first things you evaluate when you need homeschooling help.  You should also evaluate before you purchase any new curriculum, when you start a new homeschooling journey, and when you are looking for supplements to your Montessori (or other non-traditional) homeschool curriculum.  In determining the success and effectiveness of your curriculum, I want you to ask yourself three basic questions.
1.  Is my child growing and developing over time?

2. Does my child enjoy learning?
3.  Am I enjoying teaching?
Three yeses, go ahead and stop reading right now- you don't need the rest of this post!  Your homeschool is doing great.  You have a solid fit of curriculum for yourself and for your child.  No need to worry, even if what you are doing looks totally different than your friends or what you thought your homeschool would be like.

If the answer to any of these questions is no, then there may be tweaks that need to happen.   Does that seem overly simple?  I promise it's not.  The younger the child the more simple this is, but let's look a little deeper at each question.
Is my child growing and developing over time?
The schools and standardized testing would have you believe that there are hard fast rules for when a child needs to be doing certain things.  Logically, however, in most cases this doesn't pass the snuff test.  Yes, a child will need to be able to read or do certain types of math by a certain age in order to perform to a "standard" when it comes to testing.  But who sets the standard?  Standards are developed based on how most people teach it in the school system.  That doesn't automatically make it superior- there are many other schools and methods that use a different sequence for learning.   Particularly in the early childhood and elementary years there is a great amount of variety in what is considered normal and acceptable.  If your child has new skills this month that they didn't have last month, they are probably doing ok.   This might mean new skills in language one month and in math the next month, but as long as they are making some sort of progress forward at any given time then the combination of your curriculum and teaching are getting the job done.
When to worry:  If your child goes through several consecutive months without seeming to make much progress or has a specific area that their development seems to be at a standstill, it might be time to try something new.  Look for Homeschool Curriculum Check Up Part 2.
Does my child enjoy learning?
Now, most children will not enjoy every minute of learning.  The question is not could they enjoy learning more- absolutely they probably could.  But in general, is your child learning from a state of contentment.  Are they delighting in new discoveries?  Do they have interests of their own to spontaneously investigate?
When to worry:  In this case, the worry will probably precede the question.  Something has felt off in your homeschool for awhile and you couldn't quite put your finger on what.  Sometimes enjoyment is robbed from a child due to really easy things to fix- like moving with a solid curriculum but at a pace that is too quick.  Other times there are environmental and life factors that make focusing on school tougher for a season.  Don't be afraid to ask for your child's input here.  You still get the final say in what changes are made, but their reasons for discontent might surprise you and provide a key to moving forward.  
Am I enjoying teaching?
I'm just going to jump straight to the next section- when to worry- because the answer is NOW!  Mom, do not discount yourself in the assessment of your homeschool.   Is the curriculum working for you?   Are you spending too many hours planning and grading?  Can you easily track where your various children are in their individual curriculums?  Sometimes it isn't the curriculum that needs to be changed necessarily, but how you interact with it.   Are there parts of managing the curriculum that you can hand over to your students?  As all types of responsibility, you could be doing them a favor by letting them lead.  
Don't push yourself to the limit for a curriculum even one that results in the first two questions being a yes.  Because eventually you will burn out.  Eventually you will overthink things and make choices that make life more difficult than it is.   Even if you don't change the curriculum, if you are feeling burned out you need to adjust your schedule to give yourself a break on something.   This is one of those ask me how I know things.....  Being a teacher is hard.  There is a reason that so many public school teachers burn out in less than five years.  They are locked into a teaching method, curriculum, and system of standards.  You are not.  Free yourself from that expectation and you will free your homeschool.
Knowing if your curriculum is working is only the first step.  If your child is not growing and learning, if your child is not enjoying learning, or if you are not enjoying teaching it might be time to evaluate your curriculum in more depth to determine if a change is needed...and to identify which changes are mostly likely to be successful for your situation.
If you read this post and are ready to make a change,  the next post in this series, Identifying the Guilty Party:  Homeschool Kill Joys, is for you.   Hear about it first by joining our mailing list below!  You may also want to check out my -Help!  Homeschooling Isn't Going So Great!- board on Pinterest.

If your homeschool is struggling and you are can't afford to wait for the rest of the posts in this series, click here for more information on booking an individualized homeschool consulting session.

1 comment:

Sephora said...

This was such a timely post. I needed this. And you're so right: it's probably the time of year that brings on these doubts. Colin just had to give me a pep talk the other day, about how our *Kindergartner* is doing just fine. The one I chose not to hold back a year--which means, if necessary, we can slow way down, without even worrying about "catching up." Thanks for the solid reality check this morning!