I have already started shopping for next year's curriculum choices (actually I started back in February.) I just love getting those curriculum catalogs in the mail! In my spare time I have been searching through catalogs, looking up information and samples on websites, and reading reviews. I do not have a homeschool convention close to me, but many homeschoolers will head to a convention to get their hands on the curriculum and talk to the vendors in person. We all want to find the perfect curriculum to use with our family.
It doesn't exist.
Now don't get me wrong. There is a lot of great curriculum and resources out there for homeschoolers. I have been greatly blessed over the years to have an opportunity to use and review many different products from many great companies. But there is no perfect curriculum and the search for it can lead to frustrated and burned out homeschool mamas.
For there to be a perfect homeschool curriculum there would have to be perfect children that all learned the same and perfect mamas who all taught the same. Children do not all learn the same and mamas sure do not teach all the same! Even within one homeschool family you will find that each of the children learn differently! I have seen this to be very true in my house!
This is why when we are researching curriculum and we find what appears to be a wonderful curriculum: the samples all look great, rave reviews are given, and several other homeschool families that we know love it, but it doesn't work for us and we feel frustrated and wonder what we did wrong. Or we see how much other homeschoolers manage to get completed in a day and feel like a failure because we didn't even get half of that accomplished! Or we wonder how in the world we are supposed to find time for all of the homeschool work, plus take care of the house, our husband, and transport children to their extra activities, and everything else we need to do in the course of a day and we are exhausted before we even get started.
There is no perfect curriculum and we need to stop expecting there to be and base our success/failures on the curriculum we use or how much we manage to get done in a day. Curriculum is supposed to be a tool for the homeschool mama, not a task master. When I first started homeschooling, I did everything just like the book told me too. Every assignment, every project, every activity just like it was written. I only had one child to homeschool and I was VERY overwhelmed. I could not see how people homeschooled multiple children. And then I started to realize something. If one of the reasons I wanted to bring her home was to provide an individualized education I needed to do just that. Not every activity, project or assignment had to be completed and even the ones that did could be "tweaked" to fit what we wanted it to. Since then, I have very rarely followed the book or curriculum exactly like it's written. We use the curriculum to guide or learning process not decide it. There is a lot of freedom in that!
Just because something works for one child doesn't mean it will suit your family as a whole. There is a curriculum that I absolutely love that was great for Chelsea, but I can't make it work for the age spans of my other children. I would have to be teaching 3 different sets of core curriculum plus separate math, reading, and spelling. That would drive me crazy, cause us to spend lots of extra hours on school, and I haven't even mentioned the cost! Just because it's a great curriculum doesn't mean it would work for us.
The urge to compare ourselves with other homeschoolers is strong. Especially when you see and hear all of the things that others are doing. I find myself second guessing myself often when I hear how many hours people spend on school and we only spend half of that. But every homeschool is different and we should not be worried about comparing ourselves to others but instead focus on our own homes and children.
Feel free to change and adjust your curriculum to suit your needs. You don't have to do it all! There is nothing wrong with skipping activities or putting them off for a later date. There is nothing wrong with allowing children who struggle with reading or writing to dictate answers to you rather than write them themselves. There is nothing wrong with turning a reader into a read aloud. There is nothing wrong with ditching the curriculum for a day for a field trip or even for a few weeks or months during a life change (new baby, illness, move, etc...) And if you buy something that makes homeschooling more difficult for you or your child, and you can't make adjustments to it, don't continue to make yourselves miserable. Not every curriculum no matter how great it is will work for everyone. Sell it if you can and look for something else.