Why I Switched Curriculums Mid Year
Written by Amber Marie | May 22, 2018
There comes a time in almost every homeschooler’s life when they question the curriculum they are using with their children. That time arrived for me this year around February. If you read one of my earlier posts about the curriculum I chose to use this school year, you would know that I was loving All About Reading for my Language Arts program along with Living Education for Math. I also had mentioned that I would be trying RightStart Math when I saved up and purchased the curriculum. Needless to say, as the title already indicates, I completely changed everything. Check out my reasons why below and what curriculum I’m now using with my five-year old son.
Why I Stopped Using All About Reading
Disclaimer Alert #1! I only used the Pre-Level of All About Reading (AAR). I didn’t move forward with Level 1 or beyond so therefore take my opinion for what it’s worth. My reasons pertain only to our experience with the Pre-Level of AAR.
In the beginning, I loved how AAR had many different facets of reading instruction (i.e. letter and sound recognition, rhyming, syllables, etc). My son and I would go through the lessons without much of a struggle and he loved when he got to work with Ziggy, the zebra puppet. However, after making it through about three quarters of the curriculum, I started to feel a pull toward a new direction for a curriculum that would fit our need. Why? I felt that AAR was lacking in the review. It did a great job reviewing reading skills like rhyming, syllables, and sentence structure. But it lacked review in the letters and their sounds. I found that reviewing the alphabet charts and singing the songs were not enough to help my son retain everything being introduced (especially if we took it a lesson a day). This forced me to be creative with my delivery of the lessons.
For each AAR lesson (essentially a new letter or letter sound), I would spend the first day using the lesson in the AAR teacher book along with the course work from the student book. However, I didn’t feel this was enough practice when introducing a new concept and therefore ventured out looking for extra practice on the web. I felt I needed to spend more than one day on a letter/letter sound, so I’d only introduce one each week. We follow a four-day school week which meant I was looking for three more practice opportunities that were not included with AAR. This was very time consuming and could be frustrating. In the end, along with the extra time needed for planning, I felt my son was not getting what he needed from the curriculum. Therefore, I decided to drop it, but that wasn’t the only curriculum we dropped.
Why I Stopped Using Math Lessons for a Living Education
Disclaimer Alert #2! I realize that Math Lessons for a Living Education (MLLE) Level 1 is recommended for grade 1. Even though my son is 5 years old, I felt after reading reviews and looking at samples of the concepts, my son would be able to handle the lessons. My reasons for changing are not due to grade appropriateness, but rather the delivery of the content.
I had high hopes for this curriculum because of all the reviews I read along with my sons excitement when we received it in the mail. I loved the story setup where each lesson followed a twin brother and sister on their grandparents farm. My son loves stories, so this really helped engage him in the content. However, I felt MLLE was lacking in the delivery of its lessons. Many of the pages were broad in their focus and didn’t give a lot of direction for a child doing the work. I was also frustrated by the introduction of writing numbers without much guidance. My son has only learned how to write a few numbers well and when one of the early lessons required him to write numbers one to ten multiple times all in one lesson, he and I both got frustrated. Needless to say, my son and I were not enjoying the curriculum as much as we had hoped and looked elsewhere for a curriculum that fit our needs.
What I’m Using Now (and next school year)
Let me start with a little back story. Around February when we decided to drop these curriculums, we also took a break from school. Yes we still had learning occurring throughout the day in different ways but it wasn’t until end of March that we started things back up. This was mostly due to the nausea and fatigue I was feeling during my first trimester of pregnancy (yes, we are expecting our third child this September). However, this break also allowed me to do some more research on what type of curriculum I wanted to use for Reading and Math. And so without further ado….drum roll please…I chose to use “The Good and the Beautiful” for Reading (and will for math when it becomes available) and Abeka for Math.
I’m not going to go into too much detail about each curriculum in this post as I will be sharing my thoughts and use in posts coming later this month. However, I will explain what drew me to these two curriculums. First, the Good and the Beautiful kept popping up on my Facebook feed and I felt the need to look at it further. I fell in love with Jenny Phillips approach to teaching reading and the flow of the course really appealed to me (see more in my upcoming post).
Second, with Abeka, I had a chance to see it in action. My mother-in-law (read her interview here) uses it with her younger children and I loved how simple each lesson was laid out and how I could easily see myself teaching my son the concepts. Disclaimer: I am only using the K5 Math student workbook and did not buy the teachers guide as I felt I could use some of my prior experience in this area. I’ll be walking you through a week of lessons with Abeka in a post coming later this month.
Changing curriculums can be scary, especially if you’ve invested in them. Take it from me, you can do it! Normally I wouldn’t condone switching midyear, but when you witness a curriculum not working for your child, I say it’s better late than never. These two new curriculums are what I will be using the remainder of this relaxed school year and will continue to use them next school year. Stay tuned for a post the beginning of next month regarding my son’s “official” kindergarten year, our new year round schedule, and how I planned out the year.