Mid-year breaks are a great time to evaluate whether that shiny product you bought in August is still working in your homeschool. Remember when you bought it? You were sure that this was the thing that was going to help your kid get it. But now it’s not proving the test of time (or the test of your kids). What’s to be done? Below we offer suggestions, giving you permission to do what you need to do with that product that has been giving you trouble.
Throw it out
Sounds harsh, but just because the product has great reviews doesn’t mean it’s for you. Many of us seasoned homeschoolers have gone through dozens of products on recommendations from friends and internet mates only to find that either our kids learn differently or we don’t like using it. There are no guarantees that a product will work for you. Remember, you aren’t married to your curriculum, so you can drop it like a rock with no shame. Before you trash it, though, consider this.
Give it away or sell it
Most homeschoolers are frugal and won’t actually throw out a product. No one wants to see a product go to waste, even if it’s not for them. Someone you know may want to try it, and giving it to them could be a blessing. You also could sell it in your local groups or a book consignment shop. You could also host a curriculum swap. Also, homeschoolers shop at Goodwill, so that is a great place to donate used products.
If you’ve done away with the product, how do you go about replacing it? Researching curricula is one of the biggest jobs we have. So many wonderful parents have made video reviews because they either liked a product or hated it. Spend time thoroughly checking out reviews. Borrow it, if possible, to see if it works for you. If it happens to work in your home, you can then give the author credit by buying it from them directly.
Make it work
You don’t have to play by the rules when it’s in your own home. If you find the directions difficult or cumbersome or have a product with a set schedule you can’t seem to follow, you can make your own directions or follow the program at your own pace. Many curriculum writers came up with these ideas because it worked for them in their own home. But they are not in your home with your children. You are free to do with it as you wish. Change it, mark it out, dress it up, make it specific to your homeschool, be creative.
Don’t let the idea that this product must be done as it states or someone will come to get you. That won’t happen. Think of these products as contract workers. You’ve paid for the expertise but you are still the general contractor. Don’t let the rules keep you from teaching it your way. Adapt as needed! In fact, you may help someone else later on with your creativity.