AKA Knowing When to Pull the Plug on Your Current Curriculum
Something just isn't working. There are tears. There is attitude. You are both struggling. How do you know when it's time to make the switch in a subject and try something new?
It can be a hard decision and here are a few reasons:
I spent a lot of money on this curriculum.
I like this curriculum a LOT. I don't know what his problem is.
This has worked for all my previous children and I know it's a solid curriculum that will get us where we need to be.
They just need to learn (more discipline, better study skills, a better attitude) and then it will be fine.
We've already switched X amount of times. This is getting ridiculous.
I can't afford new curriculum right now.
I'm sure there are more reasons. I certainly agree that switching all the time is not a good thing. If we are trying to build a base of knowledge, every time we switch curriculum, something is likely getting skipped over. Plus, kids are smart. They can figure out that if they just act unhappy enough, Mom will do something about this horrible subject they don't enjoy and they can get something new.
So, what do you do? Just like most things in homeschooling (besides state laws), there are no hard and fast rules. Here are some points to consider:
Before you even hint to your child that you might switch, think about it by yourself. Speak to your spouse as well. I've been surprised by my husband's insights into what is working or not in our homeschool. Why was I surprised? Because he is not home during the day and doesn't do the actual homeschooling. But, he does know his children. After showing him the work, he's been able to point out why something might not be working based on what he knows about that child. You don't have to make all the decisions. Get some input.
Can the current curriculum be tweaked? For example, can you do parts of it orally instead of written? Can you switch a current book out for a better choice? Would an audio version help? Do you need to back up and shore up some skills such as the multiplication facts in order to make it work better? Can you cross some problems out that are causing too much repetition? Skip whole lessons? Does this subject need to be moved to a different time of day? Does your child need more one-on-one support in this subject? Do they just need to sit closer to you? Does someone else need to teach this subject to them, like Dad?
If you are sure that this particular curriculum is just not a good fit for your child, let them know that you want to try something else on a trial basis. Put that old curriculum on the shelf, but don't toss it. Yes, I would let my child know that it's possible you will be going back to that one. If the same attitude is a problem and it becomes apparent that a curriculum switch was not necessarily the answer, you can always go back to the one you preferred anyway. Who knows if this new one will be a fit? Hang on to that old one for a while.
Communicate honestly to your child why you are switching and get their input. I'm currently in the middle of this decision with my youngest child. She has told me that she doesn't like all the colors, pictures, and game-type stuff in her math book. She just wants to DO the problems and be done with it. So I'm currently considering some more basic black-and-white pages math curricula that I know to be good. I'm going to show her the practice test for each one and get her input. She's in 6th grade so I know we can discuss this. For a younger child, I would probably just make the decision and let them know, After all, you are the teacher and it is ultimately your decision.
The only thing that is not a choice is to completely drop a subject that is required by law in your state. However, a short break while you research and figure it all out could be a good thing.
Check out my Homeschool Links for a site that can help you make decisions about curricula.