Something that’s very important to constantly pay attention to and evaluate when homeschooling is whether or not your curriculum is still working for you. It can be easy to pick something and think you’re stuck with it long-term, but this isn’t the case. I am not by any means encouraging curriculum-hopping, because I think consistency is important, and if you hop around too much, you may manage to miss important lessons and skills. But you shouldn’t be a slave to your curriculum, either–it’s supposed to work for you, not the other way around.
I’ve had to switch a few things up in the three-plus years I’ve been homeschooling. The first switch came at the end of our first year–Kindergarten–when I realized that our Language Arts program was moving too slowly for Turkey and Bunny, and they needed a more advanced program. I learned a similar lesson with a spelling curriculum we were using last year. I also changed our core curriculum after last year, because we needed something more hands-on than Sonlight offered us.
Now that we’re almost a quarter of the way through third grade, I’ve realized that I need to make a change again. We’ve been using, and liking, Horizons math. I’ve realized lately, though, that the level we’re using isn’t providing enough of a challenge for Turkey and Bunny. Yes, new concepts are being introduced, but they’re mastering them almost immediately. And while Turkey likes math so much that he doesn’t mind doing the same thing over and over, Bunny is bored to tears. She will take forever to complete a lesson, not because she hasn’t learned the material, but because she is so bored with doing the same things.
So, I sat down and evaluated the scope and sequence of Horizons fourth grade math. Frankly, I don’t know why I’ve been so reluctant to do it before. Homeschooling allows a wonderful flexibility in choosing appropriate, challenging materials that children need. Yes, there are things that we haven’t learned yet that they’ll need to know. But, there’s also plenty of opportunity for review at the fourth grade level. So, I made the decision to teach a few more key concepts from the third grade book, and then move ahead to the fourth grade books. At the worst, we discover it’s too advanced, and move back to third grade, and keep the other materials for next year. But, I’m hopeful that this will provide the additional challenge they need–the last thing I want is to give them the impression that school is boring, when one of the big benefits of homeschooling is supposed to be fostering a love of learning!