What do you do when your homeschool writing curriculum isn’t working? It sounded so great when you bought it, and you’ve already spent the money.
Should you bail out midyear and switch your writing curriculum? Or should you put your shoulder to the wheel and make the best of the program you already own?
📛 Start By Identifying the Problem with Your Curriculum
“Our current writing program doesn’t seem right for my child.”
You’ve heard all the hoopla about your writing program. You’ve read rave reviews. So why isn’t it working? Before ditching the program, first assess whether it’s a good fit for your particular child.
- Does it mesh with their learning style? My kids all learned differently. Curriculum and methods that worked great for the girls rarely worked for Ben. He didn’t become a “book learner” until mid high school. So, in his elementary and middle-school years, I leaned on homeschooling materials that catered more to his auditory and kinesthetic bent.
- Are learning challenges at play? Children who learn differently have unique needs that traditional curriculums may not meet.
- Is it too hard? Too easy? Before abandoning ship, see how you might modify or adapt activities to your child’s level of ability.
- Does your child hate the writing program? We homeschoolers typically choose a curriculum based on the skills and writing genres we want to teach our kids. But maybe the way those skills are taught is so disagreeable to your child—or so ineffective as a teaching tool—that it’s time to make a change.
“Our current writing curriculum doesn’t feel like a good fit for me.”
During my 15 years of homeschooling, I experienced my share of life’s ups and downs—just as you do! Most years, I had the bandwidth and enthusiasm to try new materials and methods. But in those difficult seasons when I was hanging on by my fingernails, I needed absolute streamlined simplicity.
With that in mind, it’s good to ask some honest questions.
- Is this program more time-consuming than I expected? Even if a writing program is practically perfect in every way, it may not be your best choice right now. What is your homeschool situation? Are you suddenly homeschooling? Are you feeling overwhelmed with toddlers or a new baby? Is this an overall difficult season of life for your family?
- Does it seem complicated to set up or teach? I didn’t try to teach an unfamiliar program without first doing my due diligence. This included skimming the teacher’s book, reading the introduction, and getting familiar with the first lesson. Sometimes I would even practice teaching a lesson or two to the wall, just to get my bearings. But along the way, there were a couple of products I had to ditch because they didn’t make sense to me. Again, it didn’t mean the curriculum was bad—but for whatever reason, I couldn’t figure it out. Maybe you’ve been there, too.
- Does the curriculum align with my homeschool philosophy? There’s no one-size-fits-all writing curriculum. Every method has its strengths, but even the best writing program may not mesh with your teaching style. For example:
- Workbook-driven writing programs directed at the student may be great for a self-motivated child but not for one who struggles to stay on task.
- An eclectic curriculum that requires more parent involvement may be fun and exciting for your student, but you’re wondering how to make the time for the hands-on activities.
- Writing programs based on a classical model are typically heavier on theory, analysis, and imitation and lighter on creative writing. Does this suit your family?
There’s a lot to weigh regarding your writing curriculum before deciding whether or not to switch it out midyear.
📞 Do This Before You Change Your Curriculum
The program you’re using may be outstanding, but for whatever reason, it’s just not working. Where do you go from here?
What I didn’t know in my own homeschooling days—but have learned since—is this: the publisher can be your secret weapon against discouragement or defeat.
Before you throw in the towel (or worse, before you take your grievances to social media), contact the company that publishes your writing curriculum. You may be amazed at the level of customer support you can get.
“Our motto is ‘to make a friend’ with every frustrated customer. People need to feel that companies sincerely care for them … and we do!” —Homeschool Curriculum Publisher
Where can I find support?
First, visit the publisher’s website and see what support they offer. Look under the About tab, the header, or the footer.
- Is there a contact form or email address?
- Do they list a phone number and office hours?
- Can you spot a live chat box?
- Do you see a link to the company’s Facebook page or group?
- Is there a Help or FAQ link where you can search for answers to your questions?
Who answers customer questions?
Larger companies often have full support teams or curriculum advisors. But you’ll often be dealing with small or family-owned homeschool businesses, where you’re likely to get super-personalized service. As a matter of fact, it’s not uncommon to get help directly from the author!
🆘 3 Practical Ways the Publisher Can Support You
In my experience as a homeschool publisher, most companies want to help. It’s in everyone’s best interest when a homeschool mom feels successful using their products and materials. If a solution is available, you may not need to make that midyear writing curriculum switch after all! Here is the kind of support you might expect.
1. Support using your writing curriculum
Whether you just bought your materials or they’ve been sitting untouched for months on the shelf, reach out to the company. Customer care should be able to do the following:
- Explain how the program works
- Walk step by step through a lesson with you
- Help you organize and use your materials
- Help you streamline, tweak, or simplify
- Show you how to adjust the schedule or plan your lessons
- Suggest ways to adapt materials for learning challenges or mixed ages
- Encourage you if you’re struggling
“Customer support means helping our customers experience success with our products … whatever it takes. Customer satisfaction is paramount!” —Homeschool Curriculum Company
2. Product suggestions and guidance
If you’re new to the curriculum, customer support will usually be able to help you:
- Choose the best level for your child
- Combine two kids in one level, when possible
- Use the materials in a co-op or class
3. Practical or technical support
Standard customer care should always include:
- Assistance with placing or tracking an order
- Help with returns or exchanges
- Technical support for digital products
“All my customers deal with me directly, the creator of the program. I provide individualized support, help tailor the program for their needs, and assist anyone who has questions while using the curriculum. I’m here to make sure things go smoothly for my customers.” —Homeschool Curriculum Company
🙋 Be the Customer Everyone Wants to Help!
Considerate customers usually get the best service! So whether you’re fighting with a glitchy shopping cart or struggling to use your curriculum, try not to let your frustration get the better of you when you call or email for support. Know these three things about most homeschool publishers:
- We want our curriculum to work for your family.
- We’re sincerely invested in your success and are here to help.
- Real people answer your calls or read your emails. It never hurts to start by saying, “Thanks so much for helping me today. I really appreciate it.” Kindness goes a long way.
🤝 At Demme Learning, we’re committed to outstanding customer service. Contact us for help! Our dedicated curriculum advisors can walk you through a writing lesson, personalize a schedule for your homeschool or co-op class, or answer your questions about choosing and using WriteShop materials.
🕥 When It’s Time for a Midyear Writing Curriculum Switch
When you’ve exhausted your options and your writing curriculum still isn’t working for your child, it’s probably time to set it aside and make a change.
Give yourself permission to try something new.
I’ll let you in on a secret: The writing curriculum we chose for our co-op class many years ago wasn’t a good fit for the students. It didn’t work for our sons, it didn’t work for the other kids in the class, and it certainly didn’t work for us. So we abandoned it and began developing our own lessons out of desperation. That’s how WriteShop was born.
There’s no shame in admitting a particular writing curriculum isn’t right for your family. You’ve given it your best, so let go of the guilt and start afresh. It’s okay to try something different!
Put it aside and try again in the future.
I set my son’s reading curriculum aside several times in K-1st grades before we finally experienced success in 2nd. Even though the program wasn’t a good fit at first, I could tell it was solid. Ben just wasn’t ready to read yet! I’m so glad I kept trying till the time was right.
Likewise, your writing program might be perfect for another time—or for a different child. If you like the curriculum and see its value, hang onto it till you’re ready to dive in again.
You’ll thank yourself later.
We want our kids to love getting creative with words, not fall apart at the mention of a pencil. Ain’t nobody got time for battles at the writing table! If you’ve tried all the solutions but “I hate writing” is till the daily mantra, it’s time for a new approach.
Give away or sell what you can of your old stuff and get yourself a new writing program. It’s worth the expense of making a midyear curriculum switch if it restores peace to your writing sessions. After all, you’ll never regret making the best choice for your child!
WriteShop is a great pick for a middle-of-the year change in homeschool writing materials. Unmotivated or bored kids will love the hands-on games and varied assignments that actually put the fun in writing. And parents love the adaptable lessons and flexible schedules that make it easy to start any time during the year.
“WriteShop has completely changed [my daughter’s] outlook on writing. Her enthusiasm is through the roof!”
—Krista Albrecht, using WriteShop Junior