Ups & Downs of Changing Curriculum Mid-Year

27 Apr

I started off our school year knowing exactly what curriculum I wanted to use (and not use).  Then we hit a slump near the end of 2nd quarter.  The math curriculum we were using was just too easy for our 1st grader.  At least once a week he would ask me, “Why do you keep giving me work to do when I know all this stuff?”  I was trying to follow the scope and sequence of the book, but even going through it at a faster pace just wasn’t enough of a challenge for him.  I added in numerous math games and hands-on learning to try and make the boring math more fun, but as the weeks went by I could tell he was quickly losing interest in what had been his favorite subject.

Reading was a whole different kind of issue.  Our son who had been an on-target reader starting off the year had hit a plateau and wasn’t progressing at all.  We still read books every single day.  Some I read aloud, some he read to me, but it seemed he was stumbling over the same words.  I needed help teaching him the irregular words that didn’t follow the rules he had been learning.  Rules such as, “i before e except after c” and “when two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking” are not hard and fast rules.  There are exceptions to most of the rules in the English language and it’s not easy for a 6-7yr old to understand (it’s not always easy for an adult to understand either).

I started researching math and reading curriculum for 2nd grade and found Horizons by Alpha Omega that looked like it would be a perfect fit for us.  Well a friend gave me Horizons Math & Horizons Phonics & Reading for 1st grade so I began slowly introducing a few of those lessons into our weekly schedule.  The Horizons Math transition went smoothly but I realized real quick that this was a more advanced curriculum than the public school book we had been using.

Transitioning to the Horizons Phonics & Reading curriculum was actually very depressing.  As I looked through the book trying to figure out where the best place to start would be I realized we had to start at lesson 1.  Yes, that is correct.  We were finishing up the 2nd quarter of first grade and now I was starting my son on lesson ONE of a reading book.

Now you’re probably thinking what had I been teaching him up until this point?  Well apparently I had been teaching him kindergarten level reading according to the Horizons Alpha Omega schedule.  Don’t take this the wrong way, I LOVE the Horizons books, but whereas before I thought we were right on target, I suddenly felt utterly and completely behind.  Like half a year behind!  It took me about 2 weeks before I finally wrapped my mind around the concept that just because this particular lesson book is more advanced than where we are doesn’t mean that anything has changed from our son’s standpoint.  He is still reading 1st grade level books and he reads random items around the house because he wants to know what they say.

Sometimes it helps to take a deep breath, step back and look at the big picture. Is it possible for us to finish the Horizons Reading book before the end of the 1st grade year?  Nope, no way.  In the big scheme of things, does it matter if I finish a specific curriculum book by the end of the year?  As long as our children are learning, advancing, and enjoying the journey of learning this is more important.


Posted by on April 27, 2012 in Curriculum


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2 responses to “Ups & Downs of Changing Curriculum Mid-Year

  1. Taidee

    September 11, 2013 at 10:04 pm

    Hi I am planning on ordering Horizons 1 for my 1st grader, math, phonics and reading etc. She finished her Horizons K math and phonics and reading. Last year was our first year homeschooling and I had no clue what I was doing. Having the Horizons teachers guide basically written down for me was such a relief. However I think the long lessons of Horizons is what my daughter hates and we had a very difficult Kindergarten year. Every day there would be tears and stress. I almost gave up and I did a lot of reading and found out that Horizons is a very advanced program and I by reading other posts it helped me realize that I could slow down if I wanted to because after all we are homeschooling. Anyway… what are your thoughts on Horizons 1 since you are doing it with your first grader? Is it as challenging as Horizons K? I hate the thought of having to find another curriculum and not knowing if it will be as clear for me as Horizons. Please help!!

    • Sharon -Admin

      September 12, 2013 at 10:09 am

      I agree the Horizons program is advanced. I used the 1st & 2nd grade levels for our son and he’s now on the 3rd grade level. Last year I looked through the Horizons K version and determined it was way too advanced for our daughter so I used a variety of other books and workbooks. This year we started her on the Horizons 1st grade (she’s been using it about a month now) and so far everything is going smoothly. Lots of practice reviewing the different sounds each letter makes, basic addition problems, using a number line, sizes and shape review, etc. I can take some pictures of random pages through the books and send them to you if this would help in your decision.

      I like the Horizons program being advanced because it keeps my son’s interest in math, where most programs I tried before had him bored with the slow, repetitiveness. I’m not sure if my daughter will need such an advanced program, but we’ll take it easy and let her set the pace.

      If your daughter is in tears and stressed then you definitely need to take a break or find something different for her to do. Declare one day every couple of weeks to be “game day” where you play tons of board games, card games, do jigsaw puzzles together and more. Games like these help with counting, listening skills, taking turns, and are perfect for hands-on, mental math.

      I would recommend to keep your daughter’s learning sessions to 20-30 minutes at a time, per subject. After every 30 minutes of teaching/learning take a 10 minute break (again, set the timer.) After a few days you can adjust the teaching time to what works best for her. For me, I try to keep my “talking time” brief or I lose my children’s attention. After I’ve explained the lesson, I sit by first grader and talk her through how to do the worksheet. Occasionally she finishes before the 30 minutes is up, but more often she still has several things to do. I don’t push her to rush though. As long as she’s actively doing her work, and not playing I let her work at her pace. Once we’re finished with all of our subjects for the day she has the opportunity to finish what is left on her worksheets. Usually this is while I’m nearby loading the dishwasher or preparing dinner, so I’m easily available if she needs help.

      Try to encourage the joy and love of learning. If you’re not feeling joy and excitement about teaching, chances are your child isn’t feeling joy and excitement about learning.

      Best of luck with whatever you decide!


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