The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Moms

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Moms

If you’re anything like I am, you probably devote a chunk of your summer break to preparing for the upcoming year. You search for the perfect books; spend long, painstaking hours writing out detailed daily and weekly lesson plans. You organize the bookshelves, label the binders, choose co-op classes and extracurricular activities. You sit back, pleased with your accomplishments, knowing it will be the best school year ever. When things are not proceeding according to plan during the first few weeks back at school, you write it off as settling back in to the routine. By the second month, your child is helplessly behind in his work and you are snapping at one another. Don’t panic. All is not lost. Your perfect plans just need a bit of tweaking. But how do you identify the problems? For starters, you need to distance yourself from your emotional attachment to your lesson plans. A little revision is probably all that is needed. Take a deep breath and reach for the chocolate.


Talk to your family

Maybe your child can identify what’s not working for him. Perhaps your spouse may see something helpful that you may have missed because you’re frustrated and too close to the situation. During one of our family meetings, my hubby mentioned that it seemed as if our day was determined by our math lesson. If math went well, so did the rest of the day. Of course if it went poorly…well, you get the idea.

Reassess your plans

Look objectively at your plans and try to determine the real problem. Is there too much work to be reasonably accomplished in a day or in a week? If so, what can be easily eliminated? If it’s an activity your child enjoys, maybe it’s not worth removing. The solution may be as simple as assigning fewer pages per day or even adding a week to the end of your school year.

Is it the wrong curriculum?

Is the curriculum wrong for you or for your child? I admit that I have been known to purchase “the perfect curriculum,” only to find it does not work for one of us. Last year I purchased a grammar curriculum that was a nightmare from a teacher perspective. This year, after a couple of weeks of grammar I realized that our new curriculum was more style-based than rule based and the author’s style suggestions went against everything I hold grammatically sacred. Guess what? I tossed it!!! It’s difficult to admit that you purchased the wrong curriculum. Maybe it was an expensive mistake, but that does not mean you should be forced to suck it up and continue. Try selling it. Just because it wasn’t the right choice for your family, doesn’t mean that someone else can’t use it and love it. There are many sale/swap boards out there for homeschoolers – even a few on Facebook and other social media sites. Do you belong to a homeschool co-op? If so, send an email to the group letting them know what you have to sell. I’ve bought and sold several things this way. Then reach out to other homeschool parents and see what they suggest as a replacement.

Do you love the curriculum but need to find a different way to implement the material?

This has been a recurring problem for me in the past. I have purchased curriculum, only to turn it on its ear, so to speak. There is no rule that requires you to follow the directions set out by the publisher. Make your own rules. Our own Nicole Sinclair fell in love with Story of the World Ancient History but her son did not; in fact, history was his least favorite subject. Nicole used the spine and the activity book to create an ancient history Minecraft world with her son. Who loves history now? Yup, her son. The message here is that no one knows your child as well as you. As long as they absorb the information, the “how” is not relevant.

Do not align yourself so closely with a method or philosophy of education that you do yourself or your child a disservice.

If you had asked me when I began homeschooling, I would have told you that I was a Classical Educator. Now, many years later, my answer will depend on the day you ask the question. I got so caught up in trying to follow the outline for a classical education that I lost sight of what attracted me to it in the first place. Am I classical? In many ways, yes, I am – but I like to consider myself an eclectic homeschooler with heavy classical leanings. What in the world does that mean? It means that although there are many things I appreciate about a classical education, I will do whatever it takes to get the job done – including unschooling a subject if that is what will best suit my child’s needs at a given time. Most importantly, you are not a failure. We have all experienced this bump in the road at one time or another. Although I write all my lesson plans for the year the previous summer, I only print them out one week at a time. This allows me to go back and make any necessary changes. As each weekly sheet is finished, I insert it into a Pro-Click binder so that I can refer back as necessary. The reality is that some things take more or less time than you expect. It is not the end of the world if you need to carry over a subject into the next year because you didn’t finish it. Let’s face it, each new phase of children’s education requires adjustments. Elementary education differs from middle school, and middle school is a world away from high school. The best part about homeschooling is the ability to change directions as the need presents itself. It will all work out okay in the end – I promise.

About Marcy Guyer


  1. Nice article!

  2. Marcy Guyer says:

    Glad you enjoyed it, Debbi. Chocolate is a mainstay in our house – especially during math!

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