Using Curriculum As Your Tool Rather Than Your Master

Don't let your homeschool curriculum rule over you!

Having the right curriculum can either make or break your homeschool. Am I right? Getting sucked into the belief that your homeschool resources of choice must be used as written is one of the most debilitating things that can happen to your homeschool routine.

Don’t do it.

While some homeschoolers feel perfectly at home using life as their curriculum, most of us prefer to at least have something we can fall back on. Unfortunately, it can be far too easy to get so hung up on staying on track, doing every single activity, and covering every single page that the freedom that homeschooling should bring will feel like an unattainable feat.

The good news is, there are ways you can take advantage of the many homeschooling resources out there by using them as your tool rather than your master.

I’m here to help you with that today.

How to Use Your Curriculum As a Tool, Not Your Master


Using your homeschool curriculum

(This post contains affiliate links.)

1. Ignore the curriculum’s daily schedule.

No matter whether the curriculum is a textbook, unit study, or literature-based resource, chances are, it comes with some sort of daily schedule. As tempting as it can be to try to follow these schedules, the fact is, they are optional and should be treated as such.

The curriculum writers don’t know your family, they don’t know how much your children can handle, and they surely don’t know your daily responsibilities. The schedules they offer are examples of how the curriculum can be used. They are not set in stone.

Remember that.


2. Choose only the parts you want to do.

There is no law – written or unwritten – that states that you must do every single section, every single activity, and every single page of your homeschool curriculum. If you come across a section in your textbook that you’ve already covered or you don’t feel is necessary, skip it.

If your literature-based curriculum contains a few books you know your children will struggle to pay attention to, find a suitable substitute, or move on.

If your unit study has too many activities that are time-consuming, don’t do them. Unit studies aren’t written to be used that way, anyway. Plan to do only those that you know both you and your children could handle and would be interested in.

No curriculum police will show up at your door. I promise.


3. Be flexible with the included lessons.

I’m going to say right off the bat that I am not usually one who uses prewritten curriculum lessons, unless I am using Beautiful Feet Books. Their lessons are actually sensible.

In my own experience, I’ve found that most lessons are written as unrealistically as the schedules. There just isn’t a whole lot of leg room.

I realize that a good many homeschool parents prefer to use the lessons but tend to get overwhelmed from time to time. Beyond taking advantage of #2 and just deciding not to do everything, there is another option:

Break the lessons up into shorter lessons. Just because the manual says “Lesson 1” or “Day 1” doesn’t mean that you’re bound to completing it in only one day. If it’s too much for one day, split it in half and do the rest the following day.

And what happens if you end up not completing the curriculum in a year because you’ve done it that way? That’s up to you. You can choose to simply end it there and move on, or you can pick up where you left off the following year.

Yes, it’s really that easy.


4. Use the table of contents as a guide and ditch the rest.

Sometimes you may purchase a curriculum for the reassurance of knowing that you’ve got some sort of resource, even if you don’t like it very much. In those cases, that textbook table of contents can be as good as gold. Just make a list of all the topics and subtopics mentioned, and you’re set!

With a little creativity and some time spent at the library, you can easily ensure you’ve covered everything your textbook would have tackled, but by using living books and other activities, instead.


Homeschooling can be one of the most freeing things your family will ever do. Take advantage of that flexibility and remember – curriculum is your tool, not your master.


Homeschooling and education are my passion. It is my fervent hope to one day devote more time to creating content for you. If you’d like to support this ministry, consider supporting me on Patreon.

Thank you so much. I appreciate each and every one of you!





Author: Shelly Sangrey

I'm Shelly, a Christ-following, homeschooling Mom of eleven children ( okay, not ALL children. My oldest is 23.) I met my husband right after graduation, and we've been together ever since. Though my life can be hectic at times... okay, ALL the time, I wouldn't change it for anything.

7 thoughts on “Using Curriculum As Your Tool Rather Than Your Master”

  1. Such practical and sound advice! I remember starting off with Abeka (which turned out to be a waste) and looking at their schedule with serious doubts. It was overwhelming and impractical. I’m so glad I didn’t even attempt to follow it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love all of your posts but this one resonates with me so much right now. We just started using Logic of English and really love it. Then, we discovered All About Reading at our library. The two compliment each other so well and I was able to find just the teacher’s manual and the 3 readers second-hand. Now, we have our own mix-up that is working for us. My oldest has a hard time with handwriting and so resists that portion of LOE (even though it is very playful and minimal.) SO, I’m not pushing that with him. Instead, I’m encouraging him to write in real life – to help me make lists, write notes to friends and family and lots and lots of art and play that encourages his skills in handwriting. If I were to follow the curriculum like it was the Gospel, we’d all be pretty frustrated right now. Thank you so much for your practical and encouraging advice. I have recommended your blog and channel to so many people as I think you have the most sane and sensible advice I have found out there. Peace and Blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Learning this was the turning point in my homeschool. I still struggle to let go of the maths schedule though. My kids like to finish the whole book each year, so getting behind actually gets stressful for them. We don’t use the prescribed schedule, I’ve set our own, but sometimes it still feels like our master 😕

    Liked by 1 person

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