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Homeschool Curriculum Mismatch

We used Jay Wile for my two oldest. We struggled/battled/survived but it is just not working for my 9th grader. We stopped halfway through Physical Science, switched to Alpha & Omega Switched-On Schoolhouse, which wasn't much better. I'm dreading Biology next year but will struggle through Jay Wile if there is nothing else out there for the non-Science family.


curriculum mismatch

Homeschool Curriculum Mismatch



How do you know when a homeschooling curriculum just isn't working for you? Listen to the words you use to describe it! "Struggled, battled, and barely survived"? Those words indicate a curriculum mismatch!

I love Apologia, but I recognize it isn't for everyone. I have heard more complaints about physical science and general science than I have heard about their biology, chemistry and physics, though. It may be just that particular BOOK that wasn't a good fit. Biology, chemistry, and physics are so different from one another, it's very easy to love one of them and loathe the other two! Don't completely give up hope on other Apologia books.

Apologia is a textbook curriculum. Another option is Beginnings Publishing's Spectrum Chemistry. It's a little bit more experiment-based, and less focused on reading. You can also search for a science curriculum that is interesting to your children. Check out HomeScienceTools.com to find other options.

You might consider taking a year to study a science that truly interests your children. Consider astronomy, geology, botany,  electronics, crime scene investigation, or computer science. The following year, when they have forgotten how much they loathe science, you can reintroduce biology or chemistry.

For a non-sciency family, find something your children can tolerate, even if they don't end up loving it. Make sure they are consistent, because if they do science only sporadically they may end up hating it even more. Try to find some fun and meaningful supplements, particularly if they are kinesthetic learners. A field trip to the zoo or hospital, a hands-on first aid class, or outdoor botany lab work can help.

There is so much to explore in the area of science. Don't settle for a curriculum mismatch!

Have you experienced a curriculum mismatch? What curriculum do you enjoy using for science? Please share!



Please note: This post was originally published in July 2010 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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Comments 10

Guest - Lynette on Friday, 24 October 2014 06:31

We used Shepherd Science for Biology and Chemistry 101 for Chemistry. Both are excellent DVD resources. We did use Apologia for General and Physical Science.

We used Shepherd Science for Biology and Chemistry 101 for Chemistry. Both are excellent DVD resources. We did use Apologia for General and Physical Science.
Guest - Assistant to The HomeScholar on Friday, 24 October 2014 10:23

Dear Lynette,
It's always nice to get info on what others use for science, since we spend so much money on those programs! Thanks for sharing.
Robin
Assistant to The HomeScholar

Dear Lynette, It's always nice to get info on what others use for science, since we spend so much money on those programs! Thanks for sharing. Robin Assistant to The HomeScholar
Guest - Julieanne (website) on Thursday, 23 October 2014 22:51

We've used Apologia with our girls, and while the texts have been hard, they have been excellent in teaching our children how to study and learn from a textbook, which is what they will encounter throughout their college years. For chemistry, though, we are using Friendly Chemistry - and are loving it! I've matched up the Friendly Chemistry chapters with the Apologia modules, and the concepts are virtually the same. However, the Friendly Chemistry is not focused on memorizing everything under the sun, like Apologia tends to do. Friendly Chemistry chapters are also much shorter, so when they are tested on a concept, it is on one main concept, not 10-20 concepts all at once. It's been a great fit!

We've used Apologia with our girls, and while the texts have been hard, they have been excellent in teaching our children how to study and learn from a textbook, which is what they will encounter throughout their college years. For chemistry, though, we are using Friendly Chemistry - and are loving it! I've matched up the Friendly Chemistry chapters with the Apologia modules, and the concepts are virtually the same. However, the Friendly Chemistry is not focused on memorizing everything under the sun, like Apologia tends to do. :) Friendly Chemistry chapters are also much shorter, so when they are tested on a concept, it is on one main concept, not 10-20 concepts all at once. It's been a great fit!
Guest - Assistant to The HomeScholar on Friday, 24 October 2014 10:25

Dear Julieanne,
The "Friendly Chemistry" sounds like a really good option for those who want more science, but may not be focused on a future in a science career. I have one of those students, myself! Thanks for the info!
Robin
Assistant to The HomeScholar

Dear Julieanne, The "Friendly Chemistry" sounds like a really good option for those who want more science, but may not be focused on a future in a science career. I have one of those students, myself! Thanks for the info! Robin Assistant to The HomeScholar
Guest - Lee (website) on Wednesday, 28 March 2012 12:44

Dear Lois,

I saw your blog comment and I wanted to make sure to respond to you directly as well.

If you have read my posts on science, you probably know I'm a huge fan with Apologia, but I'm actually not a huge fan of the Physical Science or General Science books used in middle school. For some reason, those two books are not as enjoyable for teens - I've heard from many that they are too dry, not as interesting, and too hard. I guess what I'm saying is that it's probably not YOU, it's probably the book. Just do your best, but at the same time, don't be afraid to use Biology or Chemistry next year - it's a completely different ball of wax

You might also consider the possibility that this science is an area they just don't enjoy. If that is the case, remember to put your weak area first. I have another blog post about that here: Putting Weak Areas First http://www.thehomescholar.com/blog/first-things-first/3379/

Blessings,
Lee

Dear Lois, I saw your blog comment and I wanted to make sure to respond to you directly as well. If you have read my posts on science, you probably know I'm a huge fan with Apologia, but I'm actually not a huge fan of the Physical Science or General Science books used in middle school. For some reason, those two books are not as enjoyable for teens - I've heard from many that they are too dry, not as interesting, and too hard. I guess what I'm saying is that it's probably not YOU, it's probably the book. Just do your best, but at the same time, don't be afraid to use Biology or Chemistry next year - it's a completely different ball of wax :) You might also consider the possibility that this science is an area they just don't enjoy. If that is the case, remember to put your weak area first. I have another blog post about that here: Putting Weak Areas First http://www.thehomescholar.com/blog/first-things-first/3379/ Blessings, Lee
Guest - Lois on Wednesday, 28 March 2012 05:40

The trouble we have with Apologia is it's just HARD! It's hard to keep up with the one module every 2 weeks. I've tried eliminating some of the requirements, like the on your own or the study guide questions, but then I find they don't "know it." Since life is not easy, and what you like may not be the best thing for you, I've encouraged my two to press on. They are in physical science and Human Body. I have spent time and time agains searching for a different curriculum each time they complain about something, and if I let them choose something, they wouldn't choose anything! I've started letting them orally answer the study guide questions with me. My high schooler taking anatomy was able to explain to me what one of the questions meant! I told her if she is able to explain something to her non-science mother, then she was understanding it adequately. She doesn't have to emerge with a medical degree.

The trouble we have with Apologia is it's just HARD! It's hard to keep up with the one module every 2 weeks. I've tried eliminating some of the requirements, like the on your own or the study guide questions, but then I find they don't "know it." Since life is not easy, and what you like may not be the best thing for you, I've encouraged my two to press on. They are in physical science and Human Body. I have spent time and time agains searching for a different curriculum each time they complain about something, and if I let them choose something, they wouldn't choose anything! I've started letting them orally answer the study guide questions with me. My high schooler taking anatomy was able to explain to me what one of the questions meant! I told her if she is able to explain something to her non-science mother, then she was understanding it adequately. She doesn't have to emerge with a medical degree.
Guest - Johnne on Thursday, 13 October 2011 06:46

I had the same problem. I found Biology 101 DVD series for my very visual learner. She loves it. The author applies each concept to every day life which is very important to my daughter. I highly recommend it. They also have Chemistry 101 and are working on Physics. I will be buying all of them.

I had the same problem. I found Biology 101 DVD series for my very visual learner. She loves it. The author applies each concept to every day life which is very important to my daughter. I highly recommend it. They also have Chemistry 101 and are working on Physics. I will be buying all of them.
Guest - Barbara on Thursday, 06 October 2011 06:47

Because one of your children may struggle with a science curriculum, please don't rule out science as something they don't love. Like Lee said, it could be the curriculum, not the subject. I have used Apologia with almost all four of my children. The first three loved it, but the last one struggled and there were tears with the general science so we stopped using it and have found a different curriculum. She is a great lover of science, and I didn't want her to end up hating it and thinking science wasn't her her thing (she is interested in science as a career choice). Curriculum, with any subject, is not a 'one size fits all', and the great thing about homeschooling is that we are not limited in what we use to educate our children.

Because one of your children may struggle with a science curriculum, please don't rule out science as something they don't love. Like Lee said, it could be the curriculum, not the subject. I have used Apologia with almost all four of my children. The first three loved it, but the last one struggled and there were tears with the general science so we stopped using it and have found a different curriculum. She is a great lover of science, and I didn't want her to end up hating it and thinking science wasn't her her thing (she is interested in science as a career choice). Curriculum, with any subject, is not a 'one size fits all', and the great thing about homeschooling is that we are not limited in what we use to educate our children.
Guest - J W on Wednesday, 21 July 2010 06:01

I've had a curriculum work one year, and not the next. I've even started to consider methods of schooling I'd previously not thought of, and methods of schooling that I'd previously dismissed out of hand. The point is - read up on methods, approaches, and get thee to a convention. I gave one of my kids a list of required subjects, some suggestions of vendors to look at for those subjects, and turned her loose at the convention. After 2-3 hours, she took me to her favorite vendors. I purchased most of her faves with no qualms, and some we negotiated. This might not work for some, but it worked very well for us.

I've had a curriculum work one year, and not the next. I've even started to consider methods of schooling I'd previously not thought of, and methods of schooling that I'd previously dismissed out of hand. The point is - read up on methods, approaches, and get thee to a convention. I gave one of my kids a list of required subjects, some suggestions of vendors to look at for those subjects, and turned her loose at the convention. After 2-3 hours, she took me to her favorite vendors. I purchased most of her faves with no qualms, and some we negotiated. This might not work for some, but it worked very well for us.
Guest - Margaret (website) on Tuesday, 20 July 2010 07:12

Yes! Not everything is a good fit for everyone. This is why I sometimes hesitate to recommend curriculum to another homeschooling mom. I know how easy it is to make a (bad) curriculum decision based on someone else's success.

Yes! Not everything is a good fit for everyone. This is why I sometimes hesitate to recommend curriculum to another homeschooling mom. I know how easy it is to make a (bad) curriculum decision based on someone else's success.
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