There’s a solution for when your homeschool lesson plans don’t work.

We’ve all been there. They’re homeschool lesson plans that came with your curriculum or that a qualified teacher wrote, but for some reason, they do not seem to be working for your student. Not today anyway. Our top seven suggestions actually do not include replacing your curriculum. (That’s usually a last-resort solution, and it may not always solve the problem.)

Let’s look a little deeper at why the lesson plans aren’t working. Here are 7 solutions for common sources of frustration.

Solutions You Can Use for Homeschool Lesson Plans That Don’t Fit

1. You are trying to fit a large-scale lesson plan into a small-scale environment.

This means that some books and even whole pieces of the curriculum were written with a large classroom in mind. Can you still make these work? Yes, you can. But you will need to go through the curriculum and cherry-pick what will and won’t work for your child and your environment.

It’s easy to think a piece of curriculum will work when we glance through it or read reviews online. But it’s another thing to put that reputable lesson plan to work when it’s just you and your child at the kitchen table. So take an honest look at the type of curriculum you have. Is it designed with your usage and your environment in mind? If not, we recommend taking a unit at a time and condensing what you can use from it. It might be that the content is fine, but you need to brainstorm how to use the content in a way that works for you.

2. Your lesson plans use jargon that you are not familiar with.

Jargon is not the enemy; in fact, every industry has its own industry-specific language. Education is no different. But if your homeschool lesson plans are written for an educator who has gone to college for that specific degree, it may just take some homework on your part. (We sincerely hope your homeschool lesson plans aren’t written with complicated lingo. At Learnwell, we believe all parents can homeschool with confidence — and should have lesson plans to reflect that.)

3. Your homeschool lesson plans are okay for some families — just not yours.

This is a very subjective reason, but it’s a valid reason because it’s true! Sometimes what works for one family (pioneer costumes, anyone?) may not work for another. You know your kids. And this is where the joy of homeschooling comes into play. If you know that something will not jive with your kids, substitute something else. In the example of pioneer costumes, maybe instead you could tour a pioneer homestead in a historic part of town or read a novel that was set in the pioneering era. You could even watch an episode of “Little House on the Prairie” or “Frontier House” with your kids. (We always recommend previewing television shows and movies.)

Solutions for Students Who Have Changing Needs

4. The kids are tired, and what you planned sounded fun at the time but…

A month ago, when you looked at your scope and sequence, visiting a farm to learn about dairy cows sounded great. But on the heels of an illness or a weekend away camping, your family might need a low-key alternative. Just remember that you can always reschedule field trips or lesson plans that need to be shelved until a later date. It is okay to pivot and come back to the plan on a day when your children are more alert. If you find this energy lag happening often, however, we recommend taking stock of family life and building in some intentional margin. It’s one of the reasons we started Learnwell — to help families (including our own!) rediscover free time and, yes, even boredom.

5. The content works, but the delivery system doesn’t.

Our Learnwell teachers understand that you have to change things up a bit when you’re working on a 4- to 5-day week, every week, 10 months out of the school year. Just like adults, students get bored with the same delivery methods. So while your reading program may be incredible, if it’s a computer-based system, you might want to venture out to a bookstore or a library and find some living books. One of our teachers has created a Parent Read-Aloud List for students in grades K-2 who need to spice up their reading life. 

Or if you are doing a computer-based or online math program, check into Math Mammoth’s Blue workbooks. They’re inexpensive, and they come in both color or black and white. They can supplement what you’re already doing, and it’s an easy way to try out a new curriculum without a major investment.

6. Your little learners need more hands-on learning.

Let’s be honest. Even older students need a book break from time to time, but especially children ages 4-12 often benefit from hands-on activities. If you need an activity to introduce a hands-on complement to your lesson plan, try Science Buddies for science experiments and activities or even career exploration ideas.

Solutions for Parents Who Need a Little Help

7. You are not confident in your abilities to execute the lesson plan.

Sometimes, a homeschool lesson plan doesn’t work because you are feeling less than capable. If you feel like you are flying solo a little too much in the education of your children, we understand. Homeschooling among like-minded parents is an option we fully support, and it can be done from anywhere in the world. That’s why we created our Navigator Program. It offers families the opportunity to get the support they need from grade-level teachers and meet other families from all over the world who are homeschooling their children too.