Homeschool Curriculum: What If I Don’t Finish It All?

Once again, we are almost to the end of a homeschool year. Once again, we’re not going to finish all of our curriculum.

I want you to know that it’s OK.

It has taken me a few years to get to this point. The things that we so lovingly picked out and planned out last summer? Life happened. All kinds of crazy things have gone on, and now we’re faced with not finishing before the end of the year.

Homeschool Curriculum vs. Classroom Curriculum

I plan more lessons than I have time to do. The reality is that I actually enjoy the planning part quite a bit, and it’s okay that we don’t finish everything. I’m going to tell you why.

I want you to think back to your years in school. Maybe you went to private school, maybe you went to public school, maybe you were even homeschooled. When you were in school, how often did you actually finish the book? How often did you complete every chapter in the math book?  How often did you get to every single chapter in the history book? I would hazard a guess to say it was not very often, if ever.

There’s a reason for this. Curriculum providers who are writing writing textbooks and workbooks never intend for you to get to every single thing in the book. They want to allow for teacher autonomy.  The idea is that a teacher can choose which parts of the curriculum that they are going to use and which parts they aren’t going to use.

A classroom teacher may skip a few chapters. They may decide not to cover a few topics. It’s totally acceptable for traditional school teachers  The good news is, it’s also okay for you as a homeschooler as well.

Most materials are developed with the idea that you are going to finish about 75% of the resource. Then, what you do next year as you start up homeschooling again is review some of the material from the last book, before you dig into the new book and start learning new things.

finish homeschool curriculum

How Do I Plan For Using Our Homeschool Curriculum?

How do you make a plan for using your curriculum if you’re not necessarily going to finish it all?

I have a great little product called Plan Your Homeschool Year. It is a wonderful homeschooling resource that helps you handle situations exactly like this. One of the things that we teach you in Plan Your Homeschool Year is to base what you’re doing with your children each year on the goals that you have for your specific kids, not the curriculum itself.

Your children are going to have different strengths and weaknesses. They’re going to have different needs. When you choose resources at the beginning of the school year, you have to first decide what’s going to be a priority in your homeschool. If you have 3, 4, 5 children, every single subject for every single child can not be a priority. You’re going to have to pick and choose your priorities. You use the priorities you have set for your child to determine when it’s time to stop homeschooling for the year, not the curriculum itself.

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If we’ve met the goals that I laid out for that particular child at the beginning of the school year, it’s completely okay for us to close the books and stop what we’re doing. We’ve met the goals. Base your progress on the goals for each individual child, as opposed to checking off the box of completing a specific curriculum.

You know your children and their needs better than any curriculum provider does. They don’t know you at all. They’re simply writing about history, science or math. You are the one that knows what your child needs and how far they need to go.

This is also where Plan Your Homeschool Year comes in handy. It helps you to ask questions like what are the needs of my child and how are we going to best meet the needs of my child with this resource? Which chapters do we need to do? Which chapters or pages can we skip doing? You can literally plan for around 75% completion.

finish homeschool curriculum

What If I Don’t Finish My Curriculum By The End Of The School Year?

What happens when you get to the end of the school year and you are not finished with the curriculum you planned?

You have a couple of different options. The first option is you can simply close the book, then open it up again next year and pick up where you left off.

Close The Book

Sounds a little crazy, I know. Here’s how it always seems to work.

We are rolling along with our math. Then, maybe somebody has gotten a little bit behind and all of a sudden it’s time to go do church camps, vacation Bible school and all of these fun things for the summer. There’s really not time to fit math in anymore.

The best thing for us to do is to shut the math book, right where we are, and then open it back up in the fall. Start with a little bit of review and then pick up where we left off. We have done this for years and years in our homeschool. Actually I have a kid right now who just finished a math curriculum in March, not because he’s behind, but because he’s ahead. So he’s going to start the next math curriculum right now. Then, when we get to the end of the school year, he probably won’t do any math during the summer. Some of my older kids do, but we’ll close the book for him, and then we’ll open it back up in late July/early August when we start our school year back up again.

With a skill based subject like mathematics, I really do want my kids to get every single topic that’s in the book. I don’t want to skip any of those topics.

It just makes so much more sense for us. Simply close the book.

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Count Hours vs. Finishing A Resource

Another option is to just call yourself done with the curriculum for good.

What I mean by this is it’s okay to count hours as opposed to finishing a resource. Let’s say you’re working through a history resource on the middle ages. You have very dutifully done history most days and you’ve gotten a reasonable amount of hours in history in over the course of a year,

If you know you’re not going to finish the resource, you can still say we’ve done the middle ages. We are crossing that off our list. We’re checking it off. We’re closing the book and next year, we’re doing something different. This is a completely viable option, especially when your children are younger, because they’re going to come back to the middle ages again.

There’s no use trying to push through to the end of that resource – just close the book and be done with it. You can even do this with high schoolers.

For example, I know we are not going to study every single chemistry concept in our chemistry program. My children are not going into a science heavy profession.  I’ve decided we’ve covered enough. We’re not going to cover every single concept, but the things we’ve learned, they’ve enjoyed. They’ve got a great grasp of the material. This is not skill based, it’s content based.

We’re closing the books, calling it good and moving on from chemistry.

finish homeschool curriculum

Finishing Your Homeschool Year Strong

A free resource that I highly recommend is a blog post by my good friend, Amy Sloan over at Humility and Doxology. It’s all about Finishing Strong, And Defining the All That’s Left List.

I fell in love with this concept when Amy wrote about it a few years ago. Now, I make an all that’s left list for my children at the end of every school year. When we get to about March or April, and then it’s time for me to make this list.

These are the things that are left for you to do before you can be done with each subject by the end of this school year. It usually equals out to about as much as they need. If they were to continue working at their normal pace, that’ll get them through the time that I want to stop school. If they’re slower than their normal pace, and they’re starting to drag their feet, well, school might stretch out a little longer. Conversely, if they are focused and complete the list early, I don’t add more things to the list.

It’s a great motivator for my kids, but it also allows me at this point in my school year to define exactly what is most important to me, and then go ahead and make some tweaks and changes to get to that 75%. I  revisit the goals that I had for a particular child and make sure in the last quarter of the year that we’re going to actually meet those goals.

Most homeschoolers don’t finish every bit of the curriculum, nor should you.

The best part? Everyone’s happier, and we finish the school year strong.