Tuesday’s Tip: Must I finish every textbook?

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Spring is in the air — at least in some parts of the country — and as you start counting the few weeks left until summer, you might be asking yourself: Must I finish all these textbooks?

In a word, no. For one thing, public school classrooms rarely finish a whole textbook. The beginning of the school year is spent reviewing what the students learned or were supposed to learn the year before, and the end of the year is spent trying to hit the high points in the short time left before summer break.

Homeschool Textbooks

As a homeschool teacher, you get to decide how much of a textbook your children should finish. My daughters did not enjoy science at all, and several years in a row, we were coming close to the end of a year with only two-thirds of their science textbooks finished. At that point, I searched through and cherry picked what I thought was important for them to learn. I did this by looking at the scope and sequence of what they needed to learn and talking to them about what they already knew. Then I went through the rest of the book and chose which chapters they needed to finish, which experiments they needed to do, etc.

Personally, I enjoy history, so we usually get through our history curriculum. However, this year I feel like we hurried through some really fun units so that we could stay “on track” with the lesson plan to be done with our Story of the World curriculum by the end of the school year. What I should have done is spent the extra time on the fun units and skipped some of the more boring chapters.

Many homeschoolers don’t use textbooks at all: They use a combination of living books and other resources to teach subjects such as history and science. Ultimately, the most important thing is making sure your children learn the things they need to know to get to where they want to go.

So don’t feel pressured to finish a complete textbook by the end of the school year, or to finish every assignment in your curriculum’s lesson plan. If you feel like your child should cover all the information at the end of a particular textbook, you can teach them through the summer or start with that textbook again in the fall. It is much more important to spend time making sure they understand what they have learned and enjoying the learning process than finishing a book by a certain day on the calendar.

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