Resources and Curriculum That Just Didn't Work for Our Family

We have had many, many resources that we have used for only one school year, or sometimes not even a whole year, only to realize that it just wasn’t the best fit for our family.

Each of the items on this list are things that I know will work well for many people.  They just weren’t, for whatever reason, right for us.

Here are just a few resources that we have tried that didn’t make it through a year at our house (but that got used for at least a month or more, unlike things that get purchased and never tried):

1. Sequential Spelling – I still think this one has some great potential.  I liked the philosophy behind it, and I noticed that my boys started spelling better.

Why it wasn’t perfect for our family: I was doing the program with my boys who don’t love lots of writing.  With lists of 25 words each day, they began to dread doing it.  We also got to a point where it was too tough for one of my boys.  In a funny twist, a friend of mine started using it at the same time we did and also stopped, but her reason was because she thought it was too easy for her girls.

2. Winter Promise – We used Winter Promise for a year and half.  We really loved it for the most part, and I would still recommend it for those that want literature based lessons with a lot of hands on work.  Our favorite part were the wonderful books that are included.

Why it wasn’t perfect for our family:  We were bigger fans of the history programs, although we tried history and science.  We felt like science (and sometimes history) jumped around a little too much for my wandering mind kids.  We also are apt to not do as many hands on activities as I think we should, so I know that families who love hands on activities would get more out of the programs.

3. Institute for Excellence in Writing – We worked on IEW throughout the first half of this school year when I was given a curriculum to review.  I had heard so many wonderful things about IEW, so I was excited to give it a try with my children that I thought needed help with writing.

I also really liked the DVDs that came with IEW.  Not only did it help me to understand what they would be doing, but it was nice to have someone else teaching the children writing (we my assistance), as well as someone else to give the assignments.  “Sorry kids, the man on the TV says so.”

Why it wasn’t perfect for our family: I think that this program would be amazing for children that really needed to work on the structure of writing, as well as learning a very formatted way to write (which I’m sure becomes lessened later on as students learn how to write on their own better).  It seemed to me that the main focuses on the writing process just weren’t exactly the same areas that my kids needed to work on.

Plus, honestly, I think the biggest issue is that I can be a free spirit sometimes, and it was hard for me to think of writing in a format that met a certain formula.  I suspect, however, that this would be a huge selling point for other people.  (Just not us.)

Share with us some of the resources that didn’t work for your family.  You can either share in the comment section of this post, or you can write about it on your own blog and leave a link to your post.

Angie is a homeschooling mom to three children and writes about the adventures of her life as a domestically challenged nerd-type turned stay at home Mom at Many Little Blessings. She is also the founder of The Homeschool Classroom, Catholic Mothers Online, Tiny Owl Designs, and Just a Tiny Owl {Etsy shop}.


Angie Kauffman
Angie, a domestically challenged nerd and mom of three very fun kids, is the founder of Real Life at Home.  Angie also listens to music every chance she gets, writes eBookspodcastsloves Pinterestdocuments the little moments in life on Instagram, and occasionally sleeps.


  1. says

    Time and again, I’ve found that prepackaged curriculum just doesn’t work for us, at least not a long term basis. We used Singapore Math — for awhile. Teaching Textbooks — for awhile. Old textbooks — for a short while. And Spelling Power — which I think looks like a great resource, on paper — for awhile. My boys just don’t do as well when I try to make them learn the way someone else thinks they should. We do MUCH better when I watch, learn and pay attention to what they’re interested in and how they learn.

  2. Jenny says

    The biggest bummer was Math U See. I have heard such awesome things about it. I started out this year with it and my daughter loved it at first. A few months in, she ended up not being able to retain the facts and getting very frustrated. She’d whine and cry about it. She just wanted to put the blocks into pretty color patterns and build things with them. They were constantly distracting her. I don’t think she cared for the plain w&b pages either.

    Handwriting Without Tears was another shocker. She absolutely hated that as well. We were handwriting WITH tears until I finally got rid of it.

  3. says

    We tried all three of those and are currently not using those three! I really liked Sequential Spelling, but was not able to keep up doing it every day. I’ve wondered about the DVD’s. But someone pointed out to me that the logistics of pausing them might be hard for the kids? Not sure. Winterpromise we did last year (Quest of the Ancients) and most of it was good, but it was too much. So this year we did our own Medieval Quest. And IEW was my complaint too… but you had better reasons. :)

  4. Beth Richards says

    IEW worked for us but not at too young an age. When boys started crying, I packed it up and didn’t take it our for another 2 years. When he was ready, smooth sailing. Might be the boy, might be the age. But the method worked for all of my kids. Boy is now junior in high school. Now he swears that it has made all the difference, as he is in college level classes. Getting A’s in writing.
    5 in a row did not work. At all.
    Sometimes Charlotte Mason worked, sometimes not. MOntessori always worked. Go figure.
    Saxon math did not work for any of my three boys. Didn’t matter that is was free and all we could afford and I begged and pleaded and bribed and cried. They. Did. Not. Like. It. It Scarred and Scared them off of math.
    I loved the Susan Wise Bauer stuff and started taking her style on- but my kids were more hands-on than “write a report about this” and write a report about that.
    Workbooks worked for grammer. Not for history.
    Incidentally, my kids have NOT liked Apologia highschool science. Again, here’s a homeschoolers gold mine but my kids did not like the style of the author or the limits he set on exploring topics.

  5. says

    We’ve had some mixed luck with curricula. Apologia – I started it too early for us, I think. I couldn’t figure it out – much less help my son. They say younger kids can do it, but not my younger kids! I do love IEW now that we do it with a group. I tried to do it on my own – but honestly, I’m not great at watching dvds and preparing that much on my own, so doing it as a group has been much better. Saxon Math comes and goes. It jumps around a lot, but overall we like it. Just started Paths of Settlement. It’s pretty good. I love the books, but the science is too hard and the history is a bit light in my view. Easy Grammar was another good one for us, though it seemed that we were cruising through the book and then all of a sudden it got super-hard. Our experience is that there are pros and cons to each thing we do; if the cons are really outweighing the pros, we look for an alternative. If not, we try to go through it.

  6. HeatherHH says

    Sequential Spelling didn’t work for us either. I loved the idea of a more phonics-based approach to spelling with kids figuring out the sounds and such, instead of lists of random spelling words. But, my oldest has auditory processing issues. He’s a great reader, but he could not for the life of him figure out spelling by sounds. I finally dropped the book and just started giving him lists of similar words to memorize, because he needed to build a base of words he could spell. After we used up word families, I just started assigning common words. Then I moved on to random words. He’s gained a lot of ground since and is only 1 grade or so behind rather than the previous 3, so it’s worked.

    So, when I started teaching formal spelling to my 3rd grader this year, I decided to just start with word families and do it on my own without the Sequential Spelling.