Articles for February 2014

It’s Another Snow Day: Homeschooling on the Minimalist Schedule

I am really loving these Minimalist Homeschool days; it is like winter break with school.  The holidays of December are so exciting, that it is hard to focus on school during the month.  I love how all of the programs and classes we participate in, slowly shut down for the holidays, leaving us with time to be at home.  In the middle of the month, the kids are also ready to shut down from formal school work.

Homeschool Snow Day - Our backyard
Homeschool Snow Day – Our backyard

A February snowstorm is different.  No build up to feasts and gifts, so we are able to maintain a school schedule despite the distractions of snow.  The snow was beautiful for the first few days, and now it is crusted over with over an inch of freezing rain.  No sledding or snow walks, just a beautiful view from the kitchen and family room.

What does our minimalist school schedule look like?  No bells to call us to class and no bell to signal the end of the day.  Both of my kids have gone through different stages of organization and independence in managing their schedules.  Emily use to have an internal schedule that led her through her required subjects, balanced with diversions.  Currently, she needs direction.  She is almost twelve and some days will fall into a puddle of tears because she doesn’t know which shirt she should wear.  Her mantra is, “Just tell me what to do!”.  Life is so overwhelming with independence that some days she really just wants me to write out a list of pages to be read, time to practice piano, and which subjects we will study together.

We’ve streamlined the schoolwork.  I thought I had it narrowed down a year ago, but since embarking on this minimalist approach, I have really put our time and energy into the core subjects.  I’ve dropped all kinds of fill-in subjects and extra workbooks.  Our subjects have been reduced, but our time on the subjects has expanded.  We are going deeper and the quality of “product” has reflected this shift.

Today Emily’s list looks like:

Piano = 1 hour

Reading = 30 minutes her choice, 30 minutes my choice (history)

Math = Singapore 5B one unit, 20 minutes on Khan

History = (30 minutes my choice reading) and questions from Story of the World

Science = Homework finished for tomorrow’s class (provided we are through this storm)

Cello = 20 minutes

Writing = Vocabulary 1 unit, Penmanship 1 page, Spelling from vocabulary, finish writing assignment from last week.

French = reading with brother and answering questions

That’s it.  I have no idea if this will be a four hour event, or an 8 hour marathon.  It depends on how Emily wakes up.


As for Andrew, we have gone through the, “I can do this myself!”, then the “Just tell me what to do!”, back to, “I’ve got it under control! . . . Why didn’t you tell me!”, and now moving into a new stage, “I need to know how to do this myself, but if I don’t remember would you come remind me?”.  Young adults are so wonderful!  Andrew is 17 and taking college classes with his homeschooling.  He tends to balance his schedule, it is his emotional tank that needs filling as he looks at adulthood and prepares for the next stage.

Andrew’s schedule will look like, (because he already checked in to let me know and ask if he forgot anything):

Homeschool Snow Day - No driving to college classes.
Homeschool Snow Day – No driving to college classes.

Test Prep = Logging in to Kaplan for 30 minutes of SAT lessons

French (college class) = 2 hours to write essay and study

Calculus (college class) = 2 hours preparing for class and quiz

Choir = review music for rehearsal

History = 30 minutes writing essay on World War II

And Andrew will do it.  Plus, he will play with Legos, get on Mindcraft, Facebook a few friends, check his email, and forget to do his chores.

What will this simplified schedule allow us to do?  That is the point of cutting out all the worksheets and superficial lessons.  I hope to teach Emily how to bake bread.  I want to spend some time looking at colleges with Andrew.   Maybe we will pick a craft off of Pinterest for Valentine’s day (maybe the felt garland hearts), and spend some time making a detailed grocery list for our pantry.  And the blessing of this snow day . . .  I just might get a chance to sit with my cello for 10 minutes.


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