Welcome to Minimalist Homeschoolers.
Our story begins, probably as with many homeschooling families, at the birth of our son, 17 years ago. Everyone looks at their small bundle of joy and has moments that they envision the future, and eventually focus on the topic of schooling. Living in a mid-sized town near a larger city, public schools, private schools, charter schools and homeschooling are all an option. Coming from traditional school, my husband had only one experience to draw on, and for myself I came from traditional schooling blended with travel-tutor schooling for much of my early to mid school years. School choices for our beautiful son were not settled, and we had several years to look around. Yet, even in those early years, we had already begun our homeschooling journey by the choices we made everyday.
Before our bundle of joy arrived, we had already struggled with the issues of consumerism, consumption, and collecting. In those years the mantra was “voluntary simplicity” and “more with less.” A few years later with two children, we bantered the slogan of “decluttering”. One item in, one item out. There are seasons of the year that our home struggles with more items and “stuff” coming in, but I always enjoy a good spring cleaning weekend and a “end-of-summer” organizing marathon. Setting the house in order feels good. Stumbling over too many bins of toys and baskets of clothes in the middle of the night, is what nightmares are made of.
Our house and lives have slowly become Minimalist on many levels, yet I was constantly closing the door to my school room. I could not master my office in the same way I had gained ground for the rest of the house. It was a magnet for all clutter and the “stuff” seemed to multiply behind my back.
I was a teacher for a decade before our son arrived. Not the usual teacher, rather, I taught at a residential school for Deaf students, an environment that was schooling at our student’s residence. Coming home to motherhood, bringing a decade of teaching tools into my home-office, I had too much stuff. Everything seemed necessary to hang on to, for I might use it one day when homeschooling or with my deaf students that I continued to tutor. I had spent hard-earned time creating curriculum and money buying manipulatives, and tons of reading books. I couldn’t let any of it go, let alone the stuff I was currently creating or using for teaching kids at this stage or for the Deaf youth group I co-lead.
After spending another beautiful late-summer weekend moving boxes from one side of the office room to another, arranging my curriculum resources into a “better organized system”, and sorting bins of manipulatives, I had an epiphany moment. I knew that in every other room of the house, organizing clutter was unproductive. Yet, I had never applied those principles to my homeschooling. I had spent every fall, getting my school stuff back in order for the school year, and I would waste a weekend every month sorting through clutter that was unused since the last cleaning event.
What would it be like if we pared down our homeschooling to the essentials, just like we did in the linen closets and kitchen cupboards? What if we kept the best. We used the quality curriculum and texts.
What if we evaluated our homeschooling schedules for events that really focused on our beliefs as homeschoolers, and said “no thank you” on a more regular basis. What would we have left? ~ Something of real quality, something of depth, and more time to develop relationships and pursue our passions.
That’s where we began and everyday we return. Our family continues to work on finding a minimalist way for quality homeschooling in our consumeristic and over-stimulating society. It’s a works in progress that challenges me in a new area of my life and addresses some very entrenched habits stretching back to before children and possibly before marriage.
We are striving to combine excellent instruction, depth of curriculum, and lasting relationships, while eliminating the excessive homeschool clutterships and pursue our passions. In short, we are working towards minimizing our homeschooling so we can simply be our best in all areas of our lives.