It’s about this time of the year that the homeschool revolving door for homeschoolers becomes active. Those that are in traditional school enter homeschooling. And homeschoolers that burned out step back into traditional homeschooling. A flurry of students transfer back and forth between the two education systems. Within the homeschooling community, some of us step out of the cycle and enter into minimalist homeschooling, trying to find a simpler means for homeschooling. Here are four easy steps to make that journey.
The battle cry of the overwhelmed homeschooling parent-teacher. “There has to be an easier way to homeschool!”
Homeschoolers: Chaos. Clutter. Too much curriculum. Too many activities. I think I will quit! It was easier when I sent my kids to school.
Traditional schoolers: I hate the homework every evening. The kids are away all day and return exhausted. It’s bed time by the time we wrap up the homework and one activity. I want to homeschool.
Minimalist Homeschoolers: I’ve been decluttering the curriculum and the calendar. We are finally hitting the core curriculum, things are running smoother. We are actually finding our passions and pursuing them. (Even for the teacher-parent!).
For those considering this “other” path — Simplify. Declutter. Minimalize.
Four Steps–to a calmer homeschooling experience.
Step 1: Imagine — Before you even start, you need a dream or a vision of what you want from Minimalist Homeschooling.
- Imagine the homeschooling experience that you desire. Find a few pictures and put them in a visible location to keep your focus. Pictures of traveling, kids reading, the favorite teaching table, contained creativity . . .
Step 2: Environmental Clutter
- Eliminate the clutter in the classroom. Use the 3 basket system described here.
- Overhaul. We can’t contain and control the chaos until our school room has a focus and is no longer distracting.
- Pare down the manipulative. Cut the clutter in half. (Keep the colored pencils everyone uses, donate the brand you hate.) Start by keeping two of everything, and then in a month, cut that back to the items you use or love the most.
- Grab a few boxes and declutter anything that does not bring you joy when homeschooling. Set these aside for a month (or a season). Enjoy your cleaned out school area. If you still need the item, bring it back. If you don’t use it, love it, need it . . . donate it at the end of the semester. (Granted, there are items that you may use for a second child . . . keep what you loved with the first. Donate the items you hated using the first time around.)
Step 2: Curriculum
- Eliminate the curriculum that is too young, wrong learning style, poorly created, dust covered, awkward and too time consuming . . . anything that you don’t want to use. Donate. Share. Recycle.
- Create a plan for your homeschooling. What are your goals? Where are you going? How long are you planning to homeschool. Stream line your curriculum to match those goals. Design your space, your library, your curriculum around your style of homeschooling.
- Hold back on buying new curriculum. Yes, you need to cover the basics, but do this with depth, with quality curriculum, rather than quantity of cheap workbooks. Develop the curriculum by adding on materials from the library, incorporate a field trip, add a film, set up a coop date with others studying the same topic, or hit a museum.
- Avoid the curriculum fairs/curriculum catalogs with unlimited funds. Set a limit, financial and quantity. Create a priority list. Buy what you need and avoid the flashy promotions. Take a walk and reconsider an item before you make the purchase. Put an item in you on-line “cart” and wait 24 hours before you buy. Do you really NEED this product?
Step 3: Commitments
- Reflect on your goals for homeschooling. What three areas are you REALLY wanting your kids to develop deeply.
- Create a master calendar of all of the events you are running to.
- Do these support your goals? Block out the time you need for studying, practicing instruments, or attending classes. Which are your priorities?
- Can you cut back? Do you need to eliminate or replace with activities that support your goals?
- Where are your margins . . . Your space . . . Your down time? That time for yourself and your kids to create, imagine, and take their homeschooling to a new level. Block those into your schedule and guard these hours.
Minimalist Homeschooling is NOT about bored students or boring lessons. Moments of boredom inspire creativity, empty spaces allows for peaceful environment. Space on our calendar allows for independent study and time to reflect and develop lessons more deeply. If we are running around from one activity to another, or spending 30 minutes to find the equipment to teach a lesson . . . we are wasting our homeschooling opportunities.
Take time to step into minimalist homeschooling and imagine a school day with peace, depth, and passion. The first step is decluttering the chaos of curriculum, clutter, and commitments.