I’ve seen this same quote in two different places, most recently at Minimalist at Home;
“There is no right way to pursue minimalism.”
A year ago I moved our decluttering/simplifying/minimalizing from the “home” into the “schooling.” For some reason, homeschooling had been ignored in the quest to par down our lifestyle. I had closed the door to the schoolroom and focused on decluttering linen closets and the garage, stacks of Tupperware and Rubbermaid, insisting that my curriculum was hands-off from decluttering.
The ah-hah came when I realized that I was continually “reorganizing” the same stacks of books and curriculum boxes every semester. Sliding them from one side of the classroom to the other, with the hopes that in their new location there would be room. Maybe covering them with a table cloth, they would look like a table. Maybe arranged along the wall, we could ignore. Each “fresh-start” took about two days to open the boxes, sort through, and relabel before pushing across the room.
Nothing changed from one semester to the next. Often, we were discovering that we had outgrown a curriculum from the bottom of a box, not even getting a chance to use it, because we had not seen it for awhile.
What a waste! Some of it was financial, items purchased; some was good materials given to us, not being used, that could have blessed another family, rather than hiding in a box. Also, what a waste of four days a year. Four days that we could have been on a homeschool field trip, we could have been gardening, or in the spring time through early fall, we could have been on the river kayaking.
Minimalist Homeschooling is giving us back time. For some minimalists, everything is neutral colored (I can’t imagine school books or a classroom being all beige toned.) Some or our minimalist friends are trying to live with 33 items of clothing (Project 333). Others are moving into tiny homes and allowing everyone to keep 100 items.
Who is the true minimalist? The quote “There is no right way to pursue minimalism.” brings relaxation back to the process. Minimalism will look different for everyone. Minimalist Homeschooling will also look different, and will be different at the various stages of the process.
For us, the first stage has been decluttering our school room. I am an organizer, but when there is too much “stuff”, even the best organization will lose items from circulation. Three rounds of major sorting, and I still find a few items cropping up each week that are placed in the sorting boxes to leave the house.
Second stage has been the decluttering of our calendar. Removing co-ops and non-essential trips. Reconnecting with special friends to build stronger relationships. Reinvesting in classes that bring back the quality schooling that led us into homeschooling.
The last stage that we are entering is paring down our instruction and curriculum. Less is more. Less curriculum allows us to go into fewer subjects more deeply. Less workbooks, projects, worksheets, assignments . . . has opened up time for really practicing our instruments longer and more focused each day. We are reading through our pile of “must-read” classics, and really getting into discussions. And we have the beginnings of an interesting long-term science lab in process.
Instead of struggling to get through the to-do list of assignments, I am spending time really analyzing the intent and purpose of my assignments. We are still schooling the same amount, but the less quantity is really becoming more quality.
Is this the “right” or only path for Minimalist Homeschooling? No. Everyone has different goals and a different order of their steps. I am sure that I will keep growing and even my three stages will grow, adding a new level that I was not even aware of.
After one year of this focused Minimalist Homeschooling and blogging about the process, I am becoming very thankful that we opened the schoolroom door and opened the boxes. I wanted quality and relationships, and slowly we are building both.