How did I find a minimalist homeschooling curriculum? Well, I became a homeschool mom officially five years ago at the end of my son’s first year in kindergarten. At the time I started homeschooling, we live in a 1000 sqft mini home, with five children under 6. Because we had so many people in such a small space we fell into a minimalist lifestyle almost by accident. As new homeschool parents, we had to think of how we would homeschool. It can be so overwhelming when you are trying to decide what direction you want to take your child’s education. In this blog post, I will talk about how I found a minimalist approach was one of the best ways to reduce overwhelm and really enjoy all the good things homeschool life had to offer.
Being a Minimalist homeschooler is a growing trend among families who are seeking a simpler, more intentional approach to educating their children. This approach is all about focusing on what is truly essential and eliminating the excess, both in terms of the materials and resources. Because we were forced to live in such a small space. I learned to get along with a lot less stuff. When we moved to our much bigger home, I quickly realized that less stuff meant less stress. Even though we now had the space for a homeschool room and the opportunity to really minimize a traditional school at home, we choose to stick to a minimalist homeschool curriculum.
One of the biggest advantages of minimalist homeschooling is that it allows you to focus on the essentials of education. This means paring down your curriculum to only the most important subjects and topics and using materials and resources that are streamlined and efficient. For us, the main focus is language arts, reading, and math. We use The Good and The Beautiful curriculum.
Next are the secondary subjects. These are Science, Social studies, Art, Music, and Nature Study. These subjects are in rotation or simplified. Depending on the season of life or interest of the child it can be simple quick weekly lessons or something more elaborate. I do not believe children need subjects a day at the age of five. Middle school and high school are the time for hard work and intense learning. But elementary-aged students should be focusing on the basics and establishing a love of learning and reading.
Embrace open-ended learning.
Another key aspect of minimalist homeschooling is the emphasis on open-ended, child-led learning. This means giving your child the freedom to explore their own interests and passions. Remember those secondary subjects? This is where I pick and choose what we are learning about for those things. If a child love ants. Perfect. Let’s go to the local library and find all the books we can on ants. Science is complete! Encourage your child to ask questions, investigate their own interests, and pursue their own projects and experiments. By allowing your child to take the lead, you will not only empower them to become more engaged and motivated learners, but you’ll also help them develop the critical thinking and problem-solving skills that are essential for success.
Keep your homeschooling space simple.
When living in that tiny mini home, the school was always at the kitchen table. As we prepared to move I daydreamed about my Instagram-worthy homeschool room. And guess what? about 3 months in we migrated right back to that same kitchen table. Why? because that’s what works for our family. We didn’t need shelves and cupboards and a big glorious room. We discovered a key principle of minimalist homeschooling is keeping your physical space simple and uncluttered. The kitchen table was that for us.
s for all my supplies, I will share how I manage that too! Because our main subjects are all PDF files, I simply print out 50 pages at a time and put them in a binder for each child with dividers. For our secondary subjects, I keep them in smaller binders and I have a small box for simple math manipulatives (we used dried beans and things around the house for years). So If you have space for a few binders. You have room to homeschool! You don’t actually need a ton of homeschool supplies past a printer, paper, binders, and pencils.
Prioritize real-life experiences.
A minimalist homeschooling approach really is all about prioritizing real-life experiences over traditional classroom instruction. This means taking advantage of opportunities to learn in the world around you, whether that means visiting local museums, exploring nature, or engaging in hands-on projects and experiments. Gardening, baking, and writing have been a major focus in our home. By exposing your child to a wide range of real-life experiences and learning opportunities, you’ll help them develop a deeper understanding of the world and the skills they need to thrive in it.
Limit screen time.
Minimalist homeschooling also involves limiting screen time, which can be a major distraction and hindrance to learning. Children get very creative when they are bored. While there are many valuable educational resources available online, it’s important to balance these with hands-on learning experiences and real-life interactions. Consider setting aside specific times of day for digital learning and using offline resources, such as books and manipulatives, for the rest of your homeschooling time. Our kids can watch a cartoon in the morning and we have set aside Friday evenings as “game day” for video games. It gives mom a chance to clean the house or bake some treats and the kids can kick back and enjoy screen time.
Limit screens…kind of
Screens really do have their time and place. We have a family iPad that holds a lot of online courses, digital books, and a number of things my kids use for school. We don’t spend much time on it, but it is a great way to pull up a video for a lesson quickly or play an educational game. In a busy season of life when I am forced to do some relaxed homeschooling it got a lot of use! Tablets also mean less clutter. I have a hard time printing off 45 books I know my kids will breeze through once and never read again. On a screen means less printing and clutter.
Focus on quality over quantity.
Another important principle is quality over quantity. I don’t see much good in “busy work”. We choose a specific curriculum to avoid the endless pages when a child has already mastered a concept. A homeschool day really shouldn’t take more than an hour or two. There is no need to overwhelm and stress kids out with hours and hours of work. I know some people might be reading this and thinking “But public school is all day!”. Yes, it is. But most of that day is spent babysitting. Class changes, recesses, open books, questions, and “Please, quiet down” eat up more time than you think. The average public school child only spends about 30-60 mins actually doing school work. When you have the opportunity to focus on each individual child, in their learning style, knowing their exact strengths and weakness you can breeze through a school day.
Simplify your record-keeping.
Finally, minimalist homeschooling also involves simplifying your record-keeping process. Rather than keeping detailed records of every assignment and assessment, focus on documenting the most important milestones and achievements that demonstrate your child’s progress and growth. Most curriculums have “unit study assignments” which is what I choose to hang on to. I live in a fairly lacks province but always check with your state requirements or province what regulations they have in place for homeschool families.
So what does a day in our life look like?
Right now I am homeschooling three of my six children. I am currently teaching grades 4,3 and 1. Our homeschool schedule runs from January- September. The great thing about homeschooling is you can do whatever fits your timing. We prefer to have the fall to preserve and harvest vegetables and enjoy our favorite holiday seasons! My kids can go outside and play before we get ready for the day. Usually, my son starts school first. He is in general more independent now and I will start one of the girls at the same time. Once all three are finished math and language arts we move on to reading.
Read Alouds are a big thing in our house.
We get out a book and all read in the living room or at the kitchen table. Sometimes the little one’s color or play with a toy quietly. After that we all take a break, have a snack and tidy up. Usually, I send my grade 1 off to play and buckle down for a secondary/ elective subject with the older two. These lessons usually take about 30 mins. I don’t do them every day and I try to keep it simple. More often than not my kids will do things on their own time. My oldest loves to bake and my daughter loves watercolor. To me: that counts as school. I don’t fret over lesson plans. We are a minimalist homeschooling family and in our everyday, we can nail down most subjects just by living everyday life.
Once you start homeschooling you really do become that parent that points out all the lessons and life skills you come across in the everyday. Finding and reading good books. Establishing daily routines that build a love of learning and good character. Even fun and simple things like board games or online classes can simplify and check off the homeschooling goals.
One thing I love about homeschooling this way is creating a firm foundation for my children. Making sure there are no gaps in my children’s education is such a blessing as a homeschooling mom. One of my children struggled with reading. We ended up doing preschool, and kindergarten- twice. There was no shame, no stress, and no worries. We had the freedom to start over. Unfortunately in the public school system, they would have been pushed through only to have years of schooling go over their heads. With so many options now for homeschooling we can look at different ways to approach our children’s roadblocks.
How do I know all actually work?
Well, I was once homeschooled myself. My minimalist homeschool journey started with myself in high school. I begged my parents to let me homeschool myself so I could have more time to pursue my passion and career. Luckily they let me. I was able to homeschool myself in the evenings and work towards my goals during the day. It really was a great experience for me.
Now as a mother, I can see that what our kids really need is a good education, life skills, and a stable loving home. Too many children and teens are struggling with depression and anxiety. I don’t want that for my children. I want them to love learning. To love hard work. I want them to know their strengths and weaknesses and find a way to make the world a more beautiful place. Their childhood is so precious it is meant to be cherished, not endured.
Homeschooling can be a great educational option for families
due to its flexibility, personalized learning, safe and comfortable environment, strong family bonds, and positive socialization. Homeschooling allows parents to tailor their child’s education to their individual needs and learning styles, creating a customized schedule that works best for their family’s needs. This personalized approach can help children to thrive academically and socially, as they receive the individual attention and support they need to succeed.
Additionally, homeschooling provides a safe and comfortable learning environment for children, free from many of the distractions and negative influences that can be found in traditional school settings. This can help children to focus more effectively on their learning, and can also provide a more supportive and nurturing environment for children who may have who struggle with social anxiety. Homeschooling can also strengthen family bonds, as parents and children spend more time together, working on shared goals and experiences, which can lead to greater communication, trust, and understanding between family members. Lastly, contrary to common misconceptions, homeschooling can provide ample opportunities for positive socialization through community events, field trips, and co-ops, and through online resources that connect homeschooling families and students.
Homeschooling can also provide children with more opportunities for hands-on learning. Without the constraints of a traditional curriculum or schedule, homeschooling families can explore a wide range of subjects and topics in depth, using a variety of resources and approaches. This can help children to develop a deep understanding and appreciation for the world around them, and can also help them to develop critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity skills.
It can provide children with a more balanced and holistic education.
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