In my past decade of homeschooling I’ve learned a few things about what it means to have a simple homeschool. And believe me, it’s only because I’ve spent a good 60% of my time over-complicating what was intended to be easy.
Homeschooling is not hard…but it’s our approach that can very well be.
When my kids were younger, having a simple homeschool was the hallmark of my homeschool. My motto was to practice was I called “relaxed homeschooling”. It’s when I focused on the basics, my kids learned at a pace that was best for them, we enjoyed nature studies and field trips, and my kids had plenty of time to play and explore the world (the outdoors).
That was back when we had a backyard. After our move from Alabama to California, we lacked the yard space to truly explore each day, but in the beginning I replaced the outdoor play with walks to the beach (a reasonable transition- and definitely a perk of living in a beach town at the time!)
We simply learned about whatever was around us. Whether it was the birds of the southeast region of Alabama, or the seagulls and marine animals of Monterey Bay after our move, we found a way to incorporate the simplicity of nature into our lifestyles.
Since then, we’ve moved twice more, and now we’re right in the middle of probably the biggest city we’ve ever lived in. Being in the San Francisco Bay area, there is a lot for kids to do here, but it’s not as simple as stepping out into our back yard (we don’t have one anymore- just a few feet of a side yard adjacent to our neighbors).
We actually have to create opportunities to explore nature, which can take away from the simplicity of homeschooling for us, but the bonus is- we definitely have to be proactive about it now.
Another complication we’ve had in making a simple homeschool for our family, is trying out new educational opportunities as often as we have.
We’re not afraid to make a homeschool change, but in doing so, we’ve definitely encountered some complicated situations. And I want simple, not complicated.
For example, each time my daughter was enrolled in online school, she ended up even more confused about her subjects. The process of getting into online school was easy, and the work for me, the parent, was minimal. Little teacher prep, on-call teachers, the whole nine yards. But for students it can be very stressful.
It’s not that the course work was so difficult. It was just presented in a complicated way that defeats the purpose of helping a student to actually learn and enjoy the content. That, and there was just way more piled on a student each day than was necessary. That is definitely not my definition of a simple homeschool.
So, what is your homeschool lifestyle like? Does it fee simple and streamlined to you? Or do you prefer a different approach?
Here are two ways I believe we can begin making our homeschools simple again.
Two ways you can have a simple homeschool
So if you’re getting caught up in the curriculum-choosing chaos or scheduling tumult, just know that these are only a very small fractions of the process. There really are ways to simplify things.
Finding solutions for your kids’ learning
A simple homeschool simply means that you’re finding out what your kids’ needs are, and you address them. That’s it.
This is true for kindergarten through twelfth grade. If your student needs help with phonics or with calculus, your job as a homeschool parent is simply to find a solution that will help your children accomplish the goal of learning how to read and do calculus.
That’s as simple as it gets.
Finding solutions for our kids is probably the most basic and fundamental job of a homeschool parent. Our kid has a problem, we find a solution. They need to learn math, we purchase math materials. They need reading help, we find resources to help them learn to read. Our older kids need help with algebra, we hire a tutor. Our teens are ready to graduate, we ensure they receive proper high school credit and get their diplomas.
As parents, we are always finding solutions for our kids- and that is the basics of homeschooling. A simple homeschool.
Focus on the basics
Sometimes it’s easier to focus on the basics of homeschooling: reading, writing, and arithmetic- rather than packing on 6 subjects per day. Too many subjects can make homeschooling overwhelming!
If you have smaller kids, especially, focusing on making reading, writing, and math a fun process for your children can make a huge difference in the pace of your day. I’ve learned over the years that it’s okay if we don’t ever get around to learning the sequence of world history in 1st and 2nd grade. My daughter probably wouldn’t have remembered everything she learned that early on anyway. Timing is everything, and sometimes kids just aren’t ready to take on the history of the world at 7 years old.
For us, a simple homeschool means cutting out the unnecessary and focusing on the basics. Although science and history should be focused on at some point, younger kids can get away with a few library books about science and history topics without a full curriculum set devoted to it.
These are just a few tips I’ve found that have helped my family. We’ve learned to take things easy over the years as we’ve transitioned and changed so much of what we do in the home.
So how about you? Are you also simplifying things in your home? Or do you take a different approach?