In this post I will be discussing how to plan your very own minimalist homeschool year, even if you’re really a maximalist (or anywhere in between).
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Why Choose Homeschool Minimalism?
At the end of every homeschool year, I do an assessment. When considering our previous year, I noticed we had left certain things by the wayside during the year. I had bitten off more than I could chew, in terms of curriculum, and especially being pregnant with our fifth child.
Looking forward to the coming year, it became very apparent to me that we needed to scale back.
This approach is something I have intuitively done in the past, but as we have added kids to our homeschool, I have inadvertently added too much curriculum. That resulted in an overwhelming and unproductive year last year (while I was pregnant with #5).
If you are new here, welcome! I’m a homeschool, homebirth, homemade mom of 5 boys. Check out my about page to meet me and my family.
The KISS Method
I am sure you’ve heard of the KISS method before. It stands for Keep It Simple, Stupid!
We are thrilled to have welcomed our fifth son, Leo, this summer, so in an attempt to not spread myself too thin, we will be simplifying our homeschool this year. There’s nothing worse than trying to homeschool your kids, wrangle a toddler, and deal with a crying baby, am I right?
That’s why I decided my homeschool needed a big ole KISS!
What is Minimalist Homeschooling?
Strictly speaking, homeschool minimalism is a concept that combines the principles of minimalism with homeschooling. But I am using the term very loosely. I just want to focus on simplifying the homeschooling experience, so we can enjoy it instead of stressing!
Quick Tips to Get Started
If you’re eager to start your simple, minimalist homeschooling, and not quite sure how, here are 4 tips to start you off.
- Pick a great book to read aloud together.
- Add the 3 R’s of ye olden days, also known as reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic. These are tools that equip our children to be able to educate themselves.
- Schedule in outside time, because we are natural beings who need nature.
- Embrace morning basket – throw cool resources in there to enjoy together. Do them on a loop in case you don’t get to them daily (you won’t). Have tea.
Great! That can be your whole plan right there!
What are the Main Points of Homeschool Minimalism?
Here are some elements that come to mind when I think of homeschool minimalism, and how I will be applying them this year.
The Idea: Simple Curriculum
How I’ll use it: Instead of overwhelming my kids with all the coolest books and resources, I am focusing on the main areas they need right now. For us, that means reading aloud, time in nature and the “three R’s” of Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic. I shove all the other stuff into our morning basket time.
The Idea: Minimalist Learning Space
How I’ll use it: We school in the dining room, so I need to keep the stuff minimal to be able to eat. If I let my excess homeschool stuff live in a closet, I forget I have it and never use it. I have promised myself that all my homeschool stuff will fit on my ikea shelving.
The Idea: Quality over Quantity
How I’ll use it: I’d far rather read them one high quality living book and discuss it fully than rush through several books they don’t understand or that are lower quality. For example: this poetry book!
The Idea: Experiences over Things
How I’ll use it: Everything we do is part of our atmosphere of learning. We can explore the world around us through field trips, nature walks, visits to museums, baking, caring for babies, going to mass and volunteering. We love walks, but I sometimes feel we can’t take time out of our schedule for walks so they don’t happen daily. This year with a little baby, though, I have scheduled a walk break midmorning on all our school days, plus a longer hike once every week or two.
The Idea: Personalized Learning
How I’ll use it: I have three in school now, and as much as I wanted to use the same math for all, I really need to tailor my approach. I am commited to figuring out a math that works well for my 3rd grader this year.
The Idea: Minimalist Mindset
How I’ll use it: I need to say no to good things sometimes because I can’t do it all. I will cultivate a minimalist mindset within our homeschooling journey. I’ll avoid unnecessary purchases, regularly assess and declutter materials that are no longer relevant, and model the value of simplicity.
One way I do this is by not overbuying our read-aloud books. I’ll get a few to use for sure, then play the rest by ear. Sometimes with crying babies and distruptive toddlers, I can’t read as much and need to turn on an audiobook. And sometimes it is nice to randomly pick instead of following a plan. We have found some of our favourite read alouds this way, like Nim’s Island and Tuesdays at the Castle.
We also tweak Charlotte Mason to suit this minimalist mindset. Some of the Charlotte Mason subjects we will include, but not all year. For example, we will review Solfa occasionally. We do one composer and one artist all year, and only read a couple stories from our Plutarch. We even put multiple subjects *gasp* into one single notebook!
What are some benefits of a Minimalist Homeschool?
Benefits of homeschool minimalism may include:
- Less overwhelm
- Better focus
- More time for creativity
- Actually being MORE productive
- Fostering deeper connections with learning as well as in relationships
- A more intentional and fulfilling homeschooling journey for all
How to Get Started With Minimalist Homeschooling
Implementing homeschool minimalism involves:
Using intentional decision-making along with simplifying various aspects of your homeschool life.
Here are some practical steps to get started.
- (Re)Define Your Goals: I get it. Identifying your homeschool “why” or mission statement has become a bit of a buzzword. But for real, go check out this post and do it already! If you already have, then just circle back and review it. Is it still relevant? Once you have that,
- Carefully choose how you will spend your time. Your time is limited. Use it wisely. Maybe you need to do less book work to fit in that nature walk, like me. Maybe you need to limit extracurriculars, or put all outside activities and errands on one day of the week. That’s up to you, but don’t overcommit.
- Streamline Your Studies: Simplify your curricula by focusing on core subjects that align with your family values. You can always add more or use free time to explore other interests.
- Invest Once: In my experience, cheap sweaters look terrible after a few washes, but nice ones last decades. It’s the same for homeschool resources! Invest in high-quality resources that align with your goals. Focus on quality over accumulating a large quantity of resources.
- Declutter! I can’t emphasize enough how much giving myself permission to donate items that I am not using, or haven’t used, has helped me get a handle on my home. I highly recommend checking out Minimal Mom on YouTube to start your own decluttering journey if you feel the need to simplify. In terms of practical tips, I always direct people to Dana K White’s book, Decluttering at the Speed of Life.
- Give yourself Permission to Get it Wrong: What is the worst that can happen? If you scale back too much, you can always add more in later. If you aren’t minimal enough yet, you can peel back another layer of that onion and simplify even further.
- Download a minimalist daily rhythm chart or planner to keep you on track: This one of mine is popular.
Feeling the need to go even further? Here are some areas you could look at:
- Embrace Digital Resources: Check out these online libraries and online classes to add to your homeschool while keeping what is on your plate simple.
- Audible – audiobooks from Amazon
- Libby – all you need is a library card to borrow ebooks and audiobooks
- Hoopla – online library that also has videos
- TED-Ed – lets you create and share a lesson around any TED talk.
- Khan Academy – free math and other classes
- Project Gutenburg – free ebooks, tons of public domain resources
- Coursera – college-level courses from world-class universities
- Outschool – paid classes
- Homeschool Connections – Catholic paid classes
- Creating a Minimalist Learning Space: If you really want to kick it up a notch, designate a dedicated learning area that is clean, organized, and free from distractions. Go ahead and get inspired on Pinterest.
- Remove unnecessary furniture, decorations, and materials, and use storage solutions to keep materials neatly organized and easily accessible.
- Use baskets to keep things close at hand. Label them!
- And colour code your kid’s school supplies to avoid fights and keep things simple.
- Encourage Experiential Learning: Alternately, go minimal on books but incorporate hands-on activities, field trips, and real-life experiences into your homeschool. Then you can be a maximalist but clutter-free!
- Practice Regular Decluttering: Speaking of clutter, regularly declutter your homeschooling materials as well as toys, clothes etc. Pass on materials that are no longer in use.
- Embrace Flexibility: Homeschool minimalism allows for flexibility and adaptability. You can tailor your curriculum and teaching methods to meet your child’s individual needs and interests. But don’t get stuck in your ways, be open to adjusting your approach as you discover what works best for your family.
- Community: Join homeschooling communities, both online and offline, to connect with other homeschooling families practicing minimalism.
- Do less outside or inside the home: Some people really need to stay home to focus on their homeschool, and limit outside appointments and activities. Alternately, you may need to do less at home, like giving yourself permission to not use cloth diapers anymore or to buy paper towels or hire a cleaning lady.
More Homeschool Minimalism Resources
I hope you enjoyed my thoughts on planning a minimalist year. Here is a list of resources to inspire you in your minimalist homeschool journey:
No time right now? Pin it for later!
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