Looking to simplify your homeschool, but reluctant to make any major changes and overhaul your plans? Guess what? You don’t have to start big. I’ve compiled a list of changes that you could make TODAY to start minimalist homeschooling.
I can’t take all the credit for this list because it has been curated not only from my own experience, but also from the ideas that came from our awesome minimalist homeschooling facebook group, and conversations with devoted homeschool momma friends.
Here’s my point: if you’re feeling overwhelmed; if you’re craving simplicity in your days and meaning in your lessons, then you are not alone. You don’t have to reinvent your whole homeschool wheel in order to simplify. Small changes can make a big impact and give you the momentum to simplify and focus even more.
The 13th Minimalist Homeschooling Mindset Hack in the book is: Simplify to focus on what is most important.
Do you see what I did there? We’re not just talking about simplifying so you don’t lose your mind (although that is a valid benefit), but we’re talking about adding focus and value to our homeschools BY simplifying.
We are not just doing less. We are focusing. And excelling.
Here’s the game plan:
- Add Value
Does that sound backwards compared to how you have been thinking about homeschooling?
Usually, we think we have to do a lot to in order to achieve value. We act as though how MUCH we get done is what is important. I want to encourage you to measure success by how valuable your lesson time is; how focused it is.
1. Simplify Your Morning Basket
See that picture up there? That was my morning basket before minimalist homeschooling. I had way too many things in that basket. My morning basket had become a catch-all of all the “lovely things.” Instead, start minimalist homeschooling by carefully selecting the best 3-4 items for that basket. By being more selective, you are sure to love each thing in that basket – and if you don’t, then you can trade it for another lovely thing. Now, we actually finish the lovely things in our basket and they don’t drag on. I know that when we finish one thing, I get to add something new that I love. We aren’t missing any of the lovely things, we are postponing some, and focusing on others. We are choosing the best resources, and are able to give them our best attention.
2. Focus on Your Core Priorities
Know what your 3 or 4 most important subjects are, and maximize the effectiveness of the lessons in those subjects. Then, let the other subjects come more from low-stress, pleasurable options like experiences, books, and videos. Don’t forget that you can change your core focus as often as you’d like or need – these distinctions are not permanent. The idea is to assess, on a regular basis, what most needs devoted lesson time, and what can be explored in a more relaxed fashion.
3. Shop in Your Own Home
Many homeschoolers have accumulated quite a personal library of resources. Before you plan your next set of lessons, shop for resources in your own stashes. You may be surprised at how little you need to purchase.
4. Use Secondary Storage
The book goes into detail about why decluttering your school resources for focus is so useful. One way to accomplish a significant decluttering, without purging is by using secondary storage. For this, you remove everything that is not going to be used in the next 1-3 months. You do not have to trash or donate it, but rather, move it to an out-of-the way location. Some ideas are: a closet, bin or box in the garage or basement, under your bed, or a high kitchen cabinet nobody uses. The idea is to keep the items accessible, but not distracting.
5. Change your Expectations
Are your expectations child-centered, or resource-centered? That is, are you expecting your child to be able to discuss a topic and complete math operations, or are you expecting them to finish all the books and assignments? The first expectation is centered around your child’s education, while the latter is focused on a checklist of tasks. Focus on your child’s progress more than the checklist to reduce stress and ensure results.
7. Categorize Your Lessons
Determine not only which subjects can be done with all children together during “Morning Time,” or “Circle Time,” but also which subjects your children can do independently. Note which subjects your child is naturally pursuing on their own – those are subjects that you don’t need to teach as often, but rather, you provide the resources for your child to self-learn. This will help you streamline your schedule, promote self-learning skills in the student, and simplify your commitments as a teacher.
6. Give Each Thing Its Own Time
Sometimes it’s ok to focus on a subject for a quarter at a time, and then switch to a different subject the next quarter. You don’t have to do every subject every single week (unless your state requires that). Start minimalist homeschooling by switching up some subjects by week, month, quarter, or semester. When you simplify the number of things you are teaching, you can go deeper into those subjects. Conversely, when you try to do them all, you are rushed through them and may have a more superficial experience.
What else can you do to start minimalist homeschooling today? How did you start minimalist homeschooling? I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments below.
Theses are the sorts of things we’re talking about in the Minimalist Homeschooling with Zara, PhD facebook group. Won’t you join us?
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