I know homeschooling folks are busy, busy, busy. So, you can listen to the following blog post using this media file. My hope is that you can listen while you’re taking a quick break with a cup of tea, or a glass of wine, or even while you’re washing dishes. If I mention a link, you’ll find it in the written post below. Wishing you a simple and minimal homeschool schedule!
Hi there. I bet you’re here because you struggle with finding a schedule that works for you. Maybe you have a schedule, but you can’t seem to follow it, or stick with it. Or, you’re wondering if you’re doing enough, or too much? Maybe you’re wondering if the subjects chosen for your 4th grader will meet the general 4th grade standards out there in the world? You think that if you can just see someone else’s simple and minimal homeschool schedule, it will answer all your questions, and eliminate all doubt.
Every curriculum and schedule is biased by the values, time availability, family dynamics, children’s aptitudes, and specific priorities of the person who designed them. Chances are pretty good that it will be difficult for you to find your curriculum and schedule soulmate simply because those biases exist.
So… STOP LOOKING AROUND.
Friend, I spent way too long trying to fit into someone else’s schedule. It was unnatural and uncomfortable – like a gorgeous pair of shoes that pinch you in all the wrong places the longer you wear them, and leave you barely limping through the end of the day. Other people’s homeschool schedules may look good on the outside, but they can be painful to wear.
If you are going to be happy doing this homeschooling gig, you MUST look inward. Embrace who you are – for a lot of reasons, but especially to find a simple and minimal homeschool schedule that works for YOU and your children. A good place to start is to make sure that you have been working with your own strengths, and not your weaknesses.
I have already talked about how just this one mindset shift had a huge impact on my 2017. Today, let’s evaluate your schedule with this perspective.
The 14th Minimalist Homeschooling Mindset Hack in Minimalist Homeschooling is: Prioritize your strengths. You are good at it for a reason.
The book goes into detail about working smarter, not harder, and the importance of prioritizing your children’s strengths. So instead of repeating the book’s content here, I want to take this opportunity to discuss how prioritizing strengths can maximize, and simplify your schedule.
The Big Tip:
Work with your strengths. Multiply what is working well to see exponentially more success!
I’m not sure if that last sentence is true mathematically, but the idea is to take what does work well in your homeschool, and do more of it!
Working with your strengths when scheduling and lesson planning will:
- create a a more comfortable homeschooling experience,
- allow you to effortlessly adjust your lessons with changing seasons and changing family dynamics, and
- will make your teaching more effective!
In short, you won’t be limping to the finish line, or dreading your day. You will enjoy your day more, AND more learning will happen.
This sounds so simple, so why don’t we all do this all the time? As with everything in this Minimalist Homeschooling Mindset Series, it has to do with our mindset.
People come up with many objections to making things easier on themselves. Overthinking runs rampant. Our goal as home educators is to, well, educate our children. That. is. it. Don’t make this more complicated than it needs to be by idealizing how they get that education. Here are some objections to “doing more of the same” that actually have nothing to do with whether our children are learning.
I should offer more variety.
Are your kids learning without variety? If you do more of what works best, wouldn’t your kids perhaps learn more? Variety may be a byproduct of how you and your kids function best, but too often variety is mistaken as the goal. The goal is learning, not variety.
Now, if you and your children thrive on variety, keep changing things up. Which brings me to my next point…
I should stick with a curriculum and not jump around among resources.
Are your children learning with that curriculum? Does it feel easy and enjoyable? If so, stick with it. If not, please switch to something that does work for your family. Remember, learning is the goal, not completion of a book or lesson plan.
The point is this: If your family thrives on structure, stick with your curriculum that is working pleasantly for you. If your family delights in variety, shake it up as much as you want.
This also applies to doing EVERYTHING exactly as prescribed in a certain curriculum or schooling style. If some parts are stressful, tedious, boring, unhelpful, or ineffective, decide which parts you actually believe are needed, and do them in a way that does work.
Repeat after me, over and over again: The goal is learning.
My kids enjoy it so much; I should do it even if it is painful for me.
This is based on my experience with unit studies and lessons that were centered around my child’s unique interests. My kids love those approaches, and they are learning, but the pressure I felt to design lessons for all the subjects around their specific interests was unbearable. By the time number 3 was approaching school age, I knew I couldn’t sustain that level of individualized lesson planning.
Happy Mom, Happy Homeschool. Do your kids a favor and fill your days with homeschooling that is enjoyable for you, too. Your strengths matter, too. You are not doing anyone any favors by trudging through the day or getting stressed.
You may not fully understand right now how your strengths, and your preferences are impacting your children for the benefit of “The Plan” for them, but trust. Please, trust that when things feel uncomfortable and unpleasant, that is a sign to do it differently. Don’t doubt yourself, and don’t feel guilty about it!
We are each good at certain things for a reason, and I don’t believe in hiding a light under a bushel. (Matthew 5:15-16)
My children will have gaps in their education. I will miss something.
What are your children missing that is important for them to reach the goals and adhere to the values that YOU have identified? (Notice that we are talking about your personal goals and values here, not the world’s.) How can you teach those items in the ways that work well for your family?
“More of the same,” is the answer here.
More read alouds? More workbooks? More apps? More YouTube videos? More reports? More field trips? More free time? More books from the library? More games? The options are endless. The goal is learning. Get those neglected subjects in using whatever method works for your family.
The book gives instructions on how to tailor teaching and scheduling toward goals and values. Or, you can find more specifically about identifying your values here.
Another point: Can you teach your child something once you realize they need it? If they do have a gap? Yes. Please make sure to read about evaluating worst case scenarios. Set some thoughtful priorities and get to work in the way that works best for you. Don’t overthink it!
But, I really want to teach it in the amazing, creative way I saw on Pinterest!
Are you the person who sees the creative things on Pinterest, and therefore, you want to teach a subject from top to bottom with amazing lessons? The only problem is that you can’t really ever get those creative activities done? Your perfectionism may be sabotaging your homeschool. A simple minimal homeschool schedule relies on teaching in the most effective way possible, which means it is better to teach the information in a less than perfect way than to barely teach it at all. The goal is not amazing creative lessons – the goal is learning.
Elaborate lessons may help your child learn the subject, however, if amazing lesson plans mean the learning isn’t getting done, it’s time to go back to the types of lessons that do get done. If you’ve been unable to keep up with your schedule because it is too elaborate or idealistic, then it’s time to take what does work, and what does happen and do those types of lessons instead of waiting for the stars to align (or getting frustrated that they never do).
How to Make it Happen
What are your strengths? Which subjects do you like teaching? How do you like teaching them? Are your strengths in conflict with your plans? Are they in conflict with your children’s preferences?
What kinds of lessons go smoothly in your home? Which lessons don’t go smoothly? Can you change how you teach those “not smooth” subjects in a “smooth” way?
Are there any subjects that YOU have decided are important that are being neglected? How can you do more of the same things that work for those?
Here are some more tips for a simple and minimal homeschool schedule:
Purge. Be sure that you are not trying to include more than you really need. This is an essential step to having a simple and minimal homeschool schedule that the book discusses in detail. Priorities are your friend.
Slow down and be realistic. The goal is learning. They have a lifetime to learn. Do you know everything? Take a deep breath and be happy with slow, deliberate steps toward the goal. This is NOT a marathon, it is a relaxing stroll. You will not have a simple and minimal homeschool schedule if you must do all the things RIGHT NOW. Slow down. Be realistic.
Delegate. Find someone (or something) who can do the things that are causing stress in your homeschool; think tutors, library programs, online classes, video series, YouTube channels, apps, etc. Actually, I give our babysitter art projects to do with my kids while I go out on a date with my husband – the elaborate kind that use specific techniques or include information about famous artists. No joke.
That’s it! The big secret that everyone knows, but nobody wants to admit: Find what feels right, and then do more of that for the most important things!
How do you accomplish a simple and minimal homeschool schedule? What are your strengths that you put to good use or would like to use more? Have you been overthinking your schedule too much? Do you have a questions? I’m always here to chat… comment below!
This post is part of the Minimalist Homeschooling Mindset Series, where I talk more in-depth about the mindset hacks that are in the book.
The book is designed to be an instructional guide to creating an individualized learning plan that works for you and you family. It includes worksheets, and walks you through making your own schedule based on so much more: your values, style, priorities, time availability, strengths, preferences… I simply cannot fit it all into a blog post. So, if you’re craving more, the book was written for you.
If you’d like to connect with other homeschoolers seeking a simple and minimal homeschool schedule, join us on facebook!
Wishing you all the simple things in your homeschool schedule,
PS – I use a unique type of schedule and lesson planning for busy times like during summers, vacations, and the holiday season. Here’s a video that talks a little more about that.