Take the stress out of homeschooling with these 7 questions. Learn how to take a minimalist approach to education and curriculum!
Every week a newsletter from blogging authority Amy Lynn Andrews arrives in my inbox. I like her newsletters because they are useful (she even calls them “useletters”) and I can easily pick and choose what information I want to glean from the email.
A while back she mentioned her minimalist approach to business and the questions she asks herself when it comes to how she manages her online business. I was struck by the parallels I was able to draw in the homeschooling world. It made such good sense that I wanted to share it with all of you, putting my own homeschool spin on her questions.
How do you want to spend your homeschool days?
Question #1 – How do I want to spend my days?
Amy Lynn suggests that asking people what their goals are is too arbitrary. If I said, “What are your homeschooling goals?” you might tell me to get your kids into college or follow a Charlotte Mason style education, but what does that really mean and how do you get there?
A better question that will lead you to a more peaceful end result is deciding what you want your individual days to look like.
Do you want to offer your children a rigorous Classical education? Would you like to spend time reading living books every day? Do you want slow and steady or structured and academically advanced? Additionally, do you want to be teaching a lot of subjects hands-on or do you need your kids to be more independent?
And the answers to these questions could change from year to year depending on your circumstances. If you are having a baby this school year, you might need a slower-paced day to accommodate the newborn days. If you have only high schoolers, you may be looking to kick it up a notch and get some of them graduated early.
Once you establish what you’d like your homeschool day to look like, you can work backward from there searching for curriculum that fits that vision.
Is there a way to homeschool easier or faster?
Question #2 – Can I find an easier or faster way to homeschool or manage my homeschool?
While I don’t believe everything ought to be fast or easy, there are many things you can streamline when it comes to homeschooling. From record-keeping to teaching certain subjects you don’t particularly enjoy, look for ways to do them better, faster, simpler.
For instance, I spent years looking for a simple way to plan out my homeschool days, only to land on a super simple idea that revolutionized my homeschool and got rid of the guilt I was feeling about not having a full-blown “plan.” It involved only a notebook and pen and a few minutes of my day! Yay!!
Learn more about Flexible Homeschool Planning in my ebook!
How do I teach more with less homeschool curriculum?
Question #3 – Can I find a homeschool curriculum that will cover a lot of subjects, thus creating less moving parts?
Instead of using a different curriculum for every single subject, look for ways to combine subjects or find a curriculum that already does this for you! This is one reason Tapestry of Grace has been a favorite of mine for many years, and also why we use the Homeschool Garden Morning Time. Both of these curricula combine the subjects and ages I am teaching to maximize my efforts, thus creating a more minimalist kind of homeschooling experience.
Another way to have less moving parts in your homeschool is to have less moving parts. In other words, cut out things that don’t really matter or save them for another time. You cannot possibly teach every single subject every single day. Rotate, loop, or delete. You are in charge, so only YOU can create a simple homeschool.
Is this way of homeschooling sustainable?
Question #4 – Can I keep homeschooling like this or will I eventually burn out?
Quite often, we start out the homeschool year strong, only to find we cannot keep up the pace we set for ourselves. Wouldn’t it be so much better (and less stressful…and less guilt-ridden…) if we considered the sustainability of our homeschool schedule BEFORE we started in on our school year at a pace we cannot possibly maintain?
The answer to that is “yes,” by the way.
Be honest with yourself, your limitations, your circumstances, and your REAL schedule. Better to keep things simple from the start!
What is the real cost of homeschooling this way?
Question #5 – Will my kids, my family, my home (etc) suffer if I try to homeschool using a certain method or curriculum or coop?
There is a cost to every extracurricular activity, curriculum, and homeschool group you chose to participate in. All the excitement and adrenaline you have at the beginning will fizzle out and you will be left the reality of the cost. Make sure it is worth it.
You must ask yourself these questions BEFORE you get into anything extra in your homeschool:
- How much time will this realistically take away from our family and homeschool?
- Is this extra thing truly adding value to our lives?
- Do I have the time and energy to commit to this for X number of months?
- Will my family suffer in any way because of this thing?
You should also listen to this podcast:
Is this homeschool method the best for me and my family?
Question #6 – Is this way of homeschooling a good idea for our family?
It seems everyone and their dog has a homeschooling idea for you to try.
Try this curriculum! It will solve all of your problems!
Come to our homeschooling group! We have more classes and fun than any other group!
Use this homeschooling method! It will give you the best results!
But your family is unique! YOU are unique! It’s time to stand up for yourself!
Recognize your style, your circumstances, your strengths and weaknesses, and choose methods, curricula, groups, clubs, and projects based on who you and your family truly are – not who you think you *should* be.
Do I have an exit strategy?
Question #7 – If I decide to say yes to “X,” how hard will it be to say no to it later?
We’ve all gotten in over our heads at some point in our lives and realized too late how our yes should have been a no. Without an exit strategy, we hang on to things that suck the life and joy right out of us. Don’t let this kind of thing define your homeschool!
So, before you say yes to dance lessons, little league, debate, homeschool group, or that rigorous curriculum, give yourself an exit strategy – even if it is simply to say, “I have my permission to quit.”
Friends, take the time to ask yourself these 7 questions to help you to create a relaxed homeschool with a focus on minimalism and simplicity, rather than stress and chaos. Doing so will keep you strong and consistent all homeschool year long!