The Art of Simplicity in Homeschooling
Whether you are a veteran homeschooler or just starting out, you may feel overwhelmed in some ways. There just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to get it all done! This is where the art of simplicity comes into play. Simplicity is one of the most important concepts to remember as you homeschool your children. Simplicity means structure with flexibility, in both the curriculum we choose and the way we choose to teach it.
With all the materials and experiences available to you as a homeschooling parent, it can be very difficult to pass up any opportunity. However, trying to cram too much into each day will only lead to frustration, for both you and your children. You are likely homeschooling because you want to tailor your children’s learning experience to their needs and those of your family. Rigid and demanding schedules sabotage these goals. Choose books and programs that focus on the basics and be selective about enhancements. You child has a lifetime of learning ahead. Remember that you don’t have to do everything in one year. Simplicity means keeping out busy work that takes up more time than its educational benefit.
Structure is very important, but it does need some flexibility for homeschoolers. In fact, rigid, inflexible schedules are one reason many families choose homeschooling in the first place. Sometimes we forget this important principle when trying to get everything done throughout the day. Set up a basic routine, but don’t panic on days when you can’t adhere to it. Real life impact schedules! Maybe someone is sick, you have doctor’s appointments or errands to run, or an event is happening that you don’t want to miss. These types of interruptions are a part of life. Learning how to work the unexpected into their day is an important lesson for your children. Don’t miss that once-in-a-lifetime museum experience for math lessons that, while important, can happen tomorrow.
Whether you have a budding musician or future astronaut in your midst, a major benefit of homeschooling is the ability to customize learning to celebrate each student’s interests. Unfortunately, many families use the “add-on” method for these unique interests, piling music lessons, astronomy, or other special interest learning on top of an already crammed schedule. This takes some of the joy out of learning for your children, leaving less time to deep dive into things that are truly fascinating for them. Be creative and flexible. You can blend your child’s special interest into other subjects by changing the theme. For example, your musical child can write papers about the history of music, or your astronomer can write about space exploration, combining their special interest with English composition lessons. Math and science principles are best learned when they apply to the special interests of your child. The possibilities are endless. Be creative! You can combine different subjects to simplify your days.
It’s hard to focus on anything when laundry and dirty dishes are piling up. Housekeeping is a part of life that should be incorporated into your homeschooling curriculum. A little pre-planning here can simplify your day. Different families have different needs, and children have different abilities, so no two chore schedules are alike. The important thing is choosing a simple method that lets everyone know what is expected of them and gives a sense of completion to each chore. Methods might include magnets, clothespins, or clips that are moved when a chore is finished or checklists/to-do lists. Spend time designing the system, but make it simple to implement! Children can do the same chores every day or they can rotate, depending on their abilities and your family’s needs. Be flexible here, as well. If you all need to rush to the doctor for an unexpected illness, chores, like school work, will have to wait.
Keeping things simple means making the time for independent work whenever possible. While younger children naturally need more supervision and assistance, there are things they can do on their own that will give you a break and time to refresh before the next activity. Older children can read independently or work on projects. Remember that one of the main goals of education is to teach children how to become adults who can manage themselves. They must learn to think for themselves, solve problems, and make decisions. These skills define independence. Your children are still learning even if you are not standing by them helping with a project. The more independence you can instill, the more valuable their educational experience will be for them.
Keeping things simple doesn’t mean that homeschooling is easy. Your children will still be challenged to learn increasingly complex tasks and ideas. It means that you have a structured yet flexible schedule that lets everyone learn at their own pace without overwhelming them, while also learning about how to deal effectively with everyday interruptions that are a part of life. Cramming too much into each day only leads to frustration and undermines the very reasons you chose to homeschool your children in the first place. The “home” in homeschool should always mean that your children can feel relaxed and at home while they explore fascinating new topics and learn all the important lessons of life.