So many times recently I’ve been asked what homeschooling looks like in my house. I find that no matter how basically I describe it, it always ends up seeming utterly confusing to anyone on the outside trying to make sense of it.
Additionally, I think a lot of people are unsure of what relaxed homeschooling actually is, and moreover, often wonder whether it’s “enough.”
Over the next two weeks, I’m planning on writing a series of posts breaking down not only what my kids do according to their age groups, but I’m going to describe actual homeschool days in our house. The first thing you’re going to notice is that I am not only including schoolish activities but also interest-led activities that abound throughout the day and, unsurprisingly, add extensively to their learning environment.
Today I’ll be focusing on a recent homeschool day with our 5, 6, and 8 year olds. While we do scheduled activities around a certain time each day, this by no means is the end of their education. We consider life and learning to be one in the same, so this will be reflected in this description.
A Homeschool Day with the Littles
The kids approach me early in the morning and ask to make pumpkin bread. Since it’s a bit chilly, and we’re all hungry, I agree, and all of the kids gather around and take turns measuring, adding ingredients, stirring, and debating over who gets to lick the bowl.
Afterwards, we do a quick clean-up to get ready for our homeschool activities.
We start with a story out of Beautiful Stories for Children. Since Luke (8) is now getting the hang of reading, he reads a selected skit with me while the girls follow along.
We talk about the moral behind the story and pray about it together.
Next, each of the children takes turns doing Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons and their respective math books: Luke- Spectrum Math- Grade 3, Ireland (6)- Liberty Mathematics Level A, and Summer (5)- Liberty Mathematics Level K.
While they are waiting for their turn with me, they look at books, draw, and play quietly.
During this time, they become enamored by the candle my oldest daughter bought for me. Summer takes the lid and places it on the candle. Immediately, the flame goes out. Ireland quickly reacts and takes the lid back off, burning her hand in the process. We have a discussion about fire needing oxygen to stay lit, how quickly metals can heat up, and how to properly treat a minor burn.
Once everyone is finished, we head into the living room to read How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World. While reading, we talk about the countries mentioned and what some of the words mean that they aren’t familiar with. We take a look at the illustrations, especially the street scenes, and go to the dining room table, so the children can make their own.
Once there, I show them how the illustrator continued the same scene in the beginning and ending. We tape two sheets of paper together and fold one side one-third of the way in so they can create a similar effect as in the book.
At this point, London (10), Caollin (12), Kenzie (3), and Bailey (9) all decide they want to make one, too.
Once their pictures are finished, they play outside while their older siblings do their homeschool activities. They spend two hours enacting a live action game of Minecraft in the yard, pretending to be Steve and Dr. Trayaurus, building intricate forts and other structures with odds and ends they find.
After lunch and chores, they go back out and finish the game, this time with their older siblings joining in.
Some time later, everyone comes back in and watches an art competition on Netflix. They’re mesmerized.
Soon enough, it’s time for dinner. While we wait for it to cook, Caollin pulls out the melted crayons she made. One of them is shaped in a perfect circle, so she cuts it in quarters and uses it to introduce Luke, Ireland, and Summer to fractions. Brilliant!
After everyone eats, we do chores yet again, and everyone showers, plays quietly for a bit, then heads to bed.
As you can see, we didn’t fill our day with worksheets, textbook assignments, and other busy work. We covered the basics, added some fun activities, and then simply allowed for the kids to learn and discover things by following whatever had caught their interest for the day.
This is the gist of what relaxed homeschooling is. Focusing on the essentials, providing inspiration to apply what’s been learned, and allowing plenty of time and freedom to explore.
Is it enough? Absolutely. All of the subjects required by law to be covered were easily integrated and fit seamlessly into the rest of the day. But there’s one important difference…this is learning that will not only stick, but doesn’t even feel like “school” at all.
It’s fun. It’s engaging. It’s genuine.
Now that’s an education this mom can get behind.