I cannot believe that we’ve already reached the third and last installment of my “Relaxed Homeschooling 101” series.
Over the past couple of weeks, I delved a bit more deeply into what relaxed homeschooling actually is and how to set the stage for a relaxed homeschool. Today I will (finally) be covering how to get started with relaxed homeschooling.
So let’s get started. 🙂
Getting Started with Relaxed Homeschooling
First of all, I’d really like to stress that no two homeschools are alike, relaxed or not, so the advice that I offer here today is something that you, as the homeschooling parent, need to make the ultimate decision on. Just like children, our homeschools are not meant to be cookie cutter images of one another, so if you find that something I mention doesn’t work for you, that’s okay. Move on and try something different.
With all that in mind, there are a few tricks I’ve learned on this journey that I’ve found I have in common with many other relaxed homeschooling families, so today I’m hoping to give you some ideas on how you can get started to create a more peaceful and less rushed homeschool.
7 Homeschool Principles Used by Relaxed Homeschoolers
(This post contains affiliate links.)
1. Slow down with your planning.
As a Type-A homeschool mom, I know all too well how much fun planning can be, but in a relaxed homeschool, it is so important to:
- Keep your plans basic.
- Refrain from the urge to assign specific dates for everything.
(For more details on how I plan our relaxed homeschool, click here.)
Remember that the whole point of relaxed homeschooling is to allow your children to learn in an unhurried and joyful manner. This cannot happen if you become a slave to your lesson planner.
Believe me, I know.
2. Forget about those teacher’s manuals.
In my nine years of homeschooling, one thing I’ve realized about teacher’s manuals is that not only do they overcomplicate things, but most of them are written for a school or school-at-home setting.
Having an answer key is completely understandable for math and other more difficult subjects, but otherwise I’ve found that they do nothing but add unnecessary busywork.
Save yourself and your children the time and frustration.
3. Keep structured learning time to a minimum.
Giving children 4-6 hours of assigned work each day will not allow them much time to explore and learn on their own. As much as we homeschool moms like to believe that our carefully planned lessons are the most enriching part of their day, frankly, they’re not. Children learn best when they are interested in something and can pursue things on their own.
- Combining subjects
- Short lessons- approximately 10-20 minutes each
- Combining age levels
- Sticking to the 3 R’s and using self-directed learning for the rest
4. Say goodbye to those textbooks.
Nothing can make a homeschooling day more complicated than having to complete work in 3-6 or more separate textbooks or workbooks each day. Although the majority of people today believe that textbooks are the best way to learn, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
The fact is, there are so many more effective and less stressful ways to learn, such as:
- Hands-on learning
- Living books
- Unit studies (Check out my Harry Potter Unit Study!)
- Nature study
- Interest-led learning
- Life learning
- Educational videos
Take your pick!
5. Forget about school timelines.
Letting go of this is crucial for a homeschooling parent. After all, it’s very hard to relax when you’re always worried about whether or not your kids are at grade level, isn’t it?
6. Say yes more.
I don’t know about you, but as a parent, I seem to come with a trigger that makes me want to automatically say no.
No, you can’t go outside. It’s raining.
No, you can’t paint. You’ll get it on your clothes.
No, you can’t get the glitter out. You’ll get it all over the floor.
No, you can’t make cookies. I don’t want to clean up the mess.
Are you as adept at coming up with excuses about why your kids can’t do things as I am? The truth is, though, saying yes to our kids is going to give them the space and the opportunities they need to properly explore and learn about the world around them.
Thankfully, I’ve gotten much better at this, and what a blessing I did. If I hadn’t started saying yes more, my 13-year-old would never have discovered how much she loves to bake. My 17-year-old would never have realized that he wants to be a wildlife biologist/photographer if I had continually told him that he couldn’t go to the creek. My 10-year-old would never have known how gifted he is at building if I would have kept saying, “No, you can’t keep all these boxes!”
Saying yes more may bring us out of our comfort zones. It may mean that we have a few more messes to clean up. It may even mean that we’ve got to learn to trust our kids a little more.
But that’s a small price to pay considering the alternative.
7. Be prepared to throw out your plans.
This ties in with #1. As I’ve said so many times before, in the midst of homeschooling, life happens. And sometimes those “disturbances” may hold far greater learning experiences than those you may have written down in your planner for the day.
So whether your homeschool is being interrupted by someone or something from the outside, or if you and your kids simply need a break and decide to have a movie day, embrace it.
There is learning in everything. Cherish these moments.
Taking a leap of faith and deciding to relax your homeschool can truly take some adjusting, but the benefits of this homeschool style are so evident, and not only educationally, but also on the impact it will have on you and your family.
Do you consider yourself to be a relaxed homeschooler? What other tips would you add for someone starting out?
(For a relaxed homeschooling community, join my FB group!)