If there’s one thing I’ve learned about my fellow homeschoolers these past couple of years, it’s that they are dedicated, passionate, and intent on figuring out what they need to do in order to best help their children learn.
I’ve learned something about myself these past couple years of blogging:
I can have a one-track mind.
I tend to go on and on about things like relaxed homeschooling, yet I realized that I’ve never actually defined what it is- at least not in a way I’m satisfied with.
The fact is, embracing the relaxed homeschooling lifestyle literally saved our homeschool. Would I have quit homeschooling if I had never discovered it? I honestly doubt it because I’m no fan of the school system, and I know what it’s like to have kids enrolled in that mess, BUT it helped us to uncover a sense of peace that can only come when you know you are doing what was willed for you all along. It enabled us to find joy in our learning and contentment as a family.
Relaxed homeschooling has been a gift that I’d love to share with you.
Starting today, I’ll be publishing a 3-part series called “Relaxed Homeschooling 101.” I’ll be covering:
Relaxed homeschooling is known by several names, such as simple homeschooling, minimalist homeschooling, and even hyggeschooling, but the foundation remains the same.
I tend to think of it as a hybrid of eclectic homeschooling and unschooling. While it will look different for each family, relaxed homeschooling, simply put, is a homeschool environment that offers an element of structure with ample time for children to follow their own interests.
One of the basic tenets of relaxed homeschooling (and unschooling, for that matter) is that children learn best through life, whether it’s through pursuing their hobbies or simply going about their day absorbing whatever comes their way.
This may sound very similar to unschooling, because it is, but for varying reasons, relaxed homeschooling families supplement this leisurely learning approach with more structured lessons, which you won’t find in an unschooling household.
Some reasons people may choose to add this bit of structure may include:
the need for routine in their day
a type-A personality (like me) that likes to have some sort of plan
living in a stricter state that requires more paperwork (although I will add that unschooling is legal in all 50 states)
wanting to give their children a good foundation
wanting to introduce their children to topics they might not otherwise be exposed to
Additionally, relaxed homeschooling families are often very intentional about keeping their lessons short. After all, spending 5 or 6 hours a day on school work wouldn’t be very relaxing now, would it?
A few months back, I made a video in which I gave a rather thorough explanation of what relaxed homeschooling is and how we implement it in our large family homeschool. I encourage you to watch it if you have any other questions. 🙂
I’ll see you next week when I discuss how to set the stage for a relaxed homeschool. Until then, God bless and happy homeschooling!
If you’ve been on the lookout for a relaxed homeschooling community, join my FB group!
The other day I wrote about a specific day in our homeschool with the littles. Today I’m going to focus on a recent day of learning with my 9, 10, and 12 year olds.
As with my younger children, I do not consider only our structured homeschool time as our learning time because each day brings so many opportunities for natural learning experiences that I’d be remiss to not mention them.
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.
Since the relaxed, or eclectic, approach to homeschooling is the only remaining method we’ve tried, today’s post will conclude this series. As I stated in the first post, if you’ve had experience with any other methods such as Charlotte Mason, project-based, leadership education, etc., I would be happy to read a description in the comments, or you can even leave a link to a post that you have written!
“Whatever works” is the best way to describe this method of homeschooling. Those who identify as eclectic, or relaxed, learners often refer to their daily routines as a mish mosh of all of the other homeschooling methods. Instead of finding one learning system and staying within the confines of what is considered “procedure” for that particular method, eclectic homeschoolers pull together a routine that will work best for each individual child.
Many relaxed homeschoolers stick to the three R’s and use some sort of curriculum for reading, writing, and arithmetic, and then go on to utilize a more unschoolish outlook on the remaining subjects in order to allow their children more time to explore their own interests.
Others may offer a little more guidance in all of the subjects in various ways but will usually remain open to dropping the day’s plans in order to pursue any alternative opportunity that arises.
As with unit studies and unschooling, sometimes an example of a typical day using the eclectic learning method will paint a clearer picture of what it’s all about, so here is a brief description of my high school age son’s current daily routine:
Language Arts– completing vocabulary worksheets three times a week, Greek mythology vocabulary once a week, chatting with fellow online gamers, reading literature selections either of his choosing or assigned by me, practicing diligence in answering all assigned mythology questions in complete sentences
Math– two pages per day of a math curriculum (I will usually assign only half the problems or skip the lesson completely if he already knows how to do it), a myriad of mathematical concepts are covered in the online games he enjoys, managing his own money and making any decisions on future purchases
Social Studies– historical fiction movies (especially military history), historical documentaries, discussion of current events, spending lots of time in the community with people of all ages and ethnicities
Science– spending lots of time in the outdoors observing wildlife and researching anything he discovers but doesn’t recognize, reading astronomy books from the library, astronomy documentaries, researching different types of reptiles, amphibians, and arachnids and going to a nearby creek to look for them
Greek Mythology– completing a curriculum centered around a popular mythology book
Technology– creating, editing, and uploading his own videos to YouTube
As you can see, relaxed learning can include everything from textbooks (used very loosely) to following interests in order to learn in a way that suits the child and will remain with him for a long time to come.
– Children learn best with activities that fit within their learning styles. Sometimes different techniques will work better for different subjects. Relaxed homeschooling allows for the flexibility needed in order to obtain a successful educational plan for each child.
– By being given large amounts of time to pursue their own interests, children will often become immersed in their favorite pasttimes and will soon become “experts” in these areas which can potentially lead to future career opportunities.
– Eclectic homeschooling can give just the right amount of structure needed to keep the day from being chaotic.
– As with unit studies, the activities which are assigned on any given day will often provide a springboard for the child to develop new interests they otherwise would not have been aware of.
– This method would be a good substitute for those who are drawn to unschooling but are uncomfortable with the uncertainty and lack of structure.
– Depending on what learning methods are used, it may be difficult to come up with work samples for portfolios in those states in which it is required to do so. Don’t give up too easily, though. There are many homeschool evaluators who recognize that learning does not necessarily come from worksheets and will accept just a few work samples.
– Sometimes it may be difficult to rid yourself of the schoolish mindset, and it can be all too easy of falling into the trap of believing that learning cannot happen without filling out worksheets, taking tests, and using textbooks for all subjects. The best remedy for this is to think back to your school days and ponder how much you actually remember from what you learned. I’ll venture a guess that it’s not very much.
– This method may be difficult for families with multiple young children. Some children are perfectly fine with only a little bit of structure, but some families with younger children may need a little more order that can be accomplished with activities from interest-based unit studies.
So there you have it! This is everything my experience with these homeschooling approaches has brought to light. When choosing which method fits you best, please keep in mind that even if you prefer a certain method, you will not have the “homeschool police” knocking at your door if you do things just a little differently. After all, it is the flexibility that comes along with homeschooling that makes it so much more successful than traditional school.
I would love to hear which method you’ve chosen for your family. Leave a comment, and tell me what your plans are. I love to hear from you!