You probably can’t tell by looking at us, but we are Minimalist Homeschoolers.
I heard that laugh, and I laugh with you!
My kids are busy. Sometimes I worry that they are too busy… and other times that they are not busy enough… but right now they are busy building a new society of the girls who live in a leaf fort. They are using a Saturday afternoon to be kids and using nature to create a new imaginary world.
Mom is putting things away from a grocery run and getting the plans for this evening in motion and writing things down before they get lost among so many other thoughts.
Mom’s brain knows that there will be supper, baths, and the normal night time routine all with the added preparations to getting things ready for a Sunday morning of two parents and six girls getting ready for church… or as we like to call it The Weekly Miracle of the Mooreheads Making it to Church.
My life is one of lists, I make them and I check them off.
After writing about unschooling in my last Home Education Style blog post, I have to admit I struggle, as many of us do, with being upset when my list is too long–and ironically also when it seems too short. This time I wanted to know what it means to be a Minimalist Homeschooler.
What is a Minimalist Homeschooler?
Let’s say you ask someone what they did for school, expecting to hear the name of a curriculum or even an answer like Charlotte Mason or Waldorf or something – anything you feel like you have a basic understanding of and could converse with them about.
They answered, “We are Minimalistic.”
Then, if you are like me, you nodded and smiled while inside your head, you ran through the following questions.
- What could I possibly cut out of my day?
- Is there a curriculum for that?
- Do you use manipulatives or is all stuff taboo?
- Isn’t this just another version of unschooling?
- What does it look like on an average day?
- How do you know the minimum is getting your students enough?
- Is there a Maximum schooling?
Perhaps you had the courage to ask them at least most of the above questions… or maybe you googled something and wound up here…
The truth is, the word Minimalist probably conjures something different in each of us. For some it is a glorious thought about a release from the burdensome tasks or things that we spend so much of life tending to.
For others of us, there is a creeping sense of dread that my kids would always be under-prepared or under-equipped for life.
Most of us are likely somewhere in between, but I truly believe that for all of us, there is something to learn from our minimalistic friends.
The girls have come back to the real house for a snack and I realize I have already spent so. many. words. leading up to something that one Minimalist Home Educator summed up as Value over Volume.
What does Minimalist Homeschooling look like?
So here is the great premise of what it means to choose this style for your family.
It is making sure that you are choosing quality over quantity for your family and students.
It does not mean living in a tent with one set of clothes per family member… but it does mean taking a hard look at all the good things and carefully choosing what is best. The best things may mean saying no to some good things.
This doesn’t mean throwing away all manipulatives, curriculums, programs, etc. It means looking at your students learning style and not allowing the extras to crowd out the learning. If they learn best with a hard copy in front of them then owning books or better yet frequenting the library, would suit you.
If your student is ready for more in-depth lessons, then the Internet is full of places to find the next lesson to satisfy the curiosity without a wall of school books and lesson plans.
The average day still has a lesson plan, but the Minimalist can quickly adapt to the unexpected because the day is built on the foundation of adaptability. It is not about never crafting… just not over-crafting that crowds out learning time with glitter and gluing time.
Is Minimalist Homeschooling an option for my family?
This, like all the methods here, is not for everyone. Your student may need much more structure and tangible school activity. The key is to understand your journey and your students. Maybe this is what you need, either long term or for a season.
Perhaps, you are doing most things well and the minimalists among us are just helping us in whatever method we use as a reminder to keep value above volume, know when to say no to good and yes to best, and most of all, not get too caught up in our own way.
Speaking of which, I’ve got a leaf fort full of backyard princesses to conquer.