Does your homeschool seem…ordinary? No tricks, nothing special, just you and the kids making a little more progress every day. Should you be doing more? Is this simple day-to-day enough? There’s always the dazzle of uncharted horizons… the latest curriculum fad, more field trips, classes your kids would like to take. While there’s no harm in adding a little pizzaz to your days, I would like to encourage you that you can have a simple homeschool and it can be very good. Let me share 5 reasons why your homeschool can be simple.
Video: 5 Reasons Why Your Homeschool Can Be Simple
What Is a Simple Homeschool?
Because we have a large family with a wide age range (10 kids, ages 18 to 5 months) our homeschool has been very basic from time to time. Meeting the needs of each individual child sometimes means we have to lighten the load on our calendar!
For us, simple homeschooling has looked like this. Staying home more often, being involved in fewer extracurricular activities, doing less in general. Simple homeschool often means saying no to some things so you can say yes to the more important matters. It can mean not being up on the latest trends in curriculum and instead using basic materials like library books, a globe, an abacus, flashcards, counting tiles, common kitchen items, etc.
Simple homeschooling does NOT mean that we aren’t challenging our kids. As homeschool moms, we know when our kids aren’t giving it their best shot and this kind of attitude is not ok! We want them to always try their very best and to see all of life as learning.
Certain seasons or financial circumstances might make it necessary to keep school very minimal. If this is you, don’t compare yourself to what others are doing or doubt your effectiveness as a homeschool mom. I want to encourage you that your homeschool can be quite simple and yet very good.
Before I tell you all the reasons why your homeschool can be simple, I know some people thrive on creative endeavors and spontaneous excursions. Staying busy and trying new things keeps some people going! I am not trying to discourage that kind of inspiration. In fact, because I am not generally creative by nature, I surround myself with friends who inspire me with their creative juices so that I can glean from them what ideas might work for us. I like to add zing from time to time. Variety is the spice of life!
Sometimes, however, we can have so much on our plate that a simple homeschool is just the ticket to a peaceful home. If you have a new baby or have recently moved, these might be reasons you long for a simple homeschool. If like us, you have a large family, you may need to keep your homeschool simple in certain times of life to be able to function.
#1 Advantage of Simple Curriculum
I know all that new curriculum you saw the the recent convention looks sooo tempting, but you don’t have to have the best curriculum for your child to succeed! In fact, you can stick with the same curriculum all the way through if you want, no matter how many latest models you see along the way.
We have done this (for the most part) in our homeschool and it has resulted in what I call the “trickle down” effect. I have seen how much the younger children pick up from watching their older siblings do school work. When they are finally old enough to start, they are familiar with the layout and the content, expectations, and teaching style. SO MANY times I have started to teach my budding school age child a new concept only to see that they already know it. They have heard all the history songs from 5 different time periods because they have been sitting beside an older sibling listening to them for several years before starting school themselves.
Additionally, after I teach the curriculum to the oldest child, I get better and better with the next child. Every time a mom switches curriculum, it takes a period of time to learn the new layout. Admittedly, from time to time, I have been tempted to try the newest fads, but as you can see, staying with the same curriculum, though it may seem ordinary, has its advantages as well.
#2 Free Time Breeds Curiosity
Nothing will stifle a child’s imagination more than running around from activity to activity. Kids need free time. Time to be bored. When children have space in their day, they begin to wonder and ask questions. With free time, kids can pursue their interests and hone their skills. This is when some of the best learning happens! If your kids raise kids who love to learn, you have equipped them in the best way possible.
Think about it. What kinds of things do you remember most? You remember the things you were interested in and took time to search and learn on your own. So it’s ok if your homeschool is simple. All that free time is serving you well.
Here are two examples of people with very primitive learning environments who taught themselves and grew up to make important contributions to the people of their time period.
Laura Ingalls Wilder grew up in wilderness areas, living sometimes on the prairie or in a dugout. Consequently, she lived each day working without modern tools, churning butter, hand-washing clothes, making her own candles. She had access to few books, yet she grew to be an excellent writer. Laura has a way of expressing thoughts and processes in a way that is easy to understand.
Frederick Douglas, who was born in slavery, grew up in a supremely dismal literate environment, yet when he escaped slavery as a free man, he became one of the greatest orators our country has ever known. Where did he get this training in public speaking? As a young slave, he taught himself over the years how to read. When he gained his freedom, one of the first books he ever owned was a book of famous speeches. He memorized them.
So you see, it doesn’t take the best tools or plans to help kids learn, it takes desire. Thankfully, this curious nature is innate in all children!
#3 YouTube and the Magical Library Card
The beauty of the information age is that we have access to infinite amounts of information just at our fingertips. While it may be fun to sign up for various classes, it’s not necessary when you can learn how to do anything on YouTube. If your kids want to build a treehouse, YouTube it! If kids want ideas for how to start their own business, they can learn the skills needed from watching videos of others working a trade. When an appliance breaks in your home, you no longer have to call the repairman, turn it into a physics and machinery lesson!
With your library card, you can read just about any book… for free! You don’t need to fill your time with unnecessary plans when you can learn the same thing in the comfort of your home.
#4 A Peaceful Mom
No matter how many fun activities and learning experiences you have planned for your kids, if you as a mom are frazzled and overwhelmed, these exciting plans may have the opposite outcome. Kids learn best when they live in a secure, loving environment with parents who are fully engaged.
Think about the atmospheres that prevent kids from learning well:
- Broken relationships/fighting
- Not feeling secure at home
- Basic needs not met: food, shelter, rest, clothing
- No order or structure to family life
When you think about the atmospheres that inhibit learning, I hope you can see how a peaceful mom is a very important ingredient for a healthy homeschool. Think about how the basic act of staying home often with regular routines and loving parents who provide plenty of free time for play and work can equip your child with the best environment to grow and thrive.
#5 There’s No Place Like Home
While it may seem at times that everything exciting is “out there”, think of all the opportunities available to you in your home. Home is the place where you can be the most creative. A home is filled with raw materials: wood, fabric, water, stone, metals, ceramic, modeling dough or clay, simple machines. Your whole kitchen can become a chemistry lab as you experiment with actions and reactions. A walk outside opens up a world of living plants, animals, birds, and insects. A flower, herb, or vegetable garden will bring even more variety to your home for your children to discover. Consider the difference between the accoutrements in a brick and mortar school building and the exhaustive resources available in the comfort of your own home. There’s no comparison! Humble though it may be, truly, there is no place like home!
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Hi, I’m Sheri! I am a Christian saved by grace, married to my high school sweetheart, and a thankful mom to ten incredible kids. I’m a former public school teacher who never thought I would someday be a homeschool mom! Drawing on 13+ years of homeschooling experience, follow along to find help for getting started, tried and true homeschooling advice, life skills learning, simple Morning Time ideas, and interviews with everyday homeschool moms just like you!