Simplifying Homeschool When It Is Just Too Much

Is your head spinning with all the books and resources you are planning for the year? Are your beautiful new books and curriculum sitting piled nice, shiny and evenly just taunting you with a “Oh yeah, so you think you can teach me?” Are you saying to yourself “Ai, yi, yi what have I done?” Fear not sweet homeschool mumma, there is a way out of this mess. Trust me I’ve been there. 

Well here it is …. DO LESS!

To make this happen try and do just this one thing to your homeschool plan – integrate. It can be a tough decision to make especially when it will be completely different from your plan A. But Plan ‘B’ can be beautiful.

I try to remember I am not working for a government department, I am ‘working’ for God. The funny thing about it is that God doesn’t operate on any others schedule. Take joy in knowing he will do in your family what is right, not what you want and in His perfect timing.

1. INTEGRATE!

When you read ‘Hitty: Her First Hundred Years’ you are not only doing Literature, but History (1800’s), Geography (Ireland), Writing (writing your own memoirs), Science (bats and whaling), Arts (drawing animals realistically),  Vocabulary, Copywork, Character and Human Relationships (listening to your conscious). And that is just in chapter one! Take your time with it, enjoy it. There’s complete flexibility you can go at your own pace or follow your interests with the goal of learning something new every day; of actively expanding knowledge. How quickly your days will be filled with interesting conversations and inspiring ideas.

WHY THIS WORKS FOR US?

  1. We are get more bang for our buck.
  2. Reduces the amount of unnecessary resources. I use one exercise book for most subjects. Our English, Human Society and It’s Environment (Social Studies), Science, Art, Geography lessons could potentially come from your book.
  3. This is unique, set apart and self tailored curriculum just for us.
  4. Less Busywork. We might do less but it will mean more. True breadth is achieved through depth. Deep connections are made and a relationship to God, man and the universe comes from taking time to think.
  5. Our child will have more input into their own education, no matter how small.
  6. We do not get bored!

WHY THIS MIGHT BE HARD FOR YOU

  1. You are happy how things are going and already like what you are using and do, or so you hope.
  2. You are fearful. Fearful perhaps of not doing enough? Fearful that it might not fit into a description of what type of homeschool you want to have? Fearful of already having spent too much money on resources so you better give them a go? Fearful that someone else might think I’m hopeless or can’t make up my mind? FEAR kills JOY.
  3. It is just too big a paradigm shift.

KNOW THAT BOUGHT CURRICULUM HAS LIMITATIONS.

You are teaching your living, breathing, made in the image of God children. No curriculum developer knows your children better than you, no one loves your children like you do. Bought curriculum should not set the manner or pace in which you do homeschool. Curriculum is a tool not a master.

MY BIGGEST TIPS

  1. I humbly implore you to prioritize time in prayer with God. Get into the living word of God.
  2. Above all other curriculum keep reading aloud time going, the benefits far outweigh cramming other things in at this point.
  3. Walk outside together.
  4. Create healthy food together.

Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.” Psalm 37:3-5 ESV

An Example.

Read a good science narrative. Look for living specimens, observe under a microscope or magnifying glass, record your observations, narrate the story, do dictation from your narration, write a poem about your find, practice drawing realistically, work on dry brush skills, do copywork from your book, is the specimen a native or introduced species?, whom discovered your species of specimen?, What else was this scientist known for? What type of life were they born to? What else was happening in the world at that time? Place information in your Book Of Centuries. Map the area you are looking at.

Charlotte Mason often revolved other subjects around the study of History. So when you read the best you can on the subject you can move in to narration. Narrations themselves can take many forms. Simply Charlotte Mason “Five Steps To Successful Narration”. Perhaps look at a poet, composer and artist from the era, what scientific discoveries were made during that time?, Is there a handiwork that could be tried from the era?, copywork and dictation can be taken from the readings. A Book of Centuries can be filled in, music can be listened to and maps can be marked.

Natural Connections Not Forced Ones.

As long as the child is forming their own relations with books, characters, noble ideas and things, that is the most important thing. Making sure the child is not having a diet of pre-digested information and thoughts from the teacher but a lavish, abundant feast spread before him. A broad and generous curriculum. 

From Charlotte Mason’s Original Homeschoolin Series Volume 6 A Philosophy Of Education:

“He requires much knowledge, for the mind needs sufficient food as much as does the body.”

“The knowledge should be various, for sameness in mental diet does not create appetite (i.e., curiosity).”

“Knowledge should be communicated in well-chosen language, because his attention responds naturally to what is conveyed in literary form.”

If ‘Integration’ Still Seems Too Overwhelming …

2. Hit The Reset Button: Back to Basics

This is like a reset button. You get to start all over, fresh clean new slate. 

  1. First of all be gentle on yourself. Take a deep breath.
  2. Now, have you spent that time with God yet?
  3. Drop all homeschool work back to Maths and Reading. I am serious. I have done this. With Maths time try to include one game, maybe something to reinforce the learning. With reading I mean both Reading aloud and independently. Make your read aloud a book that all can enjoy.
  4. After three days (to one week) add something else. I started with Nature Study next.
  5. After three more days (to one week) add the next thing and so on. There is no rush. You want quality over quantity.

Starting a new year can be very daunting. You can still use all those beautiful glossy new resources you’ve purchased but easing into it could make all the difference. I humbly implore you not to fill the bucket.

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Jessica Pilton

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