I am so glad that you found your way to my website, but especially this post. I am so passionate about relaxed homeschooling, and child-led learning, but I never used to be this way! I want to help other parents know what relaxed homeschooling is, and how easy it is to do!
I get asked a lot of questions about the way I educate my children, mainly because people are nosey and think I am failing my kids every which way possible. But some ask because they truly don’t understand how we have so much freedom yet my kids are, in fact, learning.
You see, most of us adults, and even teenagers, are conditioned to believe that if we don’t go to a public school and learn a million things in a short time that we aren’t learning. Society has made us believe that if we don’t hate school, or aren’t excelling with straight A’s then we aren’t truly learning. There is no possible way that we can have freedom, fun, enjoy learning, and actually be putting information into our brains.
Homeschooling has always been around, but in recent years it is really gaining traction. There is a reason for that. It’s not a ‘trend’ that will fade after a while, it’s not a weird stripped purse that will be ‘so last year’ in a few months. It’s a radical change to society that is only going to keep getting more prominent. Which I love because this is important work. Spreading the knowledge that there is in fact a different, better way to educate our children is such important work. We have been stuck in the governments ideas of proper education for so long that we’ve forgotten what it means to enjoy learning, and to seek new information. We have forgotten that kids are kids and should have more play freedom. We have forgotten that kids learn how to walk, talk, communicate, feed themselves,, and go to bathroom, among other things, in their early years without a government forced education system teaching them. We have to truly realize that going to school, graduating with honors, and going to graduate school is doing nothing for anyone who isn’t going to be a doctor or a lawyer.
Going to school for something a person is interested in is the best way to get a fulfilling job. Going to college to get general classes you’ll probably never use is a waste of precious childhood time that should be spent playing, creating, and following ones dreams.
It’s taken me a while to get to this point in my choice to homeschool. I was so distraught in the first year of bringing my daughter home, so overwhelmed. I had friends, family members, and people I didn’t even know jumping down my throat that I was ruining my child, and just being weird because I could be. I got told numerous times that I didn’t know what I was doing, and I just wasn’t smart enough to educate my children at home. And this is a big one…I lost friends over this choice, and I have extremely diminished friendships over this choice. This is how deep forced education through a public system has been engraved into our minds. THAT INTENSE.
It scares people. That’s just what it is. People are scared of change, scared of differences, scared of going against the grain. But I can tell you that going against the grain has been the best choice for me. Best choice for my children, but also for myself. I have really come into myself, and I have made some seriously amazing friends for moving over into the homeschooling community. It has its issues like any other community does, but it’s just all around a better place to be. There isn’t much comparing each other, and we don’t pin our kids against each other in terms of GPA or student of the month, or whatever other thing tells one kid they suck, and the other they’re the coolest kid ever. It’s just so awesome.
A bit of back story.
After two years of struggling really bad with curriculum choices, comparing my child to the public school kids in our area, and trying to make everyone around us happy with our choice to homeschool instead of focusing on my child at home, and myself, I decided enough is enough. I basically just said screw it, and we took 4 months off of all formal education while I wrapped my head around the fact that I was homeschooling, not bringing public school into my home. It was liberating. And I never went back. Each month gets easier. I’m still learning the ropes on how to do what’s best for our children, and I am only human so I do have days where I panic for a few seconds before I remember that I know my kids best, and play-based, project-based, and child-interested learning really is what’s best for encouraging a life long love of learning.
What is relaxed homeschooling?
Okay, so this is the biggest question I see asked in homeschooling groups, on my social media pages, and in my messages. What exactly is relaxed homeschooling? Well…it’s not doing what the public school does in any way. We want to encourage our children to enjoy learning, and to reach for learning opportunities, not run from them. Relaxed homeschooling is a laid back way to learn. Follow your Childs interests. If your kids is obsessed with slime, use that. Make slime, experiment with different ways of making it or adding things to it. Write about it. Watch videos about the chemistry behind the materials, and how people do it. Read about it in books, and use it to add and subtract things. Just use life, with the main topic being slime. If your child is interested in dinosaurs, (this is a current interest in my house) use it. Find ways to use dinosaurs in the core of your learning. Make sure that you don’t just print a ton of free worksheets. That is called busywork, and doesn’t have much pull in your childs brain area that holds information. But…I don’t hate worksheets. They can be fun. And some kids really thrive with them. Find fun, engaging things to print off. Make your own fossils, visit the local museum, watch documentaries, write about it, talk about it, read about it. Bam. That’s exactly what learning is, make it work for your child. Lots of hands-on, lots of independent learning, and don’t be scared of screen time. It’s remarkable what kids can learn from watching youtube videos.
How do I know my child is learning enough?
I suppose this one will depend on personal preferences a bit. How do you define what it means that your child is learning enough? That they can pass the state testing or that they can tell you or show you what they learned? I am really laid-back in what my children should know. I personally don’t think they need to know multiplication and division in the third or fourth grade, I don’t think they need to even be reading by first grade. If they show interest, help them with that, and encourage it, but don’t force it. If your child is moving in forward in whatever subject you’ve been working on, that is all the progress that matters. If they are writing better, reading a little better, understanding things better, asking to learn something new, or telling another person besides you all about what you learned last week, that is enough progress. When they are older, in the middle school grades, you can help to encourage them to learn math. Again, though, I don’t think learning algebra in intense form, or college level math for an engineer is something that should be forced unless they plan on actually becoming an engineer or something else that would need that type of education. Follow interests. That’s huge in relaxed homeschooling. The biggest takeaway from relaxed homeschooling should be to encourage a love of learning. Encourage them to learn. Teach them how to learn, and how to find information, and how to question things until they learn it on their own. I think public school teaches too much information. They are nervous that kids will be dumb if they have the love for learning we are aiming for. Then they can learn on their own, and might question society. How insulting. <eye roll> Progress is what matters. Not busywork. Not meeting guidelines for the state. Let your kids be kids, play, read, watch educational shows, ask questions, play pretend, and create.
Also, kids need to be taught for real life things more than the school system ever teaches. They need to learn cooking, sewing, budgeting, banking, credit cards, credit scores, buying a house, buying a car, saving money, getting a job, being a helpful part of society, kindness, helping others, cleaning, shopping, meal planning, growing your own food. How to be self sufficient. Teach those. Those are important, and those are also progress in the educational journey.
What is a typical day like?
I have had a few people ask me this one, too. Every day is different. Since we aren’t following a strict schedule or a curriculum with a plan, our days change. But, we do have a routine. We have taken the entire month of December off to focus on some changes in our learning process. My oldest was just diagnosed with ADHD and anxiety, and we are coming to terms with. Figuring out which is the best way to help her through that while encouraging a love of learning. She learns much differently than my other child so it’s been a journey so far. But, when we are on our routine with learning practices each day we do have a routine. Not a schedule, a very relaxed routine that can be changed at moments notice if we decide the park sounds like a much better idea. Rest assured, if we are in the middle of something, I have them finish it. I am teaching them to finish what you start, and to give it your best.
We usually wake up, slowly. We sort of lounge around with some books of free choice while we eat breakfast. Some days we load up and run to the coffee stand because #momlife. 😂 Then we get dressed. I think it’s important to get dressed, and brush our hair and teeth before starting because I feel like it gets your whole body in the mood to bring on the day. You’re more awake, and more ready to receive information. Next we choose what we’re doing first. Are we reading a book together? Are we watching a documentary? Are we doing our Funschooling Journals? (You can read about our funschooling journals here!) I usually have a list of the topics and things to do, but we choose as a family which one to do first. I plan out the week with all the educational ideas for the week, and then we choose as we go off that list. I love lists, it’s a problem.
We do whichever one we chose, then we take a free time break. Usually with a snack. Then we check off a few more things off the list, followed by another break, and usually some outside time, and lunch mixed in there. Then we’re done. But, we never stop learning. If our topic is super intriguing to one of the girls, they will continue on after we’ve shut down for the day. I don’t feel like they’re never not learning, some of it is just a little more formal.
I love planners, and making lists. With relaxed homeschooling, listing things is a great way to have a routine, but sometimes you need a calendar. There will be days when you’re too tired or your kids are or you have errands to run, so I threw in a list of ideas to encourage learning in an easy, fun way! Head to the bottom of the post to grab a free printable pack to help you plan out your new relaxed homeschooling days!
What are some resources?
Okay…I love education.com. It’s huge in our house. It has online games, hands on projects, lesson plans, and worksheets that are fun and engaging and optional.
We’ve used Teachers Pay Teachers, too. Not as much because it’s really connected to the public school system, but with some searching you can find some neat things to use.
Pinterest is another great resource mainly because you can search relaxed homeschooling resources and it comes up with so many different ideas!
My FAVORITE resource for relaxed homeschooling is Funschooling Journals! I mentioned them up there a bit. Sarah is the creator behind them, and her mission is just amazing. You can read about her story here, and check out the books here. We have 8 of them now, and I just won 15 more! How exciting! I’ll be posting about those soon!
Your own mind. Your Childs mind. Ask them what they want to learn, and think of ways to incorporate that into your daily learning routine. The best thing about relaxed schooling is there is no one way. No right way or wrong way. Each family does it differently.
If after reading this you still have questions, comment below or send me an email at email@example.com! I’m willing to answer anything you can throw at me! If I don’t know the answer I’ll point you in the right direction!