Starting my minimalist homeschool journey was scary.
I didn’t know when I started we would be a minimalist homeschool family.
I started the way most homeschool moms do- by asking a lot of questions. I Googled homeschool curriculum and looked through too many options with high price tags.
I just wanted someone to tell me exactly what I need to get started. I didn’t want to spend hundreds on a curriculum only to find it needed supplementation and additional resources.
I talked to a lot of people. I would meet a random mom at a park and ask if they homeschooled. Then I would pick their brain to see what they did. The idea of having an 8 hour day teaching my kids at home seemed insane. But that’s what a lot of people were doing. I didn’t think I could handle that.
Then I started hearing some new terms. Like “unschooling.” This is a term for a way to educate that has literally no formal schooling. It is defined as ”an informal learning that advocates learner-chosen activities as a primary means for learning.”
And I thought, okay. If people can adequately teach by doing practically nothing proactive or using officially written curriculum, then I can’t do less than that.
How I Discovered Minimalist Homeschooling
It started when I began searching for “free homeschool curriculums” and came across what I fell in love with. We ended up starting with Easy Peasy at allinonehomeschool.com. It is a curriculum written by a missionary mama who felt spiritually guided to never charge for what she had written.
As a missionary family they travel a lot. So she started creating learning materials for her children that were mostly online This meant that she did not have to carry and store books, paper, endless homeschool materials we are all familiar with.
How I Use The Online Homeschooling (At Easy Peasy)
Most of the courses can be completely done online. Younger levels require writing of course as kids learn to read and write, so you will need a bit more paper or writing materials in the beginning. You can use your own paper, print their worksheets or buy their printables in a workbook on Amazon so you don’t have to worry about all that ink.
To avoid having to buy paper or store worksheets, I started using page protectors. So for every written lesson I clip a page protector on top of the workbook and allow my kindergartner to use dry erase markers on the worksheet. This way the workbook can be reused for my other kids. So I currently am still working offline and do not need a printer, and I have 2 thin workbooks we use daily.
What Our Minimalist Homeschool Day Looks Like
I had heard from so many other moms that homeschooling would take 4-8 hours a day. That is not at all what our day looks like.
Right now we use 3 little workbooks with a dry erase marker and page protector and no extra paper.
We do handwriting, reading and math daily. The assignments are all minimal. We spend about 30 minutes a day on these activities. And if you think it’s not sufficient… it is. My 5 year old is a 2nd grade reading level already.
For electives for now we do a “science craft” with some homeschool friends down the street once a week. We pick a monthly theme and do weekly crafts, or start a lapbook and add to it weekly until the end of the theme. We ask what the kids want to work on. Next year we will follow Easy Peasy’s electives, which range from 5-10 minute lessons daily to some that are once a week.
Consider Having A Short Day
Even with a full day of core cirriculum and electives, Easy Peasy users state that 2 hours is typical even for a 8th grader completing a school day. I love this. I love that I won’t be teaching 8 hours a day, or that my kids won’t be sitting at a desk 8 hours a day.
Kids learn through play, and over time we have taken that way from them. My oldest is very motivated and he asks a lot of questions. Maybe my other children will be different and need more formal “classroom” time, but for now he is excelling with our minimalist homeschool routine.
Basic Tips For Minimalist Homeschool Moms
1. Use Less Paper
Use online resources and activities. Limit screen time. I know we don’t really want them on a computer all day, but online resources are such a great way to limit disposable materials and cutback on paper storage.
2. Reuse Everything
Find out how you can reuse that workbook. Use dry erase markers page protectors.
We also save everything for crafts and use most of it. Here are a million educational crafts on Pinterest or just searching the web.
3. Skip The Classroom
You do not need a desk for every kid or a room designated just for schooling. My son does schoolwork on the couch, at the kitchen table or outside. At the playground. On a playdate. Whatever, whenever. Take advantage of the ability to be flexible and don’t waste space on a classroom.
4. Borrow, Don’t Buy
Borrow from friends. We do this a lot with crafting material, but you can share curriculum with friends as well. Make copies of their workbook for yourself.
Also use your local library. You can borrow more than just books. Some even have board games and puzzles you can check out.
5. Have Group Activities
This is like carpooling for school. Get together with another mom and take turns being in charge of the activity. This way you are each minimizing your time. And the group activity is great for the kids as well.
6. Incorporate Video
Hulu, Netflix and other streaming services have plenty of educational content you can integrate into your homeschooling routine, particularly for electives like art, history and science.
7. Use Everyday Materials
I take home paper from the recycle bin at work a lot. We trash fax confirmations all the time, but the back of the paper is blank and perfect for my kids to draw on. No one misses the missing used paper.
Instead of buying manipulatives, use beans or cereal for math activities. Don’t use pretend money. Just dump out your change purse and use what you have.
What To Remember On Your Minimalist Homeschool Journey
Minimalism is not an end goal. It’s a way of life. It is not about having as little as possible. It’s about decluttering and then being intentional with what you bring in.
Our pantry has so much saved cardboard and empty plastic containers that would otherwise be trash. I could throw it away to minimize my pantry, but ultimately we will use it all for something silly.
So crafting is an area that we don’t “minimize” as much as we could because it’s something we enjoy. We use it to learn and to have fun with each other.
Being a homeschool mom means that the kids are home all day. They are playing, they are not in school for 8 hours a day. So sometimes it’s a little messy and stays that way for a few days. But it’s never overwhelming, my kids don’t have an overabundance and we are happy.