Lots of people who have read about our relaxed homeschooling lifestyle or my book, Think Outside the Classroom (where I flesh that out a bit), still have questions. The main one is, “but how do I do relaxed homeschooling, specifically?”
On one hand, telling you specifics steals a part of the “relaxed” from the equation. Yet, I’ve realized some people still do very much need and want more direction. So this post is a guide for you to teach just about any subject in a relaxed homeschooling method.
Of course there are basics to know, more specifically explained in my homeschooling ebook. A few include:
- We don’t think of school as something that merely is organized and happens for a set number of hours per day. If that bothers you, the relaxed method may not be for you. It takes a little de-brainwashing to convince yourself that the rigid classroom method may not be right for your family and your children.
- Also, in cooperation with the above fact, we place a lot of emphasis on the value of conversation in the way people learn. So much of one’s education isn’t necessarily documented, check marked or filed on a record. But if it’s real learning you’re after, that’s just part of the game.
- And, typically we do math separately, though there is usually valuable math instruction to be found inside a subject study.
How Do I Do Relaxed Homeschooling?
Below is a guide to help you get started with a relaxed method of homeschooling that still operates around a skeleton of structure (for those of you not quite ready to unschool). You should add to it, or leave stuff out or alter it in any way that would benefit your family. Feel free to copy and paste it into a document and print for your easy reference.
Spend a few days thinking about, researching and collecting the following:
Relaxed Homeschooling Study Guide
Subject of study____________________________________________
Copy Work _______________________________________________
Videos (Documentaries, YouTube, etc.) _________________________
Questions for thought/writing assignment, etc. ____________________
Possible field trips: ___________________________________________
As an example, I’ll use the subject of The Great Depression. Your subject can range from lady bugs to the solar system. And you can go shallow or deep, depending on your children’s ages and the amount of time you wish to spend on a topic.
For our example study, I might think through a character/Bible lesson that I want to emphasize and choose my copy work from that. I would probably think about contentment and/or trusting God’s provision in this case. I assign copy work to every child, longer passages for the olders and shorter ones for the youngers. Copywork is a valuable tool for teaching grammar, spelling, vocabulary and sentence structure.
I get them going on math and copywork first thing in the mornings.
Ideally, we will read at least one read-aloud per day, pertaining to our topic, then each child will be assigned a related book on his level. An important part of the study is to have everyone share what they are reading. We place a lot of emphasis on the value of conversation in education. Not only does it broaden everyone’s knowledge of the topic, but it helps solidify what each child is learning. “Telling back” is teaching, and teaching is the best form of learning.
With our topic, one child might read a general overview of the Depression. One might read about a specific person of that era, and one might read about clever financial solutions spawned from scarcity. The political atmosphere of the era might come up during a dinner discussion, or if we don’t know, we could look it up.
Asking and answering questions is the root of all learning, so be deliberate about having question-answering conversations.
I usually try to start our new topic off with an intriguing video to pique interest. Sometimes you’ll need to drag out the map or globe; sometimes you may ask a grandparent to share his knowledge about something you’re studying. Sometimes you can go outside and touch and see what you’re studying.
The important thing is to remember what education is and that information sticks when it is connected to other, relevant things. Be deliberate about conversation, the place where things are embedded into our understandings and memories, and have fun learning about the world!