Why Less is More: The Secret to Homeschooling Happiness
Do you desire more for next school year? More meaningful learning? More fun? More stress?
I'm sure you answered yes, yes, yes, and NO!!! I have yet to meet a mom that wants more stress in her life :)
If you are like me, you've barely dipped your toes into summer and are already thinking, planning, and dreaming of what's to come for next school year. Let me ask you - would you like to find yourself happier, less stressed, and accomplishing more in school? If you answered yes, than I have one secret to share with you as you think, plan, and dream for the coming year.
The secret? Less is more. I'm sure you've heard this phrase before in your life. But I am challenging you this summer to really internalize it and implement LESS this coming school year instead of more.
Let me explain how I know less is more in homeschool. Over the years I have purchased books, curriculum, printables, and many other resources and downloads from online homeschool conventions and sales. They all looked exciting, useful, and valuable. And I'm sure they are all those things! However, what I ended up with was books and files of random resources that I felt pressured to try and fit into my homeschool, because after all, I spent money on these things! I quickly realized that trying to cram all these good things in wasn't benefiting my children and it was definitely stressing me out.
Then came the real eye-opener. My family temporarily relocated for three and a half months. We left our house, bringing only the essentials, and lived in a small apartment. My children THRIVED! We were able to accomplish more in school, everyone was less stressed, and learning became more enjoyable again. Doesn't that sound good to you?
I realize you likely won't have the golden opportunity to live with less for a time and enjoy the experience that I had. But I'm hoping you don't have to! I'm hoping you can learn from my experience and take a leap of faith embracing that less really is more.
Are you wondering how to practically live out less is more? Follow these five simple steps and I know you will be well on your way to having a less is more homeschool year!
1. Evaluate. This is the most important step! What do you want your kids to learn this year? Do you want them to further their education in math? Learn another language? Do you want them to deepen their relationship with Jesus? Perhaps there is a life skill you want them to grow in. Be scrupulous in this area! You can't do everything in one year so pick the things that are most important to you. Think about where your kids are at in their development and what they truly need to be learning at that stage.
For two reasons it is imperative that you write down the things you want your children to learn this year. Firstly, as you continue on through the next two steps it will help keep your focus. Secondly, you can refer back to this evaluation page throughout the year to remind yourself what your goals for this year are and to refocus if needed.
I have an awesome Less is More free printable you can use to work through these steps! Just download, print, and start with step 1.
2. Plan. Now you know what areas are most important to you. How are you going to teach these things? Maybe you already have an awesome program you are using. If so, that makes things easier! Maybe that program doesn't quite cover everything on your list though. This is the time to research and find the resources that are going to cover what you desire your kids to learn this year.
Perhaps you are starting at square one though and need to find it all. That actually might be the best place to be because you aren't bogged down by stuff you already have. You can find material that fits your plan without the temptation of trying to fit in what you already have. By far the BEST homeschool curriculum I have used is The Good and The Beautiful. It was created by a homeschool mom specifically for homeschool families. If something with little to no prep is intriguing to you, I highly recommend checking it out to see if it fits your plan!
As you research, I can guarantee you are going to stumble upon SO many awesome programs and resources and you'll feel like you have to do them all RIGHT NOW. Remember though, you are looking for specific things based on your plan. You can't do everything! Stay focused on your plan. If you find something that you absolutely must have and it doesn't fall into your current plan, go back to the evaluation stage and see if it's worth revamping your plan. Keep in mind, less is more! You might have to cut something out in order to include this new item. And remember, your plan is for this coming school year only. So perhaps that amazing program you found will need to wait until another year.
3. Purchase. Once you have completed your plan and found the programs or resources you need to carry out your plan, it's time to purchase! (Or borrow, if that's an option) If you've left yourself enough time, there are options available where you might be able to find what you need at discount pricing. Some of those options include homeschool buyer co-ops, Facebook homeschool buy and sell pages, and Amazon. However, if you need things quickly, you may have to go directly to the source. It pays, or should I say saves, to plan ahead!
4. Purge. This can be one of the hardest parts. Get rid of things you aren't going to use! You know what I'm talking about...those workbooks you bought when you first decided to start homeschooling and you went crazy buying things before you really knew what you were doing. Get rid of that stuff. It doesn't fit in with what you are doing and if you're honest, you know it never will. Getting rid of all that stuff is going to alleviate stress because you won't be looking at those books thinking about the money you spent and feeling guilty because you never used them. And you won't be wasting time trying to think about how to use them when they really don't fit into your plan.
5. Stick with it. Through out the year you might hear about a great resource or program. But if it doesn't fit in with the areas that you deemed most important for this year, don't get it!! Your children are not going to be ruined forever if you don't. Does this mean you can never get it and implement it? Of course not! But when you evaluate for the next year, decide at that time if it is truly important and worthy to be included.
I encourage you to take time this week to start working on these fives steps. If you wait until the week before school starts it will be overwhelming to evaluate, make a plan, find and buy what you need, and purge what you don't. These steps are NOT meant to be completed in one day so take your time.
I guarantee this is a worthy use of your time. To be able to lessen stress throughout the year, increase the joy around learning, and overall accomplish more in your children's education is a true blessing!