I thought it would be good to tackle the subject of homeschooling and minimalism first since it is such a huge part of my life. After all, the majority of my time is spent schooling my children.
It seems that often when people want to homeschool their kids they look on Instagram or Pinterest for ideas. Then they decide they just can’t do it. When asked why, the common response is that they don’t have the space or the money. These people have been bombarded with images of fancy school rooms stocked with every possible educational item. It’s no wonder they feel that way!
I used to be a person with the house that had a school room. I had bookshelves filled with all sorts of educational goodies. I had a fancy table with desk-like cubbies built in that both kids could sit at comfortably. There were containers full of manipulatives and bulletin boards on two different walls. I had carts with supplies for every activity under the sun. And I had large white boards and chalkboards.
Yep, I had it all.
And most of it never got used.
I come from a background of having worked in public schools and having multiple friends who are public school teachers so this next part may not sit well with you, but I’m just going to say it… My home was resembling a public school classroom in every way… Including that a lot of what was there just sat collecting dust.
Yes, I said it. A lot of things in public school classrooms just sit collecting dust.
Yet so many homeschoolers feel the need to model that in their homes!
I had fallen for the trap. My house showed it. My wallet showed it. And the sensory overwhelmed nature of my kids showed it. It’s the trap of more is better. More stuff to learn with. More supplies to work with. And just like the overstocked classrooms and supply rooms at public schools, my home was overstocked.
All the gadgets and goodies in the world do nothing for you if they don’t get used.
So I decided to make a change.
I began clearing out all the extra stuff that never got used. I moved school out of the school room (which was nothing more than an unused formal dining room) and into the kitchen dining area.
That was back in Nevada… We are in Wyoming now, and my homeschooling has been minimized even more. And you know what? Everyone likes it this way!
This is my homeschool…
Yes, that’s it! I have the kids’ curriculum materials for the year along with activity items and some charts and manipulatives all tucked into that one simple unit. Our printer sits on top as well as a small whiteboard, a file folder with the week’s assignments and extra paper, a couple of notebooks for creative writing, and some current reads.
I’ve discovered something that I’m not sure a lot of people out there realize… Kids don’t need every last curriculum source on earth to learn. They don’t need fancy home libraries. They don’t need hundreds of charts. What they need is an understanding of their learning style, patience, and a public library.
This is where we homeschool…
My kids sit right there at the dining room table. This is not an extra room devoted to school. This is the one and only dining room in our house. Each child has a pencil box that holds pencils, pens, crayons, colored pencils, and erasers. Those pencil boxes get stored in their personal areas, not on my school shelf. The reason for that is that I encourage them to write and create whenever they want.
Because this is our dining room, the “school” area is also a living area. You can’t see it in the picture, but our class pet is in there as well. A parakeet named Peep.
The kids also each have an iPad. Those are used for a mix of education and fun. I don’t actually consider the iPads school supplies, but some people do so I figured I would mention them.
My style seems crazy to some people. I’ve had homeschoolers respond in pure shock when they see that this is all I have. I’m always blown away at those responses. I guess because I just don’t see the point in buying ten different math curriculums and five different writing programs. I buy one. We use it. We supplement with the library or something free online.
So many homeschoolers complain about a lack of space, but the space is not the problem. There is always plenty of space. You can read and do schoolwork on the couch just as easily as you can in a school room. Just yesterday, history class was held on my daughter’s bed. She was happy and comfortable. There was no need to move her.
Minimalism in our homeschool, done my way, means not buying all the extra gizmos and gadgets. It means not filling the house with hundreds of books that will only get read once. It means not buying multiple programs and constantly switching between them because I just can’t figure out what I like best. It means using what we have and changing up my teaching style if it doesn’t seem to be working out in the moment. It means utilizing the public library, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, and some good old fashioned nature walks. It means creating an environment that allows the kids, and their teacher, to breathe.
Are you a minimal homeschooler? If so, I’d love to hear from you!