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This year’s encouraging theme: Less is more

I was speaking to a homeschooling friend recently. She and I were talking about how our days seem really full, how we feel pressured to keep adding new things to our school curriculum and that homeschooling can quickly get stressful. We are a people always on the look-out for the most interesting textbook, the new printable idea, the lapbook that requires less of our attention and yet…it seems to often backfire on our own wellbeing. So, right there in that moment, we decided to take on a new theme for this year.

Decluttering is all the rage for families. You can see online challenges to get rid of three pairs of shoes this week, old snow gear next week, the broken sand toys the following week. So, why are we working so hard to eliminate the unnecessary in every other area of life yet continually add more and more to our homeschool? We don’t have to do what everyone else is doing or add the coolest and newest to our daily schedule just because it is available.

In that moment of homeschooling-decluttering-bliss, we decided that we would work to eliminate one major thing each year . . . or perhaps each semester. We needed to think through what our kids were doing and compare that to what they actually NEEDED to be doing. Of course, we need the math and history, writing and reading, science and foreign language. But do they need the extra things?

Working to eliminate the non-necessary is one of the ways we can train our kids to fight the need to be busy. What is it with our current culture that we feel important if our schedules are super busy and our phones are always ringing? It’s ok to have downtime . . . in fact, it is essential. Our kids need time to be slow and a little bored. They need a peaceful, non-frantically scheduled school day.

So, what am I eliminating this year? Two things. First, our ancient world history. We aren’t getting rid of it forever, just this year. We will return to it next fall. But it will be a nice break this year. And secondly, we are readjusting our co-op involvement. My kids are at this odd point where they are a little bit older than the rest of the kids at our co-op, yet not old enough to know what else they really want to devote their time to. So, we are taking a break from the weekly co-op and giving a few other interests our attention to see where it goes.

Dear, sweet homeschooling parent, take a big deep breath and be settled. Figure out your essentials and let the other stuff go for a little while. This time with your kids is fleeting and you’ll never get this year back. Try not to fill it with things just because you feel like you have to. Linger in the library a little longer (unless the toddler is destroying the puzzle table, like mine does), ask deeper discussion questions to further your history conversations, take time and really color that map well with the fourth grader.

Build in some margins and enjoy.

Lindsay Banton is a caffeinated mother with three great kids. She never expected to homeschool, but has found that it is a wonderful addition to their lifestyle and wouldn’t change it for the world. In addition to homeschooling, Lindsay works alongside her husband in campus ministry at a large university in Connecticut. She grew up in Virginia but has settled into life in New England, learning to love the long winters, cool springs, green summers and gorgeous autumns- and has built a boot collection to meet all the demands. She is currently blogging at www.oaksreplanted.blogspot.com.

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