I always knew something was a little different about my oldest – that was one of the main reasons I decided to look into homeschooling in the first place. We had her in kindergarten at the local public school, and we had some issues regarding her spirited behavior. She was a great kid, and she actually never got in trouble, but at her conferences, we had teachers explaining to us that one day she will have issues if we don’t get her hyperactivity under control and teach her how to be calmer.
Basically, she wasn’t fitting their box and that annoyed them.
Thanks to Danielle of Weird Wild Mama for this guest post.
I know this problem is fairly common as I raised my younger brother, who was diagnosed with ADHD at a young age. My parents were pressured into medicating him. I’ve seen all aspects of ADHD, and now we’re working on a diagnosis for our own child. That’s a whole other story about that process. What a frustrating thing that is.
I started out doing school at home then I moved to DIY homeschooling; I wasn’t completely relaxed schooling yet. I was piecing together different curricula that I thought would work well with her. Each subject was through a different company, a different program, a different set up. I got pregnant with our third child shortly after that, and homeschooling while pregnant with two other kids, and after having a newborn, is extremely difficult so we gave up schooling for three months.
The Change is Coming
As we started to ease back in. I noticed that when we weren’t “schooling” they were enjoying life so much more, and learning a lot along the way. But, I do feel strongly that unschooling isn’t right for us.
I feel that they need to know the basics of all the subjects, and even a little more. One benefit to homeschooling is we can take our time mastering a concept fully before moving forward.
But I didn’t want to end up back at school at home. That was a miserable time in our homeschooling journey that made me second guess even keeping her home in the first place.
I didn’t want a curriculum in a box, either because then I’d feel obligated to go at their speed, and they’re ridiculously expensive.
And I didn’t want completely online because I wanted them to learn through all materials, not just one.
I was at a road block. How would I do this without being super strict and without holding them back from learning anything of value? How would I let them learn through their own interests, and make learning enjoyable but worth it?
Enter “relaxed schooling,” “interest-based schooling,” or child-led learning,” — whatever you choose to call it, I knew this was going to be great!
And a couple of months after the switch I am happy to report that it is just that! Great! We have our moments, of course, but it’s going fairly smoothly if you ask me.
So, how do I do relaxed homeschooling?
First things first, make a list of your child’s favorite things — even if you think they aren’t practical things to use as a learning base or if you think they’re silly. These are your child’s interests, not yours. Letting go of the control is definitely one of the hardest parts!
When we first did this sit-down for finding out what she wanted to know, everything revolved around dinosaurs. Dinosaur eggs, dinosaur habitats, fossils, dinosaur books, etc. It didn’t seem very productive, but I went with it. She eventually started branching out, and we went over her interest list again, this time coming up with a broad range of subjects for her to use as a base for learning.
The best part about relaxed homeschooling is that you can treat it like a unit study. Have your child pick something they are interested in, have them check out books at the library related to that subject. Then, just go crazy!
- create hands-on projects about whatever the topic is
- watch documentaries or YouTube videos on the topic
- have them write stories
- incorporate copywork – this is one of my favorite things for encouraging kids to write! Pick a paragraph from a book about their topic, or let them choose the paragraph, and have them copy it! One day we copy it and let it be, the next we go over it and look for errors in the grammar and writing, and I help her correct them so she can learn from her mistakes. Super encouraging way to teach grammar!
A lot of that stuff listed is just the beginning steps to creating an environment that your kids are a part of. Everyone learns better when they had a part in creating the work.
When it comes to other subjects, we do the same thing; in particular, history and science are fairly simple.
You can start them at whatever era in history you’d like, and give them a list of the things that happened there (that you want your kids to know), and let them choose from the list. There are tons of movies and documentaries on history. The most fun part of learning history, for us, is creating projects around it! Like, making your own clay model of King Tut! Cooking food similar to what they ate back then, and seeing if you like that! That’s fun, too!
Science? EXPERIMENTS! So much fun! If you want simple, start off with a kit. A science kit. They have hundreds of different ones. Amazon will definitely be your friend here!
Always, always talk about what they’ve learned, or didn’t learn. Discussion is the best way to encourage kids to learn more, or go deeper within a subject! It might seem rough at first or like you’re not teaching them enough – most of that is society’s public school brainwashing – but let it be for six months. Then re-evaluate the situation. Make learning fun.
I have included an awesome freebie for you!
It’s a simple one, but it helps. I’m a pen and paper person, I like to write things down, and I doodle on everything. I hope this will help you get to the bottom of what your children’s interests might be so you can move down your path to relaxed homeschooling! How fun is this thing?! Let me know how it works for you!
I am a homeschooling mom blogger of three girls helping parents navigate the world of homeschooling & life. I enjoy sharing ideas & tips for a better homeschool experience, and to grow a community of like-minded families to share the journey with! Connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, or email!