Minimalist Homeschooling // Part II

I wrote recently about how we've moved more towards a more minimalist style of homeschooling... but there have been major changes. I would say that we are much more on the minimalist side. We took that level of simplifying our homeschool up several notches and then shook it up completely into something new. It has been an evolution; a slow change. If there's one thing that will forever remain untouched by minimalism in our house, it's books. I'm still obsessed with books. I can't do the library anymore because I always end up with crazy overdue fees...It's a real problem, guys.

Every season of life calls for adjustments. Once upon a time, four years ago, a box curriculum was exactly what we needed. Or at least what I thought we needed. I was new to homeschooling and was so unsure of myself. I tried to recreate public school at home. I had pulled the kids out in 2nd grade and kindergarten because public school wasn't working for us. So it's kind of crazy that I tried to implement the same style at home. Honestly, no method or curriculum is wrong. It always comes down to what works for your family. 

Poor Brie ended up in tears while I was trying to force her 5 year old brain to read. Her sister had been reading by 4, and for some reason I thought she should know how to read. Wrong. Every kid learns things in their own season. Not only that, but it turns out she has a learning disability and is dyslexic. And because there isn't enough to feel guilty about as a mother, I felt completely awful. 

Changing and Growing and Learning.

We have changed so much since then. The kids are really thriving now and we've settled into our own groove. I've been inspired and encouraged by so many homeschool moms. I love seeing what others use and how they go about homeschooling their children. I'm probably obsessed with it. 

We were more traditional and classical in methodology when we started homeschooling. I still enjoy timelines and the history and science cycles used in the classical homeschooling methods. However, we are more into the Waldorf, Montessori and Charlotte Mason methods. While we don't adhere to all of the beliefs of any of those, we pick and choose what works for us.

I wanted to give you an idea of what homeschooling looks like for us now. This might be a long post, but I hope you enjoy it and maybe are able to use any of it in your own homeschool. I also now join the kids. I have always been learning with them but usually give out assignments and then tune out a bit on Instagram or Facebook....Just being real, y'all. It's changed the dynamic in a powerfully positive way with me learning to draw and paint along with them.

What is Minimalist Homeschooling?

For us, minimalism is a way of life. We strive to live with less stuff. We used to have closets and storage units FULL of just stuff. Stuff we didn't look at for years, stuff we didn't use or need. The past five years we have been donating, selling and getting rid of things that we don't need. Things that aren't useful to our life or are taking up space needed for things we actually use. We use minimalism as a way to simplify the way we live. By having fewer dishes and less clothing, we do less washing = simpler clean up.

In homeschooling this equates to paring down the amount of curriculum we buy and combining subjects, where applicable, to streamline and simplify. Homeschooling can be hard enough without being buried under a mountain of curriculum. I have been known to over purchase curriculum and then not use it at all. Or to use something that didn't work for us simply because of the cost, while leaving quality stuff that would work unused. Enough of that! Simplicity is key, combining subjects, slower pace. That's what minimalist homeschooling is for us. 

What About Curriculum?

Any curriculum we are using, we don't use the way you're "supposed" to use it. We now use most curriculum as a spine and a springboard into deeper studies. We create these artful pages of what they've learned during the week. We use watercolors, colored pencils, crayons, acrylic paints, oil pastels, clay etc. to create artwork of what we've learned. 

We use lots of what Charlotte Mason-ers call Living Books. So instead of textbooks we use mostly fiction and non-fiction books on a particular subject to glean from. I'm actually not against textbooks. I think reference books and encyclopedias have their place so we use those as well. For example, when we are ready to start ancient history, we are going to be using Science in the Beginning by Dr. Jay L. Wile as our guide. It's definitely a textbook. However, it's not boring and there are weekly experiments. That's what helps my kids learn so we'll do those and keep doing our art pages on the concepts. We can add in living books on any topic they're interested in going deeper with.

At the end of the week they have about four pages done and I laminate those back-to-back and 3-hole punch them so they make two-sided pages. I put them in a 1" binder and once that gets full we will bind them into books. As soon as we fill up our first binder, I'll post a link here to show exactly how we do that. I don't separate the subjects, I just file them right behind one another with one binder for all studies per kid. My reasoning is just simplification. I have three kids... 'nuff said. 

What Subjects Do We Cover?

We do these art pages for Bible, Art, Music History/Theory, Poetry, Science, Nature Study, History, Theology, Entrepreneurship Class...anything we're learning. We stopped using a grammar/language arts curriculum and now approach it with a Charlotte Mason way : We take spelling words and grammar lessons from copywork and literature we're reading. They learn the proper use through reading, copywork and dictation. If they get stuck on a particular part of speech, we look it up in a reference book or watch a youtube video on it. We use composition books to practice that before they make an art page. 

Language Arts won't be mentioned in "curriculum" below because we integrate it into every single subject. We used to get so overwhelmed [and bogged down] with having a curriculum for spelling, a separate one for grammar, one for writing, and one for copywriting. Oh, and handwriting.  -_- 

We still pull out our book/guide for cursive handwriting but for general handwriting we just use copywork and they gradually get better with the constant writing. Not all of my kids enjoy writing--Brie--cough-- but we break it up by adding the art in and outside breaks to mentally reset. If you want a closer look at how we handle this, check out this blog post

Math is moving from Teaching Textbooks to Math U See. I said I wouldn't change, but this will be better for their learning style even more so than Teaching Textbooks. They are needing something more hands on and I'm getting to where I can't teach the math to my eldest. She's "supposed" to be in 5th grade but she's completed both 5th and 6th grade this year of her own volition. She did great on the standardized testing we are required to administer each year in our state. Our standardized testing includes common core which we do not use, so if you're worried about that with your kids and state requirements, no worries, friend!

Then we gather what they've learned to make artwork : Writing the poem down and illustrating with drawing and watercolors; writing a research report and then washing some watercolor over it, etc. They're learning to write well through the arts. It is so fun to look back over their work and writings to see how much they've grown. 

Science // Nature Study // Vocabulary
We are using our Nancy Larson Science 1 Curriculum as a guide instead of as written. I have let go of the guilt of not using the accompanying worksheets. My kids have retained very well the information, so if you're looking at that curriculum for your family, it's awesome! To match our homeschooling aesthetic, we have altered it to fit our family. Each child works to their level since we have a just-turned-five-year-old in pre-k, a 4th grader and a 6th grader. We got our butterfly and ladybug larva from our Nancy Larson kit, but you can get them on Amazon. The habitats they sell come with a voucher for free larva for each of those. 

As far as enriching our studies, our resources are Nature Anatomy by Julia Rothman, The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady, Christian Liberty Readers. We go on nature walks often and use Montessori nomenclature cards for matching games, identification and vocabulary enhancement. This really helps my 5 year old son, Ever, and my daughter, Brie, with her reading difficulties. I just googled nomenclature cards and printed off some free ones. It fits my budget. 

Above : I joined the kids instead of facebooking and instagramming. I'm learning to draw with them.

Handicrafts // Arts // Music // Skills
We love doing handicrafts. They replaced our typical crafting of cutting and pasting. I dislike greatly the cutting and pasting. What am I supposed to do with 3 kids worth of cut and paste worksheets and crafts?! The "pretty" ones I took pics of to eventually make an ArtKive book [it's an app]. But I don't like to keep clutter around and maybe I'm a mean mom but it looks like junk clutter piles.

Instead we do things that could double as a gift to someone or that create a new skill in our children. My kids have enjoyed sewing [machine and by hand], working with looms, crocheting, knitting, hand embroidery, clay sculpting, cooking, woodworking/building, photography, jewelry making and learning an instrument. We are getting ready to start with making woven tapestries/wall hangings. Maybe my kiddos will make some snazzy hot mats? Also thinking about starting with carving [soap and wood] doll-making [Waldorf style] and woodburning crafts.

The kids all play ukulele, I linked our resources on this blog post here. 

*Note : the table behind Lorelai in the picture below is our nature and exploration table. Everett has his montessori math there, our trays for messy play or dough/magnetic sand/beans/buttons, nature books, magnifying glasses, nature bits [shells, rocks, feathers, sticks, and more].

This is a dinner creation by my daughter, Brie. She came up with cilantro & sweet lime shrimp over zucchini noodles [zoodles] with texas toast. It was delicious!

The girls helped me distress and stain our new tabletop. A fun project, you can read about it here.

Gym // Extra Curricular // Entrepreneurship // Math
Our kids all play a sport. Everett plays baseball [football in the autumn], Brie is a competitive gymnast and Lorelai is a surfer. This could also qualify as extra socializing, Ha! Our kids hang out with all the neighborhood kids daily and they really enjoy the friends they make at practices or in surf clubs. 

Our eldest is opening an Etsy shop to sell her beach inspired handmade jewelry, she also blogs [I'll share the links when she's ready for me to share it]. She reads up on entrepreneurship with several books. UPDATE : Here is the blog post for resources on Entrepreneurship for Kids.

I already mentioned math above, but we started with CLE Math in our earlier years [excellent!], then moved to Teaching Textbooks because teaching three levels of math is beyond daunting. Now we're moving to Math-U-See because they can watch the lesson and there's a hands on element. Of course we weave math into shopping outings and cooking lessons for real world application.

I also had my daughter price out supplies for her jewelry making and then figure out how much each piece would cost to make and calculate what to charge. She was surprised by the amount of math involved with running a business, but enjoyed being able to figure out her costs. 

Bible // History // Geography // Literature // Poetry

All of these really go together for us. Of course, as I've mentioned, language arts is woven into every subject. We pull from the literature we've picked up based on interests, the time period we are studying and what we're learning in the Bible. They copy a Bible verse, poem or literature selection down in their composition notebooks while paying special attention to the punctuation, spelling and capitalization. 

We talk about anything they don't understand and hold discussions. With tea. Usually an afternoon tea. I'm not kidding, we all love this. We keep lots of herbal teas just for this daily tea and bought a few inexpensive tea cups from The Pioneer Woman line at walmart. They're pretty cups. 

I'll try to do a post that lists and links the resources we use next week, but if there's something you want to know specifically, go ahead and comment below! No worries, I'll tell ya where I got something or answer any questions you have. I was going to add all the links to this post, but it's already horribly long... especially for a post about minimalism...

You can always email me at : hello@saltandseablog.com as well with any questions on homeschooling or anything really. 

If you want to know how we do this all weekly, or you feel overwhelmed, here is our weekly schedule breakdown. Just click the text image below vvvv

I have been inspired greatly by Jodi Mockabee & Bethany Douglass's blogs and IG feeds.
You can follow me on Instagram at @SaltyTribe.Co

If you'd like to share, that would be pretty rad  :-)

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