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Ktgrok

what would a minimalist homeschool look like?

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I'm loving the decluttering and simplifying in my home, but I'm struggling to carry that into the homeschool arena. Between art supplies, curriculum, notebooks, etc etc there is a lot of stuff. 

To clarify a bit, my definition of minimalism meshes with Becker's idea of promoting and focusing on what is most important by eliminating that which is not. So not having less just to have less, but having less that distracts from the important stuff. 

So...any brainstorming/thinking on what that would maybe look like or be as far as education?

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Oi. Now? But I'm tired!

We are very LCCish. We teach Greek, Math, and Writing. Oh, and piano. Everything else is very interest led/unschooled and he has TIME for that. He has probably read through story of the world three times, every classic piece of literature I could get ahold of for his age, he draws constantly. I am very protective over his time and the amount of time he puts a pencil to paper. He is only in third grade so maybe that isn't so precious in a sixth grader, but for a little person that loves to write I have to protect his hands and therefore we do a lot of math and Greek orally so that he can write as much as he wants to afterwards. He just finished his first NaNoWriMo.

We definitely have a quality over quantity philosophy here. We have all of the Apologia books, SOTW, children's Bibles, Prismacolors.

Every time I deviate from the LCC approach I regret it. I'm interested to see my response to the same thread in 10 years.

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As far as actual stuff, almost our entire homeschool is on the iPad.  This is partially because of accessibility, and partially because we need to be able to throw it in the backpack and go.  The one piece of non-online or PDF curriculum I've bought, I cut the binding and scanned into a PDF.   I've bought some science kit type things for Christmas, so I foresee that changing, but right now the iPad is everything. 

I would say that that's less in line with minimalism, and more in line with decluttering.  I'm also not saying I'd make the same choice for a different kid.  We'd have art supplies, for example, if my kid could use them.  But, it's an option. 

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I think minimalism in homeschooling has less to do with reducing stuff and more to do with doing less. Fewer classes, more complex but fewer assignments, more time to interact with deep ideas.  Complexity in high school does require interpreting and synthesizing multiple resources and perceptions. Multiple of anything often feels like it is not minimalism.  But I have found that bringing together history, economics, political science, geography, and current events into a single massive project feels minimal because we can go deep into ONE big idea. 

I do live in a 600sq ft apartment so I do know a thing or 2 about minimalism, but I embrace my 30 books/curriculum on writing because each one offers a different perspective. And complexity breeds deeper learning. Just my 2 cents.  🙂 

Ruth in NZ

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We have done this. 
For us, it looked like careful purchase of every book and curriculum.  We ended up gravitating to programs like Creek Edge Press' task cards, where each index card holds a week's worth of work for a subject.  There were no specific books or resources.  It was "write a biography on this person" and "label on a map" and little projects.    We used anything our library had and we could get on the internet.  We also ended up with programs that reused materials from year to year, like Noeo.  A few small books were added, but the spines (Usborne internet linked encyclopedia and other book) were kept the same.  We could borrow some of the newer ones from the library for the duration.
We were part of a co-op that helped expand our kids, but wasn't overwhelming.
Those of us in the community borrowed each other's things if we needed something specific, so each house didn't have a ton of the same supplies and games.

I wanted to do the most with minimal resources, so everything my kid used for a year fit in a drawer.  At the end I culled, saving a work sample from each subject and setting up the binders for the new year.  Most of our books were library borrows. 

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Just looking at your title, my initial thought was Rod and Staff for EVERYTHING! Lol

After entering, drinking a cup of coffee, reading through this thread and reflecting on it: I would say condensing and interweaving subjects. For example, I've recently ditched more than half our curriculum and moved to something entirely different than we've ever done and it's been such a blessing to our household. We now incorperate art, music, writing, reading, and science in our Geography. All that's left is grammar and math. I have fewer teaching manuals to keep up with and so much less paper stuff to buy, store, ect and we enjoy it and learn MORE! Most everything I purchase now is reusable and/or multi leveled so in theory, I won't need to purchase as much when the youngers get to school age.

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49 minutes ago, Servant4Christ said:

Just looking at your title, my initial thought was Rod and Staff for EVERYTHING! Lol

After entering, drinking a cup of coffee, reading through this thread and reflecting on it: I would say condensing and interweaving subjects. For example, I've recently ditched more than half our curriculum and moved to something entirely different than we've ever done and it's been such a blessing to our household. We now incorperate art, music, writing, reading, and science in our Geography. All that's left is grammar and math. I have fewer teaching manuals to keep up with and so much less paper stuff to buy, store, ect and we enjoy it and learn MORE! Most everything I purchase now is reusable and/or multi leveled so in theory, I won't need to purchase as much when the youngers get to school age.

Are you using a particular program for this? Or making your own?

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I dont know if my answer is really in line with the question, but when my kids (6th, 4th, and 2nd) are asked how much school they do every day, they tend to answer a time that doesnt remotely reflect how much education is being done (I began homeschooling for academic reasons and lean rigorous). But they are answering truthfully because what feels like school for them is a small fraction of their academic day. None of them count reading, history (audiobooks, documentaries, discussions, books), science (we are a science kind of home), read-alouds (carefully selected by me to reflect our history focus for the year), or the hours we spend walking and talking every day about what they are learning. This means that my kids only count math (and they like and are good at math), grammar, and writing as school.

Minimalism can be a lot of work, but it is mostly behind the scenes, so to speak. What is experienced by others is the end result. But there is effort done by the minimalist: curating their stuff, saying no to stuff, etc. My kids experience the end result of my behind-the-scenes work.

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4 hours ago, Ktgrok said:

Are you using a particular program for this? Or making your own?

We recently started using Trailguide to World Geography but not all the extra books recommended to go with it since DS8 is in elementary. I downloaded the notebook (mainly for the maps) and we use the daily trailguide questions with an atlas and the weekly outline map assignments. We also use the cookbook that goes with it for fun since he likes cooking. We have some K12 draw the world series books but he generally prefers when we either look up flags to draw and/or art projects from the countries as we study them. We look up info in our encyclopedia set or online about the land, climate, animals, and plants as we go as well as famous people (missionaries, inventors, scientists, artists, ect) and landmarks. He also enjoys reading Passport to the World by MB and seeing the currency and how to say things in other languages just for fun and adding the stickers to his passport. I plan to use the book Give Your Child the World to look up good literature from each place we visit. At the end of each book, he'll write a book review for his notebook with a brief summary and whether or not he'd recommend reading the book and why. We still do math and language arts (which includes more writing) daily. I love that all I have to keep up with at the end of the school year is a single notebook rather than an endless stack of workbooks we'll box and probably never look at again.

Edited by Servant4Christ

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4 hours ago, annegables said:

I dont know if my answer is really in line with the question, but when my kids (6th, 4th, and 2nd) are asked how much school they do every day, they tend to answer a time that doesnt remotely reflect how much education is being done (I began homeschooling for academic reasons and lean rigorous). But they are answering truthfully because what feels like school for them is a small fraction of their academic day. None of them count reading, history (audiobooks, documentaries, discussions, books), science (we are a science kind of home), read-alouds (carefully selected by me to reflect our history focus for the year), or the hours we spend walking and talking every day about what they are learning. This means that my kids only count math (and they like and are good at math), grammar, and writing as school.

Minimalism can be a lot of work, but it is mostly behind the scenes, so to speak. What is experienced by others is the end result. But there is effort done by the minimalist: curating their stuff, saying no to stuff, etc. My kids experience the end result of my behind-the-scenes work.

Yup, well said. My older boy only perceived 5 hour days for his homeschool, which would have impossible given what he accomplished and where he is at. It was all the reading, talking, and thinking that led to his deep insights and knowledge. But he would have considered them just part of being in our family and life in general.

My younger perceives that he is only taking 3 courses this year in high school - math, chemistry, geography. But he has a full load, they are just interwoven so he doesn't feel constantly pressured and rushed. 

So I completely agree, minimalism takes work in the background. A relaxed life in a rigorous homeschool takes planning, prioritizing, and thinking out-of-the box. 

Edited by lewelma
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My ds needs a calm space, so I try to clean out the room regularly and only keep in there what we're actually USING. That means partly shedding the GUILT about what we're *not* doing. 

I think if you shed the guilt over your good intentions and what you're *not* doing, and just fully embrace what you *are* doing, then decluttering the space becomes obvious.

As far as methodologies, that goes back to goals and knowing why you're doing things. Doing a task with some clutter could be on point or a waste of time, depending on the kid. You could even be embracing the cluttter (during the task, not perpetually, lol) as a way to teach picking up! 

So when you and I started homeschooling years ago, busywork was all the buzzword, and people were like don't recreate school, don't do that stupid, worthless busywork. Well that's all fine and well if your kids learn skills with or without those tasks. But for some kids that was IMPORTANT WORK. 

So then you're back to embracing what you need to be doing and letting go what you don't. If it's just busy work and not useful or intriguing or thought provoking or skill building to them, then sure there's an argument to do some decluttering and trade for things that would be more intriguing/thought provoking/challenging, definitely.

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36 minutes ago, PeterPan said:

that goes back to goals and knowing why you're doing things.

This. 

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37 minutes ago, PeterPan said:

So then you're back to embracing what you need to be doing and letting go what you don't. 

This too!

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Wait - so none of these responses included an offer to come to my house and reorganize and redesign both my school shelves and my curriculum?

Bummer!

I think i'm partway there - recently I went back to Little Stories for Little Folks for DS, which he seems to like, as his main "language arts". It is basically a VERY short phonics lesson where I go over any new phonograms or sight words, then he reads a little story. Then there is a section for him to create new words using those phonograms. Takes 15 minutes maybe. Honestly, he's a natural reader, and I'm not sure if even what I'm doing is right, or if there is a more accelerated path for him that would be on par with his skill. But we WERE doing The Good and The Beautiful LA and it was taking at least twice as long, and he wasn't learning any more phonics. In fact, it moved more slowly. So this is a better fit. It is designed to be done as one little story/lesson per week, with them re-reading it daily but he gets it so easily that we do one a day. 

If anyone has a better suggestion I'd love it - I basically need Khan Academy, where it adapts to their level, for phonics for him I think. Because this still, even at only a few minutes a day, seems like busy work for him. He's just really truly a natural reader. But at the same time I don't want to skip any concepts. 

He does a page of handwriting a day, which he definitely needs. He does a math lesson, which he often enjoys, but again is probably way too easy/slow moving for him. BUT, if we move at the pace he wants to go he misses things. But we probably have as good a balance there as we are going to get and again, he usually enjoys it which means a lot. 

Then we are just starting to add in AAS, but I'm torn if I should bother at this age. He's a good speller too, great visual memory. 

We do like TGTB for science, and do it a few times a week. Then we are doing their history, and some days it goes well, but so often I'm yelling at the first grader to stop fooling around, pay attention, stop distracting his sister, etc. And she's not loving it either. But she will beg to watch more episodes of Animated History with Pippo, and will read You Wouldn't Want to Be.... books for fun. So I'm VERY tempted to just do that kind of thing - videos, fun books, etc. Maybe have her once a week or so write in a journal a few facts she learned or something?? Not sure how to do output with that. But we could add to our timeline, etc. 

Read alouds are hit and miss, but they LOVED Pagoo and are pretty into The Door in the Wall. 

Bible I do my own thing - sometimes we read a picture book and discuss, right now we are working out way through the 10 commandments with me giving my interpretation, discussing the application in our lives, and doing a coloring page or a homemade notebook page about it. 

Really, history is what feels forced right now, and maybe spelling for the 1st grader. 

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1 hour ago, Ktgrok said:

Wait - so none of these responses included an offer to come to my house and reorganize and redesign both my school shelves and my curriculum?

LOL I would take out everything, throw pillows on the floor, and then bring in one small washtub of books and a deck of playing cards. That's your room. 

History is a funny thing. I think it's possible to try too hard. Is there room in the washtub? Throw something in. I'm using an antique, totally offensive Abeka4 history text with ds, and I love it for the opportunities to discuss, rabbit trail, and generally THINK. I hate history, so I kind of try to stay out of the way so they can like it. Like don't take up so much time doing it that they miss the chance to figure out what they like of history and find it and do it. 

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3 hours ago, PeterPan said:

LOL I would take out everything, throw pillows on the floor, and then bring in one small washtub of books and a deck of playing cards. That's your room

Yes! Completely agree.  I'm just going to follow you around this week and say, "what she said."  🙂 

Up to age 7, we did 10-15 minutes of handwriting/copywork, and then lots of reading, read-alouds, and playing shop. That was it. I should have gotten a washtub!!!

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Our homeschool is pretty pared down compared to others. I have one small bookshelf of books and 1 shelf in a cabinet for "what comes next".  These are programs that we like and have plans to use next year.  I don't keep a lot of things "just in case" anymore.  It was easy to fall into the "just in case" trap when kiddo was younger.  What if he suddenly wanted to use clay to make a model of the Great Pyramid and I don't have clay and he never ever wants to make a Great Pyramid model again.  I've wasted a valuable learning moment!  

Well, probably not. If he really, really wants to make a model, he'll either find different materials or he'll remind me at the store to get clay.  I no longer feel I need to keep All The Things just in case inspiration strikes.  I've kept the paper, some of the paints, colored pencils, and supplies to make slime.  I gave the rest to the art teacher, who is far better at inspiring artistic creativity than I am!  No more string, beads, glitter, stickers, craft sticks, pipe cleaners, etc. 

Basically, I got rid of everything that I once said "We might use this someday!"  Do I have a solid plan for using it?  If not, it has to go.  Past experience tells me we won't use the Someday books and supplies.  They'll keep getting pushed aside for our favorites, which makes me feel guilty for not using the Someday things. 

 

Edited by MissLemon
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5 hours ago, MissLemon said:

Our homeschool is pretty pared down compared to others. I have one small bookshelf of books and 1 shelf in a cabinet for "what comes next".  These are programs that we like and have plans to use next year.  I don't keep a lot of things "just in case" anymore.  It was easy to fall into the "just in case" trap when kiddo was younger.  What if he suddenly wanted to use clay to make a model of the Great Pyramid and I don't have clay and he never ever wants to make a Great Pyramid model again.  I've wasted a valuable learning moment!  

Well, probably not. If he really, really wants to make a model, he'll either find different materials or he'll remind me at the store to get clay.  I no longer feel I need to keep All The Things just in case inspiration strikes.  I've kept the paper, some of the paints, colored pencils, and supplies to make slime.  I gave the rest to the art teacher, who is far better at inspiring artistic creativity than I am!  No more string, beads, glitter, stickers, craft sticks, pipe cleaners, etc. 

Basically, I got rid of everything that I once said "We might use this someday!"  Do I have a solid plan for using it?  If not, it has to go.  Past experience tells me we won't use the Someday books and supplies.  They'll keep getting pushed aside for our favorites, which makes me feel guilty for not using the Someday things. 

 

You just expressed my guilt complex very elegantly. :blush:  This is so real. 

Now it's not like I'm stellar at this. I literally only manage to do it in ONE ROOM, haha. I just physically haul everything out. And Ktgrok's room is so big that maybe she has both work space and storage, kwim? Like I'm trying to imagine how it can look in a space that big. But she can probably figure it out. Maybe dividing them and saying this is where we work (and it's mentally clear, focused, guilt free), and this is where I store (and it has limits so it stays reasonable).

And you talk about guilt and what you might want to do. I'm cleaning out my ds' GAMES closet now, oh my. That's HARD!! You're like no, no, that was my favorite game in the whole world for a year and I might want to play it again! And isn't that the truth, like *he* isn't wanting to play it again, just Mom, and you hate to let the stage go. Sigh. That's my mission for the day, win against the games closet.

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Probably no different than it does now.  There is very little in our home that looks like school other than a microscope, a globe, and math and spelling books. We own a small library worth of books, but I grew up in a house full of books and I love books. I would have surrounded my kids with books regardless.  (My kids love books, too. My college Jr has been collecting special books since 7th grade. Her 1st purchase was an 1800s copy of Marmion. We just moved and she has multiple book boxes stacked in my closet. Every book is one she loves and sought out. My college grad student has his fair share stacked in there, too.) 

"Stuff" doesn't define our homeschool.  Our homeschool is a lifestyle. (And we aren't minimalists, so no guilt over our books. 😉 )

Edited by 8FillTheHeart
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6 hours ago, lewelma said:

Yes! Completely agree.  I'm just going to follow you around this week and say, "what she said."  🙂 

Up to age 7, we did 10-15 minutes of handwriting/copywork, and then lots of reading, read-alouds, and playing shop. That was it. I should have gotten a washtub!!!

Well, to be fair, the younger one IS 7 already, and the older one is 9 and in fourth grade. So we are beyond playing shop and such for her - or rather, beyond doing just that. They also would NOT want to listen to read alouds all day. 

But, to my delight the 9 yr old has devoured the Usborne Illustrated Greek Myths and got caught last night reading the Norse one past bedtime, lol. 

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Katie, for reading why don’t you just go through the vowel and consonant charts faster with him- just get him through all of them, doing a few a day. Maybe set a timer or judge off of him. Then go back and let him read or do the lessons you’re already doing on any he needs reinforcement on? Sounds like it’s already addressing spelling as well? Or again just use the charts- digraphs, endings etc and word lists and make your own spelling lists for words he doesn’t already know. I’d think AAS would be such a drag for a natural reader/speller. But if you just use what you have at his pace, there’s your minimalist approach ala Ruth Beechick. (And advice I got from ElizabethB too!) It would keep you from have to buy anything new. Just keep a notebook or card of what you’ve done as far as phonics covered and then reinforce only those he has trouble with- but you could probably get through in days or a couple of weeks instead of months. Then he can read what he wants, and you can spend time addressing only what needs addressed. 

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5 hours ago, Ktgrok said:

Well, to be fair, the younger one IS 7 already,

Ooops. Saw your siggy and assumed he was 6. 

To clarify a bit, my definition of minimalism meshes with Becker's idea of promoting and focusing on what is most important by eliminating that which is not. So not having less just to have less, but having less that distracts from the important stuff.

So what is important to you? 

So for example, my younger ds now is 16 and wants to solve complex world problems maybe through a place like the World Bank or more local problems by being a mayor. So what is important for his homeschool?  What stands out is that he must learn to embrace complexity, he must learn to see different actors' perspectives on issues, and he must learn to see nuance and shades of grey. This means that I must create a structure for his education that requires him to make sense of many many different sources for single large scale problems.  That is definitely not simplicity or minimalism from a traditional point of view, but does match your definition of focusing on what is most important.  What do we then eliminate? Any single perspective course unless it is a get-er-done class. 

So what is it that *you* want to have your 1st and 4th grader learn?  Do you have clearly stated goals? Seems like you want to align your actions and resources to your goals. This makes sense to me. 

 

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Regarding the room itself, this is it. This is a totally realistic view of it, as we just finished school for the day and have not cleaned up/reset as DD just woke up from her nap and I needed to eat lunch. We will straighten up in a bit. This room has to function as schoolroom, playroom, and DD2's bedroom. (she sleeps there, but her clothes are in my closet)

Oh, and my desk/workspace. 

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55 minutes ago, lewelma said:

Ooops. Saw your siggy and assumed he was 6. 

 

 

So what is important to you? 

So for example, my younger ds now is 16 and wants to solve complex world problems maybe through a place like the World Bank or more local problems by being a mayor. So what is important for his homeschool?  What stands out is that he must learn to embrace complexity, he must learn to see different actors' perspectives on issues, and he must learn to see nuance and shades of grey. This means that I must create a structure for his education that requires him to make sense of many many different sources for single large scale problems.  That is definitely not simplicity or minimalism from a traditional point of view, but does match your definition of focusing on what is most important.  What do we then eliminate? Any single perspective course unless it is a get-er-done class. 

So what is it that *you* want to have your 1st and 4th grader learn?  Do you have clearly stated goals? Seems like you want to align your actions and resources to your goals. This makes sense to me. 

 

Ugh..hard questions!

1st grader -

solidify any math gaps, continue to enjoy math and move forward.

Continue reading progress and develop a love of reading

Develop a legible handwriting

Continue to learn about our faith on a personal level as well as on a cultural knowledge level

Develop his attention span for read aloud books and an appreciation for literature

Develop and learn art skills and an appreciation of art in general

Exposure to science concepts, encourage curiosity about science

Exposure to history/geography in a sense of an appreciation of the variety of cultures and ways of life as well as familiarity with important topics for cultural literacy

 

4th grader (dyslexic)

continue to make progress in her reading ability and fluency 

develop and enjoyment of reading (or audiobooks)

exposure to different types of literature

be comfortable spelling at least the most commonly used words so she can feel confident putting her thoughts on paper

learn to type (so she can use spell check!)

mastery of math facts (multiplication/division)

understanding of typical 4th grade math topics so that she feels confident in her math skills

Develop her faith on a personal level and a continue to learn the basics of our faith, to feel an ownership and familiarity with it

Familiarity with history and geography topics important for cultural literacy, and develop a curiosity about other times/places

To enjoy and embrace at least some science topics, and exposure to basic science knowlege

develop her art abilities and exposure to various types of art

 

 

 

 

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I think you are actually looking to have a different discussion than on minimalist homeschooling and instead are discussing utilization of space and organization. Years ago after the Circe thread, there was a spin off Yahoo group and we spent quite a bit of time discussing ambiance and how atmosphere impacts our daily lives--- the how things are stored and organized, walls decorated, color choices......the entire home atmosphere.....and how it impacts mental state and learning.  I know a room's visual impact does affect me (as well as several of my kids.)  I don't just like things organized and visually appealing; I need them to be in order to function.  I deliberately work on nurturing "splendor and beauty" in our home by deliberately  attempting to create a living space that is orderly but equally joyful. 

Looking at that space, I would have to completely  rearrange the space in order to be able function.  I would probably start off by arranging all the bookshelves side by side instead of separating them by the futon.  It is hard to gauge the space, but I would probably rearrange all of the furniture so that the futon was with the toys and the table and desk grouped together We don't work in a school room bc that concept is a complete failure for me, so that is hard for me to process how I would form our comfortable learning space within that room from your pictures.  We tend to work sitting on our family room sofa or at the kitchen table.   But, the "how" it is arranged and organized would be vital to me.  (For me it isn't that I would need to eliminate what is in the room as much as how it is presented within the space.)

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1 hour ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

I think you are actually looking to have a different discussion than on minimalist homeschooling and instead are discussing utilization of space and organization. Years ago after the Circe thread, there was a spin off Yahoo group and we spent quite a bit of time discussing ambiance and how atmosphere impacts our daily lives--- the how things are stored and organized, walls decorated, color choices......the entire home atmosphere.....and how it impacts mental state and learning.  I know a room's visual impact does affect me (as well as several of my kids.)  I don't just like things organized and visually appealing; I need them to be in order to function.  I deliberately work on nurturing "splendor and beauty" in our home by deliberately  attempting to create a living space that is orderly but equally joyful. 

Looking at that space, I would have to completely  rearrange the space in order to be able function.  I would probably start off by arranging all the bookshelves side by side instead of separating them by the futon.  It is hard to gauge the space, but I would probably rearrange all of the furniture so that the futon was with the toys and the table and desk grouped together We don't work in a school room bc that concept is a complete failure for me, so that is hard for me to process how I would form our comfortable learning space within that room from your pictures.  We tend to work sitting on our family room sofa or at the kitchen table.   But, the "how" it is arranged and organized would be vital to me.  (For me it isn't that I would need to eliminate what is in the room as much as how it is presented within the space.)

Well, I think I'm looking at both issues, and more lol. I think I'm also considering efficiency, streamlining, etc as well as visual use of space. 

As for the furniture, it unfortunately doesn't really fit in almost any other configuration. We spent a LONG time trying, lol. If you put the bookshelves together towards the fireplace that leaves the daybed blocking access to the drawers in the desk as well as the letterbox that is on the left of the left set of bookshelves. If you put the bookshelves together at the desk end the daybed won't fit because it is too wide to be in the area between the fireplace and the wall where the farther bookshelf is now. 

I wanted the bookshelves to go on the same wall as the desk, but that didn't work either due to them blocking light switches, etc. 

So yeah, I'm wondering if I can have less stuff, and also be more efficient time wise, or at least better organize both time and space. 

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15 minutes ago, Ktgrok said:

Well, I think I'm looking at both issues, and more lol. I think I'm also considering efficiency, streamlining, etc as well as visual use of space. 

As for the furniture, it unfortunately doesn't really fit in almost any other configuration. We spent a LONG time trying, lol. If you put the bookshelves together towards the fireplace that leaves the daybed blocking access to the drawers in the desk as well as the letterbox that is on the left of the left set of bookshelves. If you put the bookshelves together at the desk end the daybed won't fit because it is too wide to be in the area between the fireplace and the wall where the farther bookshelf is now. 

I wanted the bookshelves to go on the same wall as the desk, but that didn't work either due to them blocking light switches, etc. 

So yeah, I'm wondering if I can have less stuff, and also be more efficient time wise, or at least better organize both time and space. 

Do you or your dh know how to build things? Building a high loft bed with storage at end with a play space under it would open up a lot of space. Building custom-sized shelves or other storage solutions eliminates wasted space. 

Do your kids sit at that table to do work or could they do their work at the kitchen table (or a bar area if you have one) freeing up space in that room? It looks like the kitchen is right on the other side of the pass through.

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7 minutes ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

Do you or your dh know how to build things? Building a high loft bed with storage at end with a play space under it would open up a lot of space. Building custom-sized shelves or other storage solutions eliminates wasted space. 

Do your kids sit at that table to do work or could they do their work at the kitchen table (or a bar area if you have one) freeing up space in that room? It looks like the kitchen is right on the other side of the pass through.

I have a crazy two year old who will launch herself off a loft, which is why she is in that room - no way to fit her in the bedroom without bunk bed and I don't trust her, lol. 

I used to use the kitchen table to school, but there is no where to store supplies in there so we were constantly traipsing back and forth when someone wanted a new pencil, forgot something, etc etc etc and it just ate up so much time. 

What we need now fits on the shelves (that includes all the toys - they do not have toys in their room). 

I suppose on idea would be to put some toys in their room, instead of there. With only two kids in that room there is space to do that now. That actually isn't a terrible idea. Months ago I wanted the toys in the school room to try to entertain DD2 with while we did school, but often now she's too loud anyway so I send her and one kid into the big kids bedroom to play. That would be way easier if the toys were actually IN there. 

I need to think on this!

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1 hour ago, Ktgrok said:

I have a crazy two year old who will launch herself off a loft, which is why she is in that room - no way to fit her in the bedroom without bunk bed and I don't trust her, lol. 

I used to use the kitchen table to school, but there is no where to store supplies in there so we were constantly traipsing back and forth when someone wanted a new pencil, forgot something, etc etc etc and it just ate up so much time. 

What we need now fits on the shelves (that includes all the toys - they do not have toys in their room). 

I suppose on idea would be to put some toys in their room, instead of there. With only two kids in that room there is space to do that now. That actually isn't a terrible idea. Months ago I wanted the toys in the school room to try to entertain DD2 with while we did school, but often now she's too loud anyway so I send her and one kid into the big kids bedroom to play. That would be way easier if the toys were actually IN there. 

I need to think on this!

It seems like having a rolling storage caddy with supplies and daily books that could be stored in the other room and rolled into the kitchen would solve that problem and eliminate the need for the other table. That would free up quite a bit of space.

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Katie, just an easy suggestion: create uniform shelves.  Designate one type of basket to be toys and one type to be for the little school things: make both of them taller and not clear.  Use a label or tag on each of the school baskets to help you keep track (or a ribbon to designate subject)  Don't worry about the binders, they'll be fine, but if you have booklets put them in opaque magazine holders turned with the back out.

You want to reduce the visual clutter to make it calmer but still have access to what you need.  Open baskets give you access, but you don't have to see everything all at once.

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On 12/1/2019 at 3:08 PM, annegables said:

Minimalism can be a lot of work, but it is mostly behind the scenes, so to speak. What is experienced by others is the end result. But there is effort done by the minimalist: curating their stuff, saying no to stuff, etc. My kids experience the end result of my behind-the-scenes work.

 

Such a good point.  Whether it be for schooling or homemaking, work behind the scenes pays off big-time in the running of a smooth house/school.  

I agree with @8FillTheHeart that it sounds like there are two conversations going on here- one is homeschool minimalism in the material sense (objects, spaces, resources, organization) and another is minimalism in the philosophical sense (multum non multa).  The two areas will have some overlap, of course.  

 

For material minimalism, we:

- only use one math text per kid unless absolutely necessary (my 7yo needed more help with addition before moving on in SM, so I added a kumon book, but that is unusual for me).  All math material including solutions manuals is in a large firebox, since everyone does math at the same time.  I pull it out first thing in the Am, because I can teach math before being fully awake.  Once done, everything is returned to the box and reshelved.  

- I, just this week, decided to stop SOTW3 and just focus on US history through the Revolutionary War.  This was hard for me, as I thought I'd just mix the chapters of SOTW and the books of Drama of American History together chronologically,  But I decided that no, I want to stick with the US topic for quite a while and dive deeper.  Rather than leaving out the extra SOTW resources, I've shelved them off of my "active" shelf and back into my "not for right now" homeschool shelf.  

- As of this Fall, all work except math is kept in ONE spiral notebook and my kids are practicing note taking for history (2 oldest) and physics/math (oldest), and their French language arts and dictations also go in there, as well as writing drafts.  The pages are tear-out, so we could, if we wished, arrange them topically in a binder at the end of the year.  But in the mean time, there is only ONE notebook (I hope you are all imagining the theme song to Highlander right now.).  I am LOVING this method.  Also in their binder, on Monday, they copy in their independent work for the week, including reading lists, etc.  They throw a page marker flag on that page so it is easy to reference throughout the week.  Love, love, love.  

- My 7yo does all of her work in one notebook as well, it is the kind that is for early writers and has a half page blank for drawing and a half page wide-ruled.  She illustrates the read-aloud for the day, write a 1-2 sentence narration of it, skips a line, then does her French dictation, then uses colored pens in the dictation sentences to underline the parts of speech she knows.  Easy, peasy, all in one place!!!  Like the big kids, her math is in a different workbook.  

- I have a number of "active" shelves within the homeschool area, then other shelves in another room for books that we will use at other times.  All reference material is grouped together on a shelf just above all our writing implements, which are in open boxes.  Reference includes dictionaries, thesaurus, verb conjugation books, atlas, historical atlas, and Bible.

My littlest guy gets a sheet of plain computer paper each day.  On one side, I draw lines and write out some beginner copywork for him.  On the other, I write out part-whole circles for him to fill in using Cuisinaire rods.  Once he's done with his page (under supervision), he gets to put a sticker on it, then it goes in a folder.  I should probably look for a notebook of blank paper for him... hmmm... 🤔

One of my active shelves contains the books for independent reading for my big kids, and another contains read-alouds I read to my littles.  

This system is CONSTANTLY in flux as I adapt it to meet our changing needs.  I think there is a tendency to believe there is "THE system" out there, and if we just keep working, we'll find it.  No, the system IS the constant adaptation.  I also find myself more inspired and more motivated each time I reorganize our learning area and actually hold in my hands each resource and decide if it is worthy of inclusion, better used at a different time/age, or something I can donate.  

 

I'd like to also talk about homeschooling with philosophical minimalism, but I'm out of time for now!   

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On 12/1/2019 at 2:06 AM, lewelma said:

  But I have found that bringing together history, economics, political science, geography, and current events into a single massive project feels minimal because we can go deep into ONE big idea. 

 

We did this for the first time this year quite by accident. My husband had a three week business trip to Italy that we tagged along on so I designed a course around Palladian architecture. We visited Palladio's inspiration in Rome, his actual works in Vicenza, and then because we also live in Virginia we were able to add in a trip to Monticello to see Palladio's influence on Thomas Jefferson. Reading and writing assignments encompassed art, architecture, Roman and Renaissance engineering techniques, and even early American history. It turned out so brilliantly that I plan to keep doing this kind of thing although obviously on a less grand scale. It really takes the pressure off to not feel like our day is chopped into a million subjects and I feel like there was much greater depth of learning. 

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Y'all...things are happening. Ikea storage with bins was moved to kids' bedroom. Table was now able to be turned sideways, against the wall, to take up less space and the kids love it that way. Working on organizing curriculum and moving toys/school stuff around, and ordered bins and file folders. 

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1 hour ago, Ktgrok said:

Y'all...things are happening. Ikea storage with bins was moved to kids' bedroom. Table was now able to be turned sideways, against the wall, to take up less space and the kids love it that way. Working on organizing curriculum and moving toys/school stuff around, and ordered bins and file folders. 

 

I love bigger home projects.  I get completely blah about day to day maintenance, but I can muster huge motivation when the changes are going to be very visible and very satisfying.  Good job!  

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4 hours ago, Monica_in_Switzerland said:

I'd like to also talk about homeschooling with philosophical minimalism, but I'm out of time for now!   

I would love to hear your thoughts.  I think I was the one that steered the thread towards this. I live in 600sq ft, and have only the resources that 'spark joy,' so I have definitely conquered stuff. But that does not mean that the result is a minimalist approach to homeschooling. I have to work to keep focused on my goals and the things that make a difference to my children's education.  

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22 minutes ago, lewelma said:

I would love to hear your thoughts.  I think I was the one that steered the thread towards this. I live in 600sq ft, and have only the resources that 'spark joy,' so I have definitely conquered stuff. But that does not mean that the result is a minimalist approach to homeschooling. I have to work to keep focused on my goals and the things that make a difference to my children's education.  

 

I'm still reflecting on the idea, really.  Right now, I'm letting my son's AOPS book determine the length of our math lessons.  This means lessons often stretch to 1.5 hours in order to finish a section.  And this was bothering me because my schedule (which is very loose, but still!) was falling apart.  Instead of getting 3-4 things done int he morning, it was more like 2-3 because of the math.  But those 1.5 hours are quality.  He is concentrated and making progress and self-teaching with a little help from me for harder problems.  And I realized... I don't really want to change this.  So that means other things need to be cut.  

Similarly, I made some decisions and changed our history plan slightly for the year because we are going SO DEEP in US history right now and really enjoying it.  I don't want to speed it up or mix in another topic at this point.  This also is taking 1 solid hour each day.  This is also the focus of our writing for the year, with the development of good paragraphs from Cornell style notes.  

I am really enjoying the feeling that we are doing these subjects WELL.  With focus and depth.  We are doing a similar thing with physics for my oldest.

Something I hate is the idea of 5 minutes of spelling, 15 minutes of grammar, 20 minutes of writing instruction... Gag.  I need more time than that to focus my attention.  So I'm finding our natural rhythm is to have focuses from year to year.  This year we are heavily weighted toward US History and Physics.  Last year was French LA and Chemistry.  I would like to find a way to also have literature as a major focus, but am not yet organized to do so.  I've learned I just don't like programs that break everything down into an "easy 15 minute lesson!"  I want hard, hour long sessions at this point with my two oldest.  And they seem to do better this way, too.  

What am I trying to say here?  For me, reducing the number of subjects but lengthening lesson time and depth has worked well to focus our school.  So I guess, block schedule or loop schedule has made my homeschool feel minimalist in the sense that I'm no longer frenetically pulling out a new thing to do every 15-30 minutes.  I tried that earlier in our homeschool journey and always wondered why I was feeling so scattered.  I *get* short lessons for K-2 or 3rd, but as the ability to go deeper expands, I find we all do better with longer lessons.  

I am wishing I could cut back further.  My kids have spelling that needs improvement, but the thought of adding a 20 minute spelling lesson sort of fills me with dread.  I haven't figured out a way to get out of it though.  We also did Latin all of last year, and haven't gotten restarted this year and I'm irritated I let our good Latin habit slip.  Sigh.  

I'm struggling with giving myself permission to simplify/minimize further.  My heart's desire would be to drop explicit LA and do ONLY prepared dictation with the kids.  But I'm not brave enough... yet.  Maybe it's coming...  

 

And what are your thoughts on philosophical minimalism?  I know the above is sort of all over the place, my thoughts, my successes, my struggles.  I'd love to hear from people doing, or attempting to do, the same thing.  

 

 

 

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On 12/4/2019 at 9:24 AM, Monica_in_Switzerland said:

I'm struggling with giving myself permission to simplify/minimize further.  My heart's desire would be to drop explicit LA and do ONLY prepared dictation with the kids.  But I'm not brave enough... yet.  Maybe it's coming...  

My ds has dysgraphia so struggled with letter formation, spelling, grammar, punctuation, and outlining. However, he was gifted at composition. We tried so many programs, so much this and that and the other, and they never worked.  So from age 12-14, we did 30 minutes of typing dictation every morning first thing. Everything was integrated. I dictated; he typed.  I corrected his spelling as we went, and mentioned the rule in passing. I corrected his punctuation as we went and again mentioned the rule in passing. If we needed some time to discuss the rule, we would do it in context of the dictation.  This *integrated* approach made all the difference.  Bits-and-Pieces programs were a bust, but learning all the skills in context was a massive win.  

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10 minutes ago, lewelma said:

My ds has dysgraphia so struggled with letter formation, spelling, grammar, punctuation, and outlining. However, he was gifted at composition. We tried so many programs, so much this and that and the other, and they never worked.  So from age 12-14, we did 30 minutes of typing dictation every morning first thing. Everything was integrated. I dictated; he typed.  I corrected his spelling as we went, and mentioned the rule in passing. I corrected his punctuation as we went and again mentioned the rule in passing. If we needed some time to discuss the rule, we would do it in context of the dictation.  This *integrated* approach made all the difference.  Bits-and-Pieces programs were a bust, but learning all the skills in context was a massive win.  

 

This is very interesting to me.  To the best of my knowledge, we have no LDs, no reversals, no issues in math, very fast and very easy path to reading, excellent composition skills.  But spelling is a disaster.  A few questions:  why typing over handwriting?  Did you turn off the red underline spellcheck feature on your word processing program or in any other way disable the built-in spellcheck for these lessons?  Thanks!

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1. I agree with the pp that stated that "the system" IS constant adaptation.  Our school when my kids were all 9 and under looks VERY different now that I've got a senior.  Truly, each year we've had to re-invent the wheel. 

2. I have often made materials decisions based on financial constraints or time constraints.  A couple of years ago, I made school material decisions based on space constraints.  We were in the process of relocating, and we moved ahead of our stuff into temporary housing.  Each kid could pack a backpack only, and my own school things had to fit into one backpack as well. I really found the experience to be extremely enlightening. All of school happened every day, school was "packed away" out of sight at night (I lined up the backpacks behind the couch), and the amount of focus we were able to bring to our work really helped our kids progress in new ways.  I think the process worked so well because I had specific goals in mind (see other posts above) and I had to adapt everything else to fit.  Interestingly, I went very Beechick and old school WTM in terms of vibe....something I hadn't done since 2006-2008.... I had been very leveled and piecemeal materials with a lot of manipulative, and going back whole > pieces helped.  We also brought back multi-subject notebooks into schooling rather than having separate bins for every subject, and discovered that one of the mental drop-off points for my ADD kids was in having to switch out materials. Having everything constrained to a backpack (minimal working pieces) worked better even than the workbox system from IKEA we had had going in our previous school room.

3. I've discovered that as I've become more competent as a teacher, I need fewer materials. I really think it's difficult for new homeschoolers to really understand scope and sequence and end goals---but having now taken someone PK-12---and having taught a few 2E kids-- I have a better understanding of how to bring a variety of students from point A to point B.  It's really about developing skills over teaching content.....and too often leveled scope and sequence based curricula focus on the task content rather than on how to help a student develop skills. I hope someone can more articulately make this point.  We have the gift as homeschoolers to not be tied to things designed for classroom management. We can be much more focused and move through things at our own pace....and a lot of the newer homeschool materials are not particularly well designed for that.  It's like we're swinging on the bell curve. Back in the 80s everything was classroom based---then it swang to being all literature based/multi-level in the late 90s/early 2000s---and now we're swinging back to things designed for specific grades with lots of components.  I think part of this is because of the influx of charter school dollars, but that's a different thread. 🙂

----brb, going to post this before I lose it...

 

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2 minutes ago, prairiewindmomma said:

 

3. I've discovered that as I've become more competent as a teacher, I need fewer materials. I really think it's difficult for new homeschoolers to really understand scope and sequence and end goals---but having now taken someone PK-12---and having taught a few 2E kids-- I have a better understanding of how to bring a variety of students from point A to point B.

 

 

THIS 👆  I am not as far as you are along the path, but our K and 2nd grades look soooo different for my two youngest than they did for my two oldest!!!  And school for my two oldest is nothing like how I envisioned it when they were in lower elementary.  

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The three R's, with content subjects like science and history grouped under the reading R, such as in the Robinson Curriculum. For spatial minimalism, get books from the library, use electronic copies, or buy and sell again when completed. Although I'm a minimalist that has no problem owning a decent library of hardcopy books.

So basically a math program, a LA program, and some selected books.

Use composition books instead of binders. Smaller, less messy.

Liberally outsource in high school.

Art is tough. We've had the most "minimalistic success" with watercolor.

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30 minutes ago, Monica_in_Switzerland said:

 

This is very interesting to me.  To the best of my knowledge, we have no LDs, no reversals, no issues in math, very fast and very easy path to reading, excellent composition skills.  But spelling is a disaster.  A few questions:  why typing over handwriting?  Did you turn off the red underline spellcheck feature on your word processing program or in any other way disable the built-in spellcheck for these lessons?  Thanks!

My ds does not have automatic letter formation, so physical handwriting requires remembering how to create the letter and also how to spell the word.  So we abandoned handwriting at age 12 and moved full force to typing. 

Absolutely turn off the red underline spellcheck!!! The point is to learn to spell the words. LOL

When we started at age 12, he still could not spell 70 of the top 100 words. So the idea was to automate the easy words, automate spelling syllable for syllable, automate the rules for endings, etc. He knew all the rules and had good phonemic skills, but nothing was automated so it was a long painful process to write anything down.  I also taught him to "think to spell" where you purposely mispronounce a word to highlight the difficult letters, so muscle is Mus/Kle pronouncing the K sound to remember the c.  Also I taught him to pronounce the schwa with the proper letter as the sound, because schwas basically can't be sounded out and must be memorized.  We did this over and over and over for 2 full years at 30 minutes a day year round. That is how I fixed his spelling. 

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4. Too often I try to analyze problems in our homeschool by adapting whatever situation we are already in rather than looking at things from a big picture perspective. As an analogy to another part of IRL for me....when we moved in to this house, we just kind of set up things in the laundry room as we had in our old house. The movers set up the washer and dryer so that they lined up with the dryer vent and the washing machine even though that meant I couldn't switch loads easily and had to "climb" over the doors to switch loads. I needed storage for household cleaners, etc so we brought in some bookcases we already owned. We needed drying rack space so we hung a rack, only because of the bookcases dh hung it over the washer and dryer where I couldn't effectively use it. There was no folding space in the room, so I have to carry it down a long hallway (which is a problem with my joint issues). The entire experience of doing laundry--- became extremely frustrating to me.... We finally sat down and looked at the ideal layout and we're going back to ground zero (bare walls and floors) to make some changes and arrange things entirely differently.

I think that this is general idea is true not only in managing physical stuff but also in teaching.  It's led me to do crazy things like give up on physical handwriting remediation and to move technology into its place.  We allow calculators for long division and multiplication for my dysgraphic/dyscalcic kid but we nail conceptual understanding down hard. Right now he does 10 algebra problems a day for me on a white board, that's it. No books, no workbooks, nothing tangible for this kid in math. He's in public school right now and scored in the top 3% of the state in the last exams.  He still can't do long division by hand. He's not going at a pace or a direction that public school can manage. We are doing all kinds of weird hybrid stuff to make it happen.... His public school has been awesome in also getting him with a science teacher who does things entirely project based and who himself is dyslexic and dysgraphic.  We're keeping him in the system because it opens all kinds of funded doors for him, things I can't do, but the big picture is always in mind and it looks rather minimal and odd compared to what his peers do.

5. I think in terms of philosophic minimalism, I struggle a bit. The university system here has this fairly rigid checklist of things they want to see on a high school diploma. 4x4, etc.  And YET....I've also recently discovered that the local cc has rolling admissions for high school students and they really don't care about what's on a diploma.  It's really been rather shocking, and for a couple of my kids, I'm kind of feeling off-kilter as I re-imagine the possibilities.  I don't in any way want to limit them, but compared to the boxes of completed work that Eldest has (who could probably be admitted to wherever he liked in terms of uni), I'm just kind of wondering about blowing up the box of expectations and really digging in deep to project based work that they are passionate about....

I think minimalism for me is looking less like any particular program at all. 

We are in the process of preparing to bring the girls back home as Oldest prepares to graduate. Homeschooling high school well has taken every drop of my brainpower and energy. I just couldn't do it well and teach littles. As I'm looking at what I already own, I suspect a very large chunk of it is about to move out of the house as I realize that I don't really need it.  Dh is on board with the idea, I'm just trying to sketch it all out a bit.  Youngest appears to be gifted with no LDs (I've had two 2Es) and right now is actually turning out to be a good learning partner with her sister who is 4 years older.

 

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My idea of a minimalist homeschool is me and my boys, calmly sitting around the living room reading, working, writing, and drawing at the big coffee table.

Reality is much, much different. We do most work around the dining room table, and I spend most of my time yelling at random boys to get to work, to get out of the room, to get dressed, to get out of the room, to be quiet, to get back to work, to get out of the room.... you get the idea. In the dining room I have all of our school books (two book cases), plus all art supplies (rolling cart), plus a built-in cabinet full of manipulatives and games that I tell myself are for school but NEVER get used because who has the time? Each boy has his own bin on the floor that holds some (DS10), most (DS7), or all (DS5 & DS3) of his schoolbooks. Plus, there are three extra chairs in the room (for when we have dinner company); DS7's prized typewriter sits in its case on the floor under a box of playdough toys; there's usually a basket (or three) of clean laundry waiting to be put away; and the wet hats/gloves/snowsuits are currently hanging over the radiator, since it's snowing again. There's also a tall cabinet that holds some baking dishes, cookbooks, etc. Did I mention that the room is just 11ft x 11ft? 

I could really use a dose of calming minimalism in this room!

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So, one of the things we are trying fit with someone who said that shifting from one book/bin to another was an issue - we have moved to a binder that has dividers with pockets for Mon-Friday. I fill the front pocket of each divider with that day's independent/skill based work, and when they are done they move it to the back pocket of that same divider. They also have a binder pouch in there with a crayon of each color and a pencil. That way if a math exercise has them circle all the squares in yellow or something in they have what they need, and if they are coloring something more involved then they can get the crayon bin out. 

They LOVE it!!!! They are also using their binder as a lap desk sometimes which they get a kick out of. 

Right now our group work is a Holidays Around the World unit from TPT and an Advent unit. We do a read aloud at breakfast. And that's it. 

Only thing that didn't get done this week was art for DS, we will do it this weekend. But DD actually did an art lesson because I put it in the folder rather than it being in a book I forget to take out. 

Now, to organize the rest of the stuff in the room. We picked up today a cube shelf thing for their room and are moving some toys in there, and have more bins coming tonight for the shelves out here. 

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4 hours ago, prairiewindmomma said:

1. I agree with the pp that stated that "the system" IS constant adaptation.  Our school when my kids were all 9 and under looks VERY different now that I've got a senior.  Truly, each year we've had to re-invent the wheel. 

2. I have often made materials decisions based on financial constraints or time constraints.  A couple of years ago, I made school material decisions based on space constraints.  We were in the process of relocating, and we moved ahead of our stuff into temporary housing.  Each kid could pack a backpack only, and my own school things had to fit into one backpack as well. I really found the experience to be extremely enlightening. All of school happened every day, school was "packed away" out of sight at night (I lined up the backpacks behind the couch), and the amount of focus we were able to bring to our work really helped our kids progress in new ways.  I think the process worked so well because I had specific goals in mind (see other posts above) and I had to adapt everything else to fit.  Interestingly, I went very Beechick and old school WTM in terms of vibe....something I hadn't done since 2006-2008.... I had been very leveled and piecemeal materials with a lot of manipulative, and going back whole > pieces helped.  We also brought back multi-subject notebooks into schooling rather than having separate bins for every subject, and discovered that one of the mental drop-off points for my ADD kids was in having to switch out materials. Having everything constrained to a backpack (minimal working pieces) worked better even than the workbox system from IKEA we had had going in our previous school room.

3. I've discovered that as I've become more competent as a teacher, I need fewer materials. I really think it's difficult for new homeschoolers to really understand scope and sequence and end goals---but having now taken someone PK-12---and having taught a few 2E kids-- I have a better understanding of how to bring a variety of students from point A to point B.  It's really about developing skills over teaching content.....and too often leveled scope and sequence based curricula focus on the task content rather than on how to help a student develop skills. I hope someone can more articulately make this point.  We have the gift as homeschoolers to not be tied to things designed for classroom management. We can be much more focused and move through things at our own pace....and a lot of the newer homeschool materials are not particularly well designed for that.  It's like we're swinging on the bell curve. Back in the 80s everything was classroom based---then it swang to being all literature based/multi-level in the late 90s/early 2000s---and now we're swinging back to things designed for specific grades with lots of components.  I think part of this is because of the influx of charter school dollars, but that's a different thread. 🙂

----brb, going to post this before I lose it...

 

This post is really helpful, but the bolded, in particular, is encouraging to hear. I am in my fourth year and only now am I grasping where I am headed. I am over the initial shock of homeschooling, I am mostly beyond the newbie worry of "what am I doing" and I am settling in for the long haul. I have more confidence in myself and my abilities. I believe that teaching kids how to read is one of the greatest gifts I have given my children, and that if I could teach them to read, I can do a lot more than I thought I could. And now I am in the process of developing my teaching skills. 

The bolded italicized I would love as a different thread!!! I am a bit gun-shy, because I am a new here and have already started several topics. Pretentious upstart😜

Edited by annegables
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