How Do I Do Relaxed Homeschooling? (A Step-by-Step Guide)

How do I Do Relaxed Homeschooling? (A Step-by-Step Guide)

Lots of people who have read about our relaxed homeschooling lifestyle or my book, Think Outside the Classroom (where I flesh that out a bit), still have questions. The main one is, “but how do I do relaxed homeschooling, specifically?”

On one hand, telling you specifics steals a part of the “relaxed” from the equation. Yet, I’ve realized some people still do very much need and want more direction. So this post is a guide for you to teach just about any subject in a relaxed homeschooling method.

Of course there are basics to know, more specifically explained in my homeschooling ebook. A few include:

  • We don’t think of school as something that merely is organized and happens for a set number of hours per day. If that bothers you, the relaxed method may not be for you. It takes a little de-brainwashing to convince yourself that the rigid classroom method may not be right for your family and your children.
  • Also, in cooperation with the above fact, we place a lot of emphasis on the value of conversation in the way people learn. So much of one’s education isn’t necessarily documented, check marked or filed on a record. But if it’s real learning you’re after, that’s just part of the game.
  • And, typically we do math separately, though there is usually valuable math instruction to be found inside a subject study.

How Do I Do Relaxed Homeschooling?

Below is a guide to help you get started with a relaxed method of homeschooling that still operates around a skeleton of structure (for those of you not quite ready to unschool). You should add to it, or leave stuff out or alter it in any way that would benefit your family. Feel free to copy and paste it into a document and print for your easy reference.

Spend a few days thinking about, researching and collecting the following:

Relaxed Homeschooling Study Guide

Subject of study____________________________________________

Copy Work _______________________________________________

Books___________________________________________________

________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________

Videos (Documentaries, YouTube, etc.) _________________________

_________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________

Questions for thought/writing assignment, etc. ____________________

_________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________

Possible field trips: ___________________________________________

Projects: __________________________________________________

As an example, I’ll use the subject of The Great Depression. Your subject can range from lady bugs to the solar system. And you can go shallow or deep, depending on your children’s ages and the amount of time you wish to spend on a topic.

For our example study, I might think through a character/Bible lesson that I want to emphasize and choose my copy work from that. I would probably think about contentment and/or trusting God’s provision in this case. I assign copy work to every child, longer passages for the olders and shorter ones for the youngers. Copywork is a valuable tool for teaching grammar, spelling, vocabulary and sentence structure.

I get them going on math and copywork first thing in the mornings.

Ideally, we will read at least one read-aloud per day, pertaining to our topic, then each child will be assigned a related book on his level. An important part of the study is to have everyone share what they are reading. We place a lot of emphasis on the value of conversation in education. Not only does it broaden everyone’s knowledge of the topic, but it helps solidify what each child is learning. “Telling back” is teaching, and teaching is the best form of learning.

With our topic, one child might read a general overview of the Depression. One might read about a specific person of that era, and one might read about clever financial solutions spawned from scarcity. The political atmosphere of the era might come up during a dinner discussion, or if we don’t know, we could look it up.

Asking and answering questions is the root of all learning, so be deliberate about having question-answering conversations.

I usually try to start our new topic off with an intriguing video to pique interest. Sometimes you’ll need to drag out the map or globe; sometimes you may ask a grandparent to share his knowledge about something you’re studying. Sometimes you can go outside and touch and see what you’re studying.

The important thing is to remember what education is and that information sticks when it is connected to other, relevant things. Be deliberate about conversation, the place where things are embedded into our understandings and memories, and have fun learning about the world!

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9 Responses to “How Do I Do Relaxed Homeschooling? (A Step-by-Step Guide)”

  1. Smitti says:

    Thank you for this! I was one of those people who just didn’t ‘get it’, and it really helps! Can’t wait to start! 🙂

  2. Josie says:

    Kelly, I just can’t believe how much we are on the same page about education. We are currently doing a maple syrup unit study I made up just because when we are sapping that’s about all we can think about. I have done/am doing most of the things you have listed here. I have ordered many of the Heart of Dakota guides but always find we just use a lot of her ideas,really enjoy her book suggestions and do our own thing. I keep wondering am I doing this right, are my children really going to be okay? I am so thankful there are others doing it in a relaxed manner and that you are willing to share your ideas. Thanks for the reminder about conversation. Sometimes I feel like I get so busy trying clean, organize, do laundry, and feed everyone that I miss out on these opportunities.I pray that I will slow down enough to not keep missing out on this. Just one question though do you do anything special besides copywork for spelling? My poor 8 year old got her spelling abilities from me I think.I keep hoping she’ll just get better without too much fuss.Thankyou, I really enjoyed this post.Josie

    • We have done some added spelling books, but nothing we’ve done really stands out at me as being spectacular. I just have one who struggles with spelling, and he seems to be improving just with repeated reminders/corrections.

  3. Rebecca Fox says:

    Thank you Kelly for reminding me why we chose this path. I have been struggling lately. I am physically and mentally drained. I have poured out myself without returning to the well that fills me. Thank you for the refreshing cup of water. Sometimes fear and pain holds such a tight grip we forget the almighty arms that protect us.
    Rebecca

  4. Meagan says:

    Hi Kelly! Thanks so much for the insight! I have a quick question…actually, it’s probably rather arduousand complex I’m sure, but I’m hoping there’s a simple answer so I’ll ask anyway. I live in Alabama (Rainbow City-we’re practically neighbors) and am only vaguely familiar with our state’s homeschool laws. From my understanding, when we get ready to begin homeschooling our son, we will be required to enroll in a “cover school.” How does your family handle this requirement? Is there some sort of curriculum I’ll be required to use and document our adherence to (which would really put a damper on the whole “relaxed” educational experience)?

    • Meagan,

      There are no state requirements, other than providing attendance records. Your cover school will require different things, depending on which one you choose. I always suggest choosing ones that require the least amount of paperwork/involvement. You are not required to use any partiuclar curriculum and by law, you’re not required to produce anything other than attendance. So I would look for a covering that complies with your relaxed approach. Nevertheless, whichever one you choose, you can make it work with a relaxed style.

  5. Shannon says:

    I am very interested in unschooling. My main concern is how do I know when to teach what about history, government, science concepts, etc.
    I recently took a job and in order to get a handle on balancing work and home life we started with a well known online curriculum. My children are not doing well with it at all as far as the website’s grading system, however they are telling me new things they are learning quite often.
    I have found that my place is at home with my children and I will be leaving my job soon.
    I would certainly like to do a more relaxed approach when I am home full time again. Can you explain how you know what to teach and when? Also, what is your system for record keeping to comply with state regulations?

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