Penelope Trunk unschools her kids, so does Leo Babuta. They are the first people I came upon that were not part of the focus on homeschooling that was based on religion. They also are writers and entrepreneurs, so I wanted to understand more how they were able to balance everything.
The question that I was finally able to answer came as a surprising combination of knowledge from two different parts of my professional life. One as an educational consultant, heavy emphasis on the consultant part, and the other as someone studying life coaching.
Why are we homeschooling? Well, honestly, I had the syndrome of “you know too much”, much like a doctor that is given a diagnosis. He can see all the upsides and downsides and has seen the horror stories personally.
I was working as an educational consultant in Urban School Districts, meeting with administrators and teachers. I also spent time with private and charter school leaders. It was the best education on the educational system you could hope for. Over the last few years I was taking courses in personal development thinking I would become a life coach. The good news is the courses paid off, and I coached myself and we are living a life of simple joy often.
Pull Toward Homeschooling
I have had this pull toward homeschooling, but another side that was pushing me away. I had no idea how to manage working, being a great mom, homeschooling, and still being someone that my husband would want to be married to while doing all of this! I did not want anything to suffer, by adding one more thing. After downsizing, and learning how to manage our life to do the things that were important to us, unschooling became the best option for us. I needed to define it first. I wanted to make sure they were learning.
As an educational consultant with a focus on marketing, educational products, I have reviewed the curriculum and trained teachers. I, also, more importantly interviewed teachers on how and why they choose a curriculum to purchase and whether or not they use one at all. The more seasoned the teacher the less curriculum they used. It might be in their classrooms, but it is collecting dust.
Unschooling is by my definition, “interest led education without a core curriculum that is results focused.” Traditional school requires teachers to follow a set of teaching guidelines that are for a general population within a geographical zone. In homeschooling, most people follow a curriculum and tailor it to their child. In unschooling, you focus on interests, outcomes, and results.
Interest Led Results Based Education – How to Think of Homeschooling
Now you may be saying, but I don’t have any experience in education. How am I supposed to know my outcome? But you do, and as your children get older they will know what they want to learn. I am not a classroom educator. My skills are in understanding why people buy what they buy, I just happened to freelance in educational publishing.
Homeschooling is all about project management. What is my outcome or result? What do you want to accomplish? Now back up and see the steps that lead to that result. It really is that simple.
Let’s take learning to read, for example. My outcome is for my child to learn to read so that they can enjoy interest based learning. As someone transitioning into our version of simplified family living, Unschooling, aka interest based learning is the perfect solution.
For example, they are interested in fishing. Teaching them about this involves, a trip to get a fishing license, purchase a tackle box, and polls, reading maps for where to fish, understanding the weather, fresh, or salt water… So now you get the idea. Unschooling is a minimalist dream come true.
In education, first they must learn the basics, but how you accomplish that can be a simple process. One example of a great minimalized resource for teaching reading is a book by, Ruth Beechick, The Three R’s. This is all you need to read to understand how children learn to read, and at 120 pages it is a must have resource.
How To Collect Interests to Explore Later
Start a notebook for each child in Evernote. Next, create a capture list for that child, or where ever you keep your lists. Just start capturing ideas, when they ask about something new, but don’t plan anything yet. When you do your weekly planning for yourself, pull out the list for each child. What do you want to accomplish this week, that will also work with your initiatives in your home or business?
Do you need photography for your blog? Take them to the Zoo, take photos, and collect questions from the kids on your Evernote App to look up later at home. Just capture everything. Remember, it is not about curriculum, rather outcome or results. As they get older, I am teaching them this process. They will be an ace at project management in no time!
These are just ideas to get you thinking in a new way about teaching your kids. You decide, they decide. This is how you use the idea of minimalism and homeschooling.