Minimal Homeschooling – When it’s Not a Choice

Our life is frittered away by detail… simplify, simplify.
– Henry David Thoreau

Many of my readers know I value minimalism and a simpler way of doing things. I’ve blogged about our minimal home, our simplified schedule by doing away with to-do lists and our minimal homeschool preferences.

What many of you don’t know is that I struggle daily to keep it this way. I browse bookstores and craft-supply stores like it’s my job (okay, I guess it kind of is my job!).

But sometimes, having a minimal homeschool isn’t a choice.

Whether it’s illness, a limited income, traveling for work or other circumstances, many home educators often rely on a minimal homeschool style to ensure they’re even able to homeschool at all.

One of my best friends (who happened to pull her kids from conventional school to start homeschooling THIS year) suddenly ended up with a life-threatening condition that put her in the hospital two weeks with a major surgery and was then sent home on bedrest for the next few months.

You could see it in her eyes – how in the heck am I supposed to keep homeschooling my three children?

My heart breaks because I know her tendencies to plan well and be meticulous and craft healthy meals and make sure her children are getting the BEST education because her children are her passion.

What she doesn’t realize (and what I so desperately want her to know) is she’s is the best mom AND teacher for her kids – bedridden or not.

And she helped remind me that ultimately, simplicity rules.

Education looks different for everyone and well, when you’re bedridden it must just be God’s place for you during that time. (Easy for me to say, I realize).

And while I cannot even begin to imagine what she’s having to endure, I have no doubt God will use this time with their family, and many others in a similar situation, to cultivate compassion, humility, focus on health, caregiving and most importantly, completely loving on each other without abandon.

Stories will be told. Videos will be watched. Meals will be eaten. Books will be read….

But more importantly, it won’t be the daily paperwork or the harried extracurricular activities at this time that will make her children wise, it will be experiencing the daily, hourly and even minute-by-minute care-taking that will ultimately expand her children’s horizons and hearts beyond everyone’s imagination.

Her children will be cultivating empathy and humility – characteristics our greatest world-changers have been proven to embody.

Unfortunately, our schools often fail at teaching these invaluable qualities. Because, truly how can they teach love in its raw and purest form when each child is more worried about passing his or her next test?

And despite minimalism being a joy when it’s a chosen instead of necessary, trying to ignore society’s constant lure to consume is something many of us struggle to maintain.

This is why I’m constantly seeking out new inspirational, like-minded collaborative blogs like Simplicity Voices and Simple Homeschool to help keep me on track.

It’s also why I’m so excited when I see other homeschool mamas in the trenches creating new, minimally-inspired homeschool materials like Light + Lamp. We have loved Simply Charlotte Mason and The Good and the Beautiful for a few years now and I personally don’t believe you need many materials to homeschool your kids anyway ––

Just good books most often found at the library (including your Bible!), a few art materials, the ability to play beautiful music, nature and yes, LOVE.*

Don’t take my word for it – ask all the pioneer homeschooling mamas like Sally Clarkson (whom I also adore) who only had maybe two curriculum choices and slim to zero social support but had hours upon hours doing life – really honest, unedited life – with her children daily.

Or Rea Berg, another homeschooling pioneer who literally created a beautiful, uncomplicated curriculum based on books. Yes, stories! –– those simple things you often read when laying in bed! 

I’m grateful to my friend enduring pain to help remind us all it’s not the curriculum or material stuff that deliver an education, it’s life – no matter how fragmented, disastrous, crazy, painful, frustrating, tiresome or insane it might look to others, it’s sacred to us who are living it daily and who choose the gift to homeschool.
(more on this in my next post)

I’m grateful for friends who are an inspiration, whether they feel like it or not.

Have you use a minimal homeschooling style? Did you choose it or is it necessary?

Regardless, I hope you have fallen in love with it as have I.

With Love.

*Eventually our family will rely increasingly more on using online resources but we’ve chosen to create an atmosphere with limited screen-time until we feel our children will receive the maximum benefit from their use.

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