Kendra Adachi’s book The Lazy Genius Way and her Lazy Genius Podcast, on which she applies her Lazy Genius principles to all sorts of different decisions, scenarios, and topics, are brilliant. You can learn more at her website: https://www.thelazygeniuscollective.com/. One issue that she rarely addresses is how to apply those principles to homeschooling. That’s because she was homeschooled as a kid, but she isn’t homeschooling right now. But I’ve used many of her ideas in my homeschool, and you might want to use some of them in yours. (If you missed the first part of this series, here is part 1, here is part 2, and here is part 3.)
What matters most about your homeschool, and what is essential to making those happen? Decide what matters most in your homeschool. Do you have things you can do at any time versus courses that you must complete on a particular schedule? What is your minimum homeschool day right now? Heads up: it will change over time. We do math every day at our house during the 30 weeks that our co-op classes are meeting. Because my students are in high school, they complete their science curriculum on the co-op schedule, so science must happen every day. We do a little foreign language every day because a lot of it is overwhelming and because frequent repetition increases the ability to remember the meaning of the vocabulary. After completing those three things, we look at what needs to be completed for co-op and schedule it.
When my kids were younger, essentializing looked like doing math, reading, and handwriting every day. Some of that practice paid off. (Their script still doesn’t look so awesome, but it’s not for lack of effort.) Our typical day boiled down to the essentials when they were young meant that everyone would do their math and copy work. Then, I’d read aloud from a pile of books that included history, science, and stories while everyone listened. After that, the younger boys were free to play, and anyone older than ten would do a little grammar. In this way, we usually finished school before noon, and after lunch, we were free to play, run errands, do housework, visit with friends, and get outside.
Decide what matters most in your whole squad. Obviously, everyone needs to learn to read, compute, and communicate well. But you get to decide how that looks. It may be that your family does science through agriculture: if you have farm animals or raise crops, you’ll learn a lot of biology and botany on the fly, as well as both business and community. If you have a city life like mine, you’ll learn different things. That’s OK. We don’t all have to know how to do everything. It’s just essential that we, as a society, don’t lose any of the skills.
11. Go in the Right Order
We must educate in the correct order. If you don’t have the vocabulary to discuss a subject, you can’t ask questions or think much about it. If you don’t know what sounds letters represent, it will be challenging to learn to read. If you don’t know what numbers and mathematical symbols mean, you won’t remember much about math. We present almost all education for younger children verbally. To require a child to read before they know how is ridiculous. It will accomplish nothing for a student to stare at letters and figure out what they are if he or she hasn’t learned any phonics. It would be silly to ask a high school student to figure out chemical equations if they have not completed a year of algebra and learned how to use a periodic table. A good chunk of high school chemistry centers around what information is on the periodic table and how one can use it.
You wouldn’t start a story in the middle. You wouldn’t read a book backward. So in all the skill subjects, we need to begin at the beginning and work our way through. If you have a ten-year-old child who has never done any math, you probably should start with basic mathematics.
12. Schedule Rest
I am terrible at this one. I tend to schedule rest and then get behind on all the other things. Then, it feels like I don’t have time to rest when it’s time to rest. If I plan a trip or something to rest, I have to do all the extra thinking of packing and planning until the trip sounds like a chore. Then, I’m still not resting. I have no advice for you here. I have friends who keep a Sabbath every week. That’s ideal. I’m trying to get there.
When it comes to homeschooling, though, one thing that we do that I find refreshing is that we don’t do any school in December. We take the whole month off. Pretty much from Thanksgiving to New Year’s, we don’t do school. This way, I can prepare for holiday hosting, play catch up on business stuff, try to get ahead in everything, and maybe take a break.
13. Be Kind to Yourself
We have several different social media posts reminding moms to be kind to themselves. Sometimes our Inner narrative isn’t very nice. I know I can get down on myself for not being fun, not dressing as cute as that other person does, being a dork in public, or any other myriad of things. I get frustrated with myself because I can’t take care of everything and must ask for help. The truth is that the job of a homeschool mom is more extensive than anyone else sees. That’s especially true for those of us that are also running businesses or nonprofits on the side.
We have to give ourselves grace because we cannot do all the things. We should accept offers of help and not beat ourselves up when we drop the ball. Instead, we pick it up, make appropriate apologies and adjustments, and keep going. Our internal dialogue should be as kind as we’d like our kids’ thoughts about themselves to be.