Inside: Is relaxed homeschooling your homeschool style? Read these signs to find out – you might be surprised!
Relaxed homeschooling is a homeschool style that gets lost in the shuffle. It’s often used interchangeably with unschooling and eclectic homeschooling and minimalist homeschooling, partly because everyone’s definition of relaxed homeschooling is a little bit different.
While I am a minimalist, and minimalism does influence my homeschooling, I’ve never felt comfortable adopting the label “minimalist homeschooler”. I always identified much more strongly as a “relaxed homeschooler”.
And all of these signs that you’re a relaxed homeschooler? I nod along in agreement with every.single.one.
Related: 24 Benefits of Homeschooling for Kids (when you need reminding)
10 Signs Relaxed Homeschooling Might Be Your Style
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I wrote an entire post explaining why unschooling and relaxed homeschooling are not the same thing. In that post, I define relaxed homeschooling as:
Relaxed homeschooling uses a variety of educational methods, from the traditional to the creative, to transfer essential knowledge and skills to children, without concern for arbitrary benchmarks, timetables, or definitions.
Relaxed homeschooling uses anything and everything – yes, even doing ‘nothing’ at times – to preserve children’s natural desire to learn because being a life-long learner is a child’s greatest strength.
Finally, relaxed homeschooling gives children the tools they need to succeed in life – not just the academic world, the self-awareness to know what they can and want to achieve, and the passion they need to accomplish it.
-June Doran (source)
Because relaxed homeschooling isn’t talked about as much in the homeschool community, you might have a difficult time identifying whether or not you are a relaxed homeschooler. Some homeschoolers argue that defining your homeschool style isn’t really important.
When you can clearly identify your homeschool style (or styles), you know where to start looking for resources that will work for your family.
You can put your finger on why a certain voice in the homeschool world just doesn’t jibe with you, even if everyone else loves that person to death.
You can also save yourself a lot of trouble (and money) by skipping the local homeschool groups that probably won’t work for you.
There’s nothing wrong with trying something that’s not your style: you might love it! After all, one homeschool mom I know blended two seeming opposites – unschooling and classical education – to arrive at her homeschool style, and it works for her.
But knowing your homeschool style gives you a place to start, a foundation to build on.
So in the spirit of helping you figure out whether or not relaxed homeschooling is your homeschool style, and to clarify what it means to be a relaxed homeschooler exactly, I asked several homeschool bloggers to share ten signs that relaxed homeschooling might be your style.
I’m so thankful for other homeschool moms who can put into words all the nuances of relaxed homeschooling! If you identify with the majority of these, relaxed homeschooling is probably your style.
- Unschooling versus Relaxed Homeschooling
- Relaxed Homeschooling: A Day in the Life with a 7, 5, 3, & 1-year-old
- When Finding Your Homeschool Style Takes Forever
You know you’re a relaxed homeschooler when…
1. “Someone asks you about curriculum, and you reply, ‘Well, we pull out a math book sometimes…”
Submitted by: Heather of Wonder Schooling
We spend very little of our school day on traditional schoolwork, and my response sounds just like this one!
2. “You add ‘-ish’ to the end of your child’s grade level. Your kids aren’t plodding along with a cookie cutter curriculum; they’re learning and exploring at their own pace. And you’re relaxed into letting them.”
Submitted by: Ashley of The Homeschool Resource Room
I absolutely add -ish to all my kids grade levels.
3. “You ‘reverse plan’ by writing down what you did after you did it, instead of planning in advance.”
Submitted by: Sara @ Heart and Soul Homeschooling
I always reverse plan! I have a general idea in my head of what I want to do each week, but sometimes life learning comes up and we don’t get to it. The beauty of reverse planning is that you can document ALL learning, not just the formal stuff.
Related: The Flexible Homeschool Planner – Designed Especially for Relaxed Homeschoolers
4. “You smile when your kids are asked what they do all day, and they respond with enthusiastic, detailed accounts of all the hands-on learning fun they had that very day.”
Submitted by Amy @ Rock Your Homeschool
Anyone else get that question, “What do you do all day?” It’s definitely a win when the kids answer enthusiastically instead of just give blank stares, am I right?
5. “You put more emphasis on real-world and outdoor learning than on whether or not you finish a curriculum book.”
Submitted by: Katrina @ Rule This Roost
We absolutely put more emphasis on real-world and outdoor learning than finishing curriculum.
6. “You aren’t really worried about the number of pages your children write, but growth in their writing abilities. You know that good writing comes from reading, discussing, and life experiences.”
Submitted by: Kay @ Heart-to-Heart Homeschooling
Writing isn’t about the number of pages or the number of papers, but about having something you are so excited to write about (one reason why we love Brave Writer for writing instruction).
Related: Unschooling Language Arts – A Guide for the Elementary Years
7. “You realize your kids get more of an education by visiting museums, nature centers, and parks than they do in an hour of settled book work. A curriculum is a suggestion, not a ball & chain.”
Submitted by: Ginny @ Not So Formulaic
Yes! Give me museums, nature centers, and parks over workbooks any day.
8. “Real life always trumps ‘school’. Camping trips, museum visits, field trips, conversations with grandparents, time with nature and real life inspire more learning than time spent with a nose stuck in a book ever could!”
Submitted by: Meghann @ Practically Hippie
How much about life do kids learn in school? Well, they learn a lot about how to live life in a school (Clark Aldrich, Unschooling Rules). Why not actually live life instead?
Related: Top 12 Unschooling Books for Rethinking Education
9. “You realize all you did today was read a ton of books with your kids, and yet you feel incredibly satisfied.”
Submitted by: Emily @ Table Life Blog
I so agree! If you only had access to the library, you could still receive a fantastic education. There’s no teacher like a good book.
Related: Top 20 Chapter Book Read Alouds According to Homeschool Moms
10. “You heard other moms discussing ways to keep up with learning over the summer, and you’re completely unconcerned. You know your kids are always learning, whether they’re doing ‘school’ or not.”
Submitted by: June @ This Simple Balance
Perhaps it’s because we homeschool year-round (we really have no clear start and end date from school year to school year), but I never worry about gaps or forgetfulness.
I know they will pick up right where they left off when a subject comes up again because the majority of our learning happens in the context of real life: reading, questions, and discussion.
Is relaxed homeschooling your style? Let me know in the comments!
Read Next: Relaxed Homeschool Plans & Resources for 2021-2022 (Grades 6, 4, 2)
This is totally us. Our kids are 7, 5, and 2
This is us all over! Our primary goal for homeschooling is to be a close and connected family – an answer that surprises some people when they ask the “why homeschool?” question. So, this way of approaching home education works for us. It allows real life to be the focus with no beginning or ending to learning. Thanks for all the wonderful posts. You often put into words what I think and that is most helpful. Peace and Blessings (especially with the new little one on the way!)