Your methods don’t fit in with your traditional homeschooling friends. You may dabble in Charlotte Mason, but don’t follow it to a T. You don’t unschool because you use curriculum, but you love being able to use real world resources. Does any of this sound like you? If so, you just may be using a relaxed homeschooling method.
Relaxed homeschooling was not something I set out to do. We tried a handful of different methods before we naturally relaxed our homeschool and then realized that what we’re doing actually has a label! I gladly tout the label as a relaxed homeschooler. It shows that, while we may still use some curriculum, we love the flexibility that homeschooling allows us in life.
But, what is relaxed homeschooling, any way?
What is Relaxed Homeshooling?
Well, there isn’t a formal definition of that like there is with some other homeschooling methods.
Relaxed homeschooling, at least to me, covers a few different things.
1. While we use curriculum, we let real life learning lead the way.
We have math and language curriculum we love. I honestly don’t see us ever giving up using a curriculum for these subjects because it’s not something I naturally add in to our everyday learning. But, I absolutely love using roadschooling as a way to get our history and science lessons in. If we can use travel as a way to learn about a historical site or get our hands dirty in science, we will!
We’re not unschoolers because we do use curriculum, but we do embrace the same real life learning that many unschoolers also are known for. We let the interests of our kids lead their education and we present fun, new ideas to them in a way that they can embrace in the real world.
Just this past week my kids sat down and identified shark teeth we found at the beach we’re currently parked at. I haven’t seen them so engrossed in an “assignment” in so long! This is relaxed homeschooling.
2. We don’t let curriculum rule us
It’s taken me years of homeschooling to get to this point, but we no longer let curriculum rule us. Rather, we use it as a tool in our children’s’ education. Although we totally use “grade levels”, my kids use curriculum resources that are all over the place. We combine subjects where we can and the rest we just present in whatever format works best for each child.
Right now, my oldest son is using a math course that is above his grade level and a language course that is below his grade level. As we find new, exciting resources, this could all change and he could flip flop those or be right in the grade level he’s currently in. The state we live in currently requires testing and, despite him not using curriculum in his current grade level for everything, his scores are all amazing across the board. This isn’t because he’s academically exceptional, but because we’re making sure that the curriculum he’s using suits his needs, not the grade level he’s supposed to be in.
3. We let go of school year expectations
This is something new to us. Because we do like to travel so much, take advantage of real world opportunities, and roll with the punches life throws at us (like evacuating from a hurricane and moving all in the same school year), we’re doing homeschool year round. This has relaxed our homeschool so much more and relieved so much stress! I’m not longer worried about getting things done during a specific time period and know that we literally have all the time in the world to complete any assignments in our current curriculum we’re using.
It. Is. So. Freeing.
So, how do you make relaxed homeschooling work for you?
How you can make relaxed homeschooling work for you
Well, most of the time it’s all about letting go and letting your kids lead the way. I will be totally honest and let you know that this does not come naturally to me. I usually feel like I need to be in control of a situation, but that leaves us all stressed. I’m stressed because they don’t care what we’re learning about, and they’re stressed because they’re bored and mom is freaking out.
When I let go and let my kids lead the way in their education, they actually learn. When we travel to different places near and far and learn about a person and place because we visited where that person was born or we explored a famous monument, they remember that and typically ask to learn more.
And when my kids ask to learn more, we explore real books. We check books out at the library. We look up to see if there’s a Who Was book about the person. We watch a short documentary about the place. And we certainly see if there’s any Junior Ranger activities to go along with it, too.
But, what if you live in a state or country that’s not super relaxed about homeschooling laws?
We’ve been really blessed to live in two states that don’t have a ton of oversight on homeschoolers. Since we are a military family, we are always on the look out for where we’re moving to next. Right now, it looks like we may actually be moving to a state that has stricter homeschool laws in the next year or so. Relaxed homeschooling is still totally doable in more strict areas, it just may take a little bit more planning.
If you need to present curriculum to a school district, make sure to submit those books you plan on reading, those field trips you plan on taking, and anything else you can include that you may be replacing curriculum with. If you need to present a portfolio, pack that thing full of papers/drawings/reviews/reports/pamphlets/etc. about the amazing places you visited to learn about different topics.
In a lot of strict states, umbrella schools may also be an option. Although you’ll still have specific rules you’ll have to follow, different umbrella schools may be more apt to let you teach your child the way you see fit and count real world learning very easily as homeschooling hours. I even ran across one that completely accepts unschoolers!
Relaxed Homeschcooling in our home
Relaxed homeschooling has transformed our homeschool and has made for a happier learning environment for my kids. They’re learning so much more and grasping topics I never would have taught them if we followed a traditional homeschooling method. So, relax, mom, and enjoy the years you are homeschooling your kids!
Do you follow relaxed homeschooling? Join my online homeschool community and let’s chat about it!