It is even possible to practice minimalism while homeschooling? There is one blogger who embraces this idea – Anne, The Minimalist Homeschooler. I like what she has to say about the subject, and her blog made me think about my own little homeschooling + minimalism journey.
There are so many elements that shape a homeschooling home that one post could never cover everything. Even if a writer captured all the details of their homeschooling experience the post would be unique to that family, in that situation, at that time on their journey. No one can step in the same river twice.
With that in mind I’ve prepared a list of four things to consider about minimalism and this version of homeschooling – all under the same roof.
- In the US, record keeping requirements vary from state to state. That plays a big factor in to what you have to keep and what homeschooling items you can recycle. Here in our state we have very lax requirements. I keep digital files – journalesque posts and loosely gradebook-ish records on another blog, and only the kids’ very favorite art related items in the real world. It is nice to celebrate their creativity in a minimalist space. There is nothing already on the walls to distract us from the nuances of their creations.
- As kids age the academic related collection of stuff they gather and produce changes. Little and Middle kids have art galore and educational toys, while Older kids have moved on to specialized areas of interest that produce child specific academic-ish related collections of stuff. My daughter has a million journals, a couple of guitars, pretty pens, watercolors, polished rocks, homemade costumes, and whittling-ready pieces of wood. My son, on the other hand, has only one collection; new and used computer parts in Rubbermaid bins. Neither of the kids are really into the whole minimalism thing. My daughter’s favorite decor period is Baroque, and my son loves the hacker/spy + pets aesthetic. Minimalism is really only my thing. The good news about homeschooling though, is personalization. It’s okay that they are not on the less-is-more bandwagon. They have their bedrooms to house all the areas of interest they explore.
- The books. Books are part of every homeschooling family, to one degree or another. Only recently have I attempted to wean the shelves of baby, toddler, and early childhood books. We don’t read them. Minimalist ideology advises separation from the emotional sentimentality that leads to saving no longer useful or otherwise unsightly things – even books steeped in baby memories to say nothing of the more official textbooks. It’s my current hurdle. The kids have gone through the shelves and selected their favorite childhood books and taken them to their room so that helps. But as a book lover myself, I have raised two more book lovers – and discussions of book weeding do not get very far before we devolve into “remember when.” Also – having been born in the pre-digital age – I see the books as wealth, and who wants to give away wealth!?! No answers have presented themselves in regard to books. Good news is – both homeschooling and minimalism are processes and states of being that encourage change. So as long as I adhere to the K.I.S.S. method, it’s all good.
- General activity mess. Homeschooling in this house is dynamic and fluid with random and unexpected bursts of messy activity. That’s how we learn. The mess and I made peace a long time ago. Although some minimalist houses are squeaky clean, mine is not. However, it’s worth noting that minimalist spaces recover more quickly from spur-of-the-moment experiments, piles of wood shavings, or spilled laptop screws.
This list is far from comprehensive, and I’m sure more clashes will appear between homeschooling and minimalism in the future, but that’s okay. Until then, homeschooling will continue to shape our heretical life, and I’ll strive to keep it simple.