A relaxed homeschool style can be an amazing way to boost learning at home.
Find out what a relaxed homeschool looks like for our family and discover some surprising benefits for embracing this type of homeschooling approach.
What is Relaxed Homeschooling?
Wondering what it means to have a relaxed homeschool?
If you do a search, you'll find a dozen or more different descriptions and definitions.
My friend, June of This Simple Balance, compares Relaxed Homeschooling vs. Unschooling. She points out that in relaxed homeschooling, "The parent directs the child’s education".
Another friend, Bethany Ishee, shared Angela Awald's Relaxed Homeschooling: It's What You Make It To Be. I love how Angela explores relaxed homeschooling and points out how no one definition fits.
Sallie Borrink's story of How We Ended Up Relaxed Homeschoolers and What It Looks Like reveals how she and her daughter found what works for them and the benefits of this learning lifestyle.
I agree with them all!
I'm not one for labels, in life or in homeschooling. When pressed, I call our homeschool style relaxed/eclectic/positive/year-round.
That's a mouthful so I usually shorten it to relaxed homeschooling 😉
Our Relaxed Homeschool Life with 5 Boys
Over the years, our homeschool has morphed as our family grew. We tried different homeschool methods and curriculum.
Throughout it all, I realized that making learning fun and engaging was the best way to help my boys.
Whenever I tried to implement a strict schedule or insist upon curriculum because I heard others say it was "the best" (or I got caught up in shiny object syndrome and think a new curriculum would magically make things better), many moans and groans would ensue.
We'd try to stick it out and force our homeschool into a cookie-cutter mold. A lot of effort would go into trying to make this change happen, only for the boys and myself to freak out and want to throw in the towel.
After a few attempts of thinking I needed to replicate what homeschool "experts" in the homeschool world suggested, I decided to look at what worked best for our family, for each of my boys, and for me.
It was then when our relaxed homeschool lifestyle began and we haven't looked back. The boys and I continue to work on optimizing our homeschool each year, always with the intention of allowing each member to thrive.
The words that I'd use to describe our homeschool include:
No two days ever look the same.
One day, we may start at 8am and spend hours on lessons and projects. Other days, our day may begin around 10:30am-ish and we only do a handful of things.
Every day isn't perfect. It's not always sunshine-and-roses.
But, overall, our homeschool life with its relaxed approach helps us achieve our goals of nurturing strong relationships, encouraging creative thinking, and becoming lifelong learners.
7 Surprising Benefits of a Relaxed Homeschool Style
When you're relaxed in your homeschool, you don't feel the need to adhere to a strict schedule. If your child needs to take a little longer with a lesson (or zips through it), you don't feel the pressure to push forward.
Relaxed homeschooling also allows you to go back and review. You can revisit concepts and ideas until your child grasps them.
Or you can skip over concepts that your child has mastered.
For example, Bear (9) began a new math curriculum this month. I could see his eyes glazing over during the first lesson (review of place value). Since he could explain the concepts to me and show me that he understands the concepts, I gave him permission to skip those lessons (with the agreement that he would revisit, if necessary).
I NEVER would have done that before discovering this benefit of relaxed homeschooling!
2. Wiggle Room
In a relaxed homeschool, your kids have space to think outside the box and jump down rabbit holes. A new topic of interest can be explored at greater depth, allowing your kids to dive deep into their learning adventures.
Relaxed homeschooling allows you to customize learning experiences. Your homeschool will be unique, just like your kids and you 🙂
Important life skills like creative thinking, persistence, and resilience are encouraged in relaxed homeschooling. With more flexibility and time to explore, kids have opportunities to work on projects, games, and other educational activities.
4. Freedom to Pick the Best for Your Relaxed Homeschool
With a relaxed/eclectic homeschool, you're not stuck with one type of curriculum. You can select resources that work best for your child and for you.
For example, maybe one of your kids is not excited about math. You can explore a variety of ways to make homeschool math fun! Online math curriculum, hands-on activities, and learning apps are just a few examples.
5. Less Stress & Anxiety for Relaxed Homeschoolers
Your overall homeschool experience will have less stress and pressure. Your kids will feel more comfortable at being able to work at their own pace and you'll feel more at peace with your choices.
You won't feel compelled to mark off boxes on a checklist (unless you love lists like me!). Your relaxed homeschooling plans won't feel stifling but more like a spine to build upon.
6. Improved Relationships
With less stress and anxiety, your relationship with your kids can be more positive. Communication flows as you discuss your experiences.
For our family, I have noticed that my boys have developed much stronger bonds since we started relaxed homeschooling. The boys have more time to work on projects together and enjoy creative play.
7. Your Relaxed Homeschool Gets Time for Fun Stuff!
With more flexibility and freedom, you'll have more time for fun for your homeschooling adventures!
You can enjoy celebrating fun days without worrying about if you're "getting behind".
In fact, with relaxed homeschooling, you'll see that your fun days are fantastic opportunities to learn and grow for your children and you!
Tips for Enjoying a Relaxed Approach in Your Homeschool
Want to try a relaxed homeschool style with your family?
Hurray! I'm so excited that you'll be joining us on our relaxed homeschool learning adventures!
Reminder: It's not fluff! LOTS of learning takes place in a relaxed homeschool. If you ever begin to doubt or get criticism, please come back here and read this reminder 🙂
To make the most of your relaxed homeschooling experiences, I suggest doing these things:
- Setting priorities and goals: With clear priorities, you can make sure that your kids are covering the subjects and concepts that are important to your core values. I encourage you to include your state or area's homeschool requirements to your priorities and goals to make sure you're doing everything legit.
- Maintaining realistic expectations: Keep it all in perspective. If you want a more relaxed homeschool style, subjects may not get done in a specific amount of time. Checklists might not be completed (or even necessary!). Your kids may take an entire semester to read one novel (because they're busy working on projects and research based on their findings). Or they may zip through 3 books a week. It's all good!
- Kick comparison to the curb!: You have no need, space, or energy for comparison in your relaxed homeschool. Comparison leads to negative thoughts and feelings (well, unless you channel comparison in a positive way) like "not doing enough" and "not smart enough".
- Keeping it open for exploration: Build buffer time into your routine. Cover the core subjects (or what's on your priority list) and give your kids room to explore interests and practice skills.
- Be on the lookout for spontaneous learning: Learning happens 24/7. It doesn't have to be restricted to a schedule or certain days. Don't be surprised when your kids start applying their math lessons to inventing a new structure or reciting a poem you enjoyed during poetry teatime.
- Establishing a relaxed routine: Flexibility and the ability to pivot are incredible skills to cultivate in your relaxed homeschool. It can take a bit of practice and mindset work if you're not used to this approach, but it's so worth it! I'll be sharing more tips and resources on establishing, maintaining, and enjoying a relaxed homeschool routine very soon!
Does the idea of relaxed homeschooling sound like something you'd like to try with your children?
It's honestly been one of the best things for our homeschooling adventures! Share your questions or concerns in the comments area below 🙂