I get stressed when there is too much clutter. Stuff here, crafts there, books scattered everywhere. I find it all very overwhelming and a major trigger for my own anxiety. Now we have wrapped up our first full year of homeschooling (we only did part time the year before), I’m re-evaluating our homeschool room and I’ve decided that a minimalist approach may be the way to go. My goal with a minimalist approach is that it will decrease chaos, clutter and anxiety and create an environment where imagination and learning have priority over things. Here’s some of my plans and thoughts on a minimalist homeschool room.
When I started homeschooling full time I took over our front sitting room and converted it into a homeschool room. I loved the space and enjoyed working in it, but over the year it became very busy and cluttered.
And my dining room in the adjacent space? Piled with stuff! Half finished projects, half done Lego builds, art supplies, egg cartons (so many egg cartons… why do I have so many egg cartons???), completed projects, papers, and so much more. It’s heaped with stuff.
Oh and my office across the hall? It’s filled with more stuff, mostly storage of puzzles, microscopes, tinkering supplies, building kits, Lego (so much Lego!) and my desk in my office, it’s now home to the homeschool computer.
So in the course of only one year, homeschooling has taken over 3 rooms in our home!
Now some of that is due to necessity, we have two kids that are working at very different levels, some times we need them in their own spaces so they can concentrate on their own work. We also need to report to a school board as part of the government legislation around homeschooling where we live, so we need to keep projects and assignments to show the school board assessor.
But it’s still too much stuff, and stuff makes me stressed, anxious and frustrated. I want to streamline things and embrace a minimalist homeschool, for my own sanity but I also think it will help my kids who struggle with anxiety and feeling overwhelmed.
So here is what I’m doing over the summer so we can start our new school year with a minimalist homeschool classroom.
1 ~ Go through and clear out curriculum. Whatever I’m not using or hasn’t proven to suit our learning style I will sell. When we started homeschooling I really didn’t know what was going to work for us, so I bought all the shiny things! Now we have been at this for a while I can streamline and get rid of all the stuff that doesn’t work for us.
2 ~ Books, oh I love my books! We have books everywhere and since we don’t have a readily accessible library having lots of books at home is a good thing, but I’m going to get them organized and sorted.
3 ~ Preserve projects digitally. Instead of keeping every project, I will take pictures of all the crafts and science projects. Those that warrant it can even be captured in video. I will store these and show the school board the pictures rather than the actual pieces.
4 ~ Store assignments digitally. Some of our work is done in workbooks, but for those projects that are done on loose paper I will scan in those assignments and store them on the computer. I can also use many of our software programs to complete assessments of the children’s progress. These software programs track progress and I can use that for the school board as well.
5 ~ Clear out old stuff. We have so many school supplies. Over time we have collected so many packages of markers, yet when it comes time to colour we always seem to be missing the favourite colours. I’m going to create a supplies basket that has a complete set of markers, a complete box of crayons, pencils and erasers, a pair of scissors each, a glue stick and that’s about it. We really didn’t need more than that this year.
The things I want to really capitalize on in our minimalist homeschool room this upcoming year are:
~ Fresh air! Our window is currently blocked by a table full of school stuff. I want to get that table cleared out so we can open windows and enjoy the fresh air.
~ Similarly, I want to maximize natural light. I really think that makes a big difference in our ability to concentrate and learn.
~ Maximize efficiency and independence for the kids. One of the things I struggled with this year was that we lost our plan and schedule as we tried to figure out what to teach and how to teach it. Especially with trying to work from home too. It’s been an interesting balancing act to sort out. This year I want to simplify our homeschool life. We will develop a weekly assignment plan and the kids can work through certain parts at their own pace. I really would love for my kids to develop independent learning skills. So my plan is to have an hour or two each day where we work together, but then the kids can take control of other areas of their learning to do their own thing. This will involve using some workbooks and online learning tools, but I think over time it will be very effective in helping the children become independent, self motivated learners (something they aren’t right now).
~ Reading together. This is something we did on and off throughout our school year and it’s interesting that those moments of us all gathered together reading Charlotte’s Web or about evolution or ancient history, are the moments we all remember best. The knowledge we built during those moments far surpasses anything we taught using workbooks or a program. So next year, reading together is going to be part of our daily routine.
At the end of the day embracing a minimalist homeschool approach is about getting rid of the distractions, the clutter and the excess so we can focus on what’s important. Learning and growing into amazing humans.
Do you embrace a minimalist homeschool approach? What else would you include in this list?