What is minimalism?
That is a question for everyone to answer for themselves. For me minimalism is being intentional with my time, energy and other resources and eliminating all the clutter.
It is not this thing you do this one time – where you throw out everything you own and replace it with new items that “only spark joy” – though this can be part of minimalism that you adopt, or it can be part of the process of becoming a minimalist.
What is minimalism in homeschooling?
And does it really work?
I think it is a bigger question about your reasons for homeschooling. For me homeschooling became a reality because of COVID 19, the opportunity to work from home – and also a distributed learning program which supported my homeschooling initiatives by providing a bi-weekly forest school.
What do I want from schooling:
I want a childhood for my child. I want an experience where he retains the curiosity that he had at four, where he learns to learn, spends time in nature and develops a relationship with the environment and people around him. I believe that along the way he will develop the tools necessary for a great life. For me, this is a relationship and understanding of where your food comes from. An approach to material things which asks how can I make the thing I need or solve this problem and the ability to source the knowledge and resources to solve the problem. Most importantly it is the ability to cultivate stillness and awareness of oneself in the world and to love and be okay within.
When I started my homeschooling journey I wanted to follow through on the principles of Waldorf education – just making it more culturally appropriate [on the days my Son was not in forest school]. Early on I met another mama who had been in the home school game longer than me and she was unschooling.
Inside I scoffed a little, I mean one of the core philosophies when it comes to Waldorf education is to “hold” the child. This means spiritual, emotional support. One of the main ways this is achieved [in my mind] is through rhythm, in breath and out breath, something that Waldorf holds very dear.
For me this is the most important piece of Waldorf education. Timing. There are 3 aspects to timing.
- Rhythm – Having a yearly, weekly or daily rhythm. This can be lose, and simple. It can even be based more around the some life than school. For example the yearly rhythm can be based on your own festivals and you can celebrate quarterly, or they can be linked to the seasons. Or you can choose certain activities based on season. For example we tend to do more handwork in the winter and more outdoor time in the summer, spring and fall. Weekly rhythm can be based on a laundry day, bread baking etc. Or if your children are older or you don’t feel like a chore based day you can have a farm day, or food day, a project day a community day, a field trip day. This can help to structure your day and provide rhythm.
- Doing the right thing at the right time. Based on the development of the child. Rudolph Steiner, the founder of Waldorf education, wrote about stages of child development and argued that curriculum should be developed foremost to meet the needs of the child based on what was developmentally appropriate at that age. He had some very unique insights, and he usually provided reasons for why certain subjects where developmentally appropriate. In my own experience Stiener’s approach has been beneficial. One of the key aspects or takeaways is to slow things down. He speaks about 3 stages of educational development. He talks about the young child, less than 7 learning primarily through imitation [and that is why a caring adult, usually a parent] is the best role model and really all a child needs. From 7 to 14 the emotions of the child play a central role and the child is learning through his feeling life – which means catering and helping to develop his moral character through stories and other artistic activities and mediums. This is the ideal point when formal education should begin, even later if you can.
- Sleep – the final aspect of learning is through sleep. Making sure the child sleeps on time, get enough sleep and learns a little bit at a time so as to have time to digest the learning in his sleep. This digestion of information is key.
How Waldorf principles can help you with Minimalist Homeschooling…
So what does all this have to do with minimalism in homeschooling you might be asking. Personally I feel like as a homeschooler many of us are constantly reevaluating our decisions and holding or being held up to standards of a traditional school system. I argue that – Rhythm, Developmental Appropriateness and Sleep can be the foundations upon which you build a homeschool and that these are minimalist principles that can help to guide your decision making. …
What do you think? Is sleep a key part of your learning| homeschool strategy? If it is tell me how it is. Do you take naps?