Homeschooling Outside the Box

Our homeschooling journey has evolved quite a bit over the years. When we first started homeschooling we made the classic mistake of trying to bring ‘public school into our home’. Meaning – implementing public school strategies into our homeschool. For example- Lots of worksheets, pages of dull math problems, five different boring textbooks for every subject, a ridged schedule, ect.

Yeah… that crashed and burned. There were tears, big grouchy feelings, stand-offs, dramatics…. No one was happy. I was feeling like a failure and wondering if we had made the right choice in homeschooling our kids. I knew deep down that we had, but I also knew something had to change. That something needed to start with me. I had to change my whole mindset about what it means to educate your children at home, and I came to realization – This is not what homeschooling is about! I took my kids out of school to get away from the broken system. Why am I bringing it back into my home? It had to stop. I had to stop this craziness. I needed to take my kids out of the box and set them free.

As I pondered on these things  I started remembering when I was in school. What struck me was that the information I retained best was what I had read in living books. Living books are written in story format, in a conversational tone, or a narrative style that makes the book really ‘come alive’ for the reader, allowing them to truly engage in what they are reading. I began wondering if it was possible to use living books for every aspect of our homeschool. After doing a ton of researching, I was excited to learn that it was! You can find living books on every subject you need to learn! Math and grammar included.

One of the things I love about homeschooling is the freedom to educate your children in the way they need. Its individualized for each particular child. Its not a one-size-fits-all or a boxed in education. Its about living. We learn more from life than anything else. Our lives, the lives of those around us, our experiences, our mistakes and triumphs….. Watching, trying, helping, imitating, experimenting, imagining…… These are the ways our children learn – naturally. I thought living books sounded like the perfect match for a growing child.

And thus our homeschool overhaul began.

First thing I did was get ride of the boxed curriculum. Second, I decided that we would start over, from the beginning. The very beginning of History, and go from there. With that in mind I was able to focus my search on Living books and revising my teaching strategies. We don’t live our lives broken up into categories or subjects, so why do should we learn that way? Do most people go around saying, ” I am reading, engaging in science and mathematics, and physical exhortation.” No, of course not. You would simply say, ” I am baking bread.”

Living books generally include a whole host of subjects in one volume, and they are an easy and enjoyable way to cover a range of subjects in one setting.

I had been reading a lot about Notebooking and it sounded like something my kids would enjoy. Notebooking is basically a form of journaling with a taste of scrapbooking thrown in. It allows your child to be able to take ownership and pride in their education. Its also a natural way of combining a variety of subjects.

‘Gameschooling’ was something else I introduced into our routine. Games are a fun way to learn and you can find a game for any subject you want to cover. If you have a child who is having a rough day pull out the games!  It’s an awesome attitude adjuster. (say that three times fast!)  You can also use games to help a child who is struggling with a certain concept. Sometimes its just what they needed.

I let myself relax. I stopped worrying about formal schooling so much and remembered how much my kids learn through life. You can have all the book learning in the world but if you don’t know how to perform simple daily tasks and import skills like balancing your checkbook, how to  laundry,  planning a menu, monthly budgets, cooking, changing a tire, where our food comes from, planting a garden and so forth, then your life is going to be challenging. My children are learning life skills that a lot kids don’t learn until they are out of the house… If ever.

We are nearing the end of our first year of homeschooling outside the box. My kids now love school! They are excited to learn and look forward to listening to the books we read. I still find myself surprised by how much they are retaining, even the youngest. We are loving this journey we are on.

Learn more about Notebooking here.

Read about Gameschooling here.



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