K.I.S.S. Homeschool Style
“Keep it simple stupid silly!”
If you’ve been around a part of military life at all, this is a phrase you’re familiar with. The idea is to simplify; make more efficient – all without sacrificing quality.
Boy did I need to hear this message early on in our homeschool adventure! Starting out, I put up countless shelves to hold all of the various text books, readers, school supplies, etc. We had flashcards for everything – colors, numbers, abc’s. Huge wall charts occupied any free space. Anyone walking in our home must have felt like a time traveler back to their own first grade classroom because that’s exactly the ‘look’ I seemed to be after.
It didn’t stop there! I had lesson planners! I had spreadsheets. I spent HOURS reviewing lessons… HOURS more teaching them… then HOURS reviewing ‘our’ work! Good grief! Please keep in mind I started at pre-K and Kindergarten levels.
The other aspect (in those woeful pre-Pinterest days) – I had a determination to make our experience THE BEST homeschool ‘venture! I believe I subscribed to every homeschool magazine, newsletter and book available… and tried (in vain!) to do it all. In hindsight, it probably was a good thing I didn’t have Pinterest!
I was stressed. The kids were stressed. Yes, they were learning. Yes, I was ticking off all those boxes on my (endless) to do list.
We were missing out.
Trust me, I understand the desire and need to hit all those required ‘what to know when’ lists. What I didn’t know at the time was how to accomplish those goals without becoming all consumed in the method and losing more of our all too precious family time. Between odd days off, various TDY and deployment orders looming – something had to give.
I settled on our personal version of K.I.S.S. – homeschool style – with four simple steps:
1) Focusing on ‘why’: I had to dial back and remember why we began this adventure in the first place! While there were several reasons, at the center was a desire to encourage our kids to develop a lifetime passion for learning.
2) Centering on how: Expecting our kids to be engaged with all the various textbooks, workbooks, and worksheets was unrealistic for their particular learning styles. While traditional methods are fine in moderation, they are more responsive to hands-on and interactive lessons.
3) Streamlining: I discovered the time spent in lesson planning – especially as I added multiple kids / grade levels to the mix – could get a bit… hairy! Over time I have used a variety of methods to reduce my work load, the kids’ stress and even add in more time for fun!
- Combining classes where possible: For instance, I may cover a particular time period in history with all the kids together – then each breaks out for activities/lessons at their particular grade level.
- Using the scope & sequence to divide and conquer – literally! With some classes I’ve been able to print out the scope & sequence and mark out any lessons we did not want to include. Next, I determine the number of school days required and calculate the number of lessons we would need to complete. The kids then work through in order. (We tweak this as necessary!)
- Going online! One of THE biggest timesavers has been our use of online curriculum The Parent Tools make lesson planning, progress reports, etc. a snap… or rather a ‘click’ – for each kid! While kids are able to work independently, I can also work through the lessons with them any time. This leaves many more hours for fun educational activities as well as family recreation!
4) Flexibility: This final part is huge! The best laid plans have unexpected obstacles. If a curriculum isn’t working out – have the willingness to change course vs. muddling through. Being able to switch up methods, scheduling or even taking a ‘dad’s home’ day when needed has been such a gift. Maintaining flexibility for change is a vital part of a winning ‘operation’ for every family’s homeschool!