How to Homeschool without curriculum

how to homeschool

Two years ago we made a big shift in our family & began homeschooling. 

We home schooled preschool without (a formal) curriculum & instead focused on play-based learning at home although our homeschooling journey did not start out this way. We have come so far in such a short period of time I wanted to share the secret to our success, we homeschool without (a formal) curriculum.  

Want to learn how to set up your own homeschool in 7 days or less? Sign up for our online course wait-list. Our online course is scheduled to launch in January 2020.

Homeschooling without Curriculum

The world is your oyster when you’re homeschooling! Your opportunities are endless and your homeschool serves your family’s lifestyle, personal interests (nature, travel, sports, etc.)& your child’s academic needs.  It is simultaneously the greatest asset & biggest challenge to homeschooling. 

There is SO much information online that it almost becomes a hindrance. How do you know what you want or what to do if you’ve never homeschooled before? I had taught in public schools for over a decade and was seriously so overwhelmed researching how to get started. I spend several hours on the computer and still had no idea what to do or how to start. So I went with what I know… teaching in a public school.  We tried the school at home model and it failed miserably. It was a beautiful mistake that lead me to several months of unschooling myself and challenging what I knew about teaching & learning. 

Find your Homeschool Style

I call the method you chose to homeschool your homeschool style because when you chose to homeschool you are making a lifestyle choice. This will guide your choices as you learn to get the rhythm of homeschooling.

When we first started I looked into different methods of homeschooling and used the “school-at-home model” and planned kindergarten readiness activities. It failed miserably (was a great learning experience) but we regrouped & are now are eclectic homeschoolers. 

What that means is I draw from many different homeschooling models in order to make up a homeschool flow that is beneficial (we are learning a great deal) and feels natural for us. My son & I have opposite personalities & work styles and we use ideas and activities from Montessori, STEM, Montessori, Charlottle Mason, Wild & Free, Unschooling & more. We are child-led and spend a LOT of time outdoors.

The Homeschool “Classroom”

Wherever you are is where you’ll learn, it’s really that simple.

When the weather is nice we take your learning outside.  This philosophy has lead us to discover many wonderful things and deepen our learning.

We have several nature based collections we have started over the years and we use these to learn about easily integrated concepts like math and science. 

  1. Use your local resources (library, museum, etc.)
  2. Nature walks are a great way to get outdoors & spend some quality time together
  3. Start a collection (rocks, sticks, spring flowers, fall leaves or whatever else interests your child)
  4. Count, sort, identify and organize your collection
  5. When it’s appropriate add, subtract, graph, make patterns with and talk about attributes you notice.
  6. Dig deeper and find out how ____’s are made & why they are important to the world.

Ex: Rock collection:

  • How are rocks are made?
  • How do people & animals use rocks?
  • Find rocks that you already have an use in your life (granite counter tops, cutting board, decoration on walls or your house) 

As you’re putting thought into how you want to learn with your homeschool style also think about where you’ll learn.  We do not have a lot of extra space in our home but carved out a special space for learning and storing materials. Make use of outside patio space when the weather is nice and clear out space in the garage or check out the local library for a change of scenery when the weather isn’t cooperating.

Integrating Subjects

Integrating learning into your daily activities is super simple. Math, Science & Language can be found in nearly any subject & can be broken down in kid friendly ways for learning. 

Start with basic math activities (numbers, colors, sorting and counting) and following up with real life experience with these skills as they naturally occurred in your day. For example:

  • Sort and match our socks, nature collections or toys before putting them away
  • Read a recipe and count the low number of ingredients to make it (ex: 2 eggs)
  • On our nature walks we would discover many rocks and sticks & these served for many more ways to learn. We counted them, made patterns, art and even did science activities like sink & float.  

homeschooling

Sign up for the wait-list for our online course to find out more about getting started with your homeschool. 

Homeschool without curriculum: Writing & Reading

Kids need years of pre-writing activities before directly learning how to write. Create homeschooling activities to teach pre-writing skills and make a homemade journal. Try some of these ideas to get started learning how to write without curriculum:

Pre-writing Activities to Offer

  • fine motor activities; scissors, transfer or scoop & pour, play-dough, lacing, 
  • sensory activities; sensory bins, play-dough, ooblec, slime, etc.
  • drawing & coloring opportunities: blank paper & color crayons, paint, markers, etc.

Once they have practiced pre-writing activities or are showing interest in writing, drawing or coloring try these Writing Activities

  • Scribble
  • Draw
    • a picture and label (any symbol, letter or strings of letters used to represent the spelling of the object.)
      • (initial sound, ex: “D” for dog)
        • & final sound, ex: “DG” for dog)
        • Initial, middle & final sound. The letters may be correct or close to correct, ex: “dug”)
      • (one CVC word,correctly spelled ex: “dog”)
      • with detail (ex: “dog playing”)
      • with a sentence (“a dog playing at the park”.)

Keep it simple and offer integrated pre-writing, writing  (& even pre-reading activities)with the concepts you are learning about.  (NOTE: your child may or may not enjoy reading or writing but it still very important to offer the opportunities.  Do NOT ever force or press a child to participate in activities they do not want to do. It will only make learning harder.) 

How to Homeschool Without Curriculum & Unschooling

When we started homeschooling I spent a great deal of time unschooling myself. 

I am a product of a public education. I had to shift my personal learning experiences & formal teacher training’s from serving 24-26 students to serving one student.  All of the things that you need to do when you are teaching 20+ kids are not helpful when homeschooling a single child. 

I didn’t need formal assessments, or curriculum.  I read books on different philosophies of education and decided to mostly observe and facilitate my sons learning (using Maria Montessori as my inspiration). 

Homeschooling Tools

We are eclectic and take what works for us from other homeschooling philosophies & practices. I take a few days a year and outline our plans for the year then I take that and convert it into the fun learning invitations & explorations like exploring the science and math behind our rock collection.

How do you choose planning tools? I use my own and make time to plan about 7 days per year. A few days before the start our school year I map out our big ideas for the year and then one day per quarter I review/revise our plan.

This year I revised our homeschool planner & planning process. To learn more about our homeschool organization system join our Homeschool Organization Challenge here

Challenging Days

Everyday will not be magical and not everything will come naturally or easily for your child, that’s just life. Everyone has to work hard for something and part of that work is struggling and all of the other feelings that come with a challenge.  The growth mindset is a great tool to help you over come challenges as a family!

When you struggle or are frustrated in a nurturing & supportive environment, that is where the magic can happen. Kids make valuable realizations, on their own. Parents let go. Kids gain self confidence, independence and values. All of these things are highly motivating and I consider them wins.   Keep a journal & write them down to serve as a reminder for those challenging days.

How to Homeschool: Curriculum or Content?

I chose not to purchase curriculum because I knew it was something I could create myself and I had a very specific vision in mind and quite frankly what I wanted hadn’t been invented yet.  I wanted a skill-building, play-based program that would engage my very active & inquisitive preschooler.   

Last week he read his first chapter book (a simple Beginning Readers Series, Level I) but it was a huge milestone. He doesn’t not love writing but he’s good at phonetic spelling, communicating ideas and he is probably one grade level ahead in math.

Related Posts:

10 ways to Save Time & Money as a Homeschooling Family

 

For more information on how to get your homeschool organized sign up for our Homeschool Organization Challenge here. Included is goal setting sheets, planners & a sample letter of intent to homeschool.

Want to homeschool but not sure where to start? Here are some ideas on how to get started homeschooling without curriculum.
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