As the pumpkin spice begins to waft through the air, many new homeschooling parents are about to dive into the school year.
Some can’t wait to get started. They may feel confident, knowing that they’re totally prepared. Others may be nervous, constantly refining and reviewing their plans or questioning their sanity.
It’s natural to set off into the unknown with apprehension. As you begin to dive in, and as the year progresses and you assess and reassess how it’s all going, ask yourself the following two questions.
What Would This Look Like If It Were Easy?
Author and investor Tim Ferriss described his use of this question in his book “Tribe of Mentors.”
“It’s easy to convince yourself that things need to be hard, that if you’re not redlining, you’re not trying hard enough. This leads us to look for paths of most resistance, creating unnecessary hardship in the process,” he said.
“But what happens if we frame things in terms of elegance instead of strain? In doing so, we sometimes find incredible results with ease instead of stress. Sometimes, we ‘solve’ the problem by simply rewording it.”
Since reading this a few years ago, I’ve started to implement this question into all of my work—from writing articles like this one, to doing laundry, to planning my children’s homeschooling. Especially when the stakes are high—less so with laundry, more so with holding the keys to our children’s education—it can be tempting to make things elaborate or complicated.
The truth is, though, particularly when it comes to learning—the goal of homeschooling—it truly is a natural and simple thing. As you look at your plans, your curriculum, your schedule, and your routine, ask yourself this question: What would it look like if it were easy?
If your child understands the math concept easily, could you move on after she shows you three or four times, or do you have to slog through the entire worksheet? If your child loves cars, might he be more willing to write a five-paragraph essay about them rather than some summary of a boring textbook excerpt? Would the same—or even better—learning be happening?
How else can you make things easy? What about your homeschooling feels hard? How would it look if it were easy? Keep asking yourself this all year long.
What Would This Look Like If It Were Fun?
Homeschooling is a lifestyle and what you’re planning is not simply a few lessons but your children’s childhood. Some of your best family memories will be incorporated into your homeschool life. You’ll soon find that homeschooling is not something that happens within the confines of the hours you deem “school time,” but a lifestyle of learning and exploring that happens 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Fun is an important part of learning and childhood. So, ask yourself, as you plan away and count the number of lessons it will take to mark one subject as finished: What would this look like if it were fun?
Perhaps instead of that math worksheet full of multiplication problems, you go outside and bounce a ball while skip-counting by each number, 1 through 12! What if you scrapped math for the day and gave your kids a $100 budget to do the grocery shopping? Put them in charge of calculating coupons, sales discounts, making a list, and choosing all the items to be purchased. Would that count as learning? Would it be fun?
What if you took your science vocabulary words and turned them into clues for a game of Pictionary? What if you went to the site of that famous war battle instead of reading about it in a book?
What would this look like if it were fun? What a valuable question—to your children’s well-being and their education, and to everyone your family encounters.
You’ve researched, you’ve pondered, you’ve purchased, you’ve organized. You’re almost ready. Just ask yourself these questions to put the delicious whipped cream and delightful sprinkles on top of this homeschool sundae.
It’s going to be a great year. You’ve got this.