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About Melissa Camara Wilkins

Melissa is a homeschooling mama of six in Southern California. She writes about living with intention and parenting with creativity. Get her free ebook, Do Your Thing: How to Find Time to Do What Matters, to help you explore who you were made to be, and what you’re meant to do.

How to avoid homeschool overwhelm: Become a curator

Curate1picmonew

Written by Melissa Camara Wilkins.

I love getting catalogs in the mail. Not every catalog, but the good ones that are full of things like board games and butterfly nets and prepared microscope slides and books. So many books! Shiny, happy new books.

But as I flip the pages, my excitement turns into a nagging worry that I’m not doing enough. There are so many options! Maybe we need more stuff, to learn all the things!

Sometimes a new tool or toy or giant box of books is just what we need, but not always.

And if I’m hearing that chant of not enough, not enough, not enough in my heart, a box of supplies is probably not going to fix it. (That insecurity isn’t about my shelves, anyway.)

That’s my signal to remind myself: I am a curator. It’s not my job to give my kids every option ever invented. My goal is to curate my kids’ environment and their experiences.

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How to get your interest-led learners back on track

melissa4picmo

Written by Melissa Camara Wilkins.

Some seasons, our interest-led learners are interested in everything. They read, they ask questions, they conduct experiments and plan projects.

But what do you during those other times, the times when inspiration has left the building? What do you do when no one seems interested in much of anything? What if it turns into all pajamas, all Legos, all day? You know what I’m talking about.

Well, first, you don’t panic. You remember that just like a field needs seasons to grow and seasons to rest, so do our kids. So do we all.

Maybe they’re just in a healthy resting period, or maybe they’re learning something through the pajama-and-Lego routine.

Or maybe our days need adjusting. In that case, I try to step back and spend some time in observation mode. I don’t try to change things right away, I just take note of what is actually happening throughout the day.

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Melissa’s homeschool day in the life (with a 1, 4, 7, 8, 11, and 14-year-old)

melissamainpicmo

Written by Melissa Camara Wilkins.

Rather than structure my children’s activities, I structure our time, our environment, and my availability.

I think of myself as the curator of our home and our schedule — I bring in inspiring materials, I make sure our home is set up to encourage kids’ learning, and I leave plenty of free time for them to pursue their interests.

The super-simple version of our daily rhythm looks like this: we have breakfast and morning chores, and then I stay available to help with activities or questions all morning.

After lunch is quiet time, when everyone—including me—works on individual projects. After quiet time, we come back together to play and make dinner and tidy up. Then it’s dinner and bedtime routines, and the day is over.

homeschoolday

We all like to focus deeply on one thing at at time, so we don’t tend to hop from one activity to another on any given day. That means that some days might be all about math, while others might be all about writing, or creating, or experimenting.

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Inspire-not-require for the homeschool parent

melissa1picmo

Written by Melissa Camara Wilkins

Today is Pajama Day at our homeschool.

(That just means that we’re eating lunch in our P.J.s, you understand.)

There won’t be any assemblies or pajama-related relay races. We needed a day of rest and reading in loungewear, so we took one.

One of my favorite things about homeschooling is that we’re free to build a lifestyle that fits our family. From the ways we homeschool to the whys behind our homeschool, we get to choose.

But sometimes I kind of forget. I forget that I’m not required to homeschool in any certain way. I forget that our days are not just a series of events to trudge through, on the way from breakfast to bedtime.

It’s easy to slip into thinking of ourselves as being required to do a bunch of homeschooling tasks—but I want to homeschool from a place of inspiration.

Just like we want to inspire not require our kids to learn, I want to be inspired-not-required as a homeschooling parent.

Here’s how I try to bump the inspiration level up a notch when I’m not feeling it.

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Pursuing passions

melissa2picmo

The following is a guest post by Melissa Camara Wilkins.

Sometimes I look across the living room at the children, who are busily engaged in board games or a stack of Agatha Christies or a pile of rubber stamps that will mostly get stamped on the floor instead of the paper, and I wonder: what will their great passions in this life be? Some we already see developing, of course, but others are yet to be discovered.

Will they be deeply interested in spoken word poetry, or engrossed with the idea of sustainable farming? Maybe they’ll be passionate about app design, or become experts on Emperor Penguins.

We want each of our six kids to discover their own passionate interests, those particular areas that they believe are worth investigating, worth dedicating their time and energy to, and worth sharing with others.

In fact, helping find and engage with those deeper interests is one of the main focuses of our family’s homeschooling lifestyle.

If you take a summer break, this can be a great time to encourage your kids to find their passions or to delve deeper into what they already love, too.

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