Homeschooling on a Deserted Island

Written by Amida of Journey Into Unschooling

I‘ve been thinking a lot about simplicity. It seems to be a popular theme these days that is being applied to just about everything, including living arrangements, child-rearing, diet, and life pursuits.

A big component of the movement is reduction — making do with less and editing our schedules so we have time to do the things we truly enjoy. As homeschooling is so fully integrated into our day, I wondered how simple could be applied to this aspect of our life. The name of this site is, after all, Simple Homeschool.

How can I enrich our time together, while keeping the excess materials and activities to a minimum?

As I was brainstorming this post, I tried to think up ten things I would bring to homeschool on a deserted island — the ultimate in a bare minimum experience. I started struggling after the first half.

My list went something like this:

  1. Library Card
  2. Computer with Internet access
  3. Art Kit (crayons, markers, paint, paper, scissors)
  4. Friends
  5. Duct Tape

Yes, I realize that aside from the duct tape and friends, these won’t help my survival on the island. But it does give me a good idea of what elements I find most useful or important in our homeschooling.

Notice the total lack of curricula? In reality, I’d probably throw in a math and language arts workbook to fill the empty slots, just in case I needed to get a fire going.

Just kidding. All jokes aside, I do find workbooks useful in some cases, but one per subject is more than plentiful.

As for the other items on the list, the first to pop in mind was the library card. We go there often enough and there is an inexhaustible amount of information that could be learned through books. The same applies to the Internet.

Art is good for the soul, as are friends. Duct tape is useful for just about anything. Anything else could probably be substituted with something we have on hand or picked up on an as-needed basis.

Keep in mind though, that this is just our list, perfect for now. Your own list will contain a whole different array of items, depending on your interests and focus.

Give some thought into what you actually use, what you need, and what activities make your heart sing. You can focus on less and be on your way to maintaining your very own Simple Homeschool.

What items would you pack for your deserted island? What can you do today to create a simpler homeschool environment?

About Amida

Amida is the mom to three darn kids. She used to stress about state standards and test scores but has since come to her senses and enjoys blogging about her family's journey into unschooling.


  1. My first thought was post its, but I guess I wouldn’t need those since I wouldn’t be as scatterbrained on a deserted island… would I?
    Angela @ Homegrown Mom’s latest post: Homemaking Gifts for Girls

  2. Great post! I’ve discovered recently that I have a lot more success teaching my 4 year old to read using only a magnadoodle than I ever did using a book and curriculum. Go figure. I’m not sure I’d drag that to a desert island, though! I love your list and can’t argue with it. Maybe a globe that doubles as a beach ball? Gotta have a beach ball if you’re stuck on a desert island! lol
    Tori’s latest post: When Home and School Play Nice

  3. Hey, Amida, Just wanted to tell you that I love your blog and it’s cool to see you posting over here too! You always have great book suggestions, and I have been happy with everything I have bought on your recommendation, including the magic bread book and Unjournaling (we love that one!)
    Christen’s latest post: Yoga- Vulnerability- and Life Lessons

  4. Amida, this is a great reminder to look at the really important things in structuring our homeschool days.

    In getting ready for our big move I just recently freed myself from a lot of expectations and mental stress and have decided to really unschool for a time.

    I packed up the workbooks we occasionally use (math-u-see books) and what we’re left with is exactly as you describe:
    Our heavily used library cards, the internet and our extensive craft supplies (Packing those will be another matter!).

  5. We homeschooled on the road for over a year and all our stuff fitted into one small suitcase on wheels. I absolutely agree with your list! I’m also a great duct-tape fan.
    I used our large laminated map a LOT! At the end of our journey it was covered with notes, photos, timeline and small sketches. It was such a brilliant summary of our journey that I laminated the whole thing – again, and you can see a small photo here.
    Nadene’s latest post: Visiting Family and Friends

  6. This is a fun idea! Hmmm? At this particular junction in our homeschooling, ( two teens) I would need a basket ball court and a piano on the deserted island as well as a laptop with internet connection, our dog Max, the ” girls” and some flint and steel so the boy scout could build us a fire!
    All kidding aside, we have simplified the amount of materials we use over the years and have it whittled down to our Oak Meadow, curriculum, Saxon Math, plenty of art supplies and what ever the kids need to pursue their chosen ( at the moment ) paths.

    Fun food for thought… Oh, yes… what about food???
    Debbie’s latest post: Homestead Barn Hop 1

  7. In addition to our meager homeschool supply, we are shipwrecked with 2 goats, a dozen chickens, seeds of all kinds, a complete tool kit, weather-resistant lumber and nails, clean underwear, plus enough food to last until that first successful crop. Oh, and amazon ships everywhere…
    amida’s latest post: Book Nook – February 2011

  8. I would say that the process of homeschooling can be signifficantly simplified if kids understand the importance of education in their life.

  9. Why have a library card on a deserted island? No libraries 😉 I would pack survival gear, myself. I can’t think of anything more educational than designing and building a shelter, foraging for safe wild food, preparing food, and attending to the family’s other needs. And while I consider my internet connection the in real life most important item in my homeschool, I wouldn’t miss it on a desert island. I wouldn’t even necessarily take alot of books. Imagination, and conversation, and invention – these are things I would want to encourage. As I write this, I see how much I am a “lifeschooler”. 🙂

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