This homeschooling/unschooling program I’ve created stems from my value system, my background in education, others who have inspired me and reading I’ve done on the topic. If you can master these four areas of homeschooling, or use them as a foundation to build off of, you are well on your way to helping your child become a fulfilled human being.
The 6 Tenets of a Solid Homeschooling Education are these:
Each of the six are broken down into specific topics. On this site, you’ll discover how to plan for each of these and incorporate them easily into your life.
This is not about making yourself crazy to make homeschooling happen. This is not about adding in countless lesson plans and stress. This is about the ease of life. The entire background to this process is about the flow of life, mindfulness and harmony. Keep that in mind as you approach this.
Please view this video from a 13 year old homeschooler who gave a TED talk on the topic of happiness and health. It’s incredibly eye-opening and inspiring.
In his talk, he references the basic components of happiness, based on the work of Dr. Roger Walsh. Giving proper credit to Logan and Dr. Walsh, I’ve re-worked what I’ve found to be true in my life and added components from the Wheel of Health from Duke Integrative Medicine when I trained there as a coach to create a comprehensive curriculum.
Here are the tenets of happiness I believe we should work to cultivate in our own lives and that of the children we educate:
I believe if you have focus on these five items throughout your day, your week and your life, happiness more easily flows into and out of you.
Dr. Wayne Dyer once gave a talk on the seemingly oddest of subjects. He said (paraphrasing) that if you had an orange and you attempted to squeeze it as hard as you could, what would come out of it? Of course, the obvious answer is orange juice.
Nothing else will ever come out of it, no matter how hard you squeeze it. An orange, when squeezed, will always give out orange juice. It will never give out pineapple juice or apple juice or water. It can only release what was inside.
Now imagine someone or something squeezes you. What will come out?
If it is frustration or worry, doubt or even rage that comes out in moments of life when you are squeezed, then that is something that is inside you.
So, building a foundation for happiness and joy within yourself, within your children, is building up the contents of what is inside. So when you get squeezed, you are more likely to give out understanding, patience, love. And hey, if you’re not getting squeezed, so much the better. 🙂
How do you implement these 5 foundations of happiness into a homeschool or unschooling curriculum? I’m glad you asked! Check this out! (coming soon, updated regularly)
We all know the basic idea behind building a healthy body. Eat well, exercise, right? It’s drilled into us, and yet, as we also well know, it is much more complicated than that. Eat what? There are a gazillion diets out there purporting to know what the absolute best diets are. Same for exercise. And is that all there is to it?
Is not being sick really the epitome of health and well-being? I don’t think so.
Does killing yourself on a treadmill make you healthy? Is Paleo (or fill-in-the-blank diet) really the be-all -end-all of health? Well, let’s think about it.
I’ve gathered these components of what comprises a healthy life and body based on my years of learning and experience.
Mindfulness or Meditation (crosses over into happiness and spirituality)
Fun & Leisure
To me, exercise is about keeping a body in motion to the point of exertion, and doing so regularly. I don’t promote any one method as I know with many things, this is very individualized.
For my 5 year old, he gets nearly daily extensive bike rides and/or hikes. We also do yoga together occasionally. And then there is the general rough-housing and jumping around in the house, plus playgrounds and the like about town.
His heart is pumping, his feeling of well-being sky rockets and his muscles are getting worked. This is good exercise for a 5 year old.
For more on how to implement concepts of homeschooling or unschooling Health focus into your day and week, I’ll cover in-depth the concepts of Exercise, Nutrition, Mindfulness, Fun & Leisure and Rest over here. (coming soon, updated regularly)
Having been a public education teacher for 8 years, and having had a Master’s degree in Education, plus extensive training in foundations of reading, how the brain works with regard to hand-writing, visual math and much, much more, I’ve come to agree that skill work has a valuable place in education.
You can unschool any way you like, but for us, there are times when we do sit down at a desk and put pencil to paper the old-fashioned way. This is typically our skill-based learning.
Every child is different and for my son, for example, reading came effortlessly. Other concepts such as handwriting, needed specific instruction.
As he gets older and we get into concepts of how to multiply, how to play an instrument, how to analyze a word problem or how to form a scientific hypothesis, we’ll dive more into skills.
Skills are technical aspects of how we learn something. As much as you may love the violin, unless you learn the notes, there is a 99.9999% chance you will not learn to play the violin. Skills are a foundation.
Here are the components of skill-acquisition that I believe are called for in homeschooling.
Note* They are fairly parallel with what is traditionally covered in public schools (with more intensive subjects for older students). How you teach them is the difference in homeschooling and tradition.
Music or Creative Arts
Working on a hundreds board
Knowledge differs from skills because it states that you have an understanding of a particular subject or concept. Can you explain how water is cycled from lakes to clouds to rain? Do you know the purpose of bees in our ecosystem?
We know that knowledge can be acquired from any number of methods. Traditionally in public school, it is given through lectures and textbooks. There is a lot of evidence that suggest hands-on experiences and movement supports learning. And we all know that real-world learning is very powerful as well.
More info on incorporating the knowledge-based components of homeschooling here. (coming soon, updated regularly)
Here’s a photo of my son, Ben, at a 4-H community outing. He has dissected an owl pellet and, with a magnifying glass, is matching the bones to a chart. This class is a mix of children 5-12 years old. The class cost $4.
We live at home and we learn at home. So, why should we endeavor to make this part of the curriculum?
My question is, why assume it’s unnecessary?
It’s as though happiness were a standard, default setting and nothing need be done to ensure its presence. Not true. Happiness can be achieved, created, cultivated and there are ways to do it. (See #1)
Home life is something that also must be shared and taught. It involves contribution to your family, for no tangible reward, and goes beyond cleaning up a messy room. It helps teach responsibility and the value of family.
Here are some examples:
Household tasks (Does your child know how to fold laundry or mop the floor?)
The Fine Art of Conflict or Emotional Resolution
I’m reminded of a friend of mine, whom I love dearly, who said that her grown son had recently said to her (upon getting his new apartment), “Mom, you never taught me how to mop the floor.” Astonished, she said, “Really? You’re kidding. Well.. I’m sorry.” He said, “Don’t worry mom. I figured it out.”
This is a funny story to me because of course there is no great skill involved in mopping a floor, and yet many times in families, we do not expect that our children will do such tasks. Therefore, we don’t teach them, we don’t expect it, and they don’t do it.
Never too young to start 😉
While they are in our house, I think it’s wise to show a teenager how to iron…a 5 year old where their clean socks belong and have them put them away themselves, or a 10 year old how to cook a simple meal.
We are raising people in a society. We want them to be able to take care of themselves. Relying on us to do, do, do everything may secretly make us resentful of how exhausted we are all the time, and may not be fully preparing them for the responsibilities of life.
Whether it’s sewing a button (repair) or understanding the ‘dance’ that a mother and father may do when they have a disagreement and work to resolve it (emotional/conflict resolution). Talking about emotions and understanding that conflict occurs even when you love unconditionally, is part of education, part of learning.
For more details on how to apply these components of self-sufficiency, household tasks, cooking, repair and emotional/conflict resolution, go here. (coming soon, updated regularly)
6. Culture & Lifestyle
Learning about the world is arguably more important now than ever before. The best way I’ve found to teach tolerance, compassion, understanding and values, is by exposing children to how other people live, how other people thrive and what other people love to create. Culture is fascination, it’s enjoyment, it’s thriving. It’s being surprised and thrilled, being puzzled and bewildered.
These are some examples to consider including in your homeschool curriculum:
Field trips to new towns, new people, new communities
Let children see the wealthy as well as the poor. Teach them to love the wealthy and the poor equally. To be respectful of the family who goes to church, as well as the family who does not. If you take them to the symphony, take them also to the local school play. If you take them to Europe, take them also to rural farms in your area. Expose them to what is possible with gorgeous inspirational art, like ballet. And let them try their hand at a Jackson Pollock imitation.
My son was thrilled with our local trip to the art museum (free). His favorite was a sculpture by Rodin: The Falling Man.
Think you have to be rich to expose your child to culture? Think again. Culture is available in your community and the next town over. It’s available in books, in movies and conversation. There’s a class at our local community center for $6 on Medieval Swordfighting. There are Spanish classes available for free on youtube. City festivals highlighting dance, artists and even fashion are about a half hour’s drive for us. What can you find?
The foundation of this site, The Truth About Living, is to get away from limitation-based thinking. If you could design any kind of education for your child, what would it be? What would it ideally look like? That is what is possible.
That is how I came to create this homeschooling program. I simply got out pen and paper, with all the knowledge, the skills, the health and happiness that I now enjoy – and I asked myself what an ideal homeschooling curriculum would look like. This is that list.
To re-visit, they are:
Now, if by some chance, this all-inclusive list seems overwhelming or daunting to you, do not despair. We are taking the traditional education curriculum and flipping it on its head. We are starting with new premises. And so it is not that these tenets and sub-categories are adding to on to what already is. It is that these are the new foundations from which to thrive.
We are taking a fresh look at how to best educate our children.
If you have the inclination to start homeschooling, or if you’re wanting a new approach, I’d highly recommend starting here. Adapt as you need to. Adjust by age, by interest, by skill. Re-assess often.
Insert concepts as they are appropriate. Cursive writing. Critical thinking. Dissections. How to boil water.
They’re your children. You’ll do what’s right for your family.
But if you’re like me, you’re happy to have a guideline, a program, that consists of a curriculum that is more inclusive of life values.
What have you been using so far? I’m curious. Comment and share.