Our Relaxed Homeschool: What We Do & How We Do It

May 9, 20166

When I meet new people and they learn that we homeschool, often the first thing they say is, “Oh! I could never homeschool; you must be so patient.”

Our Relaxed Homeschool

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I immediately admit that their assumption is far from accurate. I have begged and pleaded. I have bribed. I have yelled. Yes, I have even broke down and cried unconsolably.

If I were trying to do school at home, I would not have the patience either. But that is NOT what we do. Instead, we have a gentle, relaxed approach. For this reason, it has been 10 Years & We’re Still At It.

Our Relaxed Homeschool Schedule

The way we approach education here changes with the tide. I have thus learned to enjoy the ebb and flow, the seasonal change. We homeschool year-round to accommodate for our relaxed approach. 

Primary Grades

In the primary grades, we followed a Charlotte Mason approach. Our lessons were short (no more than twenty minutes for each topic) so our academic part of the day only came out to around 3-4 hours per day.  We tried to always have academics finished by lunchtime, and would save art, music, and handicrafts for the afternoon.


  • Literature
  • Geography
  • History
  • Math
  • Copywork/Dictation
  • Foreign Language
  • Art Appreciation
  • Music
  • Handicrafts
  • Life Skills
  • Daily Walk


  • Literature
  • Music
  • Foreign Language
  • Group Activities
  • Field Trips
  • Nature Study
  • Daily Walk

Intermediate Grades

We are still heavily influenced by Charlotte Mason now in the intermediate years, but I have also become more comfortable with an Unschooling approach. We don’t really do tests, quizzes, or worksheets. We believe that learning happens all the time, and for us, it rarely happens in tightly defined areas like “spelling” and “geography”.

We live and learn together, pursuing questions and interests as they arise and using conventional schooling on an “on demand” basis. The interests of my children dictate our course map – the texts we read, the projects in which we immerse ourselves, and whether or not they take a course (in-person or online). The activities are chosen and engaged in freely by the learner. They were not dictated to the learner through curricular mandate to be done at a specific time and place.

In three areas, however, I do take a more hands-on approach to influence and guide their choices – Math, Mandarin, and Music (or M³). Learning a new language doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and lots of practice to master the vocabulary, grammar, and nuances of a foreign language.

Our Relaxed ScheduleIn many ways, math and music are like languages. I thereby expect my kiddos to complete four math lessons each week, practice their instrument and either work on Mandarin homework or practice vocabulary daily. In this way the material stays fresh in their minds and they become increasingly fluent or skilled.

Using our homeschool planner (I have used both a paper planner and more recently an online planner), I list the lessons I expect each of the kids to accomplish during the week. They have the freedom to choose when those lessons get done. I have outlined my 4 steps to intentional planning previously and I still do this. It helps us to see the big picture and to know how to make adjustments in how much is reasonable on a day full of obligations away from home.


  • Literature
  • Music
  • Mandarin
  • Math
  • Fitness (Swim Team, Hike, etc.)


  • History
  • Geography
  • Science
  • Nature Study
  • Writing
  • Passion Projects (Art, Aviation, Coding, etc.)
  • Service Learning (Scouts, Volunteering, etc.)

Our Curriculum ChoicesOur Curriculum Choices

In some subjects, we utilize curriculum – math, languages, and history. In other areas, we do not – science, geography (we learn mostly through our travels), literature, and fine arts. We pick and choose what suits our interests and our goals. I thereby spend a significant amount of time reading other homeschool blogs, doing research, and putting together course outlines.

Over the years, we have tried a lot of different curriculum materials. I have written about many of them here and here. We keep coming back to our favorites:


Singapore Math (elementary years)

Life of Fred (middle and high school years)

Mr D’s Math (high school years)


Better Chinese (foreign language)

Writing With Ease (middle school)

Cover Story (middle school)

King Alfred’s English (high school)

History & Geography

Story of the World (elementary and early middle school)

The History of the World (middle and high school)

North Star Geography (middle and high school)

~ ~ ~

HomeschoolwithoutcurriculumAre you an Unschooler or just want to learn more? Find inspiration from the iHomeschool Network bloggers Homeschooling Without Curriculum.


  • Mother of 3

    May 11, 2016 at 5:32 pm

    I’m so relieved to read about other relaxed homeschoolers that continue a relaxed approach past 5th grade. Most seem to turn to academics in middle school and I’m feeling the pressure to do more, teach more and be more traditional but I’m fighting it; knowing it will be disastrous for us.

  • hannahkendall

    May 12, 2016 at 11:14 am

    Hi, Eva! I love what you are doing with your kids! I am wondering if Oregon requires testing, or documentation of classes? If we move this summer, I am probably going to hs our youngest who will be a 10th grader. I would love to visit with you sometime about some of your ideas and how to legally pull off hs-ing in high school.

    • Eva Varga

      May 13, 2016 at 6:06 am

      HANNAH!! I am excited that you are moving back home to Oregon. In response to your questions, I will write up a post. I’ll email a link when I publish it (I’m aiming for next week). Let me know when you get settled – I’d love to talk in more depth. 🙂

  • alycia wright

    June 8, 2016 at 7:24 am

    Hi there! I’m curious to know how CoverStory turned out once you guys finished or came to a stopping point. Did they enjoy the assignments? How much did they engage in the DVDs? It is something we are considering for grade 8, along with Writing With Skill 3.

    • Eva Varga

      June 9, 2016 at 6:54 am

      Hi Alycia! We are just now wrapping up CoverStory – the kids are pulling together the pieces they have written over the course of the year, editing, and putting together their magazine. We used the DVD for about 1/3 of the lessons and then gradually stopped. My kids felt the instructor was a little goofy (at least they didn’t find it humorous as intended) and they also felt they could understand the material and what was expected of them well enough with just the student book. We didn’t do the grammar exercises or the “Remarkable Journal…” We do a lot of journaling on our own and thus I felt it was redundant. The fact that they were putting together a magazine was a huge motivating factor for us. For this reason, we plan to use One Year Adventure Novel this coming year.

  • Lisa Meister

    July 13, 2016 at 10:53 am

    Thank you for the peel into your homeschool. It’s so helpful to get ideas from others. You really got me thinking…

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