Sustainable Homeschooling

For the past two weeks I have been working my way through the Get One Thing Done course by Michael Nobbs.  I have become very fond of his slow laugh and penchant for tea + cake!  The idea is that even though we have limited time and energy, we can still honor and feed our creative life.  How?  Through small steps taken every day.  I realized today that there are some really good lessons for me as we begin our homeschooling year in earnest.

A Container

Michael advocates creating a container of time for your work.  He sets a 20 minute timer.  Sounds very much like Charlotte Mason’s short lessons–that we can focus well, make meaningful progress, and then be DONE for the day, knowing that faithful work over time really does add up.  Even if we are only working for short bursts.


He says to keep your supplies as simple as possible.  Could the same also be said for curriculum or book lists or extracurriculars? Yes, I think so!  Less is more, and more often leads to overwhelm.  We have a lot of balls in the air, more than ever before, but I want to keep the main thing front and center.

Rhythms, Routines, Schedules

Michael talks about the importance of a creative routine: doing things at the same time or in the same place as a sort of cue for your creative brain to kick into gear.  We will be slowly shifting our routine to focus more on academic work after a summer full to the brim with adventures.  I *know* that it will be hard to make the transition, but I think I’ll still be surprised at how hard it will be!  Which flows perfectly into the next reminder…

Lower Your Expectations

There’s a stunning William Stafford quote about when you  get stuck in your writing.  He says to lower your standards and keep going.  There’s a lesson for us homeschoolers here too.  Yes, we need to train kids in diligence and hard work.  But that must always be tempered by our willingness to hold our plans with an open hand.

Bribes, Rewards, Celebrations

Sounds bad, huh?  Sounds like everything we don’t want for our kids.  But really, we often have to talk ourselves into doing what we really want.  We have to set ourselves up for success (like putting workout clothes on first thing, so that I’ll take a walk!).  That long line of colorful post it notes in the picture is my tiny celebration–everyday marking my progress.  The chain is getting longer!  And we can do that for our children as well.  We can give them a high five when they get that math page done.  We can wrestle on the floor for a minute as we settle into Morning Time.  We can have tea + toast for Elevenses.  Add a poem and call it Poetry Teatime!

These ideas aren’t revolutionary.  Instead, they’re simple shifts that help mark out a path toward wholeness.  And that’s just what I need as I do the long work of homeschooling my children.


  1. This post has such a good vibe of encouraging energy running through it! It’s just what I needed to read as I settle into some serious h.s. planning over the next few days. Thanks for all the good ideas, Kort!

  2. Oh I think I need this one – thank you for sharing! Last week was ‘supposed’ to be the first week of school – I am currently having a long term health issue, my Dad had a heart attack week before last and I have two sick children right – one with pneumonia who requires breathing treatments every four hours around the clock. One thing is about all I can handle right now – thank you for sharing

    1. Oh, Julie what a lot you have on your plate. One of the biggest blessings of homeschooling is the flexibility it offers. Take good care of you and your littles and I’ll be thinking of you all. <3

  3. Perfectly timed post as I stare blankly at the piles of books, notebooks, workbooks and plans left yet to be written all strewn about my bed. I already cried tears of overwhelm today. Think I’d have this homeschool thing figured out by now BUT, peace, simplicity, tea+toast and poetry for elevenses is what I’ve been missing in my best laid plans. Thanks Kortney for the sweet reminder. 🙂

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