Lazy Genius Your Homeschool–Principle #10: Essentialize

The quickest way to calm the crazy that happens around back to school time is through naming your essentials and making space for them. There are so many great opportunities for homeschoolers these days that it can become easy to add on one more subject, another co-op, more books, new outings! When you add in all the (spoken and unspoken!) expectations pulling at us, it’s no wonder things feel overwhelming.

Bee on a sunflower

Kendra from Lazy Genius says that the antidote is in

  • naming what matters
  • removing what’s in the way
  • keeping the essentials

For my money, it’s those first two that are most important–name what matters and subtract the rest. One place I am putting this principle to the test is in high school planning. In my state there are blessedly few high school graduation requirements. But that lack of direction opens up way too many possibilities. I want to make sure that our kids are ready for college. But I also want to make sure that my requirements leave them with enough time and energy to work on things that are important to them.

That’s what matters to me. But how can I make space for that? I’m using Jane Kenyan’s advice to writers to guide my choices:

“Protect your time. Feed your inner life. Avoid too much noise. Read good books.”

This advice is not a prescription, not a recipe for turning out perfectly cooked graduates. Instead, it’s an easy way for me to remember what’s most important and to make sure my curriculum and scheduling choices align with this vision.

Did you notice the spiffy new blog design? I am probably a little too excited about this serif font! We are still moving the furniture around here, figuring out what goes where. If you find places that need attention, please let me know!

To celebrate the new look, I’d love to send you a copy of Lazy Genius Way by Kendra Adachi. Just leave a comment on your favorite post in the series. Then I will draw a name and send you your own copy! The giveaway will stay open until I’ve got all 13 posts up.

If you are new to The Lazy Genius, here’s the Starter Kit! 20 episodes that will get you energized and moving in the right direction!

And you can find all the posts in this series right here.


    1. Yes, living in the season changes everything! We are just on the cusp of one of the big season changes here–my husband is returning to work and we will be starting school again. I really want to move gracefully through this change.

  1. I love the “start small” principle. We did online school with my second grader last year, which was okay, but I’m branching out into “true” homeschooling her and her kinder brother this fall. I have read SO many beautiful and uplifting and encouraging things about homeschool from so many places, and I have SO many ideas of what a homeschool experience could look like, but I need to remember to start small, with the essentials (so this principle too!), and it’s okay to change and add and subtract as I go. It doesn’t need to be perfect on day one. I can take baby steps alongside my babies, as we learn together.

  2. I used principal #1 – decide once to determine my Family Read Alouds for morning time this school year – I will only do our history books (using Early American History from Beautiful Feet Books) and then the Read Aloud Revival Premium book club books! If I run out (which I’m not sure I will…), I’m going to pull from past RAR book clubs we haven’t done! 🙂

    The comments on Principal #1 were closed so I had to put it here. 🙂

    1. So smart! I love it when a simple decision can clarify so much! Thanks for the note about closed comments…I updated those settings 😉

  3. After 13 years of homeschooling I am finding these principles so helpful!! I can’t decide between Decide Once and Essentialize. They both speak to me and help me to discern the important things in our homeschool. I can’t wait to read the book with you all this fall and apply these principles to my life too!

    1. So many of the principles really go together and feed into each other. It’s good to hear that even very experienced homeschoolers can find something of value here!

  4. I’ve not heard of this book…so thankful Sarah Mackenzie has selected it for the fall momma book club on RAR ? can’t wait to dig in!

  5. #8 let people in. This one is challenging for our family but one I want to get better at. Hoping this next season is less isolating!

  6. I would say what most resonates with me is start small. I once heard Sarah Mackenzie say to find one thing to start with this week. It can be overwhelming when I think of all the areas I fall short, but to just find that next thing and do it is helpful. I also really liked the quote above and will copy it into my commonplace book. “Protect your time. Feed your inner life. Avoid too much noise. Read good books.”

    1. I too tend to see lack instead of the small successes that are there if only I have eyes to see them. I love that Jane Kenyon is going into your commonplace!

  7. Decide once. I cripple myself bouncing from one *possibility* to the next to the next. Sarah says the best curriculum is the one you DO – same idea. Pick it after a reasonable amount of thought and research, then GO!

    1. Yes! As soon as I read Lazy Genius Way, I saw so much overlap between it and Teaching from Rest. Principle #11 dovetails nicely here–trusting yourself enough to decide once and get to work!

  8. Decide once is my favorite principle. I can overthink things and then second guess myself and it wears me out! It helps tremendously when I make a decision (homeschooling or otherwise) and then stick to it without having to think it through again.

  9. These are great! It’s tough to choose but my two favorites (right now) are start small and essentialize. Having homeschooled for 7 years now with a long-term disease from the beginning (chronic Lyme – it’s on the run), I had deep personal experiences with both of these. Most of our schooling has been peaceful and deep and simple – when I have followed them. ??

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