Time vs Content in Love of Learning Phase

After hearing how much I enjoyed reading Leadership Education: The Phases of Learning, a friend decided to read it. We talked soon after she started the book and she said she was overwhelmed at the thought of all that was required in this sort of education. Perhaps. But as with any homeschool methodology, we can take the good and useful parts and make them our own, keeping in mind what works best for our own family — and we can set aside any parts that don’t serve our needs.

The heart of education is the Big Picture.

I believe the heart of any education should be the focus on the BIG picture. One of the main things I like about Leadership Education is the emphasis on encouraging us to consider how what we’re doing today will affect future generations.

homeschool current events

How I educate my children will impact the lives of future generations. This is simultaneously both daunting and freeing. On the one hand, I must prepare my children to fulfill their mission in life, whatever that may be. On the other hand, it frees me to the reality that it really doesn’t matter whether or not they learn Latin.

Continuing our homeschool evolution:

Our homeschool is in the midst of an evolution and I’m continuing to share about what this looks like for our family. I’ll explain the changes we’re making over several upcoming posts rather than in one overly-wordy post. For today, I’m focusing on one “Key” that has transformed my thinking:

Structure time, not content.

homeschool time vs content

Establishing rhythms to our days helps everyone function better. I know when I wake up that I’m going to exercise because I do it every day. That means I don’t have to decide whether or not today is a workout day; I just do it. This sort of thing works for the kids, too, because they know what to expect. There’s much more I want to work on in regard to these daily/weekly/seasonal rhythms, but I finally get the concept, and that’s a good start. This is where the emphasis on time comes in.

What they learn is less important than how they learn.

homeschool geography

Kathryn is still in the Love of Learning Phase. The goal here is to gradually become more disciplined than Core Phase (more on that in the next post on the subject) but continue with interest-led learning. We want to make sure she continues to love learning throughout her entire life. To help accomplish that, we’re structuring time rather than content.

Basically, she is allowed to do any number of things during the hours we call school time. She is in control of what she’s learning, which gives her more autonomy and eventually more self-discipline — but she does have guidelines.

homeschool reading

There are only a few things we’ve set as off-limits during this time, including texting and social media, but almost anything else involving learning or life skills is fair game.

Love of Learning: middle school “curriculum”

With Kathryn’s help, I’ve made a list of what “counts” as school. This is posted in a handy place to help us stay focused as we develop new habits:

  • Math, History, or Science: These may be from our regular curriculum or something else we can count as the subject. For instance, instead of Georgia History this week she read a series of Brimwood Press historical novels. Science may be our anatomy study or she may spend an hour exploring Earth-Sky.
  • Nature journaling
  • Bible study
  • Writing: poetry, journaling, creative writing, penpal correspondence, etc.
  • Artist or composer study
  • Art project: paint, chalk pastels…
  • Music practice (currently flute)
  • Reading aloud to younger siblings
  • Reading a previously-unread book
    She reads good books over and over, but in order to expand her horizons I had to specify the previously-unread part. 😉
  • Brain Food links
  • Sewing, knitting, crochet… this also includes online classes like Craftsy.
  • Foreign language: Hebrew, sign language…
  • Fallacy Detective, Your Business Math, anything from our “shelf of inspiration”
  • Other: things I haven’t thought of yet but she may ask if she can do!

A few examples of her creative projects since we’ve made these changes: sewing a sling bag for a Barbie; knitting baby booties after finding and reading a tutorial; sewing mermaids – a project she came up with entirely on her own. Also, she styled and photographed all of these things herself; I just borrowed her photos!

creative homeschool projects

Meeting requirements, with flexibility.

Each week I require Kathryn to do math, social studies, science, and writing. Since we live in a state that requires standardized testing and annual reports, I want to follow guidelines and check the necessary boxes. However, I’ve given her flexibility on how to cover each of those subjects.

homeschool math

Another new responsibility for Kathryn is working in the Café at church. (It has it’s own little coffee shop!) She volunteers one evening a week, and can do everything except use the espresso machine. If she so desires, she could become a paid employee at age 15. She thinks this is fabulous, and I love this opportunity to begin developing her own work ethic outside of the home. She’s also training to be an assistant in elementary age Sunday School classes, which is completely in line with her love of children and desire to help others.

More to come soon on our homeschool evolution!

–> I’ll be linking up with Kris and Mary; join us to share about your own homeschool, or just come see what other families have been up to lately!

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Erin-The Usual Mayhem

I’m loving seeing how all the bloggers I read who also have middle-school aged children are approaching their education! I’ve taken a similar approach to yours this year with M, 13…..she has a list of acceptable educational activities and I love watching her “schedule” herself. I’m lucky that texting has never come into it, since we live so far into the boonies that cell phone coverage isn’t possible.

The styling and photos in Kathryn’s photos are terrific! She’s clearly got some serious handicraft talents, too.


I enjoy watching K grow up – you are a great mom, Jamie!

I am so enjoying these posts about the evolution of your homeschool!

Amy M

I want to learn more about Leadership Education. Thanks for letting us take a little peek inside how you are implementing it in your home.


I’m really enjoying seeing the evolution of your homeschool. It looks like great things are happening in your house!


I’ll have to look for that book. With one middle schooler already, and another quickly on his heels, I’m looking at some of these things as well. It sounds like your daughter is a lot like my son. He too LOVES working with the little ones at church.


I like how you incorporated a lot of fun, rich ideas as part of the curriculum. 🙂


I love reading this evolution post. It should be more peaceful for the time being. My son is going to be in middle school grade next academic year and I think Your experience is very inspiring for me. Thank you for sharing.


I loved this post. Thank you! This is right in line with what I am working on right now. 🙂


Thank you for this post! As a first-year homeschooler with 3 kids coming out of the PS system, I have really been struggling with breaking from the “school” mindset…that each kid MUST learn certain things in certain ways at their respective grade levels. Thank you for the reminder that it’s okay to let them focus on their interests, and that what they need to learn will come in their time…not some mandated timeline. 🙂