Popularized by Mary Hood and described as a “mindset” rather than a homeschooling philosophy, relaxed homeschooling has come to mean slightly different things to different people. While there are common threads, every family applies the relaxed mindset in slightly different ways.
While it would be impossible to paint a picture of all relaxed homeschools, there are some characteristics that many have in common:
- parents set general goals for the children, but recognize that there are many different ways to reach each goal
- does not fit the traditional mold of education, and requires a shift in the way parents think about learning, therefore not suitable for those more comfortable with traditional classroom learning
- no day is typical, days are loosely organized, if at all
- life is the center of learning and parents are mentors, supporters, and helpers, but not necessarily teachers or Principals
- parents reflect on what works and what does not, and periodic review takes place from time to time; however, exams and grades do not play a large part
- a variety of materials may be used, or not; textbooks and curriculum products are de-emphasized
- there is no relaxed program or curriculum, since each family chooses what to do, when, and how
- measuring progress and tracking successes are not critical components, though parents in states requiring reviews or evaluations may document these areas as needed
Since relaxed homeschooling is less structured with less emphasis on curriculum, pressures are reduced and the burden of “covering” material is relieved. The relaxed method may be looked at a life learning, using experiences and activities that families do anyway.
Note that relaxed homeschooling, which is primarily parent led, is not the same thing as unschooling, which is primarily child led.