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Lifeschool: Freedom from Formal Education

Lifeschool: a new term in homeschooling communities that is capturing the attention of parents ready to kick formal education and standardized curriculum to the curb. But what does lifeschooling look like in practice?

Take a peek inside the day of a homeschool family who is helping bring attention to this homeschool method we call life.

Lifeschool: Freedom from Formal Education. A look inside the life of a homeschooling family putting life front and center. #homeschooling #lifeschool #freedom

Today I’m talking with Charlene Hess, a homeschooling mom of seven(!), taking a new and increasingly popular approach to homeschoooling: lifeschool.

Lifeschool Mom, Charlene Hess

Lifeschool is the newest term in homeschool education that has families across the world turning popular methods on their heads!

Rather than being driven by strict educational milestones, a plodding curriculum guide, or inflexible homeschooling methodology, the Hess family places life front and center – putting family first.

Ready to flip the concept of homeschooling upside down? In the following interview, Charlene shares her thoughts on lifeschool.


What homeschool method or style do you use?

We dabble in unschooling, roadschooling, Montessori, and relaxed schooling but mostly we do a lot of Lifeschooling.


How is lifeschool different from relaxed or eclectic homeschooling?

We are different from relaxed and eclectic schoolers because we spend a lot of time out in the world learning through experiences. But we are different from unschoolers because we don’t put our children completely in charge of their own education – we guide and mold them on the path we think is best for them.

I could say that we identify as lifeschoolers rather than just relaxed/eclectic schoolers because we incorporate life into our everyday learning. But honestly, a lot of homeschoolers pull education into their everyday life. And that’s great!

But where we stand out is instead of pulling education into our everyday life (i.e. bringing outside projects or books and such and learning from them regularly) we do the opposite. We take our regular life and see what we can learn from it.


How do you incorporate roadschooling into your lifeschool method?

How do I claim we dabble in ‘roadschooling’ if we still have a permanent address? What does this look like? And how does that tie into roadschooling?

I use the term ‘roadschooling’ loosely (remember – we dabble!) In our family, this merely means we do a huge chunk of our learning not at home.

We try and go on AT LEAST one family outing a week – preferably more. Where do we go? ANYWHERE! Historical downtowns, botanical gardens, community service projects, amusement parks, bowling alleys and arcades – the possibilities are truly endless.

And while we are out playing and exploring the world as a family, we make sure to be very conscientious and aware of the lessons to be learned at these locations. We talk about these lessons as a family so we can all learn together (and from each other!)

There truly is learning to be done in absolutely everything that we do. We just need to be looking for the lessons so that they don’t pass us by.


Looking to incorporate more field trips into your homeschool week? Check out these 40 fantastic field trips for kids!

40 Fun and Educational Field Trips. Check out these fantastic field trips ordered by category: Science field trips, History field trips, Art and Music field trips, Field trips for every community, and virtual field trip resources! #education #fieldtrips #elementary

What your lifeschool look like?

An average week looks like this – We’ll spend one or two mornings (possibly as much as three) working on our reading. The older kids read chapter books and we ask reading comprehension questions. The younger kids do online programs such as reading eggs and reading kingdom.

We usually spend one morning a week doing math practice. The older kids use khan academy and the younger kids use math seeds (a sub program of reading eggs).

The rest of the week we do random things. We’ll go on field trips to local venues and see what we can learn there. My older son works on his coding. My younger kids get a lot of outside free play time.

We have a lot of history and scriptural discussions as a family throughout the week in informal settings. We’ll watch a couple of interesting documentaries. We mostly spend our time exploring the world together through video, book, and life!


How do you plan or organize lifeschooling?

I try to make sure the kids are keeping up on their reading and basic arithmetic. If they’re moving along, I plan something fun. If they’re in need of some more work, I assign them some work. We play it by ear and I base our days on what the kids need (emotionally and mentally) that day.


If you use a flexible, relaxed approach like lifeschool, a structured weekly planner might feel overwhelming. Take a look at our easy, no-fuss solution:The Homeschool Portfolio. Simple checklists and journaling for your homeschool record-keeping.

Homeschool Portfolio - Versatile journal for homeschool record keeping. Available in 3 designs.

What advice would you give to someone interested in lifeschool?

Relax! Nobody knows your kids better than you. Don’t compare yourself to other homeschoolers because their goals are not your goals. Just worry about you and yours and everything else will fall into place.


Find out more…

Read more about Charlene’s approach to life and homeschooling on her website, Hess Un-Academy.

Are you a new homeschooler? Find answers, advice, and support here.

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