Minimal-schooling for the season

A quick Google search suggests that ‘minimal-schooling’ is not a real word – or a real thing. But I know that’s not true. Maybe there just wasn’t a word for it before. You’re welcome.

What is minimal-schooling?

If you need a season of self-care, draw on the ready-made or community-made educational feasts available to you until the season has passed.

Hyggeschooling is another word that gets thrown around this time of year. Minimal-schooling isn’t that. You won’t find cocoa, twinkle lights or fluffy socks mentioned here.

Minimal-schooling isn’t about making a special season of home educating. It is about recognising your own need for a season of self-care. If, like me, you find this particular season a tough one for ‘keeping it together’ then drop your schedule/checklist/expectations and just maintain the routine.

How do I maintain my home education routine without a schedule/checklist/expectations I hear you ask. Good question. That’s where minimal-schooling comes in! It doesn’t necessarily mean covering less information, it means putting minimal effort into preparing that information for your children.

As an example, right after the birth of a new baby no one expects the mother to make her family amazing nutritious meals. Whether a mother is surrounded by an amazing community who stocked her freezer well in advance or she is a more solitary creature and her freezer is filled with shop-bought ready-meals in preparation, she accepts this season of self-care as necessary and makes sure her other kiddos’ bellies are full even if they’re not full of a rainbow from the five food groups made by her own loving hands.

If you need a season of self-care, draw on the ready-made or community-made educational feasts available to you until the season has passed. Fill that home-ed slot in your schedule with a new activity for a season. Swap out the complicated chemistry experiment on your checklist with a youtube video or podcast on the subject. Drop any expectation of meeting arbitrary deadlines or relentlessly pushing through your materials.

Sounds great! How do I get started?

I’ve included a list of the podcasts and YouTube channels we love in our house, especially during this season of rest. Instead of cracking open our books after walking the dog, we pull out a simple Christmas craft and put on a podcast or curl up in front of the YouTube with our cups of tea – or both!

On a good day I might look around for an episode that will act as a good review of something we’ve learned this year. On a low day I’m more inclined to just ask the kiddos what piques their interest and see where the day takes us. Sometimes their enthusiasm for things can really lift me up and carry me through the day. Some weeks we binge on things that interest us. Other weeks we manage to cover a good mix of subjects while we cast about for our next obsession. It’s all learning. It all counts. And I remind myself that this is just one season. Not all of our home ed journey looks this disorganised.


Short and Curly (Ethics)
Short and Curly is an ethics podcast for children and their adults. With episodes like ‘Do you want to become a vampire?’ and ‘Is it ever okay to be cannibal?’ as well as ‘Are parents hypocrites?’ and ‘Birthday presents – should we stop giving them?’ you are sure to while away the hours with some great episodes from their back catalog of ten series. Be advised – interesting discussions are a likely side effect of listening to Short and Curly.

Shabam (Science – but oh so much more!)
Shabam is all about making connections between subjects like science, art and history where there don’t appear to be any obvious connections. I highly recommend binge listening to season 1 about the ever so educational Zombie Apocolypse (brains, pathogens, epidemics, communications, electricity, water, the food supply, transportation and killing zombies)!

Wow in the World (STEM)
WOW in the World is great for all ages. Mindy and Guy cover news in science and technology in a way that is both entertaining and informative even for quite young listeners.

Brains On (Science)
Brains On is another great podcast for all ages. A new kid co-hosts the show each week and they get their burning questions answered by a guest journalist.

Forever Ago (History)
By the same company that produces Brains On, Forever Ago also features a new kid co-host each week. Each episode explores the origin of one thing – like shoes, sanwiches or skateboards!

The Past and the Curious (History)
I don’t know where Mick Sullivan gets his history information, but it’s far better than anything I ever read in school. Like Terry Deary, Mick’s stories highlight lesser known aspects of historical events as well as lesser historical events that are just curious, but without the gross-factor of Horrible Histories.

Smash Boom Best (Debate)
Smash Boom Best is another smash hit from the company that procudes Brains On. There is yet another kid co-host who listens to two adults debate two cool things and decide which is best (or at least who made the better argument) – Aliens V Robots, Snakes V Spiders, Loki V Athena – it’s a real mixed bag. More recent episodes have taken time out to entertainingly introduce children to ‘logical fallacies’ and other bogus debate tactics to watch out for!

Story Pirates (Drama with a literacy angle)
Story Pirates is an arts education and media company. They accept stories written by children and youth and turn them into sketch comedy for more entertaining listening. Each episode includes an interview with one of the young authors too! It’s certainly inspiring for both reluctant and prolific writers alike.

Six Minutes / Becoming Mother Nature / Young Ben Franklin (Drama)
These drama series from Gen Z Media are just addictive! Young Ben Franklin and Becoming Mother Nature are both wrapped up now so you can begin listening and know that you will eventually come to a satisfying conclusion. Six Minutes is the jewel of the mix though and still going strong at 188 episodes and counting. Each episodes is only about six minutes long and is a nail-biting cliff hanger!

Stories Podcast (Drama)
Stories Podcast is billed as stories for bedtime. All stories are safe for all ages and while this isn’t drama in the sense that multiple actors are playing the various parts, the voice actress does ‘do voices.’ Mister Ten took an interest in Celtic mythology after listening to a story about Dagda. There is a really good mix of genres in this podcast.

What if World (Drama)
What if World is another great one for bedtime. Mr Eric has a very calm (if not necessarily soothing) voice and the stories he creates (with helpful suggestions from listeners) are entertaining whilst not action packed. We appreciate how Mr Eric incorprates what sometimes seems like really awkward suggestions into stories.

But Why (Hodgepodge)
But Why collects questions from listeners and puts like questions together to ask an expert in every episode. It’s a real mixed bag of topics from the scientific to ‘Are unicorns real?’

YouTube Channels

Absolute Genius with Dick and Dom (History +)
Learn about the geniuses whose ideas, creations and discoveries have shaped our world – with Dick and Dom! Need I say more?

Art for Kids Hub (Art)
If you want to know how to draw something, it’s probably been done on this channel.

Cosmic Kids Yoga (Exercise and mindfulness)
Jamie is amazing for restless or irritable children (think hemmed in on a rainy day). Cosmic Kids is story-based yoga using original stories as well as famous ones like Harry Potter and Frozen. She also has guided meditations for children and mindfulness videos.

Crash Course Kids (Science)
If you don’t know Crash Course, you must live under a rock. But Mr. Green talks much too fast for the kiddos so I was pleased to find the child-friendly version.

Creatful Kids (Art)
Creatful Kids is another lovely art channel, but it includes more mediums than just drawing.

Extra Credits (History, Science Fiction, Mythology)
This one is more of interest for older children. Mister Ten is a bit of history and mythology buff so this is his jam.

History Matters (History)
History Matters is meant for students studying for GCSE’s and A levels, but again, Mister Ten really enjoys it because history.

It’s Okay To Be Smart (Science)
This channel is for all ages. The visuals are great and even Miss Six understands most of the episodes with a little discussion. Difficult concepts explained simply. Perfect.

Kids Invent Stuff (Design & Technology)
Kids Invent Stuff is just good fun. The channel accepts designs from children and then these two actually MAKE IT and then post an episode for everyone to see how it was done and how well it works. It’s definitely inspiring!

Math Antics (Math)
I put Math Antics on to review math concepts and cover my bases. The explanations are clear if not overly entertaining. It is math.

Pocoyo Episodios Completos ESPAÑOL (Spanish)
Pocoyo in Spanish! The best advice I ever read for training children’s ears for another language was to watch cartoons in that language. Pocoyo is the right speed for Miss Six who has speech processing delays for English let alone another language. Les Zinzins is a bit like Looney Tunes in French (much faster language). It’s worth having a look around for cartoons in another language if your children are learning one.

SciShow Kids (Science)
Much like Crash Course Kids is the child-friendly version of Crash Course, so SciShow Kids is the child-friendly version of SciShow (brought to you by the other Green brother). If you want to build on science concepts use Crash Course Kids, but if you’re introducing science concepts for the first time to young children, this channel is the one.

Sick Science! (Science)
Steve Spangler’s channel. Does anyone not know this one?

Ted Ed (Hodgepodge)
Obvious, no?

The Royal Institution (Science)
If you need to kill an hour or more of the day, the RI has some really long videos from their Christmas lecture series and they are so captivating as well as informative. There are short ones too and simple science experiments on their website using household items.

Other Ideas

  • Board games
    • Use whatever you have on hand
  • Books
    • Reread old favourites (especially if there is a movie equivalent you can watch and compare as a ‘literature study’)
    • Kill an hour at the library on a rainy day or make it a weekly thing to fill in one of those empty spaces in your schedule
  • Deck of Cards
    • War, Go Fish, Fish to Ten, etc
    • Kate Snow offers a lot of great card game variations in her books for remembering the various math facts
  • Lego
    • Make historical architecture, modern architecture, dramatic scenes, or count them, group them, etc.
    • Watch channels like Brickle for some D&T inspiration
  • Nature study
    • Whatever program you have on hand is fine, just go outside. Trust me, a cup of tea tastes best after a walk in the rain!
    • If you don’t have anything on hand, get Go Find It.
  • Scratch and other coding software
    • If your child takes an interest in these things, now is not the time to limit their screen time. Let them binge. Within reason of course. No one likes a square-eyed crankster!
  • Video games
    • Even those games that don’t appear educational can be teaching your child persistence and how to think outside of the box. We love Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild.
    • Look for an angle on your child’s game du jour. Pokemon regions are based on real world locations – can you guess them? Can you find them on the map?

I’m sure I haven’t covered all of the best podcasts, YouTube Channels or minimal-schooling options out there. But I hope you find this useful if you’re currently in a season of rest too. Let’s help each other stock up for the season.

Tell me your favourite minimal-schooling tips, tricks, podcasts and channels below!

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