When All Else Fails, It’s Time For Strewing

There will be many times in our years of homeschooling when for a multitude of reasons we will hit the wall. Perhaps it’s a new baby, a move, or a lengthy illness, but whatever the reason, homeschooling may fall to the bottom of our to-do list. At these times, it can be very beneficial to get going with some homeschool strewing.

It’s okay. It doesn’t make us a homeschool failure, it doesn’t mean we should send the kids to school, and it doesn’t mean we will never recover.

What it does mean is that it is a time to adjust. Perhaps we put away the daily checklists and embrace a more relaxed, organic approach to learning? Or maybe we fill our days with field trips and documentaries?

There may come a time when you are ready to pull out the color-coded curriculum, but it doesn’t have to be today. So what do you do in the meantime?

Embrace some strewing in your homeschool and allow your children to be inspired.

When all else fails, it's time for homeschool strewing

What does Homeschool Strewing mean?

Strewing is a term coined by unschool advocate, Sandra Dodd, years ago and means to leave interesting things “strewn” about your house to be discovered by your curious child.

For many homeschool moms, this may take some thought and planning as you begin your strewing endeavors, but over time, it just becomes second nature and an integral part of your homeschool.

Some simple strewing ideas are:

  • Leaving a puzzle partially done on the table
  • Posting art postcards on the kitchen refrigerator
  • Pulling out that long-forgotten board game and seeing who’s up for a match
  • Deciding one rainy afternoon to watch a classic movie and asking who will join you

It doesn’t take an expensive curriculum, it doesn’t take hours of planning, and it can be as interesting to you as it is for the kids.

Homeschool Strewing Quick Guide

Do you have to plan for strewing?

Moms often wonder if strewing is just one more thing they have to plan. I think the answer would be yes and no. Better yet, yes or no.

Do you have to plan? No.

Can you plan? Sure, why not.

It’s your homeschool, and it can be whatever you want. Some moms strew without even having a name for it. Maybe they’re studying the middle ages, and they pick up that castle puzzle as a fun addition. To me, this is a type of strewing.

I tend to strew more haphazardly, but there are also times when I am more intentional. Neither method is “incorrect.” I’m not a homeschool purist of any sort other than my belief that it shouldn’t be school-at-home.

So plan or don’t plan, it’s up to you.

When all else fails, it's time for homeschool strewing

Getting Started With Homeschool Strewing

So maybe strewing sounds like a good idea and you would like to give it a go, or perhaps you’re feeling guilty because the new baby is interrupting all your homeschool time.

Whatever the reason, here are some simple tips to get you started:

1. Start with what you have

Getting started with homeschool strewing doesn’t require a trip to the store and or a rush delivery from Amazon. If you’re a homeschooling family, you probably have plenty of resources just waiting to be used already in your home.

What toys, puzzles, or games, do you already have that may have been tucked away for a bit? Pull one of those out and leave it for the kids.

Surely, we all have some black copy paper around. You could make a few of these simple folded books and leave them in a basket with crayons or markers. My girls always love it when I make these.

Even some dirt from the yard and a few beans from the panty can become a fascinating project for your kids to enjoy.

2.  Go exploring

There is no strewing rule that says it must take place at home. Sometimes the best strewing experiences are found in unexpected places.

One of my favorite places to do some strewing is at an ethnic market. Strolling through an international markets produce department will provide limitless opportunities to discover something new.

While taking a hike at a local park you may find new and interesting plants or get a close-up view of birds or insects.

Even your local library can be a source of strewing goodies. Our library has started doing some strewing of their own, and each month they have a table in the teen section with some activity or craft specifically for the older kids.

When all else fails, it's time for homeschool strewing

3. Drop your preconceived ideas of education

We can’t help it. Most of us are the product of compulsory schooling. Our brains immediately equate learning to book reports, quizzes, and other “products,” but learning still happens even if there isn’t a piece of paper to prove it.

To reap the benefits of strewing in our homeschools, we need to let go of our deeply ingrained ideas about education.

  • It’s okay to learn from a game
  • You can read a book for enjoyment
  • Audiobooks count
  • Learning isn’t relegated from 8 am to 3 pm

If we can drop some of the tightly held ideas from our grasp, we are sure to have a more productive homeschool life and find learning in all places.

Strewing Becomes a Way of Being

The longer you try your hand at the art of strewing, the more it will become a way of being for you and your homeschool.

At first, you may need the idea sheets and planning pages, but soon it will become second nature, and you’ll strew without even knowing it’s happening.

So if you’re having that rough time and the boxes just aren’t getting checked, give yourself some grace.

You can create an interesting and inspiring home in which your children will learn, and it doesn’t even require a rubric. All it takes is an interested parent willing to share the wonders of the world with their child.


Homeschool strewing

| Filed under Homeschool, Strewing
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About Bethany Ishee

Bethany is the mom of six, always-homeschooled children, who one day realized she'd lost herself in the process, probably under a pile of laundry. Her eclectic style of homeschooling draws upon Classical to Unschooling and everything in between.  While homeschooling her children and writing about learning outside of school, she tries to find time to read a book, drink coffee, and pay the bills.

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