One of the greatest advantages homeschooling families enjoy is the freedom to design a learning environment, strategy, and lifestyle that suits the needs of each child individually, as well as the family as a whole. While reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic are important to think about as you conjure ideas for next year, I highly recommend prioritizing joy in your homeschool as well.
Here are 10 practices that are sure to add joy to your homeschool.
Set aside a portion of each day for reading aloud. Regardless of the ages of your children, sharing in the classics, discovering the wonders of interesting topics, and giggling together over beloved picture books will become treasured memories you retain long after your season of homeschooling has finished. Audiobooks enjoyed together count, too. For fidgety kiddos, encourage doodling or crafting while listening. Make full use of your local library, used bookstores, and various online resources to procure a wide variety of quality literature to share with your family.
Take a Hike
Surprisingly, for many homeschoolers, little time is actually spent at home. The world is your classroom, as they say, so make sure you’re getting out into it. Incorporate a habit of local nature walks. Encourage sketching and water-coloring, photography, identifying wildlife, and picnicking too. Benefitting the mind, soul, and body, a walk together makes every day better.
Bake the Bread
Let your home be one where the smell of freshly baked bread wafts through the air; a tray of freshly baked cookies accompanies math; or a platter of colorful, fresh fruit doubles as both an art project and delicious snack. Homeschooling and homemade just go hand in hand. The lessons of self-reliance, creativity, and compassion—along with the practical skills of baking and cooking—are all intertwined with the acts of providing food for your family. Allow time and space for homemade goodness into your schedule.
Play the Music
The streaming services available to us now are the perfect tools to joyfully incorporate music appreciation into your homeschooling routine. The mind-boggling availability of music is helpful for a homeschooling family. Introduce your children to the greatest composers in history simply by curating playlists and pressing play. This will become the soundtrack to your days.
Play All Day
As a homeschooler, you may feel pressure to get serious about your children’s studies, but don’t underestimate the power of play. Very young children should play most of the time. Everything should feel like play to them. That’s how they learn. Even as children get older, you can continue to place an emphasis on fun and play with games, challenges, competitions, or artistic endeavors. Working with the topics that truly interest them and exploring them in their own way will feel like play. Aim for a sense of play in your homeschooling as much as possible.
Go on a Field Trip
School kids get a field trip once a year if they’re lucky. Homeschool kids can go weekly or more if they so desire. Start a list of potential field trip destinations in your area. Get creative. Besides the obvious zoos, museums, and parks, local businesses that interest your children will often welcome homeschoolers for a “behind-the-scenes” demonstration or class.
Just because you’re a homeschooling parent doesn’t mean you have to teach every single subject directly to your children. If you hate math, it’s probably best if that subject is taught to them by someone else. If science is boring to you, you can surely find someone else who loves it. Outsource those aspects of homeschooling that aren’t bringing you joy, because your kids will sense it. There are a plethora of online classes available, and you can work within a co-op to share the load with other homeschooling parents, or you can purchase a curriculum that’s mostly self-directed.
Mix It Up
Every so often, cancel the whole day and do something totally unexpected. Perhaps you take a day trip, visit the library in the morning and declare the rest of the day a reading day, or unveil some new art supplies and invite creating all day in lieu of lessons. Perhaps you just cancel school for the whole day for no reason whatsoever. You’re homeschoolers. You can do that. So do it and rejoice in the fun and smiles that such surprises bring.
Keep your eye on the calendar and mark the holidays and celebrations you deem important. Throw a party, make themed snacks, take on craft projects inspired by the celebration, and request books from your library on that topic. This takes a little bit of forethought, but it’s fun!
It can be tempting, with the pressure of providing your child with an education, to plan a lot of academic activities and strongly encourage your children to follow your plans to a T. As you aim to educate them, though, don’t forget to connect with them. The gift of being home with your family together throughout their childhood is an immeasurable blessing. You’re in a position to support, nurture, and know your children for who they are and who they could be. Remain flexible and maintain a loving and encouraging environment where your children can thrive.