Monday, January 22, 2018

How to Make Time for Fun Stuff in Your Homeschool

I know so many homeschooling families who struggle with making sure that they balance the book work and meat of homeschooling with all the fun stuff they'd like to do like playing games, reading aloud, having a poetry tea time, creating arts and crafts projects, and getting around to those hands- on science experiments.



It can be hard to find the time to get it all done; especially when you have multiple children in various grades and you're trying to help them all with math, reading, etc.

I get it.  I do.

I too struggled for awhile to find the right balance for our family.  Our first few years I tried and tried to force us into a strictly unschooling mode because I wanted our learning to be fun and hands on but found that not only were my kids lacking skills they really needed and wanted to learn, but also that they were missing the structure of a more routine oriented day; often asking me to please plan out our days.

Our table looks like this most days.. 

I was OK with using workbooks and following a more traditional style of learning but I was so afraid that we would lose our fun and my kids would think of school as drudgery and boring work.  SO I made sure to keep our learning day as fun as possible.

The long and short of it is if you want to have time for fun in your homeschool you have to make it a priority. 


Sounds crazy right?

I know it sounds weird to say that I have always made fun a priority in our homeschooling.  Yes, I want my kids to learn all the basic knowledge they need to succeed like reading, math, spelling, etc., but I have tried to keep HOW I teach ALL of our subjects as fun as I can.

Now, this does not mean that we play games all the time and never do anything boring but it does mean that I try very hard to make sure we have time for fun each and every day.

That is what works for us and that might not work for you.  I get that.  Each family has their own unique set of needs.

However,  I do think that every family can find time in their schedule for fun but sometimes it takes a little creative thinking and a bit of planning to make that happen.

Lucky for you, I have quite a few suggestions on how to find time for all that fun stuff you want to do that you never think you have time for.

I have so many suggestions that I'm pretty confident you will find one that works for you.

1.  We used to homeschool year round; only taking a week or so off every other month.  We had more time to cover our school subjects and it wasn't a problem if a few less problems or pages in say our math book were completed each day.  By stretching our core subjects out,we had more free time each day for fun.

Enjoying a summer picnic while listening to some books on CD
Maybe a year round schooling schedule will work for you and give you extra time for fun.

2.  I know many families who homeschool using a 4 day school week; leaving that 5th day free for games, fun activities, and field trips.

Field trip Friday; Our Day at Magic Wings 

Maybe setting side one day a week just for fun would work better for you.

3.  I know many families who tackle the meat of homeschooling each year through the traditional school year and save summer and vacation weeks for fun art and science projects, day trips, and extra play time.

Water balloon art project

Maybe that's more your style.

4.  Having a rotating schedule of subjects to cover each day, week, or month can also help free up time.  Maybe you tackle reading, spelling, and math each day (or whatever you consider your core subjects) and spend one week really immersing yourself in science or history.  Maybe you play geography games on Monday, do science experiments and topics on Tuesday, art on Wednesday, etc.  Rotating through extra subjects allows you to cover fewer subjects each day while still assuring that within a set week. month, or school year you have covered all the topics.

Taking a class at a local oceanography club 

.Maybe a rotating schedule is just what you need.

5.  Use games or hands on activities to cover the lessons your book would be teaching anyway!  When my kids were learning sight words or math facts we'd play games to hone those skills and skip the workbook lessons altogether.  When we were first learning fractions we did a lot of baking and cooking from scratch together to get them used to adding and reducing fractions with like denominators.   I figured that as long as I was covering what the lesson was supposed to be teaching it didn't really matter how the boys learned it.  There are lots of great educational games out there and most any activity can become eductaional.

Shooting sight word cups; he reads whatever one he knock over.

Maybe adding a few games and hands on activities is all you need to make learning fun.

6.  Cover multiple subjects at the same time!  Another great way to save time in your homeschooling day is to cover more than one subject at a time.  If your children are reading and writing during their history lesson maybe they don't need a separate reading and writing lesson that day.

Participating in an Engineering class at a local Children's Museum-- the kids would read books
about the day's topic, draw up a plan, execute and fix their blueprints as needed.  
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What about if I told you that we use ALL of these techniques to add more fun into our homeschool? 

Does that sound totally crazy?  Because it's true! 

We do homeschool year round though we hit typically focus on learning through workbooks and textbooks more during the school year.  If you asked my kids they'd tell you we take the summer off... but that's not entirely accurate.

Attending a homeschool day at a local amusement park
We spend our summer taking day trips, getting messy with art or science (I LOVE taking art projects and science experiments outside and not having to worry about clean up as much!), and playing lots of games.  See, the boys think we're just filling our summer with fun activities but I know we're squeezing in a lot more learning!

The day we went out on an ocean research vessel 

We typically take one a day a week off from school or only covering math and reading that day early in the morning before taking off for a field trip or to meet up and play with friends.  If we have no group meet up and our friends are busy we'll fill our Friday with board games, art, and other fun learning pursuits.

Each day I have the boys work on math, reading, and some form of language arts.  We often throw ourselves into history or science lessons and can spend a month or so reading books, watching movies, and exploring our topic.  If we spent one month on history the next month we make sure to focus on another subject.  We might spent a week working on science projects and then another week or two reading about a geographical region.  Focusing on just a few subjects at a time helps us really dive deeply into those topics that grab our attention.

We found so many great books about World War II we just could not stop reading them!  But once we decided we were done we knew we had totally immersed ourselves in all things history and could move onto other subjects for a few months.  Below are the links to all our favorite books!





If I feel like we haven't been having a whole lot of fun for awhile in our homeschool I might declare a game day or a movie/YouTube/ Netflix day and we just play games or watch movies for most of our subjects.  Most of the time though I just pick one or two games to add onto our day after working in our math workbooks and doing some light reading on our own.  If I can I find a game that covers that day's lesson-- like playing Scrambled States of America and not having to worry about teaching geography that day.


We often have activities and lessons that span multiple subjects.  When my kids are baking they're reading, measuring, doing real life science lessons, and learning life skills. 



When my kids are experimenting with art it often includes science too like when we spray painted over dish soap and learned that the soap resists the paint.


Once you start looking for ways to add fun to your day you'll see how much just playing and having fun can lead to learning and you'll make it even more of a point to add even more fun into your days.

After all life is too short for learning to be boring!

Linking Up With:

“Mrs.AOK,

JENerally Informed



14 comments :

  1. I always love to see how much fun stuff you include in your homeschool. I let my older ones study whatever interests them. This means the one who loves to write, write all day long, the one who loves creative stuff does that all day long and Thomas does whatever he needs to do to get into the college he wants to go to. Charlotte loves to write and does it all. day. long. which would be my son's equivalence to Hell :) I guess fun is different for each person. I definitely need to up the fun ante with my little ones. Thanks for the ideas!

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    1. Thank you! I try let my older ones study what interests them too but they often need some guidance. I think all three of my boys would agree with Thomas that writing all day would be Hell! They are all pretty interested in building and tinkering so I try to keep kits and supplies on hand for that and I am always running to the library for more books for my middle son.

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  2. Great ideas, all. We've used Unit Studies to incorporate many subjects into one area of concentrated study. It makes it easier if the topic is something of interest, so the work is always related to something they enjoy. We have also used file folder games for every subject. These are so fun, that the kids don't even think they are doing schoolwork! Enjoy your day!

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    1. I love that unit studies have the ability to take a subject a student might not care much about... like say math, and make it so much more fun because it suddenly becomes relevant to them when they're studying something they are immensely interested in. I used to make TONS of file folder games; mostly for math and sight words/ spelling but my kids did enjoy them.

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  3. You amaze me! You are so good at balancing studies with fun things that just seem fun, you’re a smart sneaky one because the fun is LEARNING and I admire it so!

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    1. Thanks! I definitely make sure the fun stuff is learning based; I am very sneaky that way.

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  4. I can imagine how tough it is to keep things balance. But you're doing a great job indeed and looks like your kids really enjoy their time!

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  5. The balance is hard and with my health issues, I've felt bad that some of the "fun" has had to be put aside. I am working hard at bringing more into our days.

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    1. I bet that makes it tougher but I find that even when I can't initiate the fun with my boys they still find a way to have fun without me.

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  6. Learning can really be so much fun! I love incorporating games and art projects into lessons, and of course life and household skills matter a great deal! I help out with homeschooling my youngest two sisters, but we're getting more into high school and college prep stuff and I mean, Calculus and AP Chem really do involve a lot of hard work, but home learning is still awesome. We are currently doing a 4-day school week, but the extra day tends to be more about catching up on housework and errands and getting appointments in--haha! But fun always sneaks in when you're doing life and school together!

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    1. That sounds wonderful! I do find unless we take that 5th day of the week as a field trip day we end up filling it up with errands and housework too.

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  7. I have to admit, I'm not the best at the fun stuff. I try to plan some fun things, but it's also always the first thing I cut out if there isn't enough time. Here's what I'm finding...there's very rarely enough time. I want to be more intentional about fun things - make it a priority, like you said. Your ability to balance everything is amazing. :) I've been trying the rotating schedule and we do homeschool "year round" and take extra breaks, but I usually use those breaks to catch up on things and to plan the next "session" of school. I see I need a better plan so my girl can do more fun things! Thanks for the inspiration and for linking up with us at Live Life Well.

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    1. I think part of what helped me relax a bit was that we began homeschooling in the summer after a long and difficult year in the public school system. I wanted to test out or try on homeschooling to see if it would be a good fit for us but I knew I had to keep it light and fun since it was summer vacation. I made sure to focus on learning through play and experimentation. We read a lot of books, got messy with art and science, and went on a lot of field trips.... all while reading every book I could about unschooling, de-schooling, and making homeschooling fun and hands on. After seeing how much they grew in one summer I tentatively started leaving more and more of the book work out and letting the boys explore what they wanted.

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