Ten Things that Make a Great Homeschool Day

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This is a topic near and dear to my homeschooling high school heart. How do we define a great homeschool day? If you don’t know, take some time to think about it. What would it look like? This is especially important if you get to the end of the day feeling flustered that things went wrong. What would your day look like if everything went well? Ten Things that Make a Great Homeschool Day is a list of the things that are the most important benchmarks for us. They don’t all have to happen in one day, but if one or more happens then you know it’s been a good day!

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Author’s note: This post was originally published in 2013 when our oldest was in 9th grade and updated once in 2016! It is still safe to say in 2021 that this list has stood the test of time. But, I’ve just added some thoughts and updated a few pictures along with the formatting. Enjoy!

When you consider the idea of homeschooling, it probably conjures up images.

Some of them might include children sitting neatly at desks or tables working .

Or maybe it resembles nothing close to what conventional schooling looks like.

Maybe you are still working on a vision of what you want your homeschool to look like.

Maybe you just know what you don’t want it to look like.

Chances are, whatever vision we did cast for our homeschools, it may not be what we thought it would be.

These are my favorite homeschooling moments in any day.

Which ones would make your list?

Reading Aloud

Man reading aloud from the Lord of the Rings
My husband read to use every night for 7 months in 2020 during the pandemic

Nothing makes the day go better than taking time to read aloud together. We usually have one selection going for the whole family. I read to subsets of the kids as well either in pairs and groups or individually- for school and for fun. This is a great way to start the homeschool day and it’s a guarantee when trying to get things back on track for the day or to soothe the crazies.

Reading to your kids or having them read to you is always, always time well spent. This includes teenagers, by the way. There are no exceptions to this rule!

Project Time

Blog She Wrote: Ten Things That Make a Great Homeschool Day
This is Ethan’s custom mini figure collection. He would spend hours customizing clone troopers!

Our kids always have some project going on. We usually have project time and time for pursuing passions in the afternoons, but sometimes if a child is deep into a project and making progress they can be found working at any time of the day.

I love to capture that time and to conference with the kids on what they are doing and what their next steps are.

Confession, this is often when I take pictures for Instagram or Facebook and share it around. My teens spend a lot of time immersed in their project worlds, so this makes sense.

Playing Games

Blog She Wrote: Ten Things That Make a Great Homeschool Day
Risk was an early favorite for our tweens and teens, but our shelves are filled with games!

We love to play games together!

This is another great relationship builder for kids.

We can choose word games, math games, strategy game, or just our plain old favorite games.

The game is not as important as spending time together and whatever game you choose, you are sure to need various skill sets to get to the end of the game.

Nature Walk & Time Outdoors

teen girl collecting insects in the grass

I like to take some time outdoors to breathe in the fresh air and to make observations. You can base a lot of inquiry off of the things you observe.

When our kids were all little, we made regular excursions around our yard and nearby parks and trails. I have scores of pictures of them playing, walking, and observing habitats.

Now that my kids are older, it’s not as easy.

One of my kids adores being outside and will spend all day out there.

One doesn’t like walking through tall plants and is pretty terrified of all buzzing insects. Especially the stinging ones.

One likes to be outdoors, but is not into making a thousand stops to see all the blooms along the way.

And let’s not forget our oldest and his next youngest brother, who has had severe Lyme disease for three years plus.

Why is it still a favorite?

Because my kids love wild animals and they love learning about habitats. Two of them are entomologists (even if one hates the buzzing kind!).

We still like to hike and kayak when we can and to spend time at the lakes and waterfalls in our area.

Plus, our porch is a great place to see things from up high without being down among the buzzing things and ticks. Mostly the ticks.

It just comes with a little extra crazy sometimes. And that’s ok.

Blog She Wrote: Ten Things That Make a Great Homeschool Day
I used to love mini petri dishes for bringing home our nature finds, as long as it was an appropriate place for collection.

Art

I love to see how each child will make something different from the same assignment with the same instruction.

It can be quite a task to get everyone to buy into art time at the same time, but once it’s up and going it’s delightful.

I always have a place in mind to share finished products even if means rotating them and my kids love to see their work displayed.

Art has long been a part of our high school years, even for those teens not artistically inclined.

Blog She Wrote: Ten Things That Make a Great Homeschool Day

Dinner Time

This is a fabulous time around the dinner table when we share our events and discoveries with Dan (aka: husband, dad, and the school principal).

The kids share their school day. Dan is a good listener and he is very quick to give his perspective and add new things to the conversation or to give the kids new challenges.

If we’re especially lucky, Dan will pull out his dry erase marker and grab the nearby whiteboard.

Dinner time all together is a priority at our house even in the busy season with high schoolers. If dinner isn’t a possibility, consider an evening meeting of some sort.

Writing Conferences

Rebecca spent November of her senior year creating a novel with 50,000 words!

This is when I meet with my kids individually and go over their latest point in the writing process.

I enjoy coaching my kids’ writing and watching the piece come clearly into focus from many ideas.

This is one of those things that requires a little time, but it’s worth it to see their ideas come together using common grammatical conventions.

Collaboration

This includes any activities where students share ideas.

Collaboration can happen with other homeschooled students on forums or at co-ops.

It can happen online between kids who are connected through skills. For example, my daughter worked with a student author to illustrate her detective book.

It can happen when siblings share their expertise with one another and help with each others projects.

Blog She Wrote: Ten Things That Make My Homeschool Day

Spreading Out & Immersing

I love to see my kids sprawled throughout the house engaged in some school activity.

They might be looking up a country in an atlas on the floor or standing up at a map.

One might be in a comfortable chair using the laptop for an essay assignment.

Another might sit at the computer working on programming or a project.

It’s so encouraging to see everyone engaged in something.

Blog She Wrote: Ten Things That Make My Homeschool Day

Discovery

It’s a great homeschool day when kids make a discovery.

In fact, I have one teen who definitely measures his day by what he has learned in any given day.

Even if they don’t discover it for themselves, it’s nice to see what others have discovered and sometimes it inspires other ideas for the kids to try.

Sometimes it’s a skill they’ve been working on or a problem they’ve been trying to solve. Or it could be something new they’ve read about.

Remember to Focus on the Present

My last two high schoolers at our book party in September, 2020.

Any one of these things will make a great day of homeschooling. Many times more than one takes place in a day. But, they all don’t have to happen on the same day for it to be a great homeschool day.

The truth is homeschooling is messy.

There might be interruptions like the phone, the knock at the door, the dirty diaper (just when we are finally ready to start something).

There might be emotions from your sensitive child, your intense child, your teenager, or sibling interactions.

There might be road blocks like unexpected illnesses,

So, I want you to think about the sorts of things make a great homeschool day at your house. Write down the list.

Look for those moments. Make those moments.

Be thankful for those moments.

Look for the fruit of those moments.

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Blog She Wrote: Ten Things That Make a Great Homeschool Day

Be sure to visit some other iHomeschool Network bloggers for a peek at the summer plans for other families!

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27 Comments

    1. Thanks Jamie!

      Our homeschool looked different when the kids were all young- I had more routine and more one thing to the next. As the kids have gotten older (and can all read well), I have to micromanage less and I mentor a lot more. It makes our day look very relaxed!

    1. Joan we’ve had that map for years! Bought a two pack laminated set from Staples. My 7yo is standing on a love seat to get to it. Thanks for stopping by!

  1. Great list Heather! Thank you! We started dedicated Project Time today. My son and daughter are currently making pirate robots out of recycled materials and lots of fun embellishments. Thank you for always being a source of encouragement. My daughter also has started a fishing journal and that has been a springboard for all sorts of research and knowledge.

  2. Wonderful! We love board games, art, and reading aloud too. Though most of the read alouds occur in the car nowadays via an audio book. We are on the go so much with their activities anymore. πŸ™‚

  3. I’d love to read more about the writing conferences. I am always looking for ideas of how to help kids with writing. Can you elaborate on how you do that with your kids?!

    1. Sure- mainly we talk over their writing together. First, I have them look for certain things in their own writing to work on self-editing skills. Then we look over it and if the writer is young and the writing is full of mistakes, I have them read it to me. Usually they read the piece beautifully and then I can discuss with them the need for proper grammar- if you want others to read it the way you do, you must learn to use punctuation to make that happen! I make notes on what we’ve discussed and they work another draft. It goes along like that.

  4. This is a great blog! I love what you mentioned about making time to play and discover. Those I feel are pretty crucial to a successful homeschooling day!
    If you or anyone else is interested, I’m part of a company that just developed a supplemental homeschooling kit about a toy called a Flashcopter. It’s all about the science behind them! Here’s link to our Facebook page.

    https://www.facebook.com/IlluminationToyCoHomeschooling?ref=hl

    Great blog article, Heather!

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