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?
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!
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Homeschooling Out of the Box Teens
You might have noticed this list is full of ways to engage with our content and with each other.
We are all about teaching high school in an Out of the Box way.
And, I’m on a mission to help families with out of the box teens to homeschool high school differently with purpose and peace.
So, let’s bust up some myths about what high school has to look like for college bound teens!
Sign up below and get this free guide along with weekly homeschooling high support as you homeschool high school in an out of the box way!
Homeschooling High School by Design
We have lots of opportunities for you to design a personalized out of the box high school for your teens.
Each course comes with printable forms to match the lessons to guide you through the process. When you are finished each course, you’ll have a plan ready to go!
Dream Big & Take Action: Goal Conquering for Teens– the place to begin if your teen has not identified their “thing” yet. This process is what we use with our teens over and over again.
Homeschooling High School by Design– The course on planning a highly personalized high school for your out of the box, neurodivergent, sick teen and still hit the high school check lists.
Homeschooling for College by Design– The course that covers how to prepare your teen’s highly personalized homeschool for college admission. We have lessons all the important college prep milestones like dual enrollment, college essays, college entrance exams, the Common Application, special applications like design schools and service academies, and other lessons as well. We focus on how to package your teen’s unique experiences for college admission.
Homeschooling High School by Design Membership– This is the community where you get all the high school courses, plus two live calls a month on topics you care the most about along with a community of moms to talk with and get help from. The ongoing support is amazing for families!
Homeschooling Teens with Chronic Illness & Disabilities Membership– This is a subset of our membership that specifically supports moms homeschooling sick and neurodivergent teens.
Be sure to visit some other iHomeschool Network bloggers for a peek at the summer plans for other families!