It can be overwhelming trying to decide how to spend your homeschool day. There are tons of activities and fun opportunities out there, especially with all the new homeschool groups popping up. Here are some tips on keeping it balanced while still incorporating in those fun activities:
People ask me all the time, “how in the world do you find the time to do all these amazing things with your kids?”
It’s simple really…
- I do what makes sense for our family (schedule/financial wise).
- I base our extra activities on their interests, passions, and resources available.
Here’s what I don’t do.
First of all, I don’t waste my time comparing our activities to others. For example, I think it’s totally awesome that your kids are taking “sailing lessons.” But I know that isn’t for us so I’m not going to sweat it.
Secondly, I don’t try to force us to do every. single. little. thing that crosses my Facebook feed. I’m in a lot of homeschool activities groups online. Yes, that’s a great resource.
However, I will drive myself crazy if I try to pack our schedule full of activities that don’t make sense for us.
I try to make wise choices for my kids. After all, one of the best benefits to homeschooling is being able to spend time on some extra activities that…
- build confidence
- drive interests
- teach life skills
- enhance personalities, and
- teach core Biblical values.
In just 15 minutes a night (while you’re in your pajamas!) take your home (and heart and mind) from stressed out to organized.
Here are 5 Tips to Packing a Full Schedule of FUN Activities Without Losing your Balance
Not each of these tips is for every homeschool family. I’ll be the first to say that you have to do what works best for your kids and your personality. However, I stand by the fact that balance is always the key.
Balance is the underlining principle that drives most of my homeschooling routines and decisions. Let’s get to it:
Make sure the activities you have planned fill in the gaps of your general education.
The average elementary school child spends 6 hours sitting in their dest every day. Forgive me, but I find this a bit unbalanced. Nobody wants to sit that long.
Here’s my point- most core academics are taught sitting alone (math equations, grammar, spelling, etc.) So, I plan fun activities that balance this out.
- A nature walk outside where we paint the trees- instead of taking an indoor paining class.
- A trip to a the state park (and reading the historical signs)- instead of doing that extra history lesson.
- Museum trips to learn about physics, physical science, and mechanics- as well as bookwork.
- Social trips such as park days- to be sure I’m teaching them social skills.
- A planned work day with daddy or granddad- school can wait.
For us, we school academically 4 days a week- then go somewhere on the 5th day. It isn’t always the same day of the week (depending on what the excursion is), but it’s always a day “away from the desk”.
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Plan fun activities EVERY DAY that allow them to express themselves and have an “outlet.”
Y’all, this world we live in is stressful. I read a study that said that the average High School graduate is 300 times more stressed out than a person that same age 100 years ago. That simply not cool.
I believe that knowing how to “calm your mind” and use a “healthy outlet” are powerful tools that we should be teaching our children.
That being said, I try to incorporate this type of experience for my children every single day.
It’s worth noting that it’s different for each kid. You gotta base their “healthy outlet” on what works for them. But, you won’t know unless you give a variety of things a try.
Let me stop you there- video games or watching YouTube doesn’t qualify as a healthy outlet. There’s much to be said about the mental effects of prolonged screen time. I believe that the huge increase in stress, as discussed earlier, is due greatly to the increase in screen time.
I’m pretty sure I just heard my son’s voice in my head saying, “all I want to do is watch movies all day long.” Nope- that isn’t healthy and I makes you grumpy. Not happening…
So, balance out the “sit still and write it down” academics with something they enjoy.
- Daily quiet reading time (with music playing/or not) is a great source of relaxation for some kids. Create a cozy space with a fun bean bag and pillow, etc. Maybe even provide an outside area that is easily accessible and super fun to read in.
- Music lessons and practice have been proven to enhance children’s stress coping skills, memory, focus, and more. It goes without saying that music can be a great outlet and source of lifelong joy. Contact your local music store and schedule a time your child to go play around with various instruments until they choose one they love. Or, use an app like Yousician to teach them at home. My son has been taking guitar on this app for about a year and loves it so much!
- Arts and crafts such as painting, drawing, or photography can be a real source of comfort. Again, see what interests your child and take the necessary time to let them explore it.
- Martial arts or dance are fun activities that require some practice during the day… and can provide an outlet to express themselves. Work this practice time into your daily routine, don’t just push it all until after school.
- Creative storytelling or writing like what they can do on the online resource StoryJumper is a great outlet for the creative or graphic designer type.
When the thing your child loves to do becomes “a part of their school routine,” you will see more buy-in to the academics.
Don’t feel like you have to wait for school to be over before you can allow them their outlet that gives them joy.
Be intentional with your homeschool activities.
Don’t follow every whim. Just because I love the idea of my kid playing baseball, trumpet, or becoming a black belt in karate… doesn’t mean that it’s what’s best for him.
Yes, I saw how “what’s her name’s” kid did that great archery class. I read on Facebook how they completed abutter 5K together. Lalalalala….
I think that we can be stubborn sometimes when it comes to what we think our children should love.
Try it all at least once. Talk with your kids about what their interests are. Then, take a step back and evaluate how everyone is actually feeling about the activities you have planned. If it isn’t working- don’t do it. It’s a simple as that.
Now, I’m not justifying quitting something just because it gets a little hard. But, I am suggesting that you don’t loose your mind over something they will just resent you later for.
- Take time every day to enjoy the little moments. Snuggle just a little longer in the morning, read that extra chapter of their chapter book to them, etc. It’s in these little moments that your children feel safe to express their needs and wishes to you.
- Try every activity that you think they will enjoy (and that you can afford). You don’t know if they will like it until they try it. Then, choose the one or two that works for your schedule.
- Recognize that children change rapidly. What they love one year may not be what they are into the next. If you’ve given them a good foundation (and haven’t pushed them away from it), they will probably return to that skill later.
Find the time to make special moments and memories.
You know those amazing pictures I posted about the time we spent hiking, boarding, riding horses, etc. Let me let you in on a little secret– we were invited.
Here’s my takeaway- family and friends matter. People matter so very much.
I want my children to value the relationships they have with the people they love.
So, when a grandparent wants us to skip a day of school to take a trip with them… the answer is almost always yes. Saying “yes” to valuable time with family is never really waisted. In fact, the life skills they learn on days like that are better than anything I can teach them at a desk.
Do we allow ourselves to fall behind academically? No way. We want to keep a healthy homeschool routine. However, we do give time and space to having real experiences with the people we love.
This is one of the major benefits to homeschooling, so I always try to make sure it happens.
Make the time to teach the core values/Biblical values that matter to your family.
Here’s the reality… morals, ethics, and Biblical values are not going to be taught to our children for us.
They aren’t going to pick them up from the world. Similarly, they aren’t going to assimilate 100% of them from their friends or family (although I do believe that kids to learn behaviors through examples).
As mothers, our main job is to teach our children in the way we want them to go. I believe that education of values and Biblical principles is our number one teaching responsibility. All of the other things lie under and are even hinged upon these values.
Let me explain. Principles such as dedication, hard, honestly, and integrity are taught in God’s word. These concepts are necessary to succeed academically- as well as in life. You see, it’s all connected.
I think that sometimes we assume that our kids will just pick up on these values and roll with it. Of course, they will to some degree. However, I believe that taking the time to actively teach them Bible stories, lessons, prayer, and study is invaluable.
So, even though it does take some time out of the “school day,” I find it valuable and necessary to have my children memorize scriptures, spend time in Bible stories, and participate in open discussions about Biblical concepts.
Pull out these fun connecting questions to share some laughs with your precious ones!
Use them at:
- meal times
- car rides
- as a “calm down” trick
- for dinner time conversation
- or any time the day is getting chaotic or
- you need a reset to connect.
- Don’t feel like you have to force your children to sit at their desk 5 days a week, for 6 hours each day. Plan some days away for some real life experiences.
- Balance out each day with some activities that enhance their personality and give them a “healthy outlet.”
- Try lots of things and actively evaluate what is working for them. Kids change fast, our schedules change with different seasons, and new opportunities arise. Be flexible.
- Take time for loved ones. After all, it’s these relationships that last a lifetime.
- Teaching Biblical values in a job that falls mainly on mom (while kids are young). Carve time out of your day to teach the Bible- you’ll see how this benefits all areas of your child’s education.