If you’ve taken on the daunting task of homeschooling your kids then you’re probably wondering how to make homeschool fun, and not just for them!
Even as a teacher, with a career I had chosen, there were lessons that I just didn’t want to have to teach. They were so boring. And guess what, if they were boring for me to teach, you can be pretty certain they were even more boring to listen to! Luckily, over time, I learnt there are a million different ways to spice up even the most boring of lessons (and they don’t all involve chocolate – though they should!)
Top Tips Before You Start To Make Homeschool Fun
Here’s a little prep you should do before you start to make sure your homeschool is the fun learning environment it should be!
Children Love Structure
Making homeschool fun doesn’t necessarily mean you have to make every single lesson exciting, different and unexpected. Children thrive off of structure. They like to know the boundaries (even if they are experts at pushing them!)
If you set clear ‘rules’ at the beginning of your homeschool adventure and uphold them in every way you can for the first week or so, it will make the rest of the sessions so much easier and more fun for you both. They will know what’s expected of them, and that they can’t get around you! Once you’re in control and they know it, you can be a lot more spontaneous.
Sit down together and make a little list of agreements to stick to during your sessions. You can tailor this to your child. Some ideas that might help – I promise to listen without interrupting, I promise to always try my hardest, I promise to concentrate on my work before I take a break, I promise to say when I’m finding it hard. You can also create a timetable together (or just buy oneif that’s easier!) so they know when it’s lesson time and when it’s break time.
Find A Space
Making homeschool fun will be a lot easier if you don’t face the daunting task of tidying up a million toys from last night before you sit down to work. That’s enough to put anyone off work! Find a space that you can use only for homeschool, preferably away from the TV or other tempting distractions! It doesn’t have to be a big space, just enough for a worksheet and some pencils – a corner of the dining room table will work fine!
It’s fine for your child’s work space to get messy throughout the day, but try to encourage them to get into the habit of tidying up after each lesson. They can put books into a neat pile and put pens and pencils away, close down computer screen windows they aren’t using anymore. You could get them a desk tidy to make their lives a little easier.
Remember this is their job – not yours! I know it’s tempting to do it yourself but spend a few days making them (battle it out if necessary!) and you’ll be thankful in the long run. Tidying up is a lesson in itself.
Know Your Own Limits
Teaching the same class for a year means you really get to know the children you’re looking after. When they’re naughty, or too hard on themselves, or aren’t trying as hard as you know they can you can take it really hard. You’re so invested in their happiness and well-being that it can be difficult not to take it personally when they don’t do as you ask. And that’s just being their teacher. I can’t imagine what it’s like being their teacher and their parent.
I knew that as soon as I felt ’emotional’ it was time to take a step back. You can’t teach when you’re emotional and they can’t learn when they’re emotional. Learn your own boundaries and really stick to them. If your child is winding you up and you don’t have the patience to deal with them then walk away, or send them away to play quietly or watch TV. If you’re getting frustrated because they don’t understand something you’ve explained a million times then tell them not to worry and go back to it later (or not at all and let someone else teach that to them!)
Teachers have so many resources up their sleeves when it comes to things like this. They use each other all the time – to help them teach a child something they just don’t seem to be able to explain, to help them encourage or tell off a child, to help them find new resources or act something out. They have other children to help them too. You just have you, so give yourself a break and be prepared to step back.
It’s not failure, it’s doing the right thing, and it’s a great way to make homeschool fun.
Practical Ideas To Make Homeschool Fun
I’ve put together some different ideas to try in your homeschool sessions. Whatever you do, don’t try and implement them all at once! Start slow and try out one at a time and eventually using them will become second nature.
You’re in the fortunate position where you can work out what’s best for your own child, you don’t have a whole class to please, so when you find a few that really work you can put all your efforts in perfecting them! The best bit of it is, when they find the lessons fun you will too.
Aim To Make Learning Practical
Children learn through a mixture of seeing, hearing and doing. Some will learn better through visual cues, others something different, so the best thing to do is to go for all three where ever possible! Learning is always more fun for younger children especially when it involves something practical, so try to think a little outside the box when it comes to making homeschool fun.
Use raisins in your maths sums, use scrabble letters for spelling or act out a scene from a book after you’ve read it. Try tothink in 3D when you teach and kids will find lessons much more fun.
Use Games In Lessons
You don’t have to turn every lesson into a game, but a 5 minute starter game to get the brain warmed up, or the promise of a game at the end of a session is a great way to make homeschool fun. You don’t have to tailor the game to the actual lesson. It can be used to reinforce something they’ve learnt before. Here are a few ideas:
- Times tables (or number bonds, or addition etc) kings and queens. The king or queen stands on a chair and you roll dice. Multiply the numbers and shout out the answer. Whoever gets it right first ‘wins’ and gets to stand on the chair.
- Spot the verb/adjective/noun/adverb etc. Place a label on three different sides of the room and say a word. The child has to run to the right label, so if you say table they’ll run to noun.
- Spelling games – there are multiple ideas here
- What’s the time Mr Wolf. Turn your back to the child. Using an analogue clock like this set the time and hold above your head. If the child tells the time correctly they can take a step forward until they can tap you on the shoulder!
Games are sometimes a little controversial in learning because they can create unnecessary competition. They also teach children to work under pressure, to handle losing gracefully and to understand that perseverance and effort can help you to win. Most of the time I think it can be a powerful learning tool.
A Spoonful Of Sugar Helps The Medicine Go Down
Mary Poppins is an inspiration to us all. Who wouldn’t love to be able to tidy up by clicking their fingers! But on a more realistic note, think about incorporating music into your homeschool lessons to make them more fun. Even the most boring of tasks can be made more exciting with a little singing and dancing!
You can kick start the lesson with a minutes up tempo tune to sing along and dance to. You could make up silly songs and rhymes about the topics you’re studying (I know a girl whose Mum used to help her make up revision songs and record them!)
You could cheat and find songs on the internet about topics you’re studying – there are times tables songs, horrible history songs, songs about space or the great fire of London.
You could play relaxing, classical music while your child is writing. Or you could just listen to music for the fun of it, teaching them about different genres or thinking about the way music makes you feel. It’s a powerful tool – use it to make homeschool fun!
Here’s something for all those visual learners! Try incorporating art into more of your lessons – not just the art ones. Get them to make posters to help them learn their times tables, or get them to draw pictures of the animal you want them to describe. Create comic strips for stories or re-design the cover of their favourite book. design and make a parachute to test air resistance or look at the difference between a photo they’ve taken and a picture they’ve drawn of the same thing to demonstrate the reliability of sources. T
here’s so much more you can do with art and it’s the perfect tool to use to make homeschool fun.
Use Your Imagination To Make Homeschool Fun
One way to make homeschool fun is to get imaginative. Children love make believe so create stories that will make their learning more real. Write a letter from a scientist asking if you can explore why the ice is melting, dress up as pirates before testing if a model boat sinks or floats, make a castle from cardboard boxes before recreating a famous battle or pretend you’re on a flight to India before celebrating a colourful festival. You can get some great dressing up costumes for different periods in history.
Encourage Independent Learning
Please don’t feel you have to engaged with them 100% of the time. They certainly don’t get the teachers one on one attention 100% of the time, and that’s not a bad thing. Children learn to work independently, to use a range of different resources and to know when to ask for help. It builds their self-esteem and confidence when done right.
Some children will already do this well but others will really struggle. Here are a few ideas to help you help them! Then leave them to it for a certain amount of time.
- When you set independent work try to make sure you know it will be easy enough for them to do alone. If your child really struggles to work independently start with tasks like colouring to get them used to it.
- Use a timer. Sand timers are great for younger kids (though you may find they just stare at it the first few goes until they get used to it!) and there’s lots more options for fun timers for kids like this cat one or traffic light ones.
- Create a checklist. This is especially good for children who rush to finish. It can visual for younger children and you should go through it with them before the task.
- Use music. Explain that they can’t ask you for help until the end of a song (make sure the song is a nice classical one if you’re expecting them to concentrate!)
- Use a voice recorder. Explain they can ask any questions they have into the recorder until you get back.
Plan A Homeschool Trip To Make Homeschool Fun
Children always look forward to a school trip, but with a little imagination you can create the same buzz from a homeschool trip, even if you can’t visit a zoo or museum! You’ll know the area you live better than I do, but plenty of schools organise trips to local gardens and parks that are just as fun, so you can plan a school trip to the nearby woodland, field or a kind neighbours front garden!
Give the school trip a purpose – to study the pond life or to draw a Tudor house, or go bug hunting or learn about traffic safety. Plan lessons around this topic before you go, or use the findings of the trip to inform future lessons.
Make sure you take a packed lunch, and let them plan their outfit in advance. Give them a rucksack so they can carry all their own equipment and their drink and lunch box. You could plan the trip with the parent of a friend from their school, and then get the kids to video call each other at ‘break time’ to compare trips and share findings.
Make sure you tell your children you’re going a few days in advance to build the excitement. You can even give them a permission slip to hand in if you want to go the whole hog!
Get Your Apron On
Cooking and baking is so much fun, and so educational too! Think of all the learning opportunities in cooking. Weighing food, oven temperatures, mixing and dissolving ingredients, heating and cooling, following instructions, healthy eating and knowing your bodies nutritional needs – the list is literally endless. Younger kids will learn a lot from cooking too with all the sense involved (just be prepared to let them touch and taste throughout!)
It’s the perfect way to make homeschool fun, and you might even get something delicious to eat at the end!
In my opinion, all the best learning takes place outside! I’ve written two posts on this with tonnes of outdoor activity ideas so that should keep you going for days! When you run out just let me know.
Throw A Party To Make Homeschool Fun
We all love a good party! Why not turn learning into a celebration too? You could throw mini parties and celebrations when a goal is reached. You could do themed parties after a unit of work. You could learn about different national holidays or awareness days (pick some really obscure ones) by throwing a party!
You can turn a normal homeschooling day into a fun one by just mixing it up a bit and going off topic. No one will care, and no one will know either. Best of all, your kids will be learning in a fun and engaged way!
Take Time Out When You Need It
If you’ve chosen to homeschool your child then great – you’re probably a little more mentally prepared than others. But even if this is your choice teaching can still have its moments, and there will be times when it’s worth stepping back for half an hour to re-group. There are lots of educational activities that will engage children but are still good for their learning.
- Educational TV programmes – there are great programmes out there on just about every topic imaginable. Nature documentaries and Horrible Histories are always a big hit!
- Audiobooks (get a free trial of Audible here)
- Interactive apps and websites
- Construction – lego blocks and other construction sets are fantastic learning tools and have kids engaged for hours
- Arts and crafts – you can tailor this to age. Younger kids might enjoy colouring with a different medium, older kids might be able to sew or knit.
- A good run around outside (if you have the space)
- Listening to music (give them a range of genres)
Hopefully that’s given you some ideas on ways to make homeschool fun for you to get started with. And hopefully it will make the lessons more fun for you too! If you use any of these ideas and enjoy them then please do let me know in the comments below, and if you found this post useful then please do share it with others!