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What is homeschooling like? A real homeschooling family, who homeschooled from 6 – 18 years old, explains what a typical homeschooling day, or lifestyle looks like, for their family, and for the homeschooling families they knew.
We are a homeschooling family with years of experience and successful academic outcomes. Our family homeschooled in Australia and in the UK, we have also worldschooled, everywhere, in over 50 countries including the US. This included many elements that are considered to be unschooling.
This is what homeschooling looked like back in Queensland before we left to travel the world. We also have a post on our homeschooling schedule in London UK. But read this post first, it has important tips and information.
If you’ve ever wondered what is homeschooling like, this is, or was, our early version. These little boys are now grown teenagers with exam passes under their belts.
Homeschooling worked out just great and the kids never had a desire to lose their freedom to school. This post shows what homeschooling is like, or what it can be like, by looking at a typical homeschooling day for our family.
We have more posts on homeschooling (home education), worldschooling or unschooling on this site, you can see how homeschooling evolved over the years and what it was like in Romania, Egypt, or many other countries.
What is Homeschooling Like?
Homeschooling gave us freedom in life, in education and in our ability to travel.
We love homeschooling and it suits our family.
People wonder what we do all day.
Do the kids sit at desks between nine and three?
Do we just hang out in our PJs?
Are they plugged into computers and a virtual teacher? No, to all three.
So, what does a homeschool day look like?
A Typical Homeschooling Schedule
We aim for a couple of pages of written work a day, simple homeschooling workbooks as in the picture, or the books the children would be using in school.
Sometimes we substitute puzzle books or I persuade a child to write a letter or email to grandma.
Occasionally they just decide to write something for fun, but I do like them to have a pen or keyboard in their hands for half an hour most days.
But if we don’t, it doesn’t matter.
So that takes up half an hour, we can bang that out before breakfast.
Sometimes we tap into online educational programs and sites like these. We can do as little or as much as we like.
We are not obliged to follow any particular schedule.
Then we might do some cooking, gardening or chores together, making every activity a learning opportunity. So for instance, while gardening I may talk about the structure of a flower or answer their questions about insects.
While doing laundry I may explain how soap breaks down surface tension. During cooking, I could touch on boiling points and melting points, the states of matter. This is how everyday things, become education.
We have a post on how to keep kids busy and simultaneously learning at home.
The rest of the day is free, we can make it look more like this:
10 Solid Homeschooling Schedule Tips
- Don’t even try to force your kids into doing things they hate. Try something else instead. You can introduce learning subtly without school type methods.
- You are mum (dad or guardian), not teacher. Continue to be mum and to shower them with love. This time together is precious and will make bonds even tighter.
- Do something active every day. Jump up and down, do a yoga video together, do some press-ups or, like us, swim in the pool. Sorry, I know not everyone has a pool. A little exercise busts stress and releases feel-good hormones.
- Let them play. Play is learning, always.
- There is a thing called de-schooling. You probably need to read about it. Find out what is de-schooling here.
- Tell them how glad you are to have them at home. Never tell them you wish they were back in school.
- Incorporate favourite movies and TV shows, watch together. You can also slide in some educational videos, documentaries or fiction.
- Gaming is not evil. If your kids are gamers show an interest, play alongside them. It’s proven to be good for everyone.
- Homeschooled kids can have great outcomes, often better than their school peers. Don’t worry. Homeschooling is fantastic, your kids can still sit exams if they want to ( although they’re not compulsory)
- Don’t have an hour by hour, day by day, schedule. Ignore weekends and weekdays, school days and holidays. Just do what works for you and your kids. Notice if they are tired, grumpy or sleepy. Take naps, sleep late or rise early. Do whatever fulfills bodily needs. Let the kids relax, unwind and learn naturally.
A Homeschool Day Is Just Like Your Family’s Day, Without School.
The truth is, we probably just do what your family does on holidays and weekends, only more of it.
They play a lot, inside, and outside, often with the neighbours’ children.
We go to playgrounds and we go to homeschool group to play some more.
If Dad is home at 10am on a Thursday, they’re free to play with him, too.
There are no weekly or termly timetables; we fit learning around our lives.
I’m sure you take your children to places because they are educational, interesting or fun.
So do we, but we do it more often and without the crowds.
I’m sure you like it if your children watch documentaries, so do we.
Maybe you buy science kits and games to enjoy with your children, we do that a lot, my kitchen looks like a science lab.
They read for pleasure and I read to them, fiction, poetry, factual books, whatever we need.
They make and create, most children do. I get to do it with them. That’s a bonus.
Art is very therapeutic and a stress reliever for we over-busy adults.
We have to do all the ordinary stuff too, cooking, cleaning, shopping. I think it’s good for them to watch, learn and help out.
I’m not one for giving them chores, not my style, but they do help.
Gardening has been a great way to introduce them to plant and soil biology.
This is what a trip to the supermarket usually looks like.
I expect your children like football or ballet or, whatever floats their boat.
We have hobbies, too, but you’re more likely to find my kids kayaking, tightrope walking or practising archery.
It’s All Going On Behind The Scenes In A Homeschool Day
Once you have your homeschool head on you see things differently.
If the kids are playing Top Trumps, they are improving reading skills, numeracy and vocabulary.
There are some tricky words, and concepts, like decimal points and measurement to explore on Top Trump Cards.
I’m always thinking about what needs to be learned. I’ve read curriculums, learning plans and learning progressions. I grab those cards and get the kids playing as soon as I can.
Most games are educational: Monopoly (click through to read about Monopoly as “school”), Scrabble, Trivia games, even some computer games, they can play them as often as they like. I’m thrilled that my son now beats me at Bananagrams. Only sometimes, but he does. It’s a great word game, take a look here.
The same goes for subjects like science and geography.
I know what needs to go into their heads, so I find ways of introducing it, just through chatting, a DVD, some online resource or looking, experimenting and exploring.
I buy the games, toys and equipment with their learning needs in mind.
So sometimes a homeschool day looks like this
Maybe I’m not being 100% honest with you. I’m giving you just a typical day, a sample of the things we normally do at home with our kids. Sometimes we do this, too:
But I haven’t stood at a desk with a whiteboard explaining cell or molecular structure, we’ve just talked about and explored those subjects over weeks and months, informally, the subjects crop up in the activities the boys do. They’ve played online games involving these subjects, completed the odd interactive activity, they know most of it already, I’m just giving them a chance to reinforce that learning and create evidence on paper to keep the authorities happy.
Our Homeschool Room
Welcome to my dining room/kitchen. No desks, just our family table. Learning is just as likely to happen in the car, in the bath, in bed, or in a rainforest. Learning happens all day, every day.
Homeschool Field Trips
Homeschool field trips, outings, excursions, whatever you want to call them, they’re excellent!
Travel has to be the best homeschool field trip, not necessarily globe-trotting, any travel. Visiting neighboring towns and cities, local attractions and natural features, they are full of history, geography and science.
We will be doing some serious traveling soon as we set off round the world for a years long adventure. (UPDATE: we’ve now been on the road 5 years)
To get the most education out of trips and visits we do a lot of preparation. So, if we are going snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef, I make sure they know a fair bit about the reef’s structure and its inhabitants before we go, that way they understand what they are seeing and are thrilled to see it for themselves.
I don’t mean the day before, in an intensive classroom type style, just over time, they will have learnt so much from TV, the internet and educational programs. All I need to do is a little topping up.
The same goes for visiting anywhere, from Cooktown to Thailand. You just have to go out of your front door to call it a field trip.
We can go on field trips whenever and wherever we like, from our local rainforest, to Kathmandu. You’ve got to love that.
I’m looking forward to writing about what our travelling homeschool day looks like.
Could you save this to Pinterest for us?
World Travel Family Update
We travelled with the boys for 7 years, 50+ countries, 5 continents. Take a look at just some of the learning they picked up in our first year on the road here.
Homeschooling Gear & Equipment
You’ll probably want a circuits set like the one in our photo. Ours is the full kit and was well over $100. This is a more affordable version available now.
The complete boxed set it’s absolutely superb and comes with full instructions and suggested projects. We had ours delivered to Australia from the US and it was well worth the shipping fee. It is available in the UK, try the link above.
If you’re going to homeschool you do need to invest some cash in having the right toys, tools and gadgets, plus it keeps the authorities happy and the kids busy. Also consider such things as microscopes, telescopes, globes, chemistry sets and more (more homeschool resources and playthings in this post)
And of course, you need art and craft supplies. Always have a cupboard full of stuff to keep them busy.
Is Homeschool OK By You?
Is that OK, do you think I’m doing a good enough job of educating my children? Or do you think I’m a screaming nutter and they’d be better off in school?
My version of homeschooling will be totally different to the next homeschooling parent, some people have timetables and schedules, we don’t.
We have a curriculum. I wrote it because I had to for the authorities, otherwise there would be none. We have all year to tick everything off that state-approved list. That’s the beauty of homeschooling, you can tailor it to your child’s needs and your family’s needs.
Eventually, we did put the kids into school. This came as a result of the current global situation and was never our plan. If you have a moment, come read the post on why we quit homeschooling (and worldschooling) to put the kids in an online school, and how that went. But read the comments on this one first! Know that my homeschool kids, fully home or un-schooled – absolutely nailed the final years of high school. We proved our point!
Homeschooling isn’t perceived as normal, is it? But, really, it is, our homeschool day is just a normal, family day, maybe with more of an educational focus thrown in. Learning happens all day, every day. What do you think? Any questions? Is this what you thought a homeschool day or schedule would be like? There is a mass exodus from school these days, well educated, affluent parents are taking their kids out of the system. You can be a part of the movement.