5 Ways to Plan for Fun in Your Homeschool Year ~
Written by Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley
I don’t know about you, but I am in complete denial that it is August. Summer is my favorite and I mourn its passing every year, but this summer went by in a blink. I’m not ready for autumn and all that comes with it, including homeschool planning.
If we’re being honest, I haven’t planned at all. I’ve never entered August without a plan! In a typical year, at this point in the summer, I’ve not only planned for fall but I’ve also written an article outlining our plans for the year.
But this hasn’t been a typical year. The past 18 months have been a challenge on so many levels. Despite my best efforts to rest and relax this summer, my soul is still weary.
When I look ahead to fall, the only thing I know for sure is that I want to infuse more fun into our homeschool routine.
Every year, I flirt with the idea of trying a 4-day school week, but then I change my mind at the eleventh hour. Not this year, though!
I might not know what we’re doing for math or language arts yet, but I do know that we’ll be homeschooling Monday through Thursday and saving Fridays for family fun. I want to fill our Fridays with field trips, outdoor adventures, baking, gameschooling, science experiments, play, and more.
Why Fun Is More Important Than You Think In Your Homeschool
Fun is an incredibly important part of the homeschool experience. When we look back on these years, we want to remember the connection, the smiles and laughter, the stories, the adventures.
We want to remember the fun.
One way to infuse more fun into the homeschool day is to be more playful. Play has a positive impact on a child’s physical, cognitive, and social-emotional development. Research has demonstrated that play is not only essential for child development, but it is important for all of us.
Play helps us to connect, to have fun, and to make memories. Adding more play to your homeschool day can reduce stress for everyone, plus your children and teens can learn as they play.
The Educational Benefits of A Fun Approach
Adding more fun and playfulness to your homeschool routine can have academic and non-academic benefits.
Sprinkling more fun into your day can help increase retention. One of my all-time favorite quotes is from Alfred Mercier: “What we learn with pleasure, we never forget.”
By infusing fun into your learning, children and teens retain more.
When you have fun with your kiddos, you are connecting as a family. Connected children and teens are generally more content and cooperative when it comes to other, less fun, homeschool tasks.
This, in turn, makes life easier for homeschool parents. The result? More satisfying educational outcomes!
5 Ways To Plan For Fun In Your Homeschool
As you get ready for back to school and are working on your homeschool plans, I recommend being intentional about adding the fun. Here are 5 easy ways to plan for fun in your homeschool routine:
If you’ve been following us for any length of time, you knew this one was coming! By adding play-based learning and gameschooling to your homeschool routine, you can fuel academic and non-academic learning. There are some amazing games on the market today and virtually any game you play with your kids will involve some stealth math, at the very least!
I often talk about the academic benefits of gameschooling, but gameschooling also works on soft skills. These are just as important – if not more so- than academic skills.
Soft skills are social skills; they are the skills that we all need to interact well with others. Things like your ability to communicate, be kind, negotiate, be polite, work well with others. Every single game you play with your kids offers real-time social skills practice and coaching. (Want to get started with gameschooling? Join our free 7-day challenge!)
I love field trips! I loved them as a kid and I think I love them even more now, as a homeschooling mom. Field trips are an easy way to add more fun to your homeschool routine.
We are lucky to live outside of Boston, where there are oodles of fantastic field trips. That said, some of our favorite field trips are simpler ones. We love to visit local farms, hike conservation land, attend library events, and public school performances and art shows.
3. Lazy Unit Studies
As a mom and educator, I know the importance of following a child’s lead. Children learn so much when we follow their interests! A wonderful way to embrace rabbit holes and follow your child’s lead is through unit studies.
Traditional unit studies are fantastic, but they can be time-consuming to plan, prepare, and execute. At times, these traditional unit studies can also be costly… especially if you have multiple children and/or your child loses interest halfway through.
And that’s why I love a good Lazy Unit Study. And by lazy, I mean simple!
Lazy Unit Studies have all the advantages of traditional unit studies but without overwhelm. A Lazy Unit Study allows you to focus on a child’s current area of passion without hours and hours of planning and prep. The result? More fun for all involved!
We are embarking on our eighth year of homeschooling and I can tell you that food solves almost any homeschool struggle. Plus, food can make your homeschool day fun!
My kids’ favorite homeschool subscription is Universal Yums, but you don’t need a subscription to add more tasty treats to your day.
You can make your history studies come to life with a related meal, or you can gather around the table and eat yummy treats while listening to an audiobook or podcast. Are your kids squabbling? Adding popcorn can turn the day around!
Another way to make homeschooling more fun is to outsource. Several years ago, my kids and I found ourselves in one too many math-related power struggles. At that moment, I decided to outsource math. It was one of the best decisions we’ve made in our homeschool. Outsourcing can decrease stress and tears!
Outsourcing can also add more fun to your routine. My children love to take Outschool classes related to current interests. And we love to add other online learning opportunities to our homeschool day.
The sky is the limit when it comes to outsourcing. Perhaps you join a homeschool co-op, or maybe you have regular playdates with homeschool friends and parents take turns teaching. Or, maybe your kids enroll in music lessons. Outsourcing is a great way to add more fun while pursuing areas of interest!
You’ll never regret adding more fun to your homeschool routine
Homeschooling is a long game. The days are long but the years are short. When we look back on our homeschool years, we want to remember the fun we had, not the tears.