There Are Many Ways To Homeschool - Textbooks And Desks NOT Required

Homeschooling and homesteading just seem to go together like peanut butter and jelly. Sure, each one is good separately, but together, well, now you have something really special to sink your teeth into.

Millions of Americans across the country are homeschooling their children for a vast array of reasons - more now in our modern age than at any other point since records have been kept, actually. Why so many American families are choosing to homeschool is likely linked to recent law changes that now make it legal to do so in all 50 states.

Parents can choose to educate their children at home no matter where they live...but that does not mean some states make the process simple and easy. Follow the link above to learn specifics regarding home education in your state BEFORE removing or neglecting to enroll your child in public school to avoid unnecessary legal troubles and frustrating battles with district administrators.

Top 10 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Starting To Homeschool

  1. Will I be educating multiple children of various ages in my homeschool?

  2. Will I be the only educator in my homeschool and responsible for teaching all subjects?

  3. Do I want to be part of a homeschool group or teach children at home with other homeschooling parent?

  4. How much will technology be infused into my homeschool curriculum

  5. Will hands-on learning be a major component of my children’s home education plan?

  6. How can I use my homestead as a “classroom” to teach valuable sustainability and self-reliance skills?

  7. How large of a percentage of the learning will take place at a table or desk?

  8. Will field trips be a regular part of the homeschooling experience for my children?

  9. Will I be incorporating non-school age children and a preschool into my homeschool plan now or in the near future - or be caring for babies while teaching?

  10. What type of a budget will I be working with for curriculum materials, supplies, field trip, and classroom set up?

Give careful thought to each of these questions before creating an outline for your homeschool. Once you have a ballpark idea about how you want the homeschool to function, next you have to determine when and where the structured learning will take place.

Setting Up A Homeschooling Day

Typically, as noted in the linked post above, states set a minimum number of hours per year that homeschooling must take place. Some states also regulate the minimum number of hours per mandatory subjects.

Exactly what constitutes “learning” is largely left up to the discretion of the parents. But, children in some states have to pass a public school administered examination either annually or during specific grade levels. No need to panic about the state testing. The vast majority of homeschooled students are typically far beyond their public school peers academically.

STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) activities allow homeschooling parents to create unit studies that are engaging, fun, and meet academic standards in multiple subjects during a single lesson. Using stamps is but one way to help teach spelling, reading, math, and create comprehension exercises in a hands-on way through art.

Because homeschooled children are receiving one-on-one or small group attention from their teaching parent, they either learn more quickly or have time to approach learning as the adventure it should be and a plethora of extension activities, experiments, related art projects, and field trips….or both.

Game play and puzzles are ecellent teaching tools during cold weather. When the temperature outside is more agreeable, the possibilities for hands-on learning are nearly endless.

Playing in the dirt can be educational...seriously. To teach young children about nature, the varying weight of certain objects, colors, textures, and enhanced hand and eye coordination, all you need is a little patch of dirt to explore.

Most homeschooling days last only three hours to five hours four days per week - at least for structured learning. Unstructured activities, adventure and excitement, infuses wonder back into the school experience. These types of non-traditional learning activities can take on many forms and generally count toward the minimum number of schooling hours a given state requires by law.

Top 14 Untraditional Learning Options For Homeschooling Families

  1. Hikes in the woods - This type of activity can be part of both a science lesson and help meet physical education requirements.

  2. Cooking - When children cook their lunch or help prepare breakfast and dinner, they are learning about nutrition, reading recipes, following multi-step instructions and comprehending what they read, engaging in math concepts through measuring, and science throughout the cooking process.

  3. Fishing - Take the kiddos fishing to teach them about the environment, water safety, how to follow instructions, native wildlife, nutrition, boating, soil erosion, and conservation.

  4. Hunting - Like fishing, going hunting will teach children about the food chain, the environment, nutrition, orienteering, native wildlife, and so much more.

  5. Barn Chores - If you live on a rural homestead, or even a suburban homestead where chickens are kept, make the caring for the animals a part of the homeschool experience. Even children as young as toddlers can help collect eggs and pour feed into buckets. There is no better way to drive home the farm-to-table concept than by exposing children to the barnyard at an early age. The chores can be used as extension activities for a combined science, language arts, health and nutrition, history, and even math lesson.

  6. Camping - Whether it is in the backyard or in the middle of nowhere, children can learn how to start a fire, identify trees, leaves, animal prints and sign, find water, etc. as part of a science and history lesson.

  7. Group Involvement - If the child is involved in 4-H, Boy or Girl Scouts, takes music lessons, play baseball, and many things in between, those activities can be incorporated into the homeschooling curriculum to address specific academic standards.

  8. Workshop - Teaching vocational skills should also be a part of a self-reliance homeschool curriculum. Working with manual and then power tools when it is age appropriate will teach the children valuable skills as they learn about working with wood, metal, leather, etc. Workshop and mechanics educational units can fulfill science standards and also be used as part of math, history, and language arts lessons.

  9. Handicrafts - Teach the children how to sew, make their own candles, make their own toys, etc. as part of history and math lessons and reading extension activities.

  10. Household Chores - Children will learn valuable health lessons when they learn why it is important to clean the house and how to do it properly - as well as make their own natural cleaning products - which in turn could be part of a science lesson.

  11. Gardening - Teach the children not only how to grow their own food, but how to harvest it, preserve it, test the soil, and make natural insecticides as part of science, math, and health lessons - also as reading extension activities.

  12. Hobbies - Let the child’s passion help drive the curriculum. If a child is an aspiring photographer, use that interest as part of the learning process as a writing activity, to create a photo or video journal of barnyard chores, the cooking process, etc.

  13. Volunteering - Allow the children to volunteer at an animal shelter, veterans program, elderly program, the local historical museum, or any other place that sparks their interest as part of the homeschooling experience. What they learn can be incorporated into related academic lessons and/or used for a language arts writing project.

  14. Field Trips - Go visit the local library and participate in children’s programming offered there for free, take a tour of the local fire department, a working farm, go ride on a train, tour a local historical site or museum, the opportunities are nearly endless.

Where To Homeschool

As you can see, the amount of time a child needs to spend seated at a table or desk can be minimal. Reading lessons do not need to be conducted around a table. Place a blanket on the ground during the spring and read under a tree in the backyard, or cuddle up on a rug in front of the fireplace during the winter.

It is a common misconception that homeschooling parents must dedicate an entire room for the purpose of educating their child. Sure, if you have a whole room to spare, go for it, but it is not necessary. The kitchen table will work just fine for the bulk of the seated homeschooling activities.

The square footage requirement that will likely need the most attention in the homeschool relates not to seating capacity, but storage. Markers, paper, printed learning materials, and manipulatives for learning extension activities do tend to take up space.

This is a perfect example of how little space a homeschooling “classroom” could consume. The storage bins can be pushed out to make room at the table for children when they need to sit to work on a project. There is another row of identical storage drawers placed behind the visible first row to store even more materials - the type that are not needed on a regular basis.

The homeschooling classroom at our house doubles as a playroom (hey, learning should be fun!) and sleeping area for the grandkiddos. We have more space at our house than our daughter does in her cabin next door on our homestead, so we adapted the playroom to serve multiple needs.

The homeschooling area is in the midst of a makeover at the moment. Gone is the child-sized school-like table. Because the table in the photo above now doubles as my crafting table and a learning table, we no longer needed the more industrial type table in the playroom.

I moved a wooden wire spool into the playroom to offer the children a place to sit and read or write that can also be used for creative pretend play. I preferred having more open space for activities in the room than the bigger table allowed. Previously all the walls were white with a farm mural theme. I decided to redo the room with an enchanted forest theme to bring the outdoors in even more and warm the space up to make it more calming, inviting, and to spark the imaginations of the children even more.

They love to create their own adventures. The bottom bunk bed, which is a full under a twin, is being turned into a pirate ship - a decision provoked by their constant use of the lower bed in this manner. The kiddos don their Dollar Tree pirate gear and go on grand adventures in their “boat.” Such play can be incorporated into a curriculum by reading books about pirates, learning about the ocean, sea life, and historically significant pirate as well as boat building. This type of adaptable and child-led curriculum can be used to accompany whatever interests your child during a given time period and will be so well-received by your children they will not even grasp that they are “in school” Keeping an area inside or outside of your home that can be used to create a little world or adventure scenario as part of your “homeschooling classroom” will open up a lot of exciting learning opportunities.

We built a “tree” in the playroom/classroom as part of the makeover. It is bare at the moment but will soon be alive with fairies, gnomes, animals, and vibrant leaves and blossoms. This area serves as a reading time nook that is already one of the favorite places for the children to gather and enjoy even when they are not being “schooled.”

Space And Money Saving Homeschool Classroom Tips

  • Make the most of your wall space to decrease the amount of storage space necessary for homeschooling. Sew or buy canvas bags that can hold academic and extension materials and hang them on the back of the door or onto the wall. This will make for easy cleanup after activities and teach the children to be responsible for cleaning up their space after a lesson or learning adventure - especially if blocks are involved.

  • Turn part of a wall into a chalkboard with paint. The children can practice their math facts, spelling words, etc. by writing on the board with colorful chalk. This will reduce the amount of money spent and storage used for pencils and paper.

  • Hang a magnetic white board on the wall to use for academic lessons and extension activities for use with purchased or homemade educational magnetics i.e. numbers, letters, animals, symbols, etc.

  • Make a flannel board to use for reading and math extension activities. An old flannel sheet or shirt attached to a folding piece of cardboard can easily and quickly be pulled out or used and then be tucked away - with all of the materials used for lessons stored in labeled file folders that are placed inside a hanging canvas bag. You can print counting aids, letters, numbers, etc. from the internet and glue a piece of felt on the back so they will adhere to the board when used by yourself or independently by little hands during a lesson - especially if a board is made for use by each child.

  • Work with the children to sew a floor cushion or use a hole punch and yarn to affix to plastic placemats together to make comfortable floor seating that is a space saver and can be taken to create a classroom anywhere.

  • Print file folder games to use for learning centers to save space as well. The pieces for the (typically free to print) educational games and interactive worksheets can be stored in a freezer bag that is paperclipped to the file folder. The folders can be stored in hanging canvas bag and placed on a table or the floor for use by the children in the homeschooling classroom - or at a doctor’s office or in the car when the typical day is interrupted by a necessary trip away from the homestead.

Homeschool Curriculum