I often get emails or questions in my homeschooling facebook group about how to fit everything into the homeschool day or week. How can we make room for ALL the subjects and activities we want to tackle?
Of course, the short answer is that we can’t fit EVERYTHING in. There are only 24 hours in the day, after all! But, when a mom is frazzled over bookshelves loaded with curriculum and only a few hours in the day to work on them, here are three things she can do:
- Build good routines: Get practiced at a daily-ish routine that starts with meals, chores, and a block of “school time.”
- Focus on the basics: Bible, reading, writing, math. And if you’re in a challenging season or just starting out, add one of those things at a time.
- Creatively fit in the “extras”: Once you’re seeing some progress in the first two points, start trying out some ways to fit in the non-core subjects.
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What are the Homeschool Extras?
There are days where things are nuts and we just do Bible. That’s ok. Reading, writing, and math are the other subjects that we try to get done every day.
After that, everything else is just extra. Sure, there are things that I prioritize in that list, such as history (we love our history curriculum and have built it into our basic routines now). But if I were to prioritize our list, it would look like this:
- Reading (read alouds and/or independent reading with narration)
- Writing (handwriting and/or writing assignment)
- Everything else
Here’s what the homeschool extras include, in no particular order:
- Nature study
- Music appreciation
- Music lessons (instruments)
- Arts & Crafts
- Art appreciation
- Foreign language
- Educational games
- P.E. / Sports
- Home economics
- Life skills
- Current events
- Missionary studies
- Delight-directed subjects such as photography, robotics, handicrafts, cake decorating, animals, etc.
Obviously, many of these are very important in the education of our children. But we have to prioritize somehow anyway.
How Do you Fit In the Homeschool Extras?
In our homeschool, we do some of the things listed above together as a group (Bible, history, read-alouds, etc.). Others the children will do independently. In both cases, we have “extras” that can easily fall through the cracks if we’re not intentional to work them in.
Here are some ideas for creatively adding those extras into your homeschool day/week.
Invite Other People
Some years back, another homeschool mom and I had a sweet arrangement where she’d bring her kids over once a week. She’d teach them piano and I’d do an art lesson.
We still find ways to do this sort of thing. This kind of arrangement is great for handling subjects you tend to skip or just don’t want to do!
Plus, you know it’s true that when we invite others to join us for a regular activity like this, we’re more likely to actually get it done.
Try some ideas like this:
- Meet weekly and swap teaching activities with another mom.
- Invite friends to do a monthly educational game day, nature walk, or craft day.
- Set up a 1-month book club via zoom or at your house.
- Organize a field trip relating to a subject you want to be more consistent with and invite local families.
Sign Up for Classes or Events
Getting something on the calendar that YOU didn’t organize is also very helpful.
- RSVP for events in your local homeschool Facebook group. (Don’t have one? Find out if there is interest for an informal group and start it yourself!)
- Look for field trips, events, and courses from local businesses and organizations.
- Try an online course you can use as a family (such as science, nature study, art, music, etc.)
- Sign your kids up for local enrichment activities such as sports, choir, barn dancing, etc. We prefer looking for ones organized by and for homeschoolers. The flexibility and environment is always a better fit!
- Invest in a tutor or special course for a course your particular child needs some help in or you feel weakest in teaching. Such as foreign language, learning to sew, or playing an instrument.
Try Loop Scheduling
You may already know this by now, but I’m a HUGE fan of loop scheduling. I use it for everything! When it comes to electives and homeschool extras, loop scheduling particularly helpful.
Here’s how it works: Have your daily list of must-do items ready to go. For everything else, make a list that you can rotate through. Each day, do the next one or two subjects on the list. When you get to the bottom, start back at the top!
That’s it! This easy system can be used for group work that your family does together and for each individual child if you want. Click here for templates and examples. With loop scheduling, you keep making progress on those subjects that always fall behind!
Add in a Morning Basket
A “morning basket” is a great way to get a bunch of homeschool extras done in one shot. There are many ways to do a morning basket, but the basic idea is that you have a bundle/basket of resources that you dip into each morning, doing the next short lesson/chapter for several of them during that time. (For us it was usually about 1/2 hour for the youngers, who would then wander off while I did more with the olders.)
It’s basically a loop schedule using physical materials instead of a checklist. Of course, you can use the same concept with digital resources as well. The idea is that you’re making a bit of progress on them each day.
For example, my morning basket has often looked like this:
- Bible reading and discussion
- Memory work / recitation
- A chapter from one a read-alouds
- An entry from a vocabulary resource
- Short video for world events / nature / etc.
- Quick check-in with the older kids before they start independent work
More often, we spread our “morning basket” across several mealtimes.
🎉 Our FAVORITE music resource is the Music in Our Homeschool Plus membership! It gives you access to SO many music homeschool courses for pre-k through high school, monthly lesson calendars, live music lessons, and more. We use it for all our kids, including fine arts credit for my high schooler! 🙌 This s a GREAT homeschool “extra” to add to your morning time or loop schedule!
Make the Most Out of Mealtime
I used to joke about how I liked to do read alouds during mealtimes because the kids were strapped in and occupied. Lol! Nowadays nobody is strapped to a chair, but we’ve continued mealtime learning as a helpful habit.
Of course, this may work differently for you. In our family, due to my husband’s work schedule, he is rarely home for any meals. So we have used mealtimes for gathered learning.
- Breakfast: Prayer, Bible, memory work, kids’ news video for the day, and check-in with the older kids before they start independent work.
- Lunch: Most often we do a history read aloud. But sometimes we do music or art appreciation lessons, logic lessons and discussion, missionary biographies, etc.
- Dinner: If Dad’s not home, we usually do a literature read-aloud or audiobook.
Yes, I often eat beforehand or afterward. We’ve been doing that so many years it doesn’t even bother me. 🙂 Audiobooks help with that!When Daddy is home or we have guests, we usually just hang out and enjoy conversation.
Just think of how many homeschool extras you could fit into these times!
Take Advantage of Car Rides
Speaking of audiobooks, another great way to fit in the homeschool extras is to take advantage of road trips! We have listened to MANY great literature selections in the car over the years for school and for fun.
Also consider using memory work songs for geography, math facts, Bible, science, history, and more. We aren’t in Classical Conversations but purchased their memory work music years ago that has been a blessing. You could also look into Cross Seven for memory work songs or find songs specific to the subject you want to cover. Make a playlist and play it in the car often!
Don’t Overdo It!
Of course, with all of these ideas it’s important to remember: don’t do everything! Burning yourself out trying to fit in all the homeschool extras will not help. Eventually, you’ll crash.
Instead, focus on the basics and get your habits going in the right direction. Then prayerfully try one of these ideas at a time and adjust as needed. You’ll end up with a routine and homeschool experience that you can all enjoy!
What about YOU? Tell us in the comments ways you have creatively worked these “homeschool extras” into your days and weeks!