Making Homeschool Fun:
How One Afternoon Changed Our Lives

Making homeschool fun can be difficult, especially when you're starting out. How strict a schedule do you need?  What subjects should you teach? What hours should you keep?

This guest article from Jennifer Spears shows how her family went from stressed to relaxed in one afternoon.

homeschool stress

We just finished lunch, and the kids are off to play and explore in the yard. I'm sitting here, rocking the baby, and can't help but smile when I think about how fun and relaxed our afternoons are.

They weren't always this way. When my husband and I decided to homeschool our kids, the only thing we had to go on was our own experiences in public school.

I wasn't worried about socialization, because we took them everywhere with us. What worried me was that they wouldn't learn about to follow a routine and maintain a schedule. I wanted them to be able to be on time and be responsible when they grew up.

We set our homeschool up the way we remembered our school days...very structured...with lots of sitting and learning.

Those first few months were not pleasant for any of us. We were up, dressed, fed and at the dining room table by 8 AM. We completed the worksheets in our folders, then worked on the computer, then read until it was time to take a break for lunch. After lunch, we did structured art projects and very serious science experiments.

I didn't let them play.

I stopped being Mommy for much of the day, and became someone completely different.

I didn't like her, and neither did my kids.

I was worried about them getting behind though, and it made me afraid to relax our days. How were we going to start making homeschool fun?  I didn't want anyone to ever be able to say that I wasn't educating my children.

Then one afternoon, I let our little dog out, and he went completely crazy in the backyard...yipping and barking.

Of course, we all went to see what was wrong, and discovered that he had startled an opossum in the compost pile.

I understand that old saying about "playing possum" now! We all thought that the poor thing had been frightened to death. As we watched though...only a couple times each minute...we could see it take a small breath, its body moving ever so slightly.

We gathered up the dog and retreated back into the house. The kids were very excited and wouldn't leave the window until they saw the little critter get up and wander back into the woods.

I figured our school day was over...there was no way I was going to be able to get them back on track after all that excitement.

I was right...and wrong. They started firing questions at me.

  • Why did it do that?
  • Is it possum or opossum?
  • Was it sleeping...or faking?
  • What do they eat?
  • Shouldn't he be hibernating?

That was the day that I realized I knew very little about opossums!


So we all learned. We got out our nature books and piled onto the couch. We found all of the information that we could in our books, then looked up the rest online. We found pictures and stories. We snuggled. We laughed.

We learned. It was the most fun we had had in a very long time. It was the first time that "Mommy" taught the kids.

By the time Dad got home that night, we were all mini experts on our resident marsupial. He couldn't help but laugh as we told him all about our exciting day.

The kids had learned so a way that was making homeschool fun ...just as it should be. The next several days were spent learning about other creatures that we shared our habitat with, one topic naturally leading to the next.

I learned the most that day though. I learned that even the most thought out, well-planned day can sometimes be turned upside down, but that's okay.

These days, we still do the workbooks. We still complete our online lessons. We still do serious science projects.

But we take a more relaxed approach to our kids education, learning about things that interest no particular order and at no particular time. It's the way we have discovered for making homeschool fun.

Our table is covered in Lego's most of the time. We do our school work all over the house, or the yard, or in the car if we're out and life.

I don't worry anymore about my kids not being able to follow a structured schedule...because life isn't always structured.

Sometimes life goes exactly how you plan it, and sometimes life gives you an opossum in your compost pile...and my kids will be able to handle that.

This guest article about making homeschool fun is written by Jennifer Spears.

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