Homeschool hacks are the best ways to help you (and your kids) make the most of this special time together.
Find out some of the tips and tricks this homeschool mom of 5 boys (and a few of her friends) have discovered over the years - and how these ideas can help you rock your homeschool, too 🙂
Homeschooling Does NOT Have To Be Hard
Homeschooling can feel like you're trying to herd cats. But, the truth is that all it takes is a few homeschool hacks to make it easier.
Our first year of homeschooling was rough.
I had no idea what I was doing, and I struggled to find the right rhythm and flow.
As our homeschool adventures continued, I grew and learned more homeschool hacks to help our day flow smoother.
If you feel run down or overwhelmed, it means that you need to make some changes to your day.
Or maybe you know that you could be using your time better, but you just can't seem to figure out how?
Well, I chatted with a few friends and put together a list of our favorite tips and tricks for making homeschool life feel smooth " like butter". That Coffee Talk character from SNL kept poppin' in my mind lol!
Here are some of our favorite hacks for homeschooling (in no particular order) that help bring peace to your day and help everything run just a bit smoother.
27 Homeschool Hacks to Make Your Day Easier
1. Ditch Box Curriculum for Preschool
When new homeschooling parents decide that they want to homeschool, it’s typically when their child is in preschool. It leads to a mad dash to find the perfect homeschool preschool curriculum, but I need to tell you a secret.
You don’t need any boxed, expensive curriculum to teach preschool.
Think about preschool classrooms and what kids typically learn when they are in preschool. Kids learn their numbers, letters, shapes, patterns, and simple tasks. It’s not a time to force learning, which might cause your child to resent learning and education.
Instead, this is the time to get your child outside in nature as much as possible. It’s time to read as many books as possible, show your child the alphabet, and count everything you see. And so much learning happens during playtime!
I promise - you don’t need to spend $300 on a homeschool preschool curriculum 😊
2. Use Group Learning As Much As Possible
Group learning as a family is an amazing when it comes to homeschooling.
Imagine homeschooling multiple kids and everyone learning all of their subjects separately. Teaching five science units, five history units, and all individual units would pretty much take all day!
Group learning and lessons are ideal. And you can totally tailor group learning!
For example, a unit study that focuses on a holiday is something that all kids love, regardless of their ages. Preschool-aged kids color pictures, older kids might write a research paper, and everyone can listen to a read-aloud together.
3. Buy Reusable Curriculum
Curriculum gets expensive fast, and if you have several kids, you could spend a pretty penny buying a new curriculum each year.
Instead, focus on buying reusable curricula or curricula that offer printables, so you can print them in the following years as your children need them.
A printable curriculum is a great way to save money when homeschooling.
4. Pick Hours That Work for You
If your whole family hates to wake up in the morning, you don’t have to start school at 8 AM just because the local school starts at that time. Homeschooling means flexibility and freedom to pick hours that work the best for you.
You don't even have to start at the same time each day. Our family operates on a more erratic schedule (due to competitive sports schedules and other activities). That's why we use a relaxed routine so everyone has an idea of what will happen each day, whether we start at 7am or 11:30am 😉
5. Give Older Kids Independence
Older kids who can work through tasks without help should be given this type of independence.
It doesn't mean that you don't help that child or that you ignore their work. Instead, this option gives you time to work with your other kids.
Teaching and encouraging independence are valuable. Kids need these skills for higher grades and college. This homeschool hack provides incredible life skills.
6. Write Daily Tasks on a Large Whiteboard (Or Other Organizer)
Grab a large whiteboard and hang it in your school room or school area. Think of this whiteboard as the central command. Write all of the essential tasks - daily and weekly - on this board.
Having your tasks written somewhere that everyone can view helps you stay organized and encourages accountability.
Wipe off the lessons when they're completed. Make it a goal to wipe off all of the tasks by the end of the week.
Consider giving the kids a treat, like Friday night ice cream or special movie time, if all of their work is finished.
7. Library Trips Count as School
Library trips are a great way to get out of the house, but you should count it as education time.
Older kids should seek out books that interest them while helping the little ones find books that they'll love.
Look to see what classes your library offers. Many offer adorable classes for younger kids, as well as gathering times for older kids. These events should be free of charge if you have a library card.
8. Have a List for Each Child
If you homeschool multiple children, make sure you have a list of each child's goals and tasks.
It helps you stay focused because, while you more than likely have plans for group learning, you also have goals for each child.
The list for each child should be focused on meeting those goals. It will list what subjects and assignments your child needs to work, as well as note if more help is needed with a particular topic.
Keep this list close so that you can jot down things that you need to know.
My boys and I use our free Harry Potter planning pages for our individualized lists
9. Have a Weekly Planning Day
All of my planning happens on Sunday. Well, I try for Sunday. That erratic schedule sometimes means I have to move it to Friday or Saturday night 😉
I sit down with all of our resources and see what's coming up in the following week. I write all of it down in my planner and check for any items that I might need to go to the store to buy.
I've tried many methods for planning, but our family needs the flexibility to head to the park if we decide to or take a day off when it's needed. Weekly planning takes about two hours, and I feel ready to enter the week ahead.
10. Use Trello to Organize Your Days
Never heard of Trello? You’re missing out! It’s a free online planning management system that is one of my favorite homeschool organization hacks.
One of the reasons why I like Trello is that there's an app. I make all of our tasks on Sunday when I plan. After we complete those tasks, I swipe them away.
Trello also lets you link YouTube videos or other links that might accompany your homeschooling lessons. If you open the app, all you have to do is click on the link in the task and it'll take you to the video you selected.
11. Come Up With a Morning Routine for Mom
Every homeschooler talks about having a morning routine for the kids, but I think having a morning routine for mom is one of the best homeschool hacks.
Your mood helps to set the mood for the day. Kids might be fussy or in a bad mood, but they won't absorb any of your bad attitudes.
Start YOUR day off with a morning routine. Find what works best for you. You may need to try a few different ideas and then tweak. And then tweak again.
Oh, and make sure to get your mindset in a good place with your routine. Please don't expect perfection with it every day! Mom life can get quickly turned around if a little one wakes up with a bellyache or the electricity goes off.
The important thing to remember with your homeschool mom morning routine is that even a few minutes doing something that helps you get your day off on the right foot is invaluable.
For me, that means getting started the night before with a bit of prep and planning. I make sure my coffee is all ready to brew as soon as I step into the kitchen. All of our homeschool resources and supplies for the day are laid out so we can jump into our homeschool adventures when ready.
When I wake up in the morning, the very first thing I do is make my bed. It helps me know that I got one thing done and I can do many more things that day!
Most importantly, I take a look at what we need to do for the day. I like to know what is on the list for each child and any upcoming projects that I need to prep ahead of time.
12. Give Your Kids Daily Chores
Daily chores are essential for kids and help your house run smoothly. Families are units. Kids don't need to run the show and they should definitely contribute.
Kids can perform chores that are age-appropriate. Here's an awesome list of ideas for chores for kids.
Oh, and you can use these free chore punchcards to record all that hard work! (And help your kids see their progress 😀)
13. Write Out Your Weekly Meal Plan
Part of your morning routine should be to note what your family will have for dinner that night. Deciding an hour before dinner what you will eat never leads to good decisions. If you don’t have a plan, you might end up ordering pizza or Chinese food.
Ordering out is okay if it's planned and budgeted, but overeating take-out food is good for no one.
When I work on our weekly homeschool plans, I also plan our weekly meal plan. I look at what nights are the busiest and pick slow cooker meals for those days.
Weekly meal plans can take into consideration the weather (grilling out), work schedules, sports practices, and more.
14. Be Smart About Your Errands
Spreading errands out multiple times per week interferes with your homeschool routine. Instead, build your errands all into one day if possible, and try to make appointments on that day, too.
Schedule your grocery pickup when you take the kids to their art lessons and visit the library beforehand. Head to the doctor early in the morning. Making one day the errand day helps to organize your week.
15. Documentaries Count as School
Don’t listen to people who tell you that TV isn’t educational. It most definitely can be!
Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, and other streaming programs have a plethora of documentaries that can totally count as school.
If you’re learning about Antarctica, find a documentary about the animals that live in that region.
If you’re studying the Great Wall of China, see if you can find a History Channel episode to go with it.
Kids love documentaries and time to watch TV. Plus, it gives you time to chill and relax as well.
16. Use Audiobooks for Quality Homeschool Hacks
Audiobooks are a lifesaver, especially on those errand days when you need to run around.
Turn on an audiobook that your family enjoys and encourage everyone to listen.
Audiobooks are also great for reluctant readers and kids with reading troubles, like dyslexia. Even if kids struggle to read, listening to an audiobook is soothing and helps kids learn to enjoy stories.
It saves your voice as well. And you might enjoy listening!
17. Use Games to Teach Subjects
Games are a core part of our homeschool, often called gameschool by homeschoolers.
Many board games focus on math skills. For example, my son learned to add by playing math board games. And a friend's daughter learned her multiplication facts by enjoying a game called Prime Climb.
That’s not all! You can find games for any subject imaginable. And games are a safe way to encourage kids to practice skills that they don’t like.
Most kids are competitive, so tap into that and play games to reinforce skills that they need to practice.
18. Add Creative Writing Throughout The Week
One of the things that we added this year in our homeschool is creative writing - and my boys love it.
For my older boys, we're using Bardsy Homeschool Writing Curriculum. This online program is absolutely awesome for guiding tweens and teens through a solid creative writing experience.
For my younger kids, I'm using writing activities, like this Free Superhero Writing Fun Pack.
19. Make Sure to Include Field Trips
Kids will tell you that one of their favorite homeschool hacks is taking as many field trips as possible. Field trips are educational and kids love them.
And if you can't get out (for whatever reason) for a field trip, you can always go on a virtual field trip!
Try to find as many field trips to go with your lessons as possible, even if it means just going back to your favorite museums but focusing on a different part.
If you can afford it, consider having a weekend field trip to various historical sites. We also try to incorporate these type of field trips into our soccer travels (multi-tasking at it's finest!)
All of the hours at the field trip count as educational hours, so if your state requires that you track your hours, pack those field trips to increase your hours!
20. Have Free Art Time
My boys love free art time - and I try to encourage it as often as possible.
I have a rolling cart in our homeschool area that's stocked with all kinds of goodies for creating works of art.
I suggest having time when your kids can create art without instructions, but it's also a great idea to have goals for their art lessons.
You might want them to recreate something that they learned from their studies, such as the planets' order or leaf shapes.
Free art time gives kids a safe and fun way to express themselves. They love to make messes and have fun with paint 🎨
21. Try Online Classes for Magnificent Homechool Hacks
Websites, like Outschool, provide hundreds of online classes for kids.
If your child wants to learn a foreign language, sign them up for an online course to get started. If they love art, look for a class that teaches new methods.
Online classes shouldn’t be the core of your homeschool, but they add fun lessons for kids to enjoy. Kids should enjoy learning, and that means giving them opportunities to learn about something that they love.
Try adding one online class per semester to your schedule for each child.
22. Read Books Together
No homeschool day is complete without reading books together.
There's a reason why experts say reading books to your kids increases their brain function, vocabulary, and reading skills - it works.
Kids love to hear stories, so make sure to always read books to each of your children individually - and have a family read aloud as well.
A family read-aloud is an excellent time for kids to break out their crayons or Legos and listen while you read a novel to them.
Our family always has a read-aloud. It might happen during school hours, or I might read it after dinner.
When we read the books varies, but we read so many good books together, leading to great discussions and family time.
23. YouTube Can Be An Amazing Resource for Homeschool Hacks
Without a doubt, YouTube can be an amazing homeschool hack.
You've got to be careful to monitor what your kids watch on YouTube, but the amount of content available is endless.
If you have a topic in mind, you’ll find videos about it.
If you have to work with another child, consider having another child watch videos on something else that they’re studying.
It’s a way to teach a child more about a specific topic, and YouTube gives you a break.
24. Have a Place to Store Work for Homeschool Portfolios
If you use a homeschool portfolio for your homeschool assessments (or like to keep up with homeschool record keeping), you need a place to store the work that you want to showcase.
I suggest having a few folders per child and a bin for storage.
If you don't have a homeschool room or area, keep this bin somewhere that no one will bother it, like in a closet or storage space.
These papers are essential, and you don't want to scramble to find examples of work the day before your portfolio assessment.
This hack of one of the best homeschool hacks I've learned to keep you organized.
25. Include Outside Homeschool Fun
Time spent outdoors is crucial for homeschooling.
Not only is getting outside great for your health, but it gives time for your kids to explore and learn about nature.
Hikes are an educational way for kids to learn about nature. See if any of your local state forests have rangers that give guided tours. Or if you have any hiking or biking trails near you.
I send my kids outside every day (weather permitting). I gain time to get chores done, take a breather, or head outside with them to walk or garden.
If you can, invest in some playground equipment for your backyard to help your kids release energy. When they come back inside, give them a snack and settle in for the last part of your school day.
26. Try a Four-Day Week
Unless you live somewhere that tells you that you have to homeschool five days per week, consider adopting a four-day week schedule. This schedule allows you a day for field trips, lessons, errands, or co-ops.
I try to make that extra day educational but also relaxing. Sometimes, that's field trips, hiking, library trips, and anything else that we want to do. Other times, it's travel due to soccer events or other special fun.
Embracing a four-day week schedule also gives you time to adjust if something gets missed throughout the week.
My boys and I decided that we'd have that free day if we accomplished all of our tasks throughout the week. If we missed something, we'd wake up that day, finish it, and go about our day and our adventures.
27. Focus on a Positive Atmosphere
Nothing brings down homeschooling like a negative atmosphere.
It starts with the mindset that you bring each day and how you approach homeschooling. One of my favorite homeschool hacks is remembering that we aren't a traditional school, and it's okay to act that way.
Be wild, be free, and have fun with your kids. A good atmosphere changes everything when you homeschool.
Your Turn: What Homeschool Hacks Have You Enjoyed?
Do you have any favorite homeschool hacks that have made a difference in your day? Please share them in the comments area below 🙂