8 Genius Ideas for Your Homeschool



8 Genius Ideas for Your Homeschool - TriciaGoyer.com


8 Genius Ideas for Your Homeschool


I’ve been a homeschooling mom for 20 years, and I’ve graduated three students. Two are college graduates, and the third is working on his degree. After adopting seven more children I’m starting completely over.

The most genius thing I’m doing this time around is not stressing out. We’re using Sonlight for preschool and My Father’s World for First Grade. I also enjoy reading chapter books all together (in addition to library books). We’re currently reading Farmer Boy (Little House) by Laura Ingalls Wilder. We’re having a lot of fun!

Homeschooling is completely different than when I started in 1994. There is more curriculum, there are blogs, and there are tons of wonderful ideas. I love hearing about what other people are doing and what works for them.

Recently I asked some of my Facebook friends about their genius ideas. These are some great ones, so I thought I’d share!

Genius Idea #1 – ‘Home Ec’ Day

Dee Ann: One day a week was Home-Ec class beginning in Kindergarten. It was a great way to teach them everything from folding laundry, to using the washer, ironing, cleaning house, sewing, gardening, baking, meal planning and prep. We started simple, and got more complex as the years went by. They were “responsible” for dinner one day a week from Kindergarten on. They had a simple kids cookbook with things like bunny rabbit pear salad and hot dogs. They did all the planning, and I only stepped in when they asked for help. I just sat at the table in the kitchen, and did paperwork or other projects. Of course as the years went by, their skills increased to the point I was not needed in the kitchen. They learned to do meal planning using what we had on hand, and if they had to buy any ingredients they had to prove it was the least expensive choice. I only remember one time we couldn’t eat what they prepared. One of them read 2 cups cornstartch instead of cornmeal. No one wanted to eat glue for dinner. I think all of this is needed training for boys and girls. They are all grown, and successful moms and “keepers of the home.”

Genius Idea #2 – ‘Closed Captioning’ = Reading

Kelli: My son turned on the closed captioning on Netflix. He taught himself to read in kindergarten.

Genius Idea #3 – Get Moving!

Cindee: My oldest struggled with comprehension and retention, so we broke out the Legos, Sculpy Clay, pastels, watercolors, acrylics, etc. and I would read everything, for hours, while his hands were busy. We kept it up for 12 years and weren’t sure what would happen in college. He learned to read on the treadmill…for hours. He’s in amazing shape and graduating with a great GPA in just four years. We’ve carried on the tradition with our other four. Our second son earned a Presidential four year scholarship. And…we grown a whole houseful of creatives.

Genius Idea #4 – Take School Outdoors

Julie: When we were homeschooling, we homeschooled year round. In the spring and fall we would pack up some of our school supplies and go to the park a few days a week. Every so often we would take a break and my children would go play for a bit. When their break was almost done I’d pull out a story book and start reading and they would automatically come over and sit down and play with match box cars or color while I read the story (great for calming down after running around and playing). After the story was done, they’d continue on their schoolwork. This worked great for those spring and fall days when there was schoolwork to do, but everyone wanted to be outside.

Genius Idea #5 – Thank You Letters

Kerri Stites: This may seem small but it’s turning out to be one of my favorite things. My girls (12 and 16) have a letter due to me on Wednesday mornings. It can be anyone God lays on their hearts to write to and it must be encouraging or thanking the person in some way; letting the person know they’ve made a difference etc. It’s turning out to be one of our favorite things about homeschooling. We could have been doing this all along but weren’t. Many kids don’t know how to address an envelope or how the mail works etc. so there are many benefits to this. Now a few others have asked if they can do this Wednesday Letter also. YES! Everyone is invited! (for more about Kerri go here.)

Genius Idea #6 – Get Organized

Debbie: Workboxes were a lifesaver for us. The kids loved having their own boxes for their work and knowing they could go from one to the next independently… after we did a few subjects together in the morning. I highly recommend them.

Genius Idea #7 – Start the Day with the Bible & Prayer

Amy: We start every day with the Bible, Awana verses, and prayer. Sometimes I pray and sometimes they pray. I think it’s important and they do better with their Awana verses.

Genius Idea #8 – Dry Erase To-Do Lists

Carol: I put the girls’ assignment pages in sheet protectors, then they could check off each subject w/ a dry erase marker. The next day, wipe it off & start over

How about you? What are your genius ideas for homeschooling?

I’d love to hear!

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  1. Great ideas! I especially love Genius Idea #1. I probably won’t devote a whole day to it… but it’s a great idea to be intentional about scheduling in home ec time… 🙂

  2. These are wonderful ideas! As for me and my daughter, we’ve just started homeschooling this year; she is in the second grade. One of our daily things we love doing together is our Thankful Journal. Everyday, we write down at least 3 things we are thankful for from that day. We do this at night, but we share them in the morning at the beginning of class. I feel like it gives her awareness of what blessings she’s has, and it makes her think about these things throughout the day so she can remember them when it’s time to write them down. 🙂

  3. Thanks so much for these! I won’t be worrying about school for three more years, but my sister just started homeschooling yesterday. I’m going to share these with her. Great ideas. 🙂

  4. I also loved idea #1. We have 1 girl and 2 boys and we have daily chores that I do not separate due to their gender. Everyone has to help with ALL household responsibilities. I just love the meal planning and being responsible for dinner idea. I will start doing this!
    My additional idea is a private journal. My daughter and I have a “Mommy & Me” journal. Every night I write in it and leave it for her. The next morning she writes in it and leaves it for me on my bed. We write (and draw) all sorts of things in it, questions, concerns, thoughts, memories, jokes, and even songs. I love doing this because it allows us some one on one personal time to ask questions or address things that we don’t always have the ability to do throughout the day. Having 3 children, sometimes one on one time is hard to find. I plan on doing this with my sons (or my husband and sons can do this) when they are ready and show an interest. Plus, I can keep this and read it in the future when she is grown. While I’m crying in my coffee. (O:

    • What a wonderful idea, Brandy!! I want to do that when my kids get older!

    • I love that idea! I have 2 girls & I’m a single mom so there isn’t many opportunities to have one on one time with them. This opens another form of communication so when it’s months in between each mother-daughter date, they still feel they can share things with me and not feel neglected. Thanks for the idea! Years from now I too can have some comfort while crying in my coffee. 🙂

      • You’re welcome Lindsey! Our mommy & me journal has really opened up some important topics. My daughter had a very serious question she asked me not too long ago in our journal that she admitted she was afraid what she was asking was inappropriate and didn’t want to ask me face to face. It was a question I had been dreading as a parent and this allowed me to look up (in the Bible) how I was going to answer. I hope you & your girls share great memories!

    • I do this with my boys. Sometimes I have to ask questions to get the balk rolling. Really great activity fir my reluctant writer and really good help to open up communications.

  5. We are reading Farmer Boy right now, too! I love the idea to take school outside. We are enjoying the warm summer days air as long as they last. I’m just not ready for summer to be over.

  6. #1 just blew my mind! I have probably read things about throwing in some home-ec 100 times, but the thought of making it a whole day (or a half, even) and really taking the time to teach it to them WHILE getting my own chores done, is amazing! I also love the netflix idea. Will be starting that for my kindergartener!

  7. This is GREAT!!! Thank you!! I’m just starting to home school pre-school my twin boys this year (first timer here) and was needing this awesome advise. And your blog is amazing! You are a fantastic and inspiring writer, one I hope I can also be someday 🙂

  8. I love these! My genius idea is throwing out the boxed curriculum for a year. We’re focusing on the bible and the little house on the prairie primer. My kids LOVE LHOTP and I figured we’d get a lot in studying the books, literature, the history, etc. I have some math set aside that we will work in but I’m so less stressed doing this and studying around their interests than trying to get them interested in the curriculum we’d been using. We are on our 3rd year of homeschooling and it is ever changing, ever evolving as I learn more and understand my kids learning styles better. Another genius idea is learning to adapt…there is no one size fits all and that is the beauty of our decision to homeschool!

  9. I love #5. We do some of these already. I always try to keep Fridays as easy as possible. It gives the children a goal for working hard all week if they know Friday will be light and fun.

  10. I like the once a week letter idea. We write all of our assignments on a laminated poster that the children check off during the day. Large, visible, and no excuses as to not getting started in the AM or falling behind (I write it the night before).

  11. Keep a huge box of plastic sheet protectors. They turn any worksheet into dry erase instantly. Saves tons of printing especially if you have more than one child.

  12. I have had trouble “fitting in” all of the great science experiments and craft projects that I find on Pinterest. So I decided to make my kids responsible for them! My 10 year old son is in charge of choosing and preparing a fun science experiment from my Pinterest board once a week and my 8 year old budding artist picks a craft project for her brothers. They get to be the teacher during that time and their siblings practice taking direction from them. It’s great!

  13. Starting the day out with Bible and prayer is huge for us. It’s so important to start the day out right…..reading with Netflix caption is genius!

  14. Just discovered this gem of a post on Pinterest. 🙂 Great ideas! I really love asking kids to write letters. Writers need an audience and homeschooling can create more of a challenge for providing that authentic audience for writers. Writing letters works GREAT because the audience is “built-in” to the writing activity. 🙂
    I recently wrote a post on Homeschooling Hacks. I think my favorite “hack” is reusing old PB or mayonnaise jars to transport scissors, pencils, glue sticks, etc. anywhere you need them to go.

  15. Becky Maxwell says:

    We have been homeschooling for 16 years. I have graduated one, I have one in high school and one doing third grade. The best thing I’ve learned is when they are having a problem with a subject for them to be the teacher and teach me and they find they know more than they actually think.

    • Yes! My six-year-old does a version of this where he “teaches” his sister (she’s 1, so he can’t lead her astray). 😉 He’s always surprised.

  16. These really are genious ideas!! Thank you! My girls are in kindergarten and preschool so it is a great time to get these started

  17. Such wonderful ideas! We are a fair few years away from homeschooling (newlyweds!), but if we’re ever blessed with children I’ll be keeping much of this in mind!

  18. I’m still pretty new at this (my 6 year old 1st grader and I started officially two years ago) but not stressing out has been huge, and being flexible is even better. I noticed that my son couldn’t sit still reading his sight word flash cards so I spread them out in the floor and called out a word and he found it and brought it to me. If he brings the wrong one he has to read it out loud on his own before trying to find the right ine. He learns to recognize the words and gets time to run around and so far he lives it.
    My daughter just turned 4 and doesn’t have the comprehension to actually be “In school” but loves school… so every day while her brother does school she gets a work sheet with one letter on it that she can trace several times and a picture she can color. When she is done with that she gets out our math blocks and I call out a color and she locates it and counts the blocks of trace I mesh at color while putting them back in the jar… she loves it, it keeps her out of my hair whole I’m trying trace I mesh at do more complex stuff with her brother and she is learning as well.
    I also keep a binder for each of them (my daughters isn’t as complex as my son’s yet) each has a separator sheet for each subject and plastic sleeves to keep work books or pages we are working on. This makes it easier to find everything and my son can even get started on his lessons while I’m loading the dish washer if I just tell him which subject we Are on.

  19. My genius idea is a LIFE NOTEBOOK. I have a 2nd grader and a 4th grader. At the beginning of the year I made them a notebook (small size) with the following contents:

    Daily Tasks (in a plastic sleeve for wipe-off capabilities)
    To-do list
    Calendar so we can all be on the same page for the week
    Library list (in a plastic sleeve so they mark off with the get a book from each category)
    Copy of the Dewey decimal system so they can find their own books at the library
    Piano practice record
    Address list with grandparents and neighbors phone numbers & emails
    Birthday organizer for friends and family
    Thank you card check off list (we still hand write thank you notes)
    Basic medical information

    My kids take this when they visit friends too so if something happens they have the info they need for medical care and emergency contacts. It has saved me a lot of time and hassle and they love feeling grown up and responsible.

  20. I love #1 and I need some more practical ideas to put it in motion!!!

  21. This is great I loved all the ideas. One I know we will put to use is the Netflix one. I though that was genius. Something my kids like to do is go threw my cookbooks and write their names on post-its and place them on a recipe they want to do. My daughter is 5 in a half and I help her and let her do the things she can do. My 9 yr old can do things like read the ingredients and instructions and I can help with technique, etc. Then Im sure you can take a pic of them with their creation and put it in a photo album or even make a favorites cookbook.

    Also for things that kids have to write over and over again such as the alphabet or their name, I laminate them and let them use dry erase markers.

    Thank you for the tips! Happy Homeschooling! 🙂

  22. Great ideas, thank you! It seems we don’t have time to fit art into our everyday lives so starting last year we decided that summer time will be all art/projects! It is also nice to take it outside and keep some of the messes out of the house

  23. We do Bible, prayer, and other together work in the mornings. The kids *love* having a daily checklist (which inudes independent work, getting ready for the day stuff, and chores) which they can cruise through at their own pace. My middle child loves to get up early and get work done asap, while the youngest takes his time and gives himself lots of play time. They all know they get their free screen time when their work is fbe and they can each learn responsibility as they set their own pace. It has worked so well!

  24. My “genius” idea (more like lazy idea;) is cursive writing. I never “taught” them to do it. I taped a cursive alphabet poster to the wall and ONLY wrote in cursive. My 3rd and 1st graders (now 5th and 3rd) picked it up within weeks and can now read and write it with no trouble.

  25. I just now saw this because someone tweeted the link. I’m glad I did. We have two boys on the autism spectrum and so many of these suggestions would be fantastic for them. Thanks so much!

  26. I love these! We are homeschooling this upcoming year and I love the idea of work boxes. I already planned to incorporate homemaking into each day, just small tasks, but what’s missing that I think is important is morning exercise time. My boys love it when my husband or I are exercising. They join right in. So I think prayer, exercise, breakfast, scripture study and school (home ec being part of the school day) are what we will do on a daily basis. It’s a great opportunity to instill good habits in my kids!

  27. I loved these idea, and I think it’s so important for us to remind ourselves of the many faces of learning. Two things I try to remember and practice:

    1. Never underestimate the learning power of conversation. Whether it’s in the car, while you’re cooking dinner, taking a walk or just sitting, expounding on a question or idea can have lasting implications. To me, it’s one of the greatest benefits of homeschooling.

    2. Let siblings “teach” each other. Research says that if you really want to master something, teach it. So I try to pair mine up from time to time and give them a math or reading concept to teach.

  28. I just put the captioning on for my boy right this second on your recommendation. Thanks!

  29. I LOVE the idea for the “thank you” notes and resolves a situation I was thinking about this morning. I was thinking that I wanted to get a group of ladies from my church together to do a card shower for someone once a month, someone different every month, but was trying to mentally organize how I wanted to do it. Doing it within my house (6 kids who are capable of either writing a note or coloring a picture) would absolutely work. Snagging that idea!! Instead of once a month, we’ll do it weekly and allow each child to pick whomever they would like. Love it!!

  30. Katherine Airisa says:

    Love all the ideas, thank you. My boys are a little older 12 and 17) than a lot of the home schoolers mentioned here, but one thing we are doing this summer is having “today’s news”. They have to find a news story, read it, write down the important facts, and be ready to discuss it at dinner. It’s been fun and interesting to see what stories they pick. If we ask a question they can’t answer they do more research to find the answer, if possible. We’ve had some great discussions.

  31. Signe L. says:

    We love doing family history together. We replace one day a week of regular history study with family history. We use sights like familysearch.org and ancestry.com to find ancestors. We bring it up on our tv so everyone can see and participate together.

  32. Charity Napier says:

    Hi, I’m going to be a junior in Highschool and I was in public school until Sophmore year , then I did an online academy but this year I am doing actual homeschool and since you’ve homeschooled highschoolers I was wondering if you had any advice? Or could answer some of my questions about homeschooling. My email Is Charitynapier@yahoo.com, thank you!

  33. I love these ideas! I am so grateful for the internet and those that share their wisdom from many years of homeschooling. I will be adding in many of these ideas soon, I love them all!

  34. When our four were homeschooling, several times per day I would call out “assigned rooms” and each child was given three rooms to pick up. Even the three-year-old was responsible for three assigned rooms, of course they were at her level of ability. This helped keep the mess down and also taught the children to be neater with their things as they would be responsible for picking them up later.

  35. Hi! I love all of these ideas!!!
    My not so original genius idea is playing “dolls r us” with my 6 yr old daughter. She picks out 6-10 dolls and I price them with masking tape. I arrange them in the living room and my daughter “buys” a doll using a flash card(I love dollar store flash cards) that shows the corresponding coins to the amount priced on a specific doll. At the end of our store time , I actually turn it into a timed game using the stopwatch on my phone.
    I also love to write to do lists or whatever on construction paper and “laminate” it with contact paper while adhering it to the pantry door. Works great as a dry erase surface. I just have to clean it up every few times with alcohol.

  36. We like to turn the tv to Spanish and put the English subtitles on. It helps my kids and myself hear the flow of the Spanish language from native speakers. My kids are 9 and under but we keep it on basic children’s shows like disney jr and PBS because they are learning counting and colors and other basic language skills.


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