Let’s face it-we’ve all at one time or another started a day with less enthusiasm than usual. We might have woken up on the wrong side of the bed, the kids might be extra tired and a bit difficult, or maybe it was destined to be a bad day. No matter what the reason, we all have off days, and even though we might not be ‘feeling’ the homeschool lesson plan, there are some ways in which we can re-shift our focus and teach during the dreaded ‘off day’.

I am likely not alone when I say that I have tossed out the rigid lesson plan on occasion and gone off-script. Taking a break from the routine is healthy. I remember from my own school days how nice it was when we had a movie day or a field day full of outdoor activities. Our kids are the same, they like a shake-up every now and again, too. So, if the Monday cloud is hovering and a day at the desk is starting to feel like punishment to you or the kiddos, leave the lesson plan behind and consider one of these alternatives.

Get Hands-On

If learning the basics of electricity is scheduled for Science class, play the ‘show and tell’ card.  Instead of just telling how electricity works, show them. Load up the family car and head to the local science center. Let them see how electricity works by enjoying the interactive stations throughout the center. The guide can take the lead on the science portion of the day, allowing you a break. Round out the day by visiting a nature center to learn about local wildflowers and have PE at the neighborhood park.

I remember how my daughter always learned better when she was touching and holding the items we were learning about. She was a much better visual learner than an audio learner. Instead of trying to teach her multiplication on paper, I would use the paper money we used earlier for counting lessons. 2 times 2 was visible with real items and she could hold each single dollar to make the learning easier for her. Buttons or even dice could be used to teach math basics of addition, subtraction, etc.

Let the Student Be the Master

Let your little one be the teacher for a minute. Let her ‘teach’ you what was learned over the past week, as a summary. Ask her questions about the recent lessons and have her ‘explain’ things to you. This reverse method can be a fun way for her to recite what has been learned and give her confidence (if needed) on her knowledge.

Go Schedule-Free

On rare occasions, I would go completely script-free for a day. No lesson plans? No problem! I would let my daughter focus on her favorite subject. She could write a report on why sea lions were her favorite. She could write a play or short story based on her favorite Disney character. She could spend some free time drawing-my daughter used to sketch out outfits for her stuffed animals and then would make them with old material pieces I had laying around. I chalked this up to art time and let her creativity run wild. She was learning and discovering her passions, without ever realizing it. And, really, that is what homeschool should be-a way to let them learn the talents they possess and to tailor their learning to their passions.

I would also on occasion toss the schedule and have a ‘snow day’. Nothing wrong with canceling class for a day and letting the kids enjoy a free day.

The beauty of homeschool is that, as long as state guidelines are followed, you have a lot of flexibility as to how, when, and what you teach. My daughter learned better in the afternoon and evening hours, so we wouldn’t start lessons until around 3 pm. This allowed us to get our daily hours in, but at a time when she was ready. School isn’t a cookie-cutter routine; Enjoy the flexibility and be creative!

Author: Debra Pamplin