If you have been homeschooling for any time at all you understand that there can be little “hiccups” in the journey.
When I was a younger woman I suffered a string of nearly fatal health issues. Most of those health issues have followed me through the rest of my life with varying consequences.
One of those consequences is that on rare occasions I have limited mobility. It takes me a bit longer to recover from vacations, long outings and illnesses.
And then there are other times I just need a day BY MYSELF.
Or at least a nap.
There are all manner of things that can pop up and wreak havoc in well-planned homeschool day and can cause us to frantically switch to “Plan B.”
Company, moving, change in finances, doctors’ visits, illness, or just a very bad, horrible, no good day.
I have known homeschool families who have had an entire year filled with “Plan Bs.”
In our homeschool, I have decided to embrace “Plan B.” There is no sense in becoming frustrated when my day is filled with unfulfilled expectations and bumps in the road. We are teaching our children far more than their ABC’s.
We need to be teaching them to make lemonade from lemons, orange juice from oranges and pancakes. Pancakes are food group in our house.
Maybe I’m getting off track just a bit but one of the joys of a delight-directed homeschool is that Plan B fits in “right nicely”. It’s almost as if you planned it all that way!
Any list makers out there? I am about to introduce you to one of my favorite Plan B tools.
The List is something that my son can refer to and follow any time we have a Plan B kind of day.
What is on my list?
A variety of activities that can provide my son with plenty of learning experiences. I pull out the list when I am struggling physically. I pull out the list when we are coming back from a trip or holiday. It helps us move back into our schedule. I pull out the list when we just need a day to BE.
I frequently add to the list. It is a moving and ever changing document. It also reflects the interests and skill level of my 13-year-old son.
What does it look like?
This is our current list (with some commentary from me for good measure).
Play a game
Any game in our collection is “fair game”. I get most of my games from The Thrift Store (which truly should be another ember of our homeschool team). We have a variety of educational and just plain fun games. We just got one called In A Pickle that we are looking forward to playing. One of Josiah’s favorites is War. Another is an addition and subtraction Bingo game. I have also instituted a “no grumping about the game choice” policy. This isn’t for Josiah. This is for me. We spent a few years only playing Candy Land.
Listen to an Audio Book or Read a Book
This is a no-brainer. Reading should be the Homeschooling National Sport. My very favorite invention of all time for my family is the Audio Book. My son is dyslexic and we have filled up many hours with an audio book. I have several that I’ve purchased at library sales or thrift stores. We also frequently check them out from the library. There are several sites online that provide free audio books. One of my most used sites is actually YouTube. More on YouTube in a moment.
Choose a documentary or educational program on Netflix to watch
Or, watch one of the movies on the top shelf of the movie shelf. What’s on that top shelf? The classics, my
friends. I recognize that I might be the only parent on the planet who considers viewing a classic musical (such as Singing in the Rain) as educational. I frequently peruse Netflix or Amazon Prime (we have subscriptions) and find interesting documentaries or programming to watch. There is so much! Of course, every choice is subject to my approval.
Conduct a Science experiment from a science book in the homeschool cabinet
Over the years, I’ve collect a few books that contain easy projects that can be done at home with minimal supervision. The easiest are the ones that use basic household materials. Don’t worry about repeats. Josiah has done the same experiment involving ice at least once a month for 3 years. It never gets old.
Cook an easy recipe
Obviously you need to consider your child when setting them loose with this one. I purchase a box brownie mix every few weeks for Josiah to make. Because he is dyslexic he gets overwhelmed with seemingly complicated directions without me to supervise. He can handle the operating of mixing and baking the brownie mix on his own. As a little bitty girl, I can remember being responsible for cinnamon toast. Every kid needs to know how to navigate the kitchen.
Watch an online concert or theatrical performance
This is something we will discover together. I have loved YouTube for this very reason. It has supplied an excellent resource for an Arts education. We have seen concerts from all over the world from the comfort of our little living room.
Work on a hobby
Maybe you have a little artisan in you midst. I, myself, have learned many handy craft techniques from an online tutorial. Just a suggestion. I usually preview any videos (we have been watching drum tutorials and science experiments lately). I don’t appreciate a “potty mouth”. I would rather have a tutorial be a clean one.
Every homeschooler needs a respectably stocked art cabinet or bucket. My guy isn’t much of a doodler, but you can bet your bottom dollar that I have the goods ready just in case he’s ready to create a masterpiece. Recently, we found one of those velvet pictures to color in a football theme. I added that to our list and he has really enjoyed coloring! Who knew?
Write one entry in your Journal
Don’t make it fancy. Our journals are simple composition notebooks we’ve decorated with stickers. I always have a list of journal prompts on hand. Writing a journal entry is always on the list. I don’t expect a novel from my guy. It’s just good practice.
Fair warning. This next item on the list is particularly tailor made for my son. He loves football. Sometimes I change up what he needs to research. However, he never gets tired of researching football. I just go with it.
List your 5 favorite football players
Give one reason why you like them. Chose one of those players and discover more about him online. Tell me about it. You can really do this activity with any subject that interests your child.
Here are a few other ideas for the list. We have done a variety of these things
- Supply materials so your child can create their own thank you or get well cards
- Take advantage of mom approved apps
- Encourage them to create a game or activity
- Challenge them make a menu for an imaginary restaurant
- Have your student research a fun location in the area and plan a field trip
- Younger children will enjoy puzzles, busy boxes and art projects.
- Nature study (if we had a big backyard — we call an apartment home — I would send my guy out every day with a nature scavenger hunt.
The point is to tailor it to your family and your needs.
I recommend you start by writing down your children’s favorite activities. Make sure you include those that have minimal participation from you. Begin to encourage some of those independent learning skills.
You can weed out activities that just don’t work. Your list can change seasonally or to accommodate a Unit Study or a particular interest.
I have read that effective education isn’t measured by the teacher but by the learner and some of our best teaching moments for our children come when we least expect it. The unexpected is simply life as we live it and as it happens to us. Plan B isn’t bad; it’s just Plan B and tomorrow is another day.
Hooray for the unexpected!
Rebekah Teague is the homeschooling mama to one busy and beautiful boy. She is married to The Muffin who is a pastor and a really great guy. In her spare time she can be found with a book and a cup of tea. She blogs at There Will Be A $5 Charge For Whining.
I would also love to invite you the community inspired by this series, as we strive to inspire, encourage and empower our readers in everything homeschooling.