Six Essentials in the Homeschool Day

If you’re feeling like you don’t get enough done in the average homeschool day, join the club! I have great news for you, though. It is possible to get a kid well prepared for adulthood if your homeschool day includes only six things. Here they are:

1. Time in the word. We fit this in at breakfast.  We take turns reading a bit of scripture while everyone eats.  It is  our hope and our help every day, and ideally guides all our interactions, especially in hard moments. Are we serving Jesus, or ourselves, with each decision?

6 Essentials in the Homeschool Day

6 Essentials in the Homeschool Day

2. Reading. This is the core of academic learning. If you have a child who spends time reading, you have a learner. Make sure there are plenty of good books in the home. I also like to alternate books of the child’s choice and books that I choose, to broaden the child’s reading horizons.  I often choose books that will teach a child a bit about a particular time in history– that way I’m covering reading and history.

3. Math. If you get a bit of math done each day, you are setting your child up for success with future learning. You don’t have to do tons each day. Just some.

4. Writing. In younger grades this can look like spelling or handwriting. In older grades you can assign creative writing, or essays on specific topics. Get kids comfortable with putting words on a page and you are setting him up to win at a huge variety of future careers.  Here’s a post I wrote about teaching essay writing.

5. Time to pursue a passion. Some kids might want to become fluent in Spanish. Others might be artists. Still others might be interested in creating a speaker for an Mp3 player or learning a new judo move. Not every child will discover a passion easily, but giving them space to investigate, to learn, or create will help them along that path.  (I think that limiting video games and screen time is a component of this as well, since it gives kids space to get bored enough to explore….)

6. Service. Some time each day should be spent doing something that benefits the family. In our house that’s usually something mundane like laundry or dishes or vacuuming. Maybe it doesn’t sound academic, but it’s teaching kids work ethic and skills for the future, and that’s every bit as important as math.

Are you able to fit those 6 things into your school day on a regular basis? Then you’re doing great!   Eventually as kids move into the teen years, you’ll need to make subjects like science and history happen more often, but even then you  can mix it up.  For example, cover physical science one semester and world history another.  Or do science a couple days a week all year long.  But don’t feel bad if your fallback position on crazy days is those basic six things.  Your kids are still learning!

For more real-world homeschooling advice, check out my latest book, Practical Homeschooling for Real-World Families.



  1. This is so encouraging to this 38 weeks pregnant soon to be mama of 8 kids ages 13 on down. The long winter and all the messes and unfinished home projects to make room for baby have gotten me down. The task of spiritually training and educating these precious souls can feel really overwhelming at times. But these 6 things, I can do!

    • Oh, Rachel, I can’t tell you how many years I had with new babies where I felt so disorganized and ineffective. And yet God has grown and taught my kids in spite of it all!
      Be encouraged!

  2. THANK YOU for this! I’m with, Rachel, the previous commenter. I am 37 weeks pregnant, soon to be mama to 7, 12 years and under. These six things are like a breath of fresh air. I love your take on service, as well. My kids do chores, bc. I need them to. I hadn’t really thought about the future job skills those chores are developing. Thanks again!

    • Sounds like you are doing great! And isn’t it a blessing to have some help around the house as your kids get older? Makes up for the years when everyone is a preschooler and momma does everything!

  3. Thank you for sharing this! There have definitely been days (sometimes weeks … even months … ) in our homeschooling journey when I would just feel like I needed to give up entirely because we didn’t seem to be getting ANYTHING done! It’s nice to be reminded again that if the consistency is there, we’re actually accomplishing a lot, even when it doesn’t feel like it. 🙂

  4. As I am beginning to plan for next year I’ve had some anxiety.. we are in a hybrid early college program. It looks like we are bringing one of our kiddos home next year for her first year in high school because she needs to spend some time on some basics. This list is helpful, comforting and possibly the wisest thing I’ve read this week on schooling! Thank you.

  5. I absolutely LOVE this list!