A Wasted Homeschool Day

Do you ever have a homeschool day that you’re just sure has been wasted? 
I know I have those days.  That’s when I heard the word “failure” in the back of my mind.  

But what does a wasted, failure of a homeschool day look like?

First let me tell you what does not constitute a wasted homeschool day:

  • Veering off the lesson plan to follow your child’s interests
  • Not finishing the lesson plan because you were busy building a relationship with your child
  • Spending your day exploring the outdoors
  • Taking an impromptu field trip
  • Watching a movie together on the couch
  • Spending a day working on good character and resolving discipline issues

In other words, spending time together, building relationships, learning in various nontraditional settings, building character, and learning flexibility are not wastes of time.  Nope, on these days, your learning might look a little (or a lot) different.  But you’re still learning and there is value to your day.

So on the days when you don’t feel like your day isn’t much to write home about, know that you’re still accomplishing great things. 

So what is a wasted homeschool day?

  • When you haven’t planned fully

This is the day that you think you’ll wing it.  It’s not long before your day crashes down all around you.  You’re not productive; you feel scattered; your children feel lost.  On these days you spend time hunting down lost resources, re-reading parts of the teacher’s manual that you don’t quite understand, or running to the store for items that you forgot to purchase.

The first key to a successful homeschool day is preparation and planning.  

  • When you haven’t prepared your heart for the day

You might have lesson-planned and purchased supplies but you woke up with a rotten attitude.  You feel burnt out and tired or you don’t want to face your children and attempt to teach.  Your day is wasted because you have so many missed opportunities to sneak in learning, excite them, challenge them, encourage them, and build on your relationship with them.

The second key to a successful homeschool day is finding time to refresh and recharge through self-education, devotions, prayer, or encouragement from others. 

  • When you’re not fully engaged

When your teaching with a divided heart and only giving your children part of your attention because you’re too busy making plans for later or thinking about all the chores or cleaning or cooking or reading or sleeping that you could be doing, you just wasted your homeschool day.  Your children miss you and they don’t rise to their fullest potential when you’re only half-heartedly schooling them.

The third key to a successful homeschool day is being attentive to your children and their needs and being fully engaged and enthusiastic about learning. 


It’s easy to waste away your homeschool day. 

On the other hand, it’s simple to experience success. 

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to homeschool your kids, you just need a plan, a prepared heart, and a fully engaged mind.  Homeschooling success looks different for each family, but it is achievable for anyone.


Further Reading

My No Good, Horrible, Really Bad Homeschool Day

The Day I Wanted to Quit Homeschooling

Giving Homeschoolers a Bad Name

Homeschool Super Mom

Hip Homeschool Moms


15 thoughts on “A Wasted Homeschool Day

  1. This is so true Lexie, and yet, one of the hardest aspects of homeschooling. Even after all of these years of trying to get it "right", I still struggle with being too prepared vs. trying to loosen up. Obviously, being prepared will win each time, as far as feeling productive, but sometimes you just want to be free 🙂

  2. I know! I want to be flexible but I also want to plan ahead to make the most of our time. I struggle with feeling like we got nothing done on days that we are more laid back. Then other times I almost waste time in over planning. It's really hard to find balance!

  3. I realize this comment is probably not going to be welcome. I found your blogs because you were using the #homeschoolconfessions hashtag while apparently being unaware that homeschool alumni have been using that same hashtag to talk about their experiences.

    I am 33 years old and was homeschooled from kindergarten through high school. My mom worked hard to try to provide me with a good education. Unfortunately, her best efforts were not nearly enough to get me ready for college, which is something I have never been able to tell her because she devoted her life to this. When I see blogs like the one above, I literally cringe. And then I get angry. If you were talking about a day of parenting during the summer, sure. Definitely not a waste. If you are talking about making sure your child gets the sort of education that will prepare them for a career later on, you are dead wrong. I cannot even articulate just how wrong you are.

    The sort of attitude here is why I struggled immensely in college. I could not figure out why everything was so hard when I had aced homeschool high school. My parents were always bragging about my high SAT and ACT scores, not realizing that a standardized test was not a good measure of my preparedness to study at a college level.

    I guarantee that your relationship with your children will suffer once they reach adulthood and realize they have a tremendous amount of catching up to do because you refused to listen to people like me who have experienced the consequences firsthand. No amount of relationship building now will make up for that. My parents do not know how much they failed me because I cannot bring myself to tell them how hard I had to study in order to make up for how much I did not know compared to kids who had a public school education (which they were constantly criticizing).

    There are now thousands of homeschool alumni like me talking about our experiences. You might want to start listening if you actually care about your kids' education. http://homeschoolersanonymous.wordpress.com/

  4. Thank you for sharing your opinions with me. However, I must disagree with you.

    If you read my blog closely you would see that I am a homeschool graduate. I successfully got into college with a full scholarship and was valedictorian in my college. My parents did a wonderful job educating me in highschool and prepared me well for college while supporting all of my academic efforts.

    So, I am a homeschool almuni and I can speak with authority on the subject.

    My relationship with my parents has not suffered and I am proud of what they taught me – they taught me how to think and how to learn. They also instilled a love for learning and encouraged my pursuits.

    A wasted homeschool day is one that happens because I as the parent was not prepared for the day. It is ok to take days off and relax with your kids or learn in a more relaxed environment. I work to be prepared every day so I don't waste opportunities to learn with my children and to spend time with them.

    My children's education is extremely important to me as is their relationship to me. I know what homeschool success can look like and I am excited to help my children achieve it as well.

    I'm sorry you disagree. However, I stand by what I said. As a homeschool alumni who is friends with many other homeschool graduates, I am familiar with their experiences. I'm sorry you did not have a good experience but don't assume that others did not have a positive experience as well. My experience was vastly different from yours and I plan to replicate the excellent education provided by my parents.

    If you read my blog closely you would see my heart for educating my children thoroughly and preparing them for whatever their future holds.

  5. I hope this doesn't sound harsh… but I do wonder if the people who blame their homeschool education on why they weren't ready for college really and truly think they would have done better in public school. Maybe THEY were just not a good fit for college and that's ok. I wasn't a good fit for college and I went to public school and it's not because I went to public school that I wasn't ready. I'm sure I wouldn't have been ready either way! I'm not made for that kind of education. And I'm ok with it. Does it limit my ability to have a happy and fulfilling life? No. Are there career paths I cannot take because I didn't go to college? Sure! I assume if I had wanted to pursue one of them badly enough I would have tried college again later when I was more prepared. We can't sit around and blame our parents forever for doing the best they could… I know I don't. My life is my own. No one's negative views on homeschooling will stop me from doing what I feel is best for my kids and if when they grow up they decide to be mad that I homeschooled them… well it could be worse.

  6. Maud I am sorry that has happened to you. I went to public school and my high school counselor told me that I was not college material. I did not even try to go for awhile. When I did attend college I succeeded. I will try to be very diligent in my children's education after reading your experience

  7. To Maud,
    I'm wondering what kind of student you were, because frankly, we moms get tired of dragging our kids out of bed each day, forcing them to see the value of THEIR education. I'm wondering what your mom would say, if given the opportunity to be 100% transparent about her experience. I'm betting it wouldn't be all roses and sunshine.

    If you really wanted to pursue a higher education and were really bothered that much by your hateful peers, you would have applied yourself more and you wouldn't be spending your time bashing your parents and other parents, who are trying to do their best, but might take a day off, now and then.

    To think there is an entire group of hacked off, former homeschoolers congregating on Twitter, for no other reason but to tear others down……WOW! What a waste of time and education, right there.

  8. Maud – Other posters have expressed what I want to express, so I'll just add one small thing. You said, "If you were talking about a day of parenting during the summer, sure. Definitely not a waste." Do you realize that Lexi (along with many other homeschoolers) homeschool year round? So perhaps you can view these down days as "summer" days and understand that she is not doing a disservice to her children at all? I really cannot say much more because I want to keep this post civil.

  9. I school my children very much as Lexi does hers, and my first has been very successful in college. For the record, she is graduating a semester early, has all A's, except for the B in the dreaded Greek class, and was praised by her professors the minute she stepped foot on campus. We should be careful to remember that no two people are alike as are no two homeschools. Attacking others is never ok.

  10. Maud, funny thing is, Lexi, and others like her, homeschool BECAUSE they actually care about their children's education. I was a public school educator before becoming a stay at home mom and home school mom. I homeschool because I saw the education the kids were receiving and it was NOT preparing the kids for college let alone the next grade level. There is good and bad in both public school and home school. I am sorry you had a bad homeschooling experience. I have people very close to me who have had just as bad (or worse) of an experience in the public school. As homeschool parents, we take our jobs seriously and Lexi certainly goes above and beyond.

  11. We're new to homeschooling, and it's not where I ever envisioned myself. But because "regular" school was failing them (one kid's school was closed, another was like trying to fit an octagon peg in a triangular hole, one has special needs that can't be handled in the right way *for him* to thrive, and one whose intended school is just too overcrowded for me to justify), we're now in the thick of it. Being prepared looks different for each student, and depends on the day. It's easy for me to say it was a "failed" day because we didn't get to something, or a lesson didn't "stick," but I think you're right that a wasted day is when we didn't learn. Even if it's a bad day and the academics don't happen, it's still not a waste if we have learned where we went wrong and can fix it going forward. There's always tomorrow to try again if we miss an "official" lesson.

  12. Yes Meg. That's exactly my point. Some days don't look like acadmics but we still learn on those days and we also learn about character and learn from mistakes. If I don't start my day with some type of plan or backup plan and I just give up on the day then that is a true failure. I have to keep moving forward even if my plan is Plan B or Plan C. But then I do have to learn from what went wrong (or right) to make better plans for later days.

    Homeschooling is about academics and providing a thorough education. But it is also about relationships and character – you get to build a great bond with your child and mold their character (while also seeing areas where your character can use some work). It's a great experience even though it is challenging.

    I loved my own homeschool experience and learned so much even though not every day looked the same.

    And while I consider our homeschool to be rigorous, I know that there are days when it's best to alter the plan, take a more relaxed approach, take a field trip, or even take a day off to follow other pursuits. Education is a top priority around here but so is enjoying my children and enjoying the journey. I think it's possible to be academically-minded and still have fun. That's our goal here.

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