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How to Make Everyday Activities Educational

Catholic Relaxed Homeschooling

How Everyday Activities Fit on the Transcript

I have often wondered whether our existing educational paradigm has conditioned us to think of education as an overly formal affair. For example, if I say, “My daughter is learning geography,” what image does this conjure up? Probably a girl sitting at a table with a geography book, perhaps coloring some maps. Or suppose I say, “My son is studying botanical science,” maybe you imagine a boy holding a textbook with pictures of plants on the cover reading about Gregor Mendel’s experiments with beans.

Now imagine that my daughter’s geography lesson consists of acting as navigator on our shopping trip to the store downtown. Or my son’s botanical science study means he is on his knees with a spade maintaining the family garden. The things we do everyday are full of educational value, but because we are conditioned to think of education as an academic act carried out in a formal setting, we often miss the educational opportunities all around us. In this post, I’d like to challenge you to rethink some of your everyday activities in an educational context as well as help you relax & enjoy homeschooling more than ever.

Library Trips

Let’s start with a staple of homeschool education—your weekly trip to the library. This is an excellent opportunity to learn the Dewey Decimal System as well as learn how to research. This can be done on your own or with the guidance of a librarian (trust me, your librarian will love to help you!). It is also an occasion for instruction and practice in silent, sustained reading and intentional reading strategies.

Grocery Trips

How about going shopping? This is a fantastic opportunity for consumer math skills. I used to take my daughter shopping with me and we’d compare prices; it was her job to get me the best bang for my buck. What is a better deal, two pounds of beef for $8 or five pounds for $18? She’d do the math and tell me while simultaneously learning how products are priced and how to determine value.

Homeschool Socialization

When you have your weekly homeschool support group meeting, this is an opportunity for socialization development, where your child can practice conversing with adults and peers.

Homeschool PE

Remember having to phys-ed in high school? Most homeschooling kids can get all the physical education they need simply playing outside. If you want, you can give it some structure. At the co-op where I once taught, kids were given at hour outside at lunch but it had to be organized around some sort of physical sport. The children could play whatever sport they wished, but they had to be active. This can be considered a low organization physical education. A family hike or bicycle outing are other excellent occasions for physical education.

Homeschool Field Trips

Travel is another fantastic educational opportunity. Awhile back, we did a post on the Top Ten Homeschool Field Trip ideas, which I highly recommend. Obviously a formal field trip is an occasion for learning, but any trip out can be educational. Consider geography: have your child plot the course to your destination and serve as navigator without use of GPS to build geographical skills. Think about the educational import of something like a zoo trip; you’ve got physical education (all the walking), map skills, narration (reading the displays), and natural science/biology. What a smorgasbord of learning!

Manipulatives and Crafts

Arts and crafts are manipulative construction relating to whatever subject you are learning. For example, building a replica of the Great Pyramid out of foam is manipulative construction in the field of history, a type of 3D design study.

Working with LEGOs, K’Nex, or any sort of building blocks grows small motor skills and critical thinking. LEGOs can also be used for math instruction.

Home Chores

You can even find educational value in the daily grind of chores. Remember home economics? Though now defunct in many public schools, home economics used to be a course that taught kids the practical details of managing a household: cooking, sewing, ironing, and all manner of domestic skills. Doing chores is just part of keeping a house functional, but they can be done with intentionality so as to become a true lesson in home economy. It also develops manual skills, time management, and is a form of values education as it inculcates the importance of discipline.


As mentioned above, working the family garden can be a lesson in botanical science. Have your children choose what to plant, research based on climate, soil, and sunlight what will grow best. Another idea is to take a nature walk where kids collect things along the way which they are responsible for identifying from a book. Instant earth science lesson.

Real Life Math

What about math? Can that be worked into daily life? Absolutely! Games like soccer and pool can become tutorials in geometry; a session of Monopoly is an arithmetic lesson. If you’ve ever had to lay flooring, or paint a wall, or pour gravel in a garden bed, you are working with calculating area. There are tons of opportunities for math skills all around us.


We are surrounded by social studies and history lessons as well. Reading the news is a form of social studies, using current events as the focal point of inquiry. Watching TV documentaries and movies are also a fantastic source of social studies information. TLC, History Channel, National Geographic, Animal Planet, PBS, Health Channel, etc. all have a lot of great resources. Since we are dealing with corporate media, you obviously need to be vigilant in what content you consume, but there is some good stuff out there for those willing to sort the good from the bad. But if you don’t like media, even just a conversation with grandma about her life experiences constitutes a history lesson.

Doctor Visits

Does your child have a dental exam? Encourage them to ask the hygienist questions about what she is doing, what the various pieces of equipment do, etc. This holds true for any visit of a medical nature. Not only is it an excellent introduction to occupational education, but your child can learn a lot about biology as well!


Most children like to draw and color. Why not introduce a little intentionality into their artistic work now and then? Have them study perspective, work with color wheels, and other tried and true techniques of illustration. Have them make replicas of famous pieces of art. Drawing time can become art education. Children are never too old to color!

Clubs and More

Extracurricular activities like ballet, 4-H, and drama are all ripe with their own educational possibilities. Formal school lessons take less time in a homeschool setting so that gives you more time to explore local opportunities. Better yet, start your own homeschool club! Our local homeschool group has provided a variety of offerings over the years from Debate Club to Homeschoolers for Life to Socrates Cafe to Chess Club, and more!


Now, I am not suggesting that these sorts of activities can entirely replace book learning. These life lessons can supplement and reinforce what your children are getting from class, adding more tangible value to the content they are getting from their books. And not every trip to the store needs to become a lesson; sometimes you just want to let an errand be an errand, and that is totally fine! The point is not to obnoxiously “educationalize” everything you do; the point is take a fresh look at your daily life, recognize the educational opportunity latent in your “boring” routine. Your routine is actually a garden of educational promise, full of flowers waiting to be plucked!

If you’d like to explore this topic more in depth, please feel free to join us in our Catholic Homeschool Connections Community to get a conversation going with other homeschooling parents.


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