10 Ways to Squeeze in Schoolwork When I'm Unable to Teach

There are days when I just can't fathom the thought of teaching or doing school.  Days when I'm tired, sick, or my "to do" list has just gotten out of control.

Some days I wake up and the thought of planning out work, pulling out our school books and teaching the boys just seems to fill me with dread.

I've been at this homeschooling thing long enough to know that if my heart isn't in it than it's a wasted day to try and teach anyway.  The kids can tell when I'm just going through the motions and our days are not nearly as productive or fun when my heart is not in it.

Yet, if you read my blog you know we rarely take a full day off from school or from learning.

That's because even on days when I am unable to teach there are ways to make sure my kids squeeze in some schoolwork. 

Here are some of the ways I can squeeze in schoolwork when I'm just unable or unwilling to teach.  

1.  Activity Books-  I always keep a supply of activity books on hand. There are so many wonderful different ones to choose from: Extreme Dot to Dot, Color Counts, Pokemon Activity Book, Mad Libs, Spot the Difference, or Hidden Picture books.  There are so many to choose from and the boys find these books to be so much fun and yet they are still educational.  The color counts book can teach geography and attention to detail.  The extreme dot to dot books are great for teaching counting up to numbers well into the thousands and are often about animals or landmarks.  Activity books like the Pokemon book use activities like ciphers, sudoku, word searches and more.  Mad Libs are great for teaching components of grammar.

2. Puzzles-  Puzzles are a great, quiet, and self- guided activity that the boys can work on by themselves when I'm unable to teach them.

Learning about the states and their capitals

3.  Audiobooks and Books-  Audiobooks are great for school when I'm not able to read aloud to the boys.  We always keep a supply of books on hand and they can read to themselves too.

4.  Movies/ TV shows- There are so many wonderfully educational movies and shows out there that we can watch and learn from.  We don't just stick to documentaries or how to shows either; many non- fiction movies have educational components to them too.

5.  Put the Kids to Work-  Putting the boys to work in the kitchen cooking or baking something is a wonderful lesson and now that they're older and cooking/ baking more often they don't necessarily need me right there beside them to help out.

6.  Games-  We have closets and closets full of wonderful games and my boys enjoying playing them as part of our school day but they are also great for days when I an not teaching and they need something fun to pass the time away.  They're having fun and learning at the same time.

Playing The Clumsy Thief; A math game

7.  Video games-  There are so many wonderfully educational video games out there that I can just ask the boys to go find "something educational" to play and they will happily practice math, science, geography, and building skills through video game play.

Playing Stack the States
8. Put the Boys In Charge- Some days I just tell the boys that they are responsible for picking out and completing their own schoolwork.  They'll usually read for a bit, pick out a few review pages in their math workbooks, and work on a few pages in their spelling books or a page in a Draw Write Now book.

9.  Arts and Crafts-  The boys have so many crafting kit and art sets that we rarely seem to have time to get to as part of our school day and so on those days I'm not teaching they have time to pull them out and work on them.

Working on his Stained Glass Made Easy Kit 

10.  Science Kits- We have many science kits that the boys can work on by themselves.  They can play snap circuits, build their own remote control cars, make a marble maze, or pull out a science kit.

Playing with his Big Bag Of Science 

11.  Play with blocks or Legos- We have so many different kind of building blocks and building sets because building is very educational.  There is so much problem solving involved in figuring out how to keep each building balanced and a lot of creativity in being used to determine how to make their building look that I always encourage the boys to build something.

12.  Send them Outside-  Whether we go off on a hike or nature walk or the boys just stay around the house running and riding bikes, being outside can be so educational.  Some days the boys chose to work on physical education while running, climbing, riding bikes, or playing kickball.  Some days the boys study nature by going into the woods and observing the changes and life around them.  Some days the boys use problem solving skills to build a fort.  The possibilities are endless outside.

Linking Up With:

Live Live Well Pin


  1. I recall plenty of days when my back was injured and I had to resort to "couch time" with the boys in order to get their school done. It's a challenge, but so worth it in the long run!

    1. I bet it was! Luckily (knock wood!) I have never had to be "down" for any length of time but I'm sure we'd muddle through somehow.

  2. These are great ideas, Mother of 3! I know exactly what you mean! I tell my sons we are going to have a "Movie Day" on those days, and we just snuggle and watch family movies. It's good to have a break some days! Thanks for sharing with #OMHGWW :)

    1. Oh yes we've done that many times. But I am trying to branch out and use ALL our resources.

  3. These are wonderful ideas! I used many of them when I homeschooled. :) With your guidance YouTube has so many great educational videos.

    1. Yes they really do! We've watched so many together. My middle son loves looking up loom band how to videos.

  4. Some great ideas here! Our families sound a lot alike...at least our homeschooling methods are ;-) Thanks for sharing them at Coffee & Conversation this week, too!

  5. I think my problem is, I try to do all the book work AND all the fun extra "off day" learning activities, too! LOL But it's great to be able to change things up and have them learning outside the desk when it's just not a desk kind of a day.

    1. We often do too. I've been trying to set aside the book on Friday and make it a game day... otherwise we tend to use mostly books.

  6. Koodos goes to all you homeschool moms. It's hard work. Thanks for linking up at Family Joy Blog Link Up this week.

  7. There are so many ways to learn besides just being in a traditional, stuffy classroom! I applaud you even if you do take days off! ;) Thanks for sharing this at the Family Joy Linky Party!

  8. I am having one of those days. As I sit here and read this post, I'm like...

    My husband is such a bother. I had to tell him to bud out and let me do what I'm going to do.


    Nobody wants me to be the teacher today.


    Thanks for this great post!

    1. We all certainly have them! I usually just tell my boys that I'm in a bad mood and they might want to teach themselves and then I list some of these choices and off they go!

  9. Another great resource! Wow! This is a great list, and would also make a great list for the summer break! Thanks so much!

    Thanks for linking up @LiveLifeWell!




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