Full Schoolwork – Light Schoolwork – No Schoolwork

One of the ways we have eliminated battles over doing schoolwork is by clearly laying out expectations and having flexibility. When the kids know exactly what’s expected of them then I don’t have to spend time and energy on “motivating” or “getting” them to do their work.  And since Iwas asked about this recently, I thought I’d share a little about how our days are structured.

Basically we have three types of schoolwork days: Full schoolwork, Light Schoolwork, and No Schoolwork.  And the kids know exactly what is expected from them on each, so they can ask me “What type of day is it mom?” or I can just say “it’s a light schoolwork day”, they know immediately what to do.

A full schoolwork day is one where they work completely through their schedule. At the beginning of each term, I sit down and map out what I would like each child to work on that term, both in the form of what I want them to learn and what curriculum or tools they will be using. 

Then I sit down with my 12 yo and 10 yo individually, and we map out on a printout of our weekly schedule (broken into either 15 min or 30 min increments) how THEY would like their day to flow. I find things go a lot better if they have input and control over how their day flows, and it gives them an opportunity to tell me about what they think is working and not. 

I do require that they schedule math first in their day. I’ve just found that if they wait until later in the day, their focus on math just isn’t as good as it is if they tackle it first thing.

Other than that, as long as they meet my requirements for what they are working on, how often, and that it’s scheduled within our “school hours” then they have control and don’t give me any problems with how their day is flowing. Though sometimes they will suggest an alternative on a particular day to accomodate something special they are doing or if they don’t feel well.


Light schoolwork days are days when the schedule goes out the window. Rather than fight to get things in, then I’ll just call a light schoolwork day. It could be a day we have a lot of extra activities, or a family emergency, or someone is sick, or there’s something special going on, whatever. 

On light schoolwork days, the requirements are to do some math (it doesn’t have to be their math program), to do some reading (preferably at least an hour), and to write something (or do some copy work). That’s it. The rest of the day are theirs to work on special projects or play (usually outside in the backyard.)


No schoolwork days are what I call our “unschooling” days. While the kids don’t have any formal schoolwork on these days, they are not allowed to just goof off on the computer playing games or on the TV playing video games. So, on no schoolwork days they are usually out playing, exploring an interest of theirs, playing board or card games, and reading.

On no schoolwork days, I will allow educational videos or shows from Netflix; and doing research on the computer is allowed as well. 

It always amazes me how much they learn on the days where “no schoolwork” is required. The key is to recognize the value of the activities that they naturally do, following their own interests. And to give them the room and materials to explore.

This is a system that has worked really well for us. What types of school days do you have in your homeschool?

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6 Responses to Full Schoolwork – Light Schoolwork – No Schoolwork

  1. I too am a work at home homeschooling mom. I only have one still in school and she’s in Kindergarten. She’s the first one I’ve homeschooled while working from home. We are working in conjunction with the local charter school.

    We have a fairly light schedule right now but try to cover 6 subjects each day. Some days we get our scheduled all mixed up and then if we can only cover one, we just do that. Some days are educational shows on PBS or a trip to some local museum or park, etc. It can be challenging but is a lot of fun.

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