Creative Homeschooling Outside of the Home

Homeschooling Chicago Childrens MuseumI’ve officially gotten around to posting about some of our homeschooling adventures. One of the questions that I hear most is, “How are you able to homeschool when you are out of your house SO MUCH?!” Well folks, it’s easy, and it’s not. Basically, in order to homeschool outside of the home, you have to have a very open mind, and a little bit of a penchant for presenting all things in an educational way – you know, without being overbearing. Good thing that I have children who LOVE to do lots of things that are educational, otherwise, I’d be up a creek.

What I’m about to say is not rocket science, and I am by no means an expert on the subject, I just know what works for me and my children. We ALL get crabby if we have to stay indoors too long, and I have to face the fact that I am not really all that great at lesson planning and printing out materials. My ladybug has a mind that works a lot like mine. She would rather DO than SIT. I love it. So we go out, and we learn random things, and then we talk about them later.

The photo above is one of our many trips out to one of the many museums that Chicago is known for. The Chicago Children’s Museum. The ladybug, Sir Twizzler, and Lil’ Miss Twizzler could stay there all day, and I would definitely let them because there are so many hands on activities that promote gross motor skills and cognitive development.

So, I have a handy list for you to follow. I promise it’s not that hard.

  1. 1. Get a library card. If your city is anything like mine, there are free passes available to zoos and museums to all library card holders. Take advantage of it.
  2. Team up with other homeschooling parents for a field trip of sorts. You’d be surprised at what other parents AND students can bring to a day out and about.
  3. Purchase memberships to one or two zoos or museums if you know that you’re going to visit often. Brookfield Zoo and a ton of museums are on my short list.
  4. Don’t be TOO rigid. The joy of homeschooling is that it allows your children (especially younger ones) to learn at a pace comfortable to them.
  5. Take advantage of the employees at the museums and zoos. If you don’t know something, I guarantee they do, or they’ll be able to find an answer faster than you can google. Plus, it’s a lot more interesting to hear someone talk about something that they are passionate about instead of reading it off of a website.
  6. Be open to a lesson going another way. We’ve gone to the zoo before and I thought that we were going to talk about hibernation of the bears and instead we talked about their eating habits. Yes, with a four year old. Which then turned into how people eat the same types of fish that bears like. See where I’m going?
  7. Be prepared to get messy. You see that picture up top? What you don’t see is the fact that the very cold water completely drenched Sir Twizzler by the time he was finished playing in it. Since we didn’t have a change of clothes, we were relegated to walking around Navy Pier with my child in a shirt and no pants – and drying the pants with a hand dryer in the meantime. I could have gotten frustrated, but I didn’t, and I’m happy that I didn’t because they had fun.
  8. When the kids get tired, GO HOME! There is nothing more frustrating than being out and attempting to teach a lesson to cranky over-tired children.
  9. Have fun. There’s no sense in going out of the house to be a hard taskmaster. If you’re not going to enjoy yourself, OR you’re going to make your child learn something, then you’ve already ruined the lesson.
  10. Remember to talk about all of the activities that you did. Maximize that learning potential by talking about it, and then weaving some at home activities in with it for the rest of the week.

So that’s it! My humble offering to the homeschooling community on how to not become crabby monsters who feel that learning should ONLY happen inside the four walls of your home. If you’re not taking field trips, I feel like you’re doing a great injustice to yourself and your children. I’ll expound on our trip to the Chicago Children’s Museum, and our mini lesson in composting later this month.

Until then – share YOUR favorite outside the home activity to do for homeschooling, in the comments below!



  1. Ginny Marie says:

    These are great tips for any parent whether we’re homeschooling or not! I especially love #5. We have learned so much from the rangers at the River Trails Nature Center. It’s one of our favorite places to go!

  2. Maynard Cummings says:

    Sadly, most of these do not qualify for homeschoolers. WE NEED the discounts…unlike public schools, we have to pay for ALL our curriculum, ALL supplies, ALL Field trips, ALL Assessments, ALL manipulative(s) and EVERYTHING for our child’s education..We do not get a tax break, vouchers, or help in any way…I wish companies would wake up!

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