20 Ways to Give Homeschool Kids More Choice

by | Jan 31, 2024 | Focus & Motivation, Teaching Tips | 0 comments

Today we’re going to focus on ways to increase autonomy; how giving homeschooled students more choice in their schedules and learning can have a big impact on their level of engagement and motivation.

kids are more motivated to learn when they have more choices in their learning

Last week I shared some research on Self-Determination Theory that proposes 3 elements that when present, lead to more internal motivation, the kind of motivation that we as homeschooling parents would love to see more of in our homes. 

Internally or intrinsically motivated kids means kids are self motivated, needing less nagging and resulting in more enjoyment of learning all around. 

The three things that lead to higher rates of internal motivation are autonomy, competency, and relationship. 

You can learn more about each of these elements and what they may look like in your child’s learning by reading this post, Motivating the Struggling Learner.

Today we’re going to focus on ways to increase autonomy; how giving homeschooled students more choice in their schedules and learning can have a big impact on their level of engagement and motivation.

Twenty ways to give your homeschooled students more choice in their day-to-day learning:

1. Self-paced learning: Allow your kids to set their own pace for learning. They can move faster through subjects they excel in and take more time with challenging ones. We often feel pressure to finish a curriculum in one school year, especially in the high school years. The reality is you are in charge of your homeschool and can decide how much to cover every year, every month, and every day.

Struggling with how much you’re getting done each day? Read this post, The Minimum Viable Homeschool Day.

2. Interest-based curriculum: You can choose curriculum based around your kids’ interests and allow them to explore topics they are passionate about. This can be things like allowing kids to choose which topics in history and science to learn about or choosing the next book to read for a literature assignment. 

Learn more about the power of interest-led learning here.

3. Flexible schedules: How can you let your kids have some control over their daily schedules? Try allowing them to choose when they want to study, take breaks, and engage in extracurricular activities. We’ve done this in our homeschool by setting boundaries as far as our kids’ extracurricular activities go. For example, they can do math when they want and take as long as they want to finish a lesson, BUT they cannot play Minecraft or otherwise entertain themselves until the academics are signed off by mom.

For guidance on different ways to schedule your homeschool, read this.

4. Project-based learning: Encourage your kids to tackle real-world problems and projects they care about. This type of learning provides a higher sense of purpose and meaning in their learning.

5. Choice in subjects: Give your kids the freedom to choose some of their subjects or electives, allowing them to explore their interests. I especially love this for my high school kids. Getting high school credit for doing things they love and are excited about is the best part about homeschooling in high school.

Learn more about homeschooling in high school with my Homeschool Essentials Course: High School Edition.

6. Resource diversity: Allow your kids to choose from a variety of learning resources such as books, online courses, field trips, and guest speakers. Everyone has ways they prefer to learn and giving our kids a choice in this increases their retention of the information being presented as well as increasing enjoyment. Happy learners are motivated learners.

7. Collaborative learning: Facilitate opportunities for your kids to work together on projects. This could also be a group project within your own family or within a co-op or homeschool group. Higher levels of social interaction and cooperation can be highly motivating for some students.

8. Extracurricular choices: Offer a wide range of extracurricular activities, clubs, and classes (e.g., coding, art, sports) that students can choose to participate in.

9. Portfolio assessment: Replace traditional grading with portfolio assessments, where students showcase their work and progress over time.

Learn more about how (and why) to create a homeschool portfolio here.

10. Field trips and experiential learning: Taking field trips kind of goes without saying in the homeschool world but I’m here to tell you that you can 100% count field trips as school. As a longtime homeschooler, I recommend allowing for as much experiential learning as possible. Organize regular outings and field trips related to their curriculum or interests, allowing students to apply what they’ve learned in real-world settings.

11. Choice in assessment methods: If you must have some sort of assessment in your homeschool, try letting your kids select from various assessment methods (e.g., essays, presentations, other types of projects, or even exams if they like that sort of thing) to demonstrate their understanding.

12. Student-led conferences: Allow students to lead their own parent-teacher conferences, discussing their progress, goals, and areas of interest. Getting your kids genuine feedback on how they see their learning and education is invaluable and lets them know that, even though you may not be able to do all the things they want, you care about what they think.

If you need help to get started with this, download my free Kids Homeschool Assessment forms here.

13. Personalized learning plans: After doing the kids’ homeschool assessment from #12, work with each of your kids to create an individualized learning plan that aligns more closely with their goals and interests.

14. Online courses and resources: Utilize online platforms that offer a wide range of courses, giving students the opportunity to choose from a vast selection of subjects. Outschool is a fairly new platform that offers a huge variety of online classes. Learn more and sign up here.

15. Mentorships and internships: Meaningful work, especially in the middle and high school years, can be a complete game changer, especially for the less academic child.

Find opportunities for students to work with mentors or participate in internships in fields they are curious about.

16. Goal setting: Encourage students to set their own learning goals and regularly review their progress. These can be simple or elaborate but allowing kids to create and achieve their own goals (at least in some areas) is very empowering.

17. Encourage reflection: Provide time for your kids to reflect on their learning experiences and suggest adjustments to their learning paths as needed. One of the very best parts of homeschooling are those times when you are just sitting and talking with your kids. In these quiet, more relaxed moments, parents are able to impart ideas and wisdom, and their kids are able to reflect on these things and respond in a relaxed atmosphere.

18. Choice of learning environment: It’s easy to allow your kids to choose where they want to study, whether it’s a designated homeschooling space, the living room couch, the dining room table (or underneath it) a library, a local coffee shop, or a park.

19. Parent involvement: As involved homeschooling parents, it’s important to remain active in the decision-making process regarding curriculum and learning approaches. You are still the teacher and know your child best. Staying involved ensures your school environment  aligns with both the child’s interests and needs.

20. Support networks: Getting connected with other homeschooling families in the community and creating support networks where students can share experiences and ideas can have a huge impact on kids’ sense of autonomy, and consequently, their motivation. Allow your kids to be part of the decision making process about which groups to join and which projects to become involved with.

One thing I’ve learned over my many years of homeschooling my 8 kids is that every child is unique. What works best for one may not work for another. It’s important to adapt these ideas to fit the individual needs and unique preferences of each of your homeschooled kids.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *