5 Reasons To Add Hands-on To Your Homeschool

…  And 3 ways to add hands-on without adding more school time in your day!


Homeschooling takes time and effort, and we invest that time and effort because we believe it will be worth it, that our children will receive a better and more appropriate education in the end.  However many curriculums we purchase use basic read,  answer questions, complete worksheet methods that aren’t the most effective way to teach kids.

Would you like to increase the learning your kids do and their ability to apply what they learn in new situations – without it taking more of your time?

I’ve come up with 10 ways to add in more “education” without adding more time in your homeschool schedule – and the top 3 are at the end of this article!

But before I jump into them – I want to explain to you WHY I think you’ll get a lot more mileage out of a hands-on and interactive lesson than by doing it the way it’s presented “in the book”.

If you aren’t up for this right now – jump to the bottom for a FREE Quick Start Guide to adding activities without adding more “school time”.

5 Reasons Why Hands-on and Interactive Leads To More Learning:

Reason #1:

Psychiatrist William Glasses did extensive research on the topic of learning, and found that we will learn or remember:

  • 10% of what we read
  • 20% of what we hear
  • 30% of what we see
  • 50% of what we see and hear
  • 70% of what we share/discuss
  • 80% of what we experience
  • 95% of what we teach others

So, learning will be enhanced when we incorporate experiencing / applying knowledge and sharing it with others as part of our learning process.

It also means that we can increase learning from the same material from 10% (by having our student read it and then respond to questions) to 80% easily, just by adding “experiences” that go with the reading.  If it’s 8 times more effective – then we have some time to add those experiences, rather than going back through the same material 7 more times to reach the same level of learning!

Reason #2:

We all pay more attention to information we deem as useful… which is why your kids can quote complete paragraphs from their favorite movie or YouTuber!

Imagine that you are reading an article that you find mildly interesting, or reading that same article but need to summarize it onto 2 power point slides and present them to your co-workers later today.  Which do you pay more attention to?  The article is no more interesting, but the usefulness increases focus.

If we can add an activity that makes the information useful, we will dramatically improve retention of the material.

Reason #3:

Applied knowledge means more, since it connects with more prior information in the brain. So for instance, if you read out loud a list of items that would be needed if you left your home for 30 days, some of it would be remembered.

But what if instead you acted out a scenario where an earthquake resulted in you needing to leave your home for 30 days and you would have no guarantee or shelter or support.  Then, a discussion on what might be needed would seem more real, and your kids could come up with the list and debate the importance of the various items.  What if you discussed which would be needed the most often, and acted out leaving your home, camping outdoors, walking long distances… would the list change?

The interactive nature of the discussion would make it much more memorable to your students.  And, if you ever needed to leave your home in a hurry due to an emergency like a hurricane or earthquake – your student will have already applied this knowledge and will be able to much better predict what will be needed.

Reason #4:

Students have different learning styles, and learn best in different ways. If you include multiple ways in your lessons, you will help make sure all students are able to learn. So, incorporate methods that include various modes of learning, including reading, listening, discussing, and doing – to make sure you reach your visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learners with the lesson.

Reason #5:

According to Bloom’s Taxonomy (a framework used in determining the level of understanding and critical thinking required for an educational activity), higher understanding is gained by moving from the simplest to the most complex applications of the information being studied. This list moves from the least to greatest level:

  1. Remembering (remember facts)
  2. Understanding (summarize or explain to others)
  3. Applying (use the information to do something)
  4. Analyzing (divide material into parts and determine how they relate to each other and to the whole)
  5. Evaluating (make judgements based on standards and criteria)
  6. Create (Form a new idea or structure using elements from the current activity)

Hands-on and interactive activities can help you move up the hierarchy of understanding, increasing your students ability to use the information and apply it to new situations.

Here is an excellent diagram explaining how to move up the taxonomy from Vanderbilt University:  https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/blooms-taxonomy/

Bonus:  Reason #6:

Because it’s more fun!  I think fun is under-rated in terms of making the homeschool experience valuable and worthwhile.

If you have a job that is routine, boring, and high pressure, it will impact the rest of your life as well.  School has the same impact on our kids, as it is their “job”.  If we can make it fun, something to look forward to, where we feel successful and smart, that will also echo throughout other aspects of our life, and will improve the attitudes of all involved.

I don’t mean that you, as the teacher, need to spend all of your time bending to the whims of your students and trying to make them have fun! – just that breaking up the day, having lots of small successes, and including some interaction and laughter will greatly improve the success of your homeschool, because you will all enjoy being there rather than thinking of it as one more multi-hour chore that needs to be completed.

3 Ways To Add Hands-on Without Adding Time In Your School Day


And speaking of chores – why yes, you can add activities without stretching your school day out even longer.  Here are 3 ways to do it without adding more school time:

  1. Utilize readings you are already doing as the basis for the activities. So if you are reading about Ancient Greece in history, add an activity relating to life in Ancient Greece.
  1. “Double duty” wherever possible. While reading about the journey Lewis and Clark made across the Louisiana Purchase, have your listeners draw their route on a map, or create a timeline of events as they are described.
  1. Replace less interactive activities with more interactive ones. So for example – instead of writing an answer to “what difficulties did Lewis and Clark encounter in their journey” – ask your students to act out the various difficulties, and note the time and/or location of the difficulty on a timeline or map.


This is a lot to take in and implement. I’ve found that one of the biggest barriers to entry is putting the activities together, and then reducing the existing work to have time to do them.

So, I’ve pulled together a “Quick Start” Guide, to help you get past that hurdle.  It talks you through picking a topic, picking a quick activity to reinforce it, and implementing it this week.

It’s completely FREE, just click to download: Quick Start Guide to Active Learning

You might also like this list of Top 5 Tools for Hands-on Learning.