Homeschooling with Documentaries made Easy

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Are your kids always asking to watch tv, too? We love movies and shows over here, so, when deciding to include homeschooling with documentaries into our days, it just made sense!

While I have mentioned that we usually start our homeschool days with some simple writing prompts, we’ve recently decided to start our homeschool days a little earlier. Like “when we’re eating breakfast” earlier. Before this decision, the boys would usually be watching some cartoons while eating breakfast. I’d join them on the sofa to scroll through social media while sipping on my morning coffee. We’d take our time and this process would probably take us about 45 minutes.

And, there was absolutely nothing wrong with that.

BUT…in an effort to expand our horizons over the summer, the boys and I had started watching more documentaries together. Not only did we enjoy spending the time together, but we learned SO MUCH. We’d pop some popcorn, fill our water bottles up with icy-cold water, and just watch documentaries together. It was fun! And, like all good things, we didn’t want this fun to end, so begins the reason for this article.

We’ve decided we’re continuing our documentary-watching into the “school year.” Now, it might not happen every single morning (change is good), but we’ve been starting our homeschool days watching documentaries and it’s been awesome.

homeschooling with documentaries made easy with image of a blond haired little girl watching a television screen from That Homeschool Family article.
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How to start homeschooling with documentaries

I mean, really, adding a documentary to your homeschool day is as easy as finding a documentary your kids are interested in and watching it. You can watch a documentary that’s somehow related to a lesson the kids are currently learning or just pick a totally different topic. Either way, the kids will be learning and that’s a fabulous thing, right?!

When we’re choosing our documentary for the day, we usually head straight to our favorite resource: Curiosity Stream. Curiosity Stream has thousands of documentaries to choose from, the subscription is incredibly budget friendly (currently $20 a year, but they do run special offers from time to time, too!) and the app is super easy to navigate.

In addition, we have also used streaming providers such as Hulu, Netflix, HBO Max, Discovery Plus, and even Disney+ to watch documentaries, so, if you already have subscriptions to streaming providers, definitely check those out.

You know where else you could look for documentaries? YouTube! Definitely stick to accounts you know and trust because YouTube does have it’s fair share of material that’s not exactly appropriate for the kids, but YouTube could definitely be used as a budget-friendly resource for documentaries. We’ve had luck watching documentaries from National Geographic and Homeschool Pop, but, like I said, you’ll want to do some research, and pre-screening, yourself to make sure the content is appropriate. (Disclaimer: your experience with linked YouTube channels may vary! We’ve had luck with them, but your experience could be different because… #algorithms)

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Taking homeschooling with documentaries up a notch

If you know me, you know I used to be a special education teacher! I got used to creating resources for my students and, now that I’m a homeschooling mom, I do the same for my own kids…and yours. I have a bunch of educational resources available to use in homeschool and classroom settings so, naturally, I made a set of printables to go along with our documentary viewing!

I am all for just enjoying the “moment” and letting the information documentaries provide to “sink in” naturally, but, if you’re interested in keeping track of your homeschooling with documentaries progress and experiences, you might want to have your kids keep a documentary journal!

In the “Documentary Journal” packet I created, there are a variety of options for journal covers (one per month and then one general, non-specific cover) as well as journaling pages, a page for writing down all the documentary specifics (like writer, producer, release year, etc.), a note-taking page, and a page for brainstorming topics for documentaries to watch (or avoid) in the future.

Why a documentary journal? Why not? In my years of teaching and learning, it’s been my experience that information is more memorable when it’s written down. Writing can also be therapeutic and is a great way to continue improving fine motor skills. In addition, as a lifelong learner, homeschooling with documentaries can be fun and the journal serves as a great way to keep track of all the memories and information learned throughout the year.

Are you going to start homeschooling with documentaries, too? I’m always looking for suggestions for great documentaries to share with my kids! Send me an email and let me know what your kids have been enjoying!

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