I post on this topic quite a lot, but it's been awhile, and I believe that I have some new readers who might also be new homeschoolers. I remember how awkward everything felt when we first started homeschooling Melody. It didn't helped that we lived just two blocks from the school and could hear sounds from the school throughout our new homeschooling day. It felt like every finger was being pointed at us, and my confidence had a lot of holes in it.
That was over 12 years ago. WOW! What a difference that time and experience makes. At any rate, I have learned over time that a tremendous amount of learning (for anybody, not just homeschoolers) takes place outside of all of the books and assignments. One example is that Princess Abbey has had a sweet pen pal for about a year. The pen pal is another home schooled girl and they write to each other via "snail mail". How many kids do this anymore? Before Abbey seals up her letter, I check it for errors. She corrects it, and sends off the clean copy, normally saving the graded copy with the rest of her school assignments. Yesterday, she decided that she wanted to also send a postcard from Dinosaur World, which is where we went on vacation last month. She didn't know how to address a postcard, and I was extremely busy fixing dinner, so she looked up the information that she needed online, and did it herself. Doesn't this make more sense than if I had said, "OK, Abbey! Today we are going to practice letter writing and addressing postcards!" We aren't unschoolers, but this act of learning what one needs to learn when they need to learn it is a great deal of what is behind their ways of homeschooling.
Another example is that when Princess Melody determined that she wanted to buy a parrot, she started researching the different types of parrots and their care. At the same time, she began budgeting and saving her money for the effort, because she was learning that not only did she need a large sum of money for this special pet, but that she would also need things like food and supplies that other types of birds don't often need. She actually started doing this research before she ever mentioned parrots to me. What an interesting, unassigned science project that Pitbull, our half moon conure, has tuned out to be!
Then, there are the obvious things that go on around the house such as the care of younger siblings, household management, personal finance, sometimes even the operation of a family business. Even taking care of plants, pets, cooking, learning to drive, watching historical movies, playing physically challenging games on the Wii, all count in the big picture of homeschooling.