Did you hear the one about how many homeschoolers it takes to change a lightbulb?

Yes, this joke has circulated the internet for years, but sometimes the funniest stories have a foundation in truth. After all, how many of us regularly use the library or internet to make our children research the answer to a situation or question? For my family, the library (and later internet) was our “go to” place for those incessant mom questions. But that is a topic for another article!

Rather, today I want to look at having a more joyful homeschool. Proverbs 17:22 tells us that, “A cheerful heart is good medicine.” Medical research supports this: laughter creates an increased sense of well-being and self-confidence; lowers blood pressure through reducing stress hormones; activates T-cells (a vital part of your immune system); decreases anxiety and improves sleep. I think many of us will nod in agreement as we read these benefits. Intrinsically we know that laughter is good medicine and healthy for our families. Yet, as we lift our eyes and scan our school room, we can quickly focus on the mess, the bickering, the tears coming from our struggling learner… Joy. How can we encourage a happy attitude?

Sometimes focusing on joy is more challenging than we would like to admit. I want to encourage you with some practical, tangible ways to take time each day to laugh with your children. Perhaps begin your day with a ‘joke contest.’ Younger children especially love to read joke books: Get the Giggles: A First Joke Book for little ones or Zany & Brainy: Good Clean Jokes for Kids are fun options for your future comedians. As an added benefit, children who learn to tell jokes well—using voice inflection and timing—are developing public speaking skills that will be valuable in the teen and adult years.

Other options for a humor-filled day include using Mad Libs or National Geographic’s Funny Fill-Ins for grammar practice. Children in upper middle school and beyond may find the Giggly Guide to Grammar a lighthearted, yet effective way to laugh their way to better grammar. Vocabulary Cartoons (available in an Elementary Edition or two levels of SAT prep) teach new words with an enjoyable visual-mnemonic approach.

The books you choose to read can also offer lots of options. For my family, Hank the Cowdog stories guaranteed laughter. Filled with dry wit and down-home humor, our canine hero, Hank, is the self-appointed “Head of Ranch Security.” Through his eyes, children are introduced to the antics of daily life on a West Texas ranch. While some may not appreciate the references to the dogs “marking” their territory or the cat as an arch enemy, the silly story lines are designed to engage boys and girls alike.

But don’t stop with language arts! Consider the wacky antics of Fred Gauss in the Life of Fred books to help children strengthen their conceptual understanding of mathematics or the Cartoon Guides to Physics or Chemistry to reinforce high school science topics.

Looking for more ideas to infuse your day with humor? Join us on Facebook for ideas from others and take a moment to share your tried and true ways of bringing laughter home!

Just for today, laugh together as a family to defeat stress, the winter blues or your tedious, daily routine. Whether you utilize a resource mentioned above or do other fun activities, find time to laugh daily! One tremendous benefit of laughter is the family closeness that develops when a family enjoys life together. You will create memories and bonds to last a lifetime. Find joy in the journey!