No, this isn’t an all inclusive article about how to get ready for each homeschool year. Each homeschool household is different, and different things work well (or horribly!) for different families.
This is actually just a few tips and ideas (do’s and don’ts) that I’ve learned work well for many families, but most especially mine!
Don’t Overdo It
The first week isn’t a time to get everything done. Schools ease back into the school year slowly, with some districts only having one or two days before the first weekend! While I don’t agree with copying the public schools in our homes, this is an idea that might work for you.
Keep it simple. We don’t need homeschool burnout (either parents or students) the first day. The first week is not going to go perfectly, either. Something will go wrong. Keep a sense of humor. Ease back into the routine and everyone will be happier. On the flip side, don’t ease back into school so slowly that when you really begin to work hard at your goals, everyone balks.
Not everything has to be ready for the first day. Every copy, every lesson, every unit doesn’t need to be set and ready on the first day. Do what works for you.
I make sure that what I do plan out ahead of time can be adjusted for difficult topics or even a difficult week in my children’s lives (or mine). Some flexibility goes a long way. We need down time and sometimes that needs to be spontaneous, not planned the month before.
On the flip side, have a clear goal of where you want to go with your school year, and do what you need to to meet those goals.
Everyone who took a summer vacation has just come from some time off from your homeschool routine. Jump back into your school year with enthusiasm, but not so fast or hard that no one is enjoying it. Remember the reasons you homeschool and keep those in mind as you head back into another year of learning.
Do Get Things Ready
It’s best to have any new curriculum already in place before you start school. I know my kids get excited seeing new school books, or even just new to them but passed down from an older sibling. We clean out our homeschool shelves and have their new books and supplies ready and waiting for our first day of school.
Get rid of last year’s stuff! Right now I am looking at shelves crammed with papers and composition books. Before we start up again, they will get rid of the old and make sure each child has what they need to start the new school year. It’s nice to make a clean start, in every sense of the word.
One silly thing we do to get ready is everyone can choose a new school supply item (not on the list of stock up items we get on sale). This has been anything from Post-It notes of their own to a giant paper clip.
Do Something Special
Have a special tradition in place that you do every year to celebrate the start of a new school year. You can do this even if you school year round. Something to mark the end of the old and the start of the new.
We try to do something fun with the kids before the year starts that gets them excited. Sometimes it’s a special field trip. Sometimes it’s a party with other homeschooling friends. Take some pictures with a sign that says the date, a new grade, or something silly. Whatever it is, make some memories to mark the day.
Do Keep It Interesting
Every year we try to do something new. A new family project, a new subject that we haven’t tried before, or a new book to read together. The fun thing about this is that we involve everyone, including Dad and the little ones. It can be cooking, sewing, new foods, new history, or a new History Channel series to watch.
It helps us remember that we homeschool because we want to learn together, and isn’t that all that matters in the end?