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We all need a few reminders on how to start the homeschool year off successfully! Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way. I’m putting them all here in case someone else is needing a little encouragement as we head into the new school year.
The summer seems like it flew by, and now we are prepping for the new school year! How did this even happen?! It’s exciting and maybe even a little scary.
There can be a lot of emotions to go along with the excitement. Feelings of inadequacies, and failure before you’ve even started. Feeling totally unprepared for whats ahead. These are all feelings I went through just last week, so you aren’t alone!
And to think I consider myself a fairly seasoned homeschool mom too! I’ve been homeschooling for 10 years now, and I am a homeschooled child myself, shouldn’t I already know the drill by now?!
But here’s the thing, there are curve balls, unexpected learning struggles, routines to get into, new subjects to learn, and no matter how prepared you are, life just happens and some times it gets overwhelming! Even to the most seasoned among us.
So here are a few thinks I’m doing this year to start the homeschool year off as successfully as possible.
How to start the homeschool year off successfully
Tip #1 Set up a good routine
And start a routine early, before the school year even starts. obviously, this will change a bit once we are actually doing school, but figuring out how I want our school year to look as far as the routine goes, really helps to give me peace of mind. And practicing it before school starts gets us used to it.
It’s easy to get into habits of late nights and late mornings during the summer, so establishing set bed times and wake up times before you hit the school year is so helpful. Also, applying times for breakfast, lunch, and dinner really helps to get your school year off to a good start.
Check out Jorden Page’s block schedule here. I can’t wait to put the block schedule into full use! I’ve already printed out her free printable, and have filled it out! We’ve loosely been following it for the past couple of weeks, and I think this is a real winner! Also, check out her clipboard system here. I’ve also implemented this already and it’s the most successful we’ve ever been with chore charts! Read more about this in tip #3.
Tip #2 Decide what your basic goals will be for your homeschool year
Here are my goals.
- To make this year super fun!
- Inspire my children with a deep desire to learn.
- To be relaxed enough to recognize when it’s time to close the books.
- To read with, and to my children even more!
Let me break this down a bit
#1- To make this year super fun
I feel like so often, I get stuck in a rut. Going through the motions of school without actually giving the joy of it to my children. To change that, I want to include more songs, a wide variety of story books on history and cultures, and science. Including more crafts into our studies, or engaging my children in their own personal interests.
I feel like so often I get into the school year, put my head down and charge forward, not stopping to really check to see how things are actually going. Are my kids happy and learning? Am I stopping to smell the roses and show peace and joy in the process of learning?
So, this year I’m going to make a huge effort to change that. I know it wont always be perfect. We will have our days that aren’t joyful, because we are human. But I hope with new strategies set in place, to really bring joy into our year.
#2-Inspire my children with a deep desire to learn
I’ll be including library trips into our school year. And providing a ton of interesting books at their fingertips. Again, I get so focused on the workbooks that I forget to give them the best possible tools to inspire learning. Picture books, or story books about the subjects they are most interested in will encourage them to ask questions and learn how to find the answers.
#3- To be relaxed enough to recognize when it’s time to close the books
I’ve had days where I’m chugging along and wham! we hit a wall. Everyone is grumpy and in no mood to learn. This is a sure sign that we need to #1 take a break, or #2 close the books for the day! Seriously, if a child can’t get out of their funk they can’t learn. And forcing learning when they aren’t happy about it just isn’t fun for anyone!
Close the books, go outside for a walk, or change up what you’re doing. Fighting over school just isn’t worth the damage it does in the long run, and definitely not the way to start the school year off successfully.
#4- To read with, and to my children even more
I haven’t done this nearly enough, I’m ashamed to say! But, I’m going to make it my daily goal to read with them, and to them every day! I’m afraid iPads have taken my place too often. I’ve let them entertain themselves so I could get the dishes done or clean the house. This year I’ve already started them on more chores so I don’t have to do it all, and I’l be putting my work down so I can spend that quality time with them giving them the love of reading.
Ok, now that we have some goals set, let’s get back to how to start the homeschool year off successfully
Tip #3 Make chores a priority
In tip #1 for how to start the homeschool year off successfully, I mentioned the clipboards and chores, but I want to emphasize this more! I’m a do-it-myself kind of person. It’s so much easier for me to do a job myself than to ask a child, or even my husband for help with chores. I’ve discovered this is actually a personality trait, and not that I’m unwilling to get my kids involved in work around the house. Check out this podcast if you are interested in learning more about this topic.
So I’ve offloaded most of the house chores to my kids! Wow! what a burden this has lifted from me! I didn’t realize how much time all these small little chores were taking out of my day. I felt like a rat in a wheel, never reaching the end of the list of to-do’s! But, now that my kids are doing all these little chores I’m finding so much more time to write, or do the big chores they aren’t ready to do.
I’ve implemented the chore sticks from Jorden Page. We are on week three of successfully using these chore sticks! And if you are anything like me, you’ve started a great chore chart and didn’t get passed day 1! So these chore sticks are here to stay!
These are simple chores like vacuuming, sweeping, picking up toys, feeding and watering the dog, taking out the compost, and so on. Some of these things they were already doing, but now one child does it the whole week instead of us having arguments over who did it last. The kids know exactly what their chores are, and happily do their chores in record time.
Tip #4 Keep it simple!
I can’t emphasize this enough! Keep your homeschool days simple and doable. Don’t put more on your children than they can handle. If you set an expectation to keep your homeschool day enjoyable, and you find it suddenly isn’t, then go back to your goals and rework your days. Don’t be afraid to change things up!
Last but not least of my tips on how to start the homeschool year off successfully
Tip #4 Daily practice self care
This homeschool life throws all kinds of challenges at me, but if I’m practicing self care, then I am able to handle the day to day struggles with so much more grace and patience when I have cared for myself first! I wrote a more in depth blog on this subject here. So find what fuels you, and lean into those healthy daily habits to recharge.
I like to compare this to when you are on a flight, and the flight attendant explains that if you are traveling with a child you must put on your oxygen mask first before you help your child with theirs. This never made sense to me as a kid, but now that I’m a mom, I totally get it! God forbid you are ever on a flight that needs an oxygen mask, but heaven sure knows, as a stay at home/work from home mom, you’ll need that oxygen mask often!
So care for yourself first, and you’ll be able to care for your children even better.
Do yourself a big favor and get a good planner, and journal. Here is my favorite journal and daily planner. I love how this planner is laid out. They are also good quality books! And, right now all the day planners are 60% off! So it’s a great time to buy one and see if it’s your style and fits your needs.
Here’s my routine
I like to start my day out with a good book, and prayer time. Then journaling my list of things I’m grateful for and any other thoughts I have. Next I look at my schedule for the day, note anything that needs to be added to the day or week.
My exercise time is next. Usually this means a walk or a hike in the beautiful fresh morning air. This is a chance for me to listen to a podcast, or enjoy the sounds of nature. By the time I get back home, I’m really ready to start the day!
What are your tips for how to start the homeschool year off successfully? Share in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!
Happy learning! May this year be the best year yet!