It’s September already, and it’s the most wonderful time of the year! Well, one of them really. You know, I really don’t like that Staples commercial for how disappointed and gloomy the kids look – but for the joyous celebration of the parents – yes, that’s reality around here, for all of us! While I MAY be a tad bit more excited to start our more “formal” learning and teaching time back up again, we certainly do look forward to this time of year with glee!
Over the last couple of years I have learned some very valuable tips from some seasoned homeschoolers – many of them are IRL friends and others you and bloggers I have met online, even my mom and mother-in-law (both my husband and I grew up in homeschooled families!). Many of you have already started your school routines, some of you, like us, are starting after Labour Day. So I thought I would share just a few tips for a successful start – and really, continuation of – the school year!
Tips for a Successful Start to the School Year
1. Have a plan and do it in advance!
Last year I left my planning until the weekend before school started. BAD PLAN! I was scrambling and realized that most of the things I needed weren’t ready for me to use, so we spent a lot of time printing and running around trying to get things organized. Though we ended up spending the first month doing next to nothing thanks to an ankle injury I sustained on day 2, I learned very quickly that if I was going to be organized and excited, I needed to have a plan – and do it in advance!
I am ashamed to say this is the first year where I feel like we’ve really sought after God for what and how to teach our children. There are the usual subjects of math, reading, writing, science, etc. But lots of extras and fine tuning I wanted to get done along the way. Before I started planning I started praying – asking God for wisdom – and he gave it! I’m even just now realizing how he’s been answering those prayers with opportunities to do reviews and discounts coming our way. Most importantly, for you is to start EVERY DAY in prayer.
3. Make breakfast ahead.
This is something I have been trying to put into practice over the month of August – making breakfast ahead of time – or at the very least PLANNING what’s for breakfast. Since most of us aren’t making lunches the night before, why not make preparations for a hearty, healthy breakfast the next morning? I’ve been noticing my kids are getting sick of cereal fast (they don’t get it from me! I could eat cereal for breakfast, lunch and supper! :D) and have also been wanting to introduce more healthy foods. Some of our favourites are oatmeal, egg mcmuffins, muffins, etc. I’ll be sharing some great make-ahead breakfast recipes tomorrow!
4. Take it easy and start off slow.
Instead of planning a full load schedule the first week, pare things down to where you need to restore the most routine – for us, that would be in our math and writing. So, along with reading and science, they are the essentials that we always start our first week off with. And since it’s a short week anyway, thanks to Labour Day, that really takes the pressure off mom to get everything done. Ease into your routine and schedule, adding in one subject at a time if you need to, and work up to a full course load by about a month in. You’ll be glad you did and everyone will be much happier – plus it will hopefully leave some great time to get outdoors and enjoy the remaining good weather and God’s creation!
5. Get some fun new stuff and plan some fun activities.
Usually everyone uses the same pencils, but occasionally we’ll have fights over certain ones. So that problem was quickly solved by getting each boy their own set of pencils and erasers, especially for them to use. They’re not the greatest quality, but they DO enjoy writing more with them! We always get new markers for everyone (and everyone gets their own set and they go into their ikea containers, it’s way easier to keep track that way!).
Add in a couple of new games to learn and play over the first week, and some new books to read together. Make it fun and new and exciting!
6. Plan your meals.
If you don’t already meal plan, at the very least have a plan for the first week of school! Make sure you’re not racing around trying to find ingredients while everyone’s hungry (ahem, been there, done that FAR too many times!) and getting tired and frustrated. Plan on having some freezer meals in advance, or buy lasagnas or something you can throw in the oven or crock pot quickly without having to think or prepare for it too much.
7. Go on a fun outing.
Yes, I know, we’re supposed to be getting BACK into the school routine – but why not finish off the school week with a fun outing – whether it’s a day trip somewhere or just heading out for celebratory ice cream/frozen yogurt, make that week extra special. Talk about what everyone’s favourite thing that week was, and figure out what worked and what flopped so you can make changes for the next week.
I’d like to leave you with a couple encouraging verses that God has really been using to help me focus and keep perspective.
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the LORD and not for men.
Delight yourself in the LORD , and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the LORD; trust in Him and He will act.