As fall approaches, the world is seeing record-breaking interest levels in homeschooling. Many of you are doing this for the first time ever (or know someone who is). Whether you are new to homeschooling and trying to learn how to begin or are a veteran homeschooler who wishes to help a friend, I hope this list of first-day-of-homeschooling inspiration will be just the spark you need for a successful homeschool year!
4 Tips for a Great Homeschool Year Kickoff
Here are four pieces of advice for a successful start to a new year of homeschooling:
1. Begin the Day With Family Reading Time
I like to start everyone around the kitchen table with a short devotional and prayer time. Sometimes we mix it up by adding in poetry or a short story from Old World Echoes or New World Echoes. Why? Reading together sets the tone for the day by building family memories and fellowship. For younger families especially, it helps the day go more smoothly when academic activities start at the same time for everyone, as gathering together at the same time each morning builds good work habits. Remember: starting at the table doesn’t require you to stay there! You or your young students may want to change scenery from time to time, and older students will often pick out their own favorite spaces as they complete their independent studies.
2. Keep the First Day of School Short
On the first day of school, my family stops at lunch time. Why? Taking things slow the first day (or even week!) helps everyone – including parents – get accustomed to the new academic rhythms. Often, my family starts by focusing on two main subjects and completing an assignment from each. Then, as the week goes on, we add in a new subject every day or two. This helps everyone; my children learn the expectations of only one or two subjects at a time and I am not trying to explain six new subjects to every child every day! Though at first glance it may seem slower, this method allows my students to become independent quicker because they can focus on understanding each subject as it comes.
3. Have a Mid-Day Family Time
At lunch time we gather to talk about how the school day is going and enjoy a second brief read-aloud time. Why? Coming back together over a meal is a great way to help our family members reconnect with each other and sometimes share a little about what they have learned over the morning. Depending on your family rhythms, this may not always happen, but it’s worthwhile to strive for as often as possible.
This is also a great time to reflect on how the morning work has progressed, ask for forgiveness from each other when it is needed, and discuss any needed changes that should be made for the afternoon or next day. When there is time, we enjoy incorporating a read-aloud; after a chapter of a book like Carry On, Mr. Bowditch or a volume from the Narnia series, everyone has a fresh mind as they proceed to whatever the afternoon may hold.
4. Never Be Ashamed of Resting
Breaks to rest the mind and move the body are important! For older students, periodic stretch breaks can help awaken the mind and prevent muscle soreness. For younger students, breaks are even more important. Even for particularly intelligent and driven children, the younger they are, the more frequent breaks and fewer hours of sitting should be expected of them. Just like in all of life, in homeschooling we are running a marathon – not a sprint! It is a far more pleasant to end a school day at a point where your child thinks they can handle more than when they are burnt out or frustrated. Encouraging healthy study habits can help instill a love of learning!
Seeking More Guidance for Your Homeschool Year?
Classical Conversations homeschool communities are a great place to begin! In my CC community, I gain support and tips from experienced parents, helpful structure (with lots of room to customize it to my kids’ learning styles), and the accountability and encouragement I need to keep going. Plus, my children get to enjoy sharing their homeschool experience with friends. If you want to learn more about what it is like to homeschool with CC, tap here to attend an online info meeting!