We’ve schooled through the summer this year. We don’t always do that, but due to a unique set of circumstances, we felt the need to take only a short break after the spring semester and keep going. It makes the homeschool year seem eternally long, but we will reap the rewards soon…some day, maybe in the far off future. But there will be rewards. I promise.
If you’re not crazy like me, you might just be trying to psych yourself up to start the next homeschool year. Or, maybe you’re about to start your FIRST homeschool year. Whoop! Whoop! Don’t let a case of nerves derail you. You. Can. Do. This.
I have a list (you knew I’d have a list) that will help you ensure a good start to the year. Here are six things I do to ensure a good start. I promise they will last until at least Thanksgiving. After New Year’s, you might need a booster shot.
Ease into your routine
If you’ve all been sleeping until noon every day during summer, trying to rise early on the first day of school is like getting dunked in an ice bath. It’s not pleasant. So, a week or so before the official start of school, start rising a little earlier every day. It helps if you couple that with going to bed early. You know what they say about burning the candle at both ends.
Set a time to get up in the morning, earlier than the usual slow start to the day, count backwards 7-8 hours, and set that as bedtime. If that’s still not your normal school-year start time, keep adjusting it a little each day until you are on track for your homeschool schedule.
Back off the media habit
If your children have watched a dozen movies a day and played endless video games, their brains have likely entered the mush stage. Take a media break the week before school so everyone will emerge from their fog.
First, limit the amount of time per day of electronic use, including videos. Add in some breaks to avoid cold-turkey withdrawals. So, maybe allow two hours in the morning, take a four hour break, then allow a few hours in the afternoon. Then, plan some alternative activities for the break, like chores, reading from actual books, cooking, outdoor activities, or craft projects. Get those synaptic pathways humming before you dive into long division and sentence diagramming.
Cram in a few last minute fun days/playdates
Before you jump into the school books, make sure you have some good memories of the summer. If you’re like me, all the fun activities I had planned for the summer slipped right by me. It’s a scientific fact that summer days pass 5.2 times faster than school days. Totally not right.
We usually try to hit a pool for some chillin’ during the hot weather. We may also plan trips to nearby, air-conditioned museums. AC is where it’s at in July. AmIright? Whatever you do, make sure laughter is involved. Never underestimate the vital, life-giving effect laughter has on the spirit.
Meal plan and stock the freezer
Unfortunately, everyone will still want to eat breakfast, lunch AND dinner once school starts. It’s unavoidable, and the best way to keep your hair from catching a’fire is to meal plan.
I use an app on my phone for all my recipes. MealBoard creates my shopping list from my meal plan, which is quite handy. Entering and importing recipes takes time, but it is a great investment because eventually you’ll spend minutes (vs. an hour) creating a meal plan and shopping list.
I cycle through a list of meals that we like and are easy to prepare. It makes dinner prep brain-dead easy, almost. Don’t we all need brain-dead easy dinners? I include my children in meal prep so they’re familiar with each recipe and can follow the directions if I’m not home in time to start dinner. I like the sneak those life skills in when they’re not looking.
Don’t forget to double your recipes to freeze. You’ll have a whole week off once a month. This works especially well for breakfast with muffins, breakfast tacos, biscuits, etc.
Do a deep clean
Wipe down all those pesky spider webs and sweep up the dust bunnies hiding under the couches. Otherwise, they will take on an urgency once school starts because even housework is more appealing than multiplication tables. And once you clean up one corner, you’ll find five other things to do. It will turn into a If You Give a Moose a Muffin kind of day.
If you have a dedicated school room, you lucky duck, it should get some extra attention. Straighten the book shelves. Run a diffuser to freshen the air. Move the tables and chairs around, if there is room, to give it a new feel.
Set a schedule
Plan the day. Know when you’re going to do school, when you’re going to eat, when you’re going to do chores, and when you’re going to have free time. Post it for all to read. The troops are less likely to rebel if they know how the day will flow. If one schedule doesn’t work, tweak it. Nothing is set in stone.
If you need scheduling help, check out Managers of Their Homes at Titus2.com. It will walk you through planning a schedule. They also have a scheduling software, which I have not used, but I’m sure is also a help for anyone who needs to create a schedule for life.
What do you do to kick off your homeschool school year?