This time of year, many of us are thinking about getting back into the groove or starting school up again. Most home educators take some kind of break during the summer. For some, it might be a complete and total break from anything academic. For others it might be finishing those subjects that didn’t get the attention they thought they deserved over the previous school year. Some might use summertime as a time for field trips, while others use summertime as a time for anything outdoors such as science, p.e., and getting together with friends and family.
For many homeschooling families, summertime is a time to look at what was accomplished last year and to make plans for the next school year. This means making lesson plans, purchasing supplies, buying curriculum, and maybe even selling curriculum no longer needed.
Switching gears can often be difficult. Bringing all the summer fun to a screeching halt and suddenly changing your schedule can often be met with objections. Below are some ways you can ease into the school year and make it much more enjoyable for everyone involved.
1. Start your school year in the middle of the week. If you’ve taken time off from school, completely changing your routine can be difficult. Start in the middle of the week so you only have two to three days of school before having another break. This way you won’t wake up Tuesday morning dreading the rest of the week.
2. Make the first day of school fun. Instead of focusing on academics the first day of school, focus on fun. Record such things as your child’s height, weight, favorite subjects, etc., and include photos. Use this to create a scrapbook that includes photos and information from the first day of school each year. Have your children organize their work area, take a look at their books for the year, make a cover for their notebook, and play some educational games.
3. On week two, take Monday off. This can be accomplished by starting your school the week before Labor Day if you traditionally take Labor Day off. This will give you time to make adjustments in your planning and to go out and purchase those few supplies you forgot. Then when week two is here, you still only have four days of school.
4. Another strategy you can implement, is to start your school year with one subject at a time. For example, you could start the first week of your school year off with science. On week two, you could add math, week three add language, etc., until all subjects have been added.
5. Use Friday as an art and overall catch-up day. Use Friday as a day to do those art projects that often get set aside during the week. This gives you all week to plan the project and to make sure that you have the supplies needed. Friday can also be used as a catch up day for your students to complete any assignments that didn’t quite get finished during the week. Maybe you have some science experiments that you never got to. Friday can also be the day that you visit the library.
No matter how you start your school year or what your schedule is, the most important thing is to relax, be flexible, and for your children to enjoy learning. All the materials we use to educate our children are simply tools. Just like your toolbox that has screwdrivers, pliers, and wrenches in it, there are some that you will use more often than others. Just as a 1/2″ wrench won’t fit a 5/8″ bolt or nut, we often try to use tools (curriculum) that don’t fit the job before us. If the wrench or socket doesn’t fit, you must put it down and find the correct size. Sometimes it might take two or three attempts to find the right size. The same goes for the tools you use in your homeschool. If they don’t fit, put them down and find the one that does. Again, it might take more than one attempt; but just as when you need to loosen or tighten that bolt, you’ll know when you’ve found the tool that fits.
Sometimes we have very unusual and specific tasks that there are no pre-made tools. When going through my dad’s tools after his death, we found several handmade tools that my dad had made for very specific purposes. Sometimes in our homeschool we must create our own tools for our own unique needs. Don’t be afraid to do this if you cannot find a pre-made tool that fits your child. Sometimes we are able to take a tool and modify it to fit our situation. One of the many beauties of home education is that we can modify the curriculum (our tools) to fit our child instead of forcing the child to fit the curriculum. Having a school that fits your family will make your school year much more enjoyable.
By Lori Camper