Last updated on August 8th, 2020 at 03:59 pm
The first day of homeschool doesn’t have to be a tedious day of school–here are tips from a veteran homeschooler on how to make the first day of homeschool special, as well as tips on how to carry that special first day feeling throughout the homeschooling year.
How To Make The First Day Of Homeschool Special
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Hold A Teacher’s Prep Day, Weekend, Or Week
An excellent first day requires planning. When I was homeschooling my three children (they are all in college now), I used to take a few hours each day for several days in a row planning out what our school day would look like for the new year.
This would include a somewhat flexible start time for each student and an even more flexible end time (dependent on if the child got their work done faster or slower than I thought they would). I made a note of what subjects I thought each child could do on their own, and which ones I thought they would need me for one-on-one time. Finally, I created a schedule that allowed me to work with each child individually throughout the day as needed.
I was teaching multiple ages, so we did not do a lot of work together as a family. However, for a few years, we did do this science curriculum series together since it was easy to adapt to different grade levels up until the high school level.
Once you have the bulk of your days planned, you can then think of something special for the first day of school–more on that in a minute.
Read through your day plan for each student with a pen and paper in hand. Write down all the supplies the children will need to get their school work done.
Basic Homeschooling Supplies
Pencils–there is a reason why public school teachers recommend this brand; they are indeed the best.
Pens–after years of trying different ones, I have settled on this brand and type, they are inexpensive and work well.
Erasers–trust me, buy way more of these then you think you will need. I find this type to work best.
Let the kids pick these out and personalize them
Pencil case–I gave each of my kids one of these types of pencil cases years ago. Years later, they are still in full working order and are being used for various purposes, from holding tax receipts to knitting supplies. Your kids can add a personal touch to theirs by decorating them with permanent markers.
Binders—These are my favorite brand of school binder. The kids can slip in their own cover page and the binder itself takes a beating. I have ones in my home that have been used daily for ten years and are still going strong. A close second in their ability to take a beating are these, which can be decorated with stickers and permanent markers.
Something to put their books in–Over the years, I went from giving each child a shelf to place their books on neatly by subject to something more realistic–a laundry basket. Each child got their own (you could have your child personalize them, but mine never did). Each morning they grabbed their basket out of a cupboard and put it by the feet wherever they were doing their school work. At the day’s end, I reminded them usually three times to put it back in the cupboard, although somedays it didn’t ever get put back. Not a Pinterest worthy homeschooling room, but it worked.
A few supplies for homeschooling you might not think of
An electric pencil sharpener–For the sake of your sanity, do not try to survive with a bunch of manual pencil sharpeners. Instead, invest in a good electric pencil sharpener that has to be plugged into the wall and therefore is stationary and can be easily found at all times.
A three-hole punch–Homeschooling usually requires an endless supply of photocopies, and to keep those photocopies in proper order for recording grades and creating a visual representation of your school year, they need to be hole punched and placed in binders. Invest in a good three-hole punch and it should last you your entire homeschooling career.
Laminator–I laminated papers that children were going to refer to over and over and it meant that they stayed in good shape for the entire school year and sometimes through three school years as each child used them. We have this brand of laminator and have owned it for years with no issues.
Start Late and End Early
Now that we are all ready for the first day of homeschool–let’s make it a great one!
On the first day of homeschool, remind the kids about homeschooling perks by letting them sleep in a little later than usual and ending a little earlier. Ease into the school year by allowing them to do this for the first week or two if you want. After all, you are in charge of the day and know your students best.
Go Somewhere The Public School Kids Can’t
One year I took the kids to the beach on the first day of homeschool. Another year I took them out to lunch, and at the start of one homeschooling year, we went out for ice cream hours before the public school kids were out.
Don’t Forget Pictures
I regret not taking my children’s first and last day of homeschool pictures more often than I did. What I don’t regret is the fun we had when the kids and I did do them. Usually, the kids were in their PJs or snuggled up on the couch in a blanket. I think I have one where they were in regular clothes and hair was brushed and honestly, it isn’t my favorite. The one that is my favorite is the year I caught them in their natural environment, PJs on, hair unbrushed, snuggled up under a blanket with books spread all around them. That is how we homeschooled and I don’t regret it for a second. Go with what comes naturally for your family.
Plan A Simple, Kid-Loved Meal
Sometimes the first day of homeschool is rough despite your plans to make it fun. The outing you planned got rained out. The curriculum you ordered took way more time than you thought it would to complete a day’s lesson. The kids were all cranky, and not even lunch out changed their moods. By day’s end, you are beat, but you’ve still got to eat–and so do those kids and that spouse of yours too.
The first day of homeschool is not the day to plan a complicated meal; keep it simple and kid-approved. This is the day to indulge them in those frozen pizzas they love or chicken nuggets served with cut-up veggies just to round out the nutrition a little.
At the dinner table, ask each child to say what was their favorite thing about their first day back at homeschool and what was their least favorite–their answers may surprise you.
Leave Room To Breathe
For the first day, plan on making it through half the school work you want to make it through in a day. I allowed the kids to do half days for the first week. This allowed them, and me, time to iron out the wrinkles of the daily plan I made. Sometimes by the end of the first week, my plan for each child was completely different than I what I originally planned. I was okay about changing it because that is what is so awesome about homeschooling; you can change the plan to make it optimal for your child and you.
I also suggest leaving breathing room in every day, not just the first week. Do this by bringing back lunch hour–as in taking a whole hour for lunch. When the weather was nice, we all went outside for a portion of our lunch hour. Confessions of a not so Pinterest Worthy homeschooler here: once they were older, if I felt like I needed space, they went outside during lunch hour while I stayed inside and read a few pages of my book in peace.
Allow a 15-minute wiggle break between subjects too. These two types of breathing room will make everyone so much happier and it will help the school day go faster. I know it seems weird that taking that many breaks makes things go quicker, but trust me, kids and moms need breaks to maintain focus–focused students and teachers complete work faster and more accurately.
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