It is that time of year again. I hear buses in the morning rolling (fast!) through our neighborhood, the school supply shelves are picked over and practically empty at Walmart, backpack drives and giveaways are finishing up, and the kids are going back to school! Well, all except my kids.
We are a homeschool family, so not much will change as we move into the Fall season. But there is some preparation that will take place as we get back to serious homeschool business. So what does ‘Back to (Home)school’ look like for our family and other homeschooling families?
The preparation for the homeschool parent/teacher begins in the summer, sometimes at the end of the last school year. My wife and I share in the responsibilities of teaching our children, although she handles most of it, so we both do some type of prep and training. Throughout the summer, we have been attending parent practicums, training sessions, and webinars to prepare for what we will be teaching our kids. We use the Classical Conversations Homeschool curriculum, which does a great job of preparing parents to adequately teach their children. In addition, this curriculum equips us to lead our homeschool group(s).
Setting up the school calendar
Although our kids don’t go to a physical location five days per week for 180 days, we are required to have 180 days of instruction by our state (Indiana). We have no problems meeting that, and actually do way more than that. We even set up a calendar complete with a first day of school (first Monday after Labor Day), breaks (Fall, Winter, Spring), and a last day of school. In addition, we schedule at least one big field trip per month, and our kids participate in various extracurricular activities and sports. This is all put into a calendar template created in Microsoft Excel, and the dates are transferred to our Google Calendars.
Our family is part of a homeschool community, which meets with other homeschool families once per week. On this meeting day, we have a school day that is very similar to traditional school. These dates are included and coincide with our family school calendar.
Setting goals and lesson planning
This is one of my favorite parts. I love to set goals and work on achieving them. We do this with our kids educational goals, as well as our goals as parents. Our goals will be accomplished through the lessons and studies we do throughout the year. We’ll plan out the lessons we will teach throughout the year as well. Our school calendars consists of six week sessions of school, followed by a one week break. During the break week, the kids do light school work, and we plan/prep the next 6 weeks. The lessons will be planned with the objective of accomplishing our goals along the way.
Ordering new materials and curriculum
The curriculum and new materials are typically ordered over the summer after the parent training sessions are completed. At that point, we’ll have a good idea of what we need, in order to teach for the upcoming year. In addition, we will also begin to make a list of reading materials for us and the kids. The library is our resource for getting many of these books. There is nothing like the word FREE! This is also the time to do an inventory check on basic school supplies, so the back to school sales and promos can be taken advantage of.
Breaking the bad habits
I think this is the area where both homeschooling families and traditional school families have the most in common. Although we have been doing light school work over the summer, we have also gotten out of our regular routine. The fact that it was not getting dark until almost 10pm didn’t help!
At the beginning of July practically all of the sports, and extracurricular activities we were involved in stopped. So we literally went from a family that was out doing something (sometimes multiple things) 5-6 days per week to not having anything going on. Needless to say, we got lax and formed some bad habits. Now is the time to be firm on bedtime, firm on waking up at a decent time, and to get rid of that dreaded TV (after the Olympics of course). This is usually our biggest challenge!
Getting ‘back to school’ ready benefits all
So that is how a homeschool family gets ready for ‘Back to (Home)School’ time. Many of the ways we prepare may be similar to traditional school families. Looking at the calendar, setting goals, getting supplies are kind of universal when it comes to back to school time, and are beneficial to all families of school aged children.
Question: Whether you are a homeschool family or a traditional school family what are you doing to prepare your kids to have the best school year possible?