It’s that time of year when all over the internet you see advertisements and articles about going back to school. When you go into almost any store, there will be signs promoting their back to school sales. Everyone is preparing to get back into educational mode.
Our household is no different, except for one thing. We homeschool, so our back to school prep looks a little different. We have what I like to call the “homeschool edition” of going back to school.
Many homeschool moms vary in their approach and methods. After all, that’s part of the appeal of homeschooling, to tailor your approach to your children and to your own goals and children’s personalities. And although I’m still a newbie at the whole homeschooling thing, I believe we all go through a variation of the following to prepare for the school year.
Yes, even a homeschool child must register, though our forms look a little different and we don’t have to think about which physical school our kids are going to. We do, however, have to tell the school district that we’re not raising truants, just teaching our kids at home.
Pick a start date
While there are regulations on how many days of schooling my kids have to have, I get to pick when they happen. If we want to start in October, we totally can. End in March? Sure! For now, I try to stay sort of in sync with the local schools, at least for start and end dates. It’s helps my kids when they get to follow the rhythm of their friends, though I hope one day they realize the joy found in the freedom to not follow that rhythm. I do enjoy giving my kids the occasional day off, either for extra curricular activities or just a beautiful day outside.
This is one area where homeschool and traditional schools differ greatly. While the majority of moms send their kids off to school and don’t have to worry about what exactly is being taught (with the probable exception of homework), a homeschool mom probably researched curriculum all summer long. I know I did!
I spent hours online, reading reviews and looking at previews and asking friends for recommendations. When I finally decided on what I felt was the right curriculum for us, I placed the order! Once it all got to my house, the real fun began— familiarizing myself with the content and style.
One of my favorite things about homeschooling is the ability to tailor things to my children’s’ strengths and learning styles. We do a lot of real-world learning, like math via cooking and putting stuff away. It’s fun to find curriculums that do this as well.
Preparing the school area
Some homeschool families have incredible school rooms within their houses. Others make do with basic desks and chairs. We use our dining room table, because that is the best space for us. Since we also eat on it most nights, we can’t exactly leave our school stuff set up.
However, I do have a school closet that is where I do my preparing for the school year. I make sure everything is organized and I am stocked up on paper, pencils, crayons, etc…probably a lot of the same items on your kids’ back to school shopping list!
I also try to put up some visual aids. Last year it was sight words, but we also have a large world map hanging in our play room, and periodically we will all go locate a country we just heard about or learned about. I love to show the kids how big the world is in this way!
It’s important that the kids show up to school dressed nicely, so we make sure to hit the sales for new clothes…Who am I kidding?! As long as my child is dressed, I don’t make a point of contention with what she’s wearing. I’ve done math in pajamas, and worked on reading with Princess Jasmine. It’s one of the perks of homeschooling, to wear what you want to wear.
(Side note: when it’s freezing outside, and we get to stay inside where it’s warm, until we want to go outside…those are the days when I’m never more sure of my decision to homeschool.)
Last year, for kindergarten, our schedule was pretty loose. As long as we got a couple of hours a week, I wasn’t too picky about the days. This year I’m working on being more organized, and because we have a few more subjects this year, I need to actually have a schedule.
In addition, in order to get out of the house some, I have library days and park days penciled in too, plus one day a week when my husband will help me teach.
So there you have it! My back to school prep – homeschool edition. Isn’t it funny sometimes how we, as moms, can all be traveling in the same direction together in such vastly different ways? We all want what’s best for our kids and families, and all take different paths based on our beliefs and desires.
However your family dives into the new school year, may you find success and wonderful memories awaiting you!