Getting back to homeschool can be both daunting and exciting for many families. Whether you are returning from a summer break, a holiday vacation, a relocation, or any other major change, the start of a new school year quickly approaching can cause a mix of emotions and expectations. You might be feeling nervous or overwhelmed with how to handle everything that comes with a new school year, especially if you are still new to homeschool, or have made major changes like completely changing the type of curriculum you use, or just taking on a busier schedule than before. In this blog post, I will share with you some tips and strategies that have helped me and my family get back to homeschool successfully. I hope they will help you too.
1. Get Back To Homeschool Routines
One of the first things that can help you get back to homeschool is embracing routines. Routines are not meant to be rigid or boring, after all, one of the biggest benefits of homeschooling is the luxury of skipping the stressful morning rush routines of public school and having the time to eat a lovely home cooked breakfast together. But even when schooling at home, it helps to have some basic routines in place to create a sense of order, stability and predictability for your homeschooling family. Routines can help you and your children know what to expect, when to expect it, and how to prepare for it. They can also help you save time, energy and resources by reducing the need for constant decision-making and improvisation. To establish and maintain healthy and realistic routines, you can start by identifying the key elements of your homeschooling day, such as wake-up time, breakfast time, learning time, break time, lunch time, chore time, etc. Then, you can assign a basic duration and a sequence to each element and try to stick to them as much as possible. You can also involve your children in creating and following the routines and make them fun and flexible by adding some variety, choice and reward. For example, you can let your children choose what to learn on certain days or reward them with a special activity or treat after completing a task or a goal.
2. Get Inspired
Another thing that can help you get back to homeschool is getting inspired again. This helps you regain the momentum and motivation for homeschooling after a period of inactivity or disruption. To do this, get on Pinterest or Instagram and start browsing inspirational posts. There is so much content out there to inspire you, from free unit study downloads to field trip ideas or crafting projects. Even just browsing images of cool homeschool spaces can motivate you to begin tidying up and organizing your space. To renew the spark of lesson planning, review the previous lessons that you and your children have completed the previous school year to see if there are any areas you want to refresh them on first thing in the new school session. You can use a variety of quizzes, games, discussions, or projects to help your children recall and apply what they have previously learned. You can also set new goals and expectations for the next phase of your homeschooling journey, and communicate them clearly and positively to your children to help get them excited for this new school year. Celebrate the achievements and progress that you and your children have made so far, and acknowledge the challenges and difficulties that you have overcome. You can print certificates, make badges, or present them with little rewards to recognize and appreciate your children’s efforts and accomplishments and get them excited to begin another adventurous year.
3. Get Prioritized
The third way that can help you get back into the homeschool groove is managing your busy extracurricular and field trip schedules. Homeschooling offers a lot of opportunities for learning outside the home. While all the other kids are in public school all day, for us homeschoolers, the world is our oyster and we can go anywhere at any time, setting up as many field trips, playdates, specialized lessons and activities as we want. We get museums and parks all to ourselves, and we get to pick convenient daytime classes for music, art, and homeschool clubs. And of course, there is sports, volunteer and community service, and many other opportunities for our children, all outside the home. These activities can enrich our children’s education and socialization, but they can also create a ton of stress if they are not planned and coordinated well. I for one tend to get overzealous at the beginning of a new school year, and pack way too many activities into our schedules that first month or two of school. (It's a bad habit I'm still trying to get control of after almost a decade of homeschooling.)
To balance the academic and non-academic aspects of homeschooling, start by prioritizing and selecting the activities that are most relevant, beneficial and enjoyable for your children. Plan ahead and schedule the activities in advance, and make sure they do not interfere with your core learning time or your family time. Get a calendar just for your homeschool schedule that stays on your wall so the whole family can view it at all times. With so many opportunities it's tempting to try and take advantage of them all, but prioritizing your schedule to avoid overwhelm and burnout is the way to go. You and the kids will all be much happier as a result.
4. Get Organized
Another way that can help you get back to homeschool is to get organized by keeping good records. Records are not only important for legal and academic purposes, but also for personal and sentimental reasons. Records can help you document and track your homeschooling journey, and show the evidence of learning that you and your children have produced and collected. Records can also help you reflect and evaluate your homeschooling progress and performance, and identify the strengths and weaknesses, the successes and failures, and the joys and challenges of your homeschooling experience. To keep good records, you can start by organizing and storing the various forms of evidence of learning, such as worksheets, tests, essays, projects, photos, videos, etc. You can use folders, binders, boxes, or digital platforms to keep your records safe and accessible. You can also showcase your records through a portfolio or a blog that displays your children’s work and achievements in a creative and attractive way. You can use online tools, apps or websites to create and share your portfolio or blog with others.
5. Get Planning!
A final and (most important) thing on this list that can help you get back to homeschool is using a great homeschool planner to stay on target. A planner is the best tool that can help you and your children stay focused, organized and productive throughout your homeschooling journey by helping you plan, schedule and manage your homeschooling tasks, activities and goals. A homeschool planner can also help you monitor, track and record your homeschooling progress and performance. To use a planner effectively, you can start by choosing a planner that fits your style and goals. You can also personalize your planner with colors, stickers, washi tape, etc. to make it appealing and motivating so you will use your planner regularly and consistently to plan ahead, review often, and update accordingly. You can also involve your children in the process of planning and help them develop their own planning and time management skills by getting them their own student planner.
Getting back to homeschool can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience for you and your children if you pace yourself, plan it out, and remember that it's your school - your rules, so try not to stress about the little things. I have shared with you some of the things that have helped me and my family get back to homeschool successfully, and I hope they will help you too. If you have any thoughts, questions or experiences to share, please feel free to leave a comment below, I would love to hear from you. While you are here be sure to check out my Homeschool Planners, and stop by my Zazzle shop for custom designed personalized products for homeschool life.