Even though we unofficially homeschool year-round, the end of the summer and the beginning of September always get our family thinking about going "Back to School." Whenever your children go back to school, there are key ways to prepare them for a new school year of learning. While these tips are geared towards homeschooling families, you may be able to modify them if your children attend public or private school.
Cleaning Out the Old
Before the new school year starts is a fantastic time to go through materials from last year. Inventory your curriculum (both physical and digital), your writing supplies (pens, pencils, paper, etc), your science supplies for experiments, your memberships and subscriptions to online learning sites or monthly boxes, and whatever else you use for homeschooling. You may have completed this process at the end of your school year but it is always good to go through everything once again to see if you missed anything or have made any changes. Maybe you found a new language arts program and you won't need those workbooks you were saving from last year?
Have your children go through their desks or learning areas as well. Clean out backpacks, desks, bins, and other locations where your children school. Have them involved in the process so they can see the importance of organization.
Now that you have decided what you are going to keep, spend some time organizing the materials in a way that makes them easy to find. I rely mainly upon one bookshelf in our living room to keep our binders and drawers of materials for our children. One drawer contains most of the math manipulatives we need while the others hold folders of unit studies we have completed or partially completed, flash cards or other teaching materials, and children's art work.
In the binders, I keep some of the curriculum materials our younger children are using. I also utilize two binders for storing the paper copies of of our teen's completed work. This way, he can access them if he needs to (for studying prior to a quiz or test) and I have a hard copy record for grading purposes.
For more ideas of how to organize your homeschooling materials, please check out my Top 5 Suggestions for Best Organizing Your Homeschool Materials.
Whether you homeschool or your children go to private or public school, now is the time to pick out a brand new outfit! The first day of school can be extra special with a new t-shirt or backpack. We have found that even though we homeschool having a backpack and lunch box for our kids is great for field trips and outings.
And don't forget all the sales for back-to-school items. I love walking down the aisles and seeing all the shiny new notebooks and folders with kittens and unicorns. What items belong in among your schooling supplies? I have shared Recommended School Supplies, which was a modified version of a list that I distributed to my students when I was a high school teacher. There are also a number of supplies that are essential to our homeschool such as SchoolhouseTeachers.com and this year CTCMath.com.
Settling into a Routine
Did your children stay up late during the summer months? Maybe you did not follow your normal routine of breakfast, lunch, and dinner at regular times. I know that we usually let our teen stay up later during the summer months and it takes a bit of time for him to get used to a different schedule.
Start slowly by adjusting sleeping schedules so your children can get used to the new time requirements. Maybe advance their bedtimes at 15 to 30 minutes at a time till you get it back to your normal schooling bedtime.
One thing I have to remind myself is that (despite wanting to jump in with everything we want to do on the first day back to homeschooling) our children have had a very relaxed homeschooling summer. I need to allow us all time to get back into a more set routine.
Celebrate the New School Year
There are so many ways you can celebrate back to school with your family. Have a countdown, throw a party, or make a special breakfast. Last year, I created a coloring sheet which also doubled as a sign for our children to hold up for their first day back to school. I look forward to updating the year and taking a new photo this year!
This year I think a great way to start the new school year will be having a board game night. We have so many to choose! From family games to games our children can play by themselves like Cat Crimes and IQ Stars, there are many options for a fun week of getting back to school.