Back to School for HomeschoolersJuly 23, 2021
Everyone knows the first day back to homeschooling after summer vacation is a big deal. But, it’s important to set the tone and expectations for a new school year, and that can feel like a lot of pressure. Let’s look at some back to school ideas for homeschoolers that will make that journey easier.
Prepping for the First Day
While a student’s age definitely impacts how much they can help with preparing for a new school year, keeping them involved in the preparation helps them take ownership. Getting them involved can keep them engaged, motivated, and focused on their educational goals. Here are a couple of great ways to keep students involved in preparing for their first day back to homeschool.
Make the School Space Shine
I know it isn’t always possible but providing your students with a designated classroom space within the home so that they can better focus on their schooling often helps. Cleaning, refreshing, and redecorating this learning space regularly helps every year feel new and exciting. Summer is a great time to talk with your kids about their ideas for your learning space!
If your students are too young, you can still get them involved by asking them to help tidy and prepare the space. They can help make sure their school materials are prepped in a number of ways, including:
- Organizing art supplies into the appropriate containers
- Making sure their pencils are sharpened
- Making sure that all their markers still work and their paints haven’t dried out
- Choosing art or new educational aids to display in the classroom space
Older students can help prepare the classroom space by sweeping, vacuuming, dusting, making sure their desk is neatly organized, and choosing decorations that help make it their space. I love to get my high school students involved as well. They can take an inventory of the classroom technology to see what still works and what might need to be upgraded.
Give the Curriculum a Refresh
When preparing for a new school year, it’s important to remember that everyone is starting in a new place. This means both developmentally as their minds and bodies mature, and educationally as they absorb and master new material. This also means that preparing for the first day back to school also includes updating your homeschool curriculum.
Younger children may not be able to help select a curriculum, but they can definitely tell you what topics and field trips they enjoy. Setting up meetings or check-ins to help plan the new year’s curriculum helps students feel like they have some input in their education. It can also help get them excited for the big first day back!
Older students can take a more active role in curriculum preparation, and high school students can not only tell you what subjects they want to learn more about, but also where they are struggling. In both cases, challenging your high schooler to research the various methods of homeschooling or online homeschool programs helps them feel confident about the new school year. Choosing new apps, study materials, and projects can also get them psyched for their first day back to school.
Engage with the Homeschool Community
Homeschoolers are a tight-knit bunch; asking friends who homeschool for their best ideas might spark something creative you can add to your approach. Or you might host a get-together with local homeschoolers to brainstorm ideas and talk about how to respond to the challenges of the past year as they impact studies going forward. The community here at Homeschool.com is also a great place to connect with homeschool groups, find free printables and get tips on making this school year awesome!
Making the First Day Fantastic
On the morning of the big day, we suggest starting off strong with your (and your students’) favorite nutritious “special breakfast.” It’s an oldie but goodie piece of advice that will set the mood for the first day back as something a little bit special and a little bit exciting before studies begin. You might also want to take first-day back to school pictures. These are all great ideas that help to get the kids excited and have a really fun back-to-homeschool experience.
Start on the Right Foot
When it’s time to enter the classroom space on the first day back to school, consider formalizing the entry to the new school year with a formal greeting to help your student shift from ‘home’ mode into ‘school’ mode. How you and your students greet each other at the outset of a new school year can take many forms and can be personalized to each individual student. Some homeschool ideas include:
- A formal greeting at the entrance to the study space (we recommend hugs, secret handshakes, hi-fives, and other fun ideas)
- A prepared video greeting is played for the students at the beginning of the day
- A welcome activity to help your kids understand the expectations for the school year
- A welcome story, poem, or read aloud
- A scavenger hunt or a special treat
- New school supplies
Warm, personalized greetings can help to dispel any feelings of nervousness about a new school year and welcome-back activities increase student engagement and motivation making this homeschool special. This also eases them back into the workflow of the school day with a fun task.
Goals and Expectations
While we don’t recommend a rote syllabus reading for homeschool classrooms, we DO recommend using part of your first day back to school to clearly outline goals and expectations when school starts.
Although some goals and expectations might have been discussed in the preparation stage before the first day back to school, going over everything on the first day back can serve two important purposes. The first is to offer a final opportunity to make any changes to the goals and expectations. The second is to concretely connect the goals and expectations on paper to your homeschool classroom environment and begin on your first day of homeschool.
Support Your Homeschool Year
Building a community around your homeschool can enrich the experience for both parents and students. Whether you’re just beginning your homeschool journey or are an experienced homeschooler looking to expand your homeschool community, finding support and information tailored to your needs can be invaluable resources.
Finding an easy to use online resource for your homeschooling, like Study.com can make a world of difference. Our site has 1.9 million learning resources available including text and video lessons, practice tests, flashcards, worksheets, and lesson plans. Study.com uses instructional methods consistent with cognitive theories of learning, such as microlearning. Learning in bite-sized pieces makes the transfer of learning from the classroom to the desk more efficient and creates a rise in engagement.