Back to School for HomeschoolersJuly 23, 2021
This post is sponsored by Study.com.
The first day back to homeschooling after summer vacation is a big deal. It’s important to set the tone and expectations for a new school year, and that can feel like a lot of pressure, especially after the discombobulated year we just had. Here we’ll help alleviate that back-to-school stress for homeschool parents and students by offering some strategies for preparing and executing an awesome first day back to school. Then, we’ll give you some options to support your homeschool journey.
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, which 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
If possible, you should provide your students with a designated classroom space within the home so that they can better focus on their schooling. Cleaning, refreshing, and redecorating this classroom space regularly helps every year feel new and exciting. You may want to start talking about these ideas with your kids at least a month before the start of school.
If your students are too young, you can still get them involved by asking them to help tidy and prepare the space, making sure that 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. Additionally, high school students 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 students start in a new place than the year before, both developmentally as their minds and bodies mature, and educationally as they absorb and master new material. That means that preparing for the first day back to school also includes updating your homeschool curriculum.
While younger children may not be able to help select a curriculum, 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 agency 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 up 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 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 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.
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 options include:
- A formal greeting at the entrance to the study space (we recommend hugs, secret handshakes, and high-fives)
- A prepared video greeting that 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 or poem
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. 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.
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.
Support Your Homeschool Journey with Study.com
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.
Study.com is a leading online education resource making learning accessible for over 34 million students and educators a month. 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.
We can help support your homeschool journey with our homeschool resources and curriculum. We offer helpful articles, such as tips and tricks for homeschool record keeping and classroom management, lessons and activities to supplement your curriculum, connections to homeschool co-ops and blogs, and even an annual scholarship for homeschool students.