Today was a grumpy day on all of my social media accounts. Besides the normal political rants that are always clogging things up in an election year (mine included), there was pure disgust. It’s like everyone went to bed the end of summer and woke up in shock and awe that it’s now the beginning of the school year! Whether you’re following a traditional or semi-traditional homeschool schedule or just a lover of summer, flipping that calendar page is the universal symbol that summer is almost over. Finished. Stick a fork in it; done.
Kids and teachers alike are marching into their little classrooms or school tables (of the homeschool sort) and sitting down to a pile of carefully selected books and activities to give it their best effort. When you school at home, there is no clear division between home and school, and for the most part, we homeschoolers take pride in that. But how are we supposed to make starting a new school year special? The mainstream approach for fall beginnings makes it a bit of a challenge for homeschoolers. After all, we don’t really need a new wardrobe of the coolest fashions, loads of notebooks, and supplies. I mean, that last part is why some of us spend countless hours on Amazon all summer, so it’s generally under control before August, right?
True, yes the whimsical days of summer are in the past, but you don’t have to mourn, because I’m sharing my list of favorite ways to launch your homeschool year like never before! So pick one, a few, or all of these and prepare to excite and encourage all of your little (and big) star students:
- Pictures! I know this isn’t super original, but it’s true! Take pictures on your first day of yourself and the kids! It’s always a great time to be able to compare the beginning and the end of a school year photo!
- Feast! You know one of those Pinterest crazy ideas that they’d love. Maybe even go out to lunch with friends and share all the things you’re looking forward to this year!
- Go school shopping! Moms and kids alike love this. It is always fun to watch your kids get excited, and all kids love presents! Try making a cool presentation with all of the supplies in a new crate, or backpack or even wrap them like a present. How about clothes? Let them pick out a few favorite items to school in, and yes, jammies do count!
- Decorate your space! I think even teachers feel better in a glammed up school area. I love a mixture of practical and crazy! Think maps and balloons and maybe a welcome back banner. This time of year you can find tons of this stuff in the local dollar bins!
- Show them your incentive jar! I always have a reward jar filled with endless junk, cheap toys, pencils, stickers, and sweets. Anything that can reward or get them over a rough spot. Hmmm…maybe this year I’ll include things for myself.
- Add some flair! Let the kids decorate a special pencil box, school crate, or folder. We personally love buying plain cheap t-shirts and decorating them with our school name on them. You can use puff paint, vinyl iron on letters, or stencils. This year we’ll be adding our graduation year, which is kind of funny if you’re in the 4th grade. Class of 2025, here we come!
- Create a DO NOT DISTURB HOMESCHOOLING IN SESSION sign! Let everyone know you take this seriously. The kids will almost definitely fight to be the one in charge of hanging the sign when it’s time.
- School out! No one knows about being unconventional quite like homeschoolers. Pick a library, a park, a quiet coffee shop and take your books!
- Adventure! Take them on different stops, riddles, gifts, and gags through a treasure hunt or scavenger hunt. Talk about starting on the right foot!
- Hide a time capsule. Check out this one from My Little Poppies. Find and open it on the last day of school.
- Interviews! Let the kids interview you, the teacher! Record it, make a video, or write it down. You will be surprised at just how enjoyable this is for your little students!
- Design a dream board! Let them dream big! Cut out magazine pictures of all the things they want to do this year or become when they grow up. Nothing builds excitement like picturing all the things you desire.
My sister, Sherry, a veteran homeschool mom and creative genius, shared her secret school surprise with me. Every year, on the first day, she presented each girl with 2 GET OUT OF SCHOOL tickets. Anytime the ticket was used, it was valid for the whole house to take the day off! You might think that would be used on day #2, #3 or #4, but instead, they would hoard them until the very end. Ironic to me, that the one thing granted to enhance freedom was the thing that made them feel most in control. Isn’t that how it works with us sometimes too? We are given the freedom to homeschool and often it’s the thing we try hardest to control. Don’t try to control, ask. Don’t try to force, listen. Lead your year with fun and memories and do it together.
Oh, and P.S. Use your day off tickets.
“We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” -Proverbs 16:9
Photo Credit: Graphic design by Charity Klicka.