Friday, August 24, 2018

Homeschool Mother's Journal: Ready, Set, Go!

I'm considering this "Journal" entry another in a series of back-to-school articles I un-officially kicked off with 7 Homeschooling Through High School Encouragements and Tips.   God used the writing and sharing of that article to open my eyes to the need for more active participation in the Homeschooling through High School blogging community!  So last week I posted about the curriculum we are using this year.  Today I want to continue by sharing how we get the back-to-school ball rolling in our home!

There are so many ways to get the school year in motion.  I always laughed at how public schoolers often start on Wednesday or Thursday just to turn around and take a weekend off.  I never understood, 'why not start on Monday and get the ball in full motion right out of the gate?... Why waste time?'!!  Well, after a few years of botched 1st days in our homeschool, I finally caught on!!  A partial week is sort of a warm-up... a positioning at the starting line as the master of ceremonies bellows, "Ready?"

I don't start on Wednesday/Thursday, though I do feel that is a bit extreme.  However, we do make use of the Friday before our official first full day of school.  It is a sort of extended "class meeting" to go over particulars and get ready for the week and school year head...


We begin the meeting with prayer; lifting up our new school year and that day in particular.  Then we begin to get gears moving.  I hand out school year calendars they can keep in their binders or pin on their wall.  We discuss these as well as the more detailed weekly schedule as an overview of how we hope the school days will go on a regular week.

At this point I hand out general school supplies for them to tuck into their receptacles (we use baskets).  When I was teaching more than one, I would begin to shift the conversation at this point to the plans for any "joint" 'classes' they had or things which affected everyone so I only have to say it once and, if anyone has questions, everyone could hear and participate.

Whenever we have had subjects which would require specific supplies, I usually hand those out as we go over those individual topics.  With more than one kiddo, I would transition from the joint matters by handing out some sort of back-to-school activity to keep busy for a short bit with because I was about to break them up.... I take them one-by-one aside and we move on to the next phase of set-up...

(you can click on image to enlarge)

I like to draw up a "class" list for each student, detailing out the various subjects they are working on for the year, any specifics about the schedule for that class (like, do they only work once a week on it, every day, only in the morning, etc.), and the approximate time I expect each class to take.  Admittedly, some days will be longer/shorter but this gives us a ballpark.

Over the years, no matter their grade, I have learned that setting good goals and objectives is key to a productive school year.  So, as I do all of their back-to-school prep mid-summer, I pull out my end-of-year notes on their report cards and use them as a spring-board for my prayers and writing of  a "goals and objectives" section.  This also helps me focus as I plan their school year, making sure we are gearing towards opportunities to reach those goals.  On our soft-set Friday I also encourage them to pray over personal goals and objectives beyond what I have listed.

In these goals and objectives I try to be encouraging, not condemning.  For example, if staying on task is an issue, I don't say, "I want to see you stay on task this year and if you don't.... trouble."  Instead I might say, "I know we have struggled with staying on task in the past.  This is a new school year and it is so important to keep on top of your work.  Bosses expect it of you and so will colleges.  So, lets make this a goal for this year."  Then we might discuss some ideas for reaching that goal, with their input, and set-up a system to keep tabs on their progress.

The last few years I have had their books already set-up in their school baskets.  After reading through the "Goals and Objectives" we grab the basket and briefly go over the materials for each class listed on the remainder of the page.  If there are additional syllabuses or materials for these specific classes, I produce them at this time.  We talk about how I expect them to use the material in a general fashion with the assurance that, as we start full classes the next week, they will pick up the rhythm.

Once we are done, I pray over them personally and then issue a quick writing assignment: Write a letter to yourself for the end of the school year.  I encourage them to share what they are looking forward to most, what they are unsure of or nervous about, list some of their goals and then, if they want, any advice or tips for the following summer break!  They always enjoy this part.  I stash their finished letter in my homeschool binder to be shared again at the end of the school year.

With three students, our Friday soft-set usually took around a few hours.  I would start with younger, antsy students first and move up the chain from there.  Once done, they are free to their own devices for the rest of the day, squeezing out that very last little bit of summer vacation! 

This year I am down to ONE.. have I mentioned that on the blog at all?!?  I still plan to do our set-up in much the same fashion only we won't need a back-to-school busy project to buy time while others are having their one-on-one!

With all of these details out of the way, we enjoy our weekend and prep for the big to-do of Back-to-School the following Monday!  I always expect that first week to be slow-going even with our Friday prep day under our belt.  Learning how to use new curriculum and apply new routines (and flush away the bummy summer pace!!) takes time and patience.  I'll plan a good 1st Day breakfast and lunch with loads of encouragement in-between!

We're off to a good start...
Today is our prep-day.  We are ready and set and super excited to go!  I wasn't sure how it would feel having only ONE left to teach but I think it is going to actually be marvelously fun!  It helps that she loves to learn... and she is a lot like her mama!  We are able to "get" each other and work tough spots out accordingly.

How do you get your homeschool year in motion?

I hope and pray you have a blessed school year... that you keep your chin up in the challenging times and remember to celebrate the good times... all for His Glory!



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  1. What an interesting way to start off the year...I love the idea of having them write a letter to themselves. I remember doing something similar in 8th grade.

    1. Yes, they really like the letter part and it is fun for me to see how much they grow over the 9 months when I re-read them!