6 Tips for a Successful First Day of Homeschool

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Written by Tara Mitchell of This Sweet Life and Embark on the Journey.

A new homeschool year is upon us. If you haven’t started yet, you are likely to in the next few weeks.

We are gearing up to start our sixteenth year of homeschooling after Labor Day. It took me many years to learn how to transition smoothly from summer to a new school year.

It’s not always a seamless transition, but these tips have sure made things easier for my kids and me.

6 Tips for a Successful First Day of Homeschool

Set a start date. 

I know setting a start date seems like an obvious thing to do. For me, however, once I have our start date on my calendar it changes things. It makes the new year “official,” and I have a burning desire to start planning.

Go back-to-school shopping.

When my kids were younger, I did most of the school shopping myself. It was easier that way. I needed lots of supplies, and I needed them cheap. In the past few years, however, my daughter has really balked at my cheap, boring school supplies. She doesn’t want the 17-cent spiral notebooks.

So, I have decided this is one area I can splurge a little bit. Even though we homeschool and no one will see my daughter’s notebooks, she wants to express herself with her supplies. So, her spiral notebooks and folders tend to have puppies and polka dots on them these days. Washi tape decorates her binders and clipboard. The calculator is pink and sparkly. Her backpack (which she uses for co-op) has cats and mustaches on it.

Have a plan in place.

Whether you are an over-the-top planner like me or you like to just ‘do the next thing,’ you need to have a plan in place. Some homeschoolers work best with a set plan for their day. Others prefer a little more flexiblity.

Some like to type or write their lessons in a homeschool lesson planner. Others like to ‘do the next thing’ in each subject.

Whatever your preference, it’s best to have a plan in place before the first day of school. This will help your days run a little smoother.

Prepare your workspace.

Do you have a dedicated school room? Or, do you homeschool at the kitchen table? We started out homeschooling in my basement. Several years later, we moved to the kitchen table. Still later, we moved into a house where we had space to create a dedicated homeschool room.

Regardless of where you plan to work, make sure your workspace is ready for the first day of school. Gather all of your school supplies into one central place. Make sure notebooks and textbooks are easily accessible.

First day of homeschool

Start the day off right. 

Do you need to get up before the kids for a little coffee and quiet time in order to start your own day off right? If so, be sure to do that on the first day back to homeschool.

Set your kids up for a successful day, as well. Be sure they are in bed the night before at a decent time. Have them set an alarm (if they’re older), or wake them gently for the first day back to homeschool. Older kids may do better waking up on their own (no alarm) if your schedule can accommodate that.

Start the day off right with a healthy breakfast. We have rougher school days when one (or more) of us is ‘hangry!’ And, I prefer they eat something besides a bowl of sugary cereal on school days. It never fills them up, and I sometimes see the effects of a sugar crash about 10 AM.

Eggs and toast or a warm bowl of oatmeal are much more apt to fill my kids up so we can start our day full of energy and potential.

Go slow.

Don’t dive feet first into the school books on the first day. Start slowly. Go over your anticipated routine. Be sure your kids are aware of your expectations.

Start with a couple of subjects, and gradually add the rest as everyone settles into the new school year. I used to start the school year with just three subjects – typically math, science, and literature. I’d go over my expectations for each. The kids would decorate their folders/notebooks. We’d glance through the books and supplies. Then, we’d do the first lesson in each.

Every couple of days, I would add a new subject to the schedule until we had a full day of work. This usually took us two weeks.

6 Tips for a Successful First Day of Homeschool pin

The one year that I planned to start the school year with a full schedule was a disaster. The kids went from playing all day all summer long to diving into the books. Because they weren’t in public school, the days weren’t full of going over procedures, organizing classroom school supplies, and touring the school. We dove right in with a full four-hour day of learning.

As a result, they were overwhelmed, and I was frustrated. It was not a plan that set anyone up for success. Now, we dip our toes in the first day and tiptoe our way into a new year.

Be flexible. 

No matter what big plans you have for the first days of school, be prepared for obstacles. Some kids don’t transition well from the carefree summer to a structured school day. Others may balk at new, harder work. Or, you may have a child who zips through their work leaving you wondering if you’re doing enough.

If you can go with the flow of each homeschool day, you’ll set yourself and your kids up for success. Remember, you’ve got all year to smooth out the kinks.

What are your best tips for a smooth first day back to homeschool? 

This post is linked to the Hip Homeschool Hop.

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Tara is wife to Matt and homeschool momma of three. Her children are 21, 16, and 11 – two boys and one girl. She is currently homeschooling her daughter – 6th grade. When she’s not blogging, Tara enjoys crocheting and snuggling up with a good book. She and her family recently moved from Texas to Ohio, and they’re having fun exploring their new surroundings. She blogs about homeschooling, motherhood, and family life on both of her blogs – Homeschool Preschool and Teaching with Children's Books.

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  1. This goes right with preparing your school space, but we actually deep clean the dining rm/classroom the week before we start school and come back from any breaks. It’s nice to start with a clean slate!

  2. We ease back into school, too, like you do, and it really seems to help. We start with just Bible and math, and it gets us used to doing school without taking too much time. 🙂 I add classes weekly until we get them all going.

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