Works for Me Wednesday: Another Back-to-School Tip

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This week’s Works for Me Wednesday is a themed, back-to-school edition. I posted my big back-to-school post a couple of weeks ago, so this week I thought I’d share a little piece of advice that can pay big dividends in your homeschool. Many of you may do this already, but, if you don’t, it can make a huge difference in making the first few weeks of school a painless transition from the lazy days of summer to more structured school days.

It’s profound. Are you ready? Don’t jump into everything at once.

If you’re an over-achiever, detailed planner like me, it can be really hard not to jump into every subject and every piece of new curriculum on the first day of school. However, if you’re also like me and you take a fairly long summer break, jumping into everything immediately can be a recipe for disaster…or, frustration at the very least.

I generally try to ease into a new school year over the course of three or four weeks. The first week, we stick with basics and things that the kids, for the most part, enjoy. This is our first week, so each day we’re doing Bible study, grammar (yes, my kids actually enjoy grammar), math, reading, and some history.

Next week, I’ll add some writing, science, and, if things go well, art. The following week, we’ll add in most of the remaining subjects and be at almost a full load, with the exception of nature study and music, which we probably won’t start until September.

It’s hard, sometimes, on those light days, not to feel like a bit of a slacker, but it’s so worth it to hear the kids voluntarily comment that the first week of school is going well and hasn’t been “so bad.” The gradual start also makes a really nice opportunity to reestablish habits that may have become lax over the summer or to establish new habits (particularly those that you had every intention of establishing over the summer, but never quit got around to).

Gradually easing into a full workload is something that we’ve done since our second or third homeschooling year and a practice that really works for our family. If your school year is getting off to a rocky start (or has in the past), I’d recommend looking at how much you’re starting off with. Allowing Mom and kids to adjust slowly and leave everyone with a good attitude about the new schedule and the increased expectations is worth a few light days at the first of a new school year.

Visit Kristin at We Are THAT Family for more Works for Me Wednesday tips.

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Kris Bales is a newly-retired homeschool mom and the quirky, Christ-following, painfully honest founder (and former owner) of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She has a pretty serious addiction to sweet tea and Words with Friends. Kris and her husband of over 30 years are parents to three amazing homeschool grads. They share their home with three dogs, two cats, a ball python, a bearded dragon, and seven birds.

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  1. How did you know that I never got around to establishing those habits I had every had EVERY INTENTION of working on over the summer?!

    This post made me smile – I was planning on jumping in full force next week as if we were all ready for that. Who am I kidding?

  2. We're starting next week, and I have been thinking of starting back slightly scaled back. I think this is probably a sign that I was right to think so.

    I'm interested to see how this school year will be different from last.

    Oh, and we totally took off a long summer and we didn't do any of the things that I thought we needed to do. LOL

  3. Thanks for this! We're starting homeschool next Monday, and I have a full day planned. Your post has definitely made me rethink that, and I see that I need to be more flexible as we begin!

  4. I've been doing that a bit with my little ones and have felt a little silly for it. I guess maybe I may actually know a little about what I'm doing. Thanks for the helpful advice!

  5. Thank you, Kris, for this excellent reminder! I usually try to follow this very principle, but for some reason, I'm so excited about this year's plans that I probably would have jumped in w/ both feet…. and that's a recipe for disaster (and rebellion!) in the making!!

    Have a wonderful day~

  6. Thank you for this post!!! I needed to hear it… and I will follow your advice. OK… after 4 years of homescholing, you think I'd realize this! But, I think my daughter and I will both enjoy re-starting the year if I don't add everything at once!

  7. Thanks for sharing that. I want to introduce more formal science, history and art/craft this year, so I am going to take your advice.

  8. Good tip! This is the method I plan on using with my son as we homeschool for the first time this year.

  9. So true! Easing into school doesn't overwhelm everyone. In fact, for my sake I need to ease into the process b/c when we start schooling I have to be more disciplined in order to get everything done! It takes me awhile to get back into the routine too.

  10. Thanks so much for more great advice! We actually started up this year just doing two days a week for the first four weeks (we started July 7th)…we are just this week getting into the full 5-day swing of things. It has proved to work out very well easing into the school year as you have suggested! Thanks again!

  11. Great tip. I definitely agree. We did this last fall more intentionally than usual and it was a wonderful transition, especially since we were using some new curriculum.

    I can resonate with a lot of other readers that in often letting my enthusiasm for the new year trump my plans of a gentle transition. We'll see what happens this year.

  12. Oh, I like that. Never thought about doing that. I was wondering how to start early (so we could end early) without it being so shocking and overwhelming. Thanks!

  13. We've been easing into it too. We started out with 2 days, now 3 days this week, probably 3 days again next week, and then into our regular 4 days a week. The 5th day is for playdates, field trips, etc.

  14. that is a great idea, this our first year homeschooling and I like that idea-it seems much less overwhelming!

  15. Wait, you mean we can take our time and slowly reacquaint ourselves with a new routine? :GASP: Surely you jest! LOL

    Great advice, as always. And I just have to add that during all those years that I taught public school, we took a good 2 weeks to bump up to full force. The first week was mostly just play…here's where the library is…here's the PE room…this is the counselor. Lots of socializing to do there, ya know. 😉



  16. thanks for the tip – i love the idea of easing into it over a couple weeks – i think we will try that!

  17. Thanks for the tip. I will definitely use it for next year. So far this week it has been very stressful. Live and learn!

  18. That's such a great idea; I was just thinking the same thing. We are buying a motorhome (TODAY–I'm so excited) and plan on doing lots of traveling, and was thinking it would be easier to take it slow the first few weeks, especially if we are going somewhere new…that's a lesson in itself!

  19. I am one of the over achievers that wants to dive in feet first into school. So of course easing in never crossed my mind. Great idea!

  20. GREAT advice! We do this too. It's so tempting to dive into all that new, interesting stuff, but a month into it the enthusiasm begins to flag. Thanks for the reminder!

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