My prep for a new homeschool year usually begins in the spring when we are finishing up the previous school year. I celebrate what went well that year and consider how we can adjust in the areas where we struggled.
I also go ahead and review the curriculum we finished and look ahead to what I think will work well for the next year, and I go ahead and order it!
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With shipping concerns and items oftentimes being on backorder as the back-to-school season approaches, I always feel good about going ahead and placing my order and having everything I need for the next year in hand ready to go – but that’s not the only reason I order early.
I also like to look ahead at next year’s curriculum to see if there are any big concepts we could get started on over the summer in order to lighten our load in the fall. For example, the curriculum we use introduces cursive writing in second-grade. So in an effort to lighten our second grade load, we begin doing some cursive activities throughout the summer months leading up to second grade, and then when the new school year begins, we have already gotten a bit of a head start.
Another example of this is how we’ve spent the summer leading up to third grade working on our mastering our math facts. Because I know this will be a huge piece of being successful throughout the third-grade year, I like to work on strengthening our foundation in this area. Of course there are fun ways to do this kind of ahead-of-time practice – no need to spend the summer doing worksheets, but this year-round approach to homeschooling has worked really well for us.
Interested in more information about the specific curriculum and resources we use for each grade level?
Check out these posts for both preschool and elementary homeschooling:
Scheduling and Planning:
As I continue to look closely at our curriculum, I think about how we can best tackle our to-dos in the coming year.
- What can we add to our Morning Basket and read together over breakfast in the mornings?
- Are there subject areas that could be read together over lunch each day?
- Is there something we could learn together with Daddy in the evenings?
Usually it is our Bible reading as well as our history learning and science exploration that fits best into these times of day when we’re together as a family. These subjects are perfect for family-style learning!
How could you minimize your load by maximizing your family time together?
Pam Barnhill’s book, Better Together, includes so many practical ideas for how to do this well! Her encouragement has made it possible for us to embrace the family-centered learning lifestyle I wanted for our homeschooling, and if you are homeschooling multiple kiddos, her strategies will allow you to say goodbye to feeling overwhelmed!
Much of what I learned from Pam’s book can be seen in our day-to-day around here, and I have shared what that looks like in my most recent eBook, Lifestyle Homeschooling. In this book, I chat at how we plan our calendar year, what our day-to-day looks like, how we incorporate learning experiences into everyday life – it truly is a glimpse into our family’s year-round approach to learning together.
Beyond ordering curriculum and thinking through a schedule for the coming school year, there are some practical things I like to do to prepare for a fresh start with my kids.
Prepare Your Home:
First up, is there an area of your home that needs a good decluttering session? Joshua Becker, author of The More of Less provides loads of great inspiration for how to declutter spaces within your own. Being able to tackle any areas that need attention always helps me feel a little lighter as we go into a new school year together.
Prepare your School Supplies:
Next, prep your school supplies. For us, this is oftentimes as simple as making sure our pencils are sharpened and ready to go! Your kids can even help you with this task!
Toss the old and broken supplies and freshen things up for a new year – I love using these little galvanized plant pots from IKEA for keeping our daily supplies organized and contained throughout the year.
Prepare Your Kitchen:
Next, don’t forget the snacks! Having a variety of different snack options on hand ready to go is going to help your days flow more smoothly. I promise! Instead of kiddos grazing all day long, consider establishing a second morning and/or afternoon snack time. Maybe you could even read-aloud together during these times. Then except for mealtimes, food in the kitchen is off limits – unless of course, mom needs something! ha! Need some snack ideas? Here are my kids’ favorites:
- Nature’s Bakery Fig Bars – Their top pick every time!
- Good Health Veggie Chips – We’ve also found these at Target.
- Goldfish Crackers – I realize this is a controversial one, but I’m just telling you what works for us. ha!
- Nuts – My kids are wild about cashews.
- Cheese – They love cheese sticks, cheese cubes, and Pawley’s Island Pimento Cheese on Triscuits.
- GoGo Squeeze Applesauce Pouches
- Stretch Island Fruit Leather Snacks
- Belvita Biscuits – Pretty much all of these are delicious!
- Fruit – Bananas covered in peanut butter is a favorite in this house.
Next, think ahead about meals! Could you go ahead and prep a few warm-up breakfasts? Or purchase a large supply of frozen fruit to have on hand for smoothies? Or put together handful of freezer meal dinners to have ready to go during an extra busy week? I have never regretted having things like this on hand ready to go!
Prepare Your No’s:
Now for what has become the most important piece of prep for me – preparing my no’s for the year! This is not always an easy thing to assess, and has at times required a great deal of prayer, but learning how to better set boundaries for myself and my family has made all the difference in our homeschool life. What no’s might you need to consider for the coming year?
- Are there phone notifications that need to be silenced or turned off altogether?
- Have you made church commitments that need to be adjusted for this season of your life?
- Do you have nearby family or friends who need you to more clearly communicate your school schedule/availability?
- Would it help to disconnect your doorbell? (Some of you all think I’m kidding! ha!)
- How many birthday parties are you attending every weekend? Do you ever have time for family field trips you want to plan?
- What chores have you been doing that your kids could learn how to do?
These are oftentimes somewhat complicated areas to address and will look different for each family – but as you look ahead to a new beginning, I would encourage you to take the time to consider what no’s would gift you with the space to be able to say YES to the homeschooling lifestyle you want for your family.