Updated: Jul 24
July 24, 2023
Gardens bloom with vibrant blossoms. Summer crops ripen and grace the table in fresh salads and summer soups. Afternoons slip by in quiet reading. Cousins donned in life jackets cruise on the lake while others splash in pools.
Though we wish that summer would never end, the teacher in us begins to think ahead to the next schoolyear. If you are like me, you have already been thinking about the next schoolyear and have perhaps already started!
For all of us homeschoolers, the transition back into “school” is often more of a mental shift than a monumental change in place and routine. Personally, I enjoy school because I sense greater structure and enjoy teaching my children. Maybe I’m nerdy, but I just enjoy school!
Today I want to share a few concepts that helped me gently start homeschooling already this year. I hope that these ideas will inspire you or simply confirm in your heart what is already true.
1. Determine a schedule/routine.
If you are like me, schedules just seem to be made to be broken. Dutifully, in years past, I posted a schedule on the fridge with times and activities, but that crisp white paper just seemed to mock me as I attempted to bring order to my sometimes messy, chaotic life.
Yet, before throwing the baby out with the bathwater, I realize that some sort of schedule does bring structure and order to an otherwise “boundary-less” day at home. My children and I thrive off of structure and routine, and even though my kids might not know exactly what time we do a certain activity, they generally know what the next item is on the agenda.
So, my solution is to create a schedule but then give myself and my children grace. It’s okay if we do not follow the time to a “T.” I like to focus more on a rhythm of the day than a precise time schedule. In other words, I like to focus on a routine instead of worrying about the exact minute. For those of you who may be curious what a typical day looks like for us, here we go. The times are approximate.
7:35 Kids up, bathroom, get dressed, make beds, help feed the chickens
9:30 Play outside (it’s too hot here in the South to go outside in the afternoon, so I am trying to give the kids outside time in the morning)
10:00 Snack, start school
1:00 Reading time together on couch, Finish any school lessons
1:30 Quiet time (everyone goes to his designated spot to rest or enjoy quiet activities) My goal is for this time to last at least 1.5 hours and ideally closer to 2 hours. This might seem like a tremendously long time to some, but my goal is for this time to gradually become personal reading time, art time, personal interests, etc.
Mama, if you do not have quiet time at your house, may I encourage you to try it? I think you will be refreshed, and your children, no matter how active they are, need some time to decompress. Children need quiet, blank “space” to learn contentment and creativity. I think that’s another post for another day…
3:30 Chores then Free time: Toys or TV (I’m ashamed to admit how often I let the kids turn on a tv show and would like to transition away from letting them watch so often. But I’m being honest here, folks.) My goal would be for them to do some art or play with a sensory “toy” like playdoh or kinetic sand. Once the weather starts cooling off a little, this is a wonderful outside time.
5:30 Supper, Family Bible Reading with Daddy, Cleanup
8:15 Reading, Bed
Like I said, the above is not a hard and fast schedule but very typical of our days. I like to focus more on a sequence of events, so perhaps if I wrote out a sequence of events, it might look like this:
In the morning “pre-kids” for Mom—Bible, exercise, shower
Morning—Get kids ready, make beds, Breakfast, Bible Time, clean up, outside, school, lunch
Afternoon—Finish school, reading together, Quiet Time, Chores, Free time, Dinner
Evening—Outside play, Baths, Snack, Bed
The “Sequence of Events” version looks a little gentler, doesn’t it? But I am still accomplishing the same general tasks as the time schedule. But it is helpful to have a general framework of time, too.
2. Start with Language Arts and Math.
Sometimes the hardest part about starting something is simply plucking up the courage to actually start. Profound, I know. I would say this is true of starting a new homeschool year. There can be so many questions and worries at the beginning of the year, but then once we get going, we settle into a rhythm.
This year, I kept our start very simple. On the first day “back to school” we simply focused on Language Arts and Math. For language arts, we reviewed some phonogram flashcards from last year. For math, we jumped into the very first lesson which my daughter loved. Math is her favorite subject, so beginning her new curriculum was a joy to her. And that is all we did on the first day!
3. Keep lesson plans simple.
I used to agonize over my lesson plans and spent hours upon hours writing them out. I finally realized that “reverse lesson planning” worked beautifully for me.
You might be wondering what in the world I mean by “reverse lesson planning?” Instead of writing down lesson plans before teaching, I simply write out my lesson plans after we complete the lesson. I still use a chart concept for my lesson planning, and so at the end of a school day, I simply fill in what we accomplished.
Reverse lesson planning saves me so much time. I do not have to sit down for hours writing out plans that may not be the exact schedule we follow. Previously, I often wasted so much time writing out plans that I then chose not to follow.
So how do I record my lessons plans using the reverse lesson plan idea? Usually, after completing a lesson, I immediately write down in my planner exactly what we just did. My mind is fresh from what we accomplished, and I can quickly record our work. Even if I cannot record the lesson right after completion, I will sit down at the end of a homeschool day and record what we did. I would say that I can record everything in less than 5 minutes, probably in even less time than that each day.
Are you a homeschool mama about ready to dive into another year of learning? What are your tips for starting another year? Or are you a retired homeschool mama, relaxing beside the “pool of learning” and cheering others on as they dive back into the “deep end” of school? How would you encourage young homeschool mamas?
Thanks to a sweet friend from church for the beautiful lavender!
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