We asked a dozen homeschool moms to share their most valuable back-to-school tips with us. You can tell from their advice (and often from the number of years they’ve been homeschooling) that they’ve learned these tips through plenty of honest trial and error. Lean on the wisdom gleaned from their mistakes so you don’t have to make them!
Integrate these tips and back-to-school advice into your new homeschool year—whenever that may be. And remember, if you’ve already started the school year off on a bad foot, it’s never too late for a reboot! While you may have missed out on some back-to-school essentials (like the $.20 composition notebooks at the drugstore), there’s always time to switch gears and make improvements in your routine, your attitude, or your curriculum.
1. Let Your Child Lead
You can never go wrong with following your child’s needs. Each child is a unique individual with special giftings and abilities that will be used later in life. The earlier we can help them identify those strengths, the better we can help fashion them. And keep in mind that a child’s weakness doesn’t have to be considered a hindrance. Instead, view it as another way to make them stronger!Michelle Huddleston, Author, International Speaker, & Home Education Specialist
homeschooling 5 years, mom of 4
2. Give Relationship Priority
Whenever you are having a bad homeschool day, remember relationship trumps academics. If homeschool is not working for you or your child that day, then put it away. At the end of their homeschool journey, your children will remember how much you loved them, not how long it took them to do a math paper. Make this your motto: relationship trumps academics.Penny Rogers, Owner of ourcrazyadventuresinautismland.com
homeschooling 11 years, mom of 2
3. Let Summer Linger
Easing back into your regular homeschool schedule needn’t be an end to your family’s summer adventures. Let the summer fizzle out on its own, and then allow your child to rest there a little longer. Take all those nature walks, camping trips, visits with family and friends and channel them into educational activities that your children will enjoy.Amber M.
homeschooling 3 years, mom of 2
4. Teach Independence
I highly recommend teaching your children to become independent learners as early as possible. Not only will it free up some of your time, but also teach them life skills that will benefit them as adults.
Start simple with something like going and getting their own materials. Don’t expect overnight results. Model what you want them to do, and then come alongside them while they practice. Eventually, they will be able to do it themselves. After each skill is mastered, you can add another. And before you know it, your children will be self-starters and doing school on their own!Heidi Miller-Ford, owner of theunexpectedhomeschooler.com
homeschooling 14 years, mom of 3
5. Create Memorable Traditions
You may not be sending your kids off to the bus stop on the first day of school, but that doesn’t mean that the back-to-school season can’t be memorable for them! You can create fun pictures to take on the first day of school or make a special breakfast. Consider doing a few fun (but educational) activities for the first few days of school to get the year started on the right foot.Tonya, Blogger at Tonyanolan.com
homeschooling 4 years
6. Start Back to School Gradually
Over the years I’ve found that we have a smoother back-to-homeschooling experience if we begin gradually. I’ll start earlier in August and begin math and literature. Then we’ll add in our core curriculum—which is history-based—and then science and electives. This gradual build-up helps all of us adjust to the school routine again.Leah Courtney, owner of aswewalkalongtheroad.com
homeschooling 15 years, mom to 4
7. Show Kids When the Next Break is Coming
My best back-to-school tip is one you can do you right away. Print or purchase a year-at-a-glance calendar that covers the upcoming school year. Take a few minutes to block out any vacations or breaks you know you commonly take every year. Then assess how many weeks you would like to work before you and your kids can earn a break.
We work steadily for three to four weeks and take a week-long break from our core studies. This break session is a great time to schedule field trips, big projects, or visits with family. Knowing we have breaks on the calendar helps keep me motivated and the kids working diligently.Amber J. Smith from 200fingersandtoes.com
homeschooling 16 years, mom to 10
8. Plan From Behind
Of all back-to-school tips for homeschool parents, my number one is not to get caught up in the planning. There will be days when nothing goes as planned. I find it easier to keep a loose plan in pencil but be flexible enough to plan from behind after the fact, filling in what was accomplished each day rather than trying to check off all the boxes. This method allows for the ups and downs of homeschool life and gives you room to enjoy the ride.Marie Shaurette, owner LearningintheLowcountry.com
homeschooling 8 years, mom to 4
9. Snag Back-to-School Sales
Stock up on school supplies when they are on sale so you don’t have to pay full price later on in the school year. Back-to-School sales start as early as mid-July! Catch spiral notebooks for under $.20 and composition notebooks for $.50 each. I always buy printer paper at Staples for $.25 or $1 per ream versus $7 during other times of the year! If you have larger purchases like a laptop or printer, check to see if your state offers a tax-free weekend and take advantage of that savings.Thaleia, Blogger at Something2Offer.com
homeschooling 10 years, mom to 4
10. Organize Your Space
Spend the time organizing your homeschool space and adding fun back-to-school decor. This helps get kids excited about starting a new school year. Throw in a special treat in the afternoon such as getting ice cream or doughnuts, and the new year will start with a bang.Terrie McKee, owner of NearYourAltar.com
homeschooling 1 year, mom of 4
11. Leave Room for Transitions
When we head back to homeschool in the fall, we have many big plans and aspirations. We’ve probably purchased new, shiny books and curriculum and created new family schedule and decided that this was going to be the very best homeschool year ever. The problem is, our kids haven’t been doing all the prep work that we have.
Let’s not set ourselves up for disappointment on the first day of school when things doing go according to our fancy plans. Leave space in the routine for transitions and mishaps. Introduce just one or do things at once and let those things settle in before add more new things. Sometimes lowering our unattainable expectations a bit is just what we need for the best homeschool year yet.Alicia Hutchinson, owner of learningwellcommunity.com
homeschooling 12 years, mom of 4
12. Build Routine One Subject at a Time
Because of our kids’ learning struggles, our family does do some school during the summer months. Surprisingly, even though I’ve been homeschooling for over 20 years, I still get overwhelmed with the start of the school year. The best way I’ve found to overcome this is to start out slowly.
I may start with one subject in August and focus on building a routine. As that routine becomes more of a habit, I add more subjects until we are doing everything I have planned. Also, I try to give our new schedule/routine at least 6 weeks before making any major changes. I may make minor changes or accommodations to how my kids complete their work. This way I’m allowing time for the whole family to get used to a new curriculum and schedule.Marianne Sunderland, owner of HomeschoolingWithDyslexia.com
homeschooling 22 years, mom of 8
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