By contributing writer, Amy
I just love the start of a new school year. I always have.
(Shhh….don’t tell my children!)
When I was a kid, I appreciated the fresh opportunity to work hard, get good grades, and finally conquer my usual procrastination. Even if I didn’t always love school itself, I liked the new beginning. And, oh boy, I sure loved the new notebooks, new dividers, and new organizational systems.
Whether my kids are heading off to traditional school or are being homeschooled, I still enjoy the opportunities that comes with a new school year. This season marks a fresh start for everyone. It’s our chance to have a do-over and plan for success.
Of course, if you homeschool, it’s also a time for a whole lot of work. There is so much to buy, and plan, and do. And, since it feels like your child’s entire future rests on your shoulders, this time can be accompanied by more than a little bit of stress.
As parents, we want to do everything “just right” when it comes to our kids, especially when we’re responsible for their education. It’s enough to make you want to cry, or at least take a few deep breaths into a paper bag.
First, let me give you a word of encouragement: You do not hold your children’s future. God does.
I promise that you’ll make a few mistakes. But I also promise that both you and your children will survive. Do what you can to plan and prepare, and trust God’s grace to cover everything you lack.
Second, I’d like to offer some ideas for things to include in your new homeschool year to-do list. Each new year requires many of the same tasks. Hopefully, this list will help you feel prepared for those first few homeschool days, and beyond.
Beginning of the Homeschool Year Checklist:
Comply with state laws.
Every state has different homeschool laws, but most (if not all) require you to notify local authorities of your intent to homeschool, and some require you to keep specific types of records. If you have any questions, contact your state homeschool association or the Homeschool Legal Defense Association.
Write out an educational plan.
There are many different homeschooling philosophies. The book So You’re Thinking About Homeschooling gives a good overview of several homeschooling methods. Decide what philosophy is best for your family and what type of curriculum you want to use.
Sign up for classes or co-ops.
There may be homeschool groups in your area that offer classes, activities, and field trips. Sign up early so you can make your lesson plans and schedules around the commitments your child has outside your home.
Once you’ve figured out your homeschooling method and the curriculum you plan to use, it’s time to place some orders. Give yourself plenty of time to decide what to buy, check prices, and receive packages.
Make a long-term lesson plan.
Plan your lessons for each subject for one month, one quarter, or one year, whichever works best for you. This will help keep you on track as the year moves along.
Prepare for the first two weeks’ lesson plans.
Once you have your long-term plan, prepare for the first couple of weeks. Make copies, order reading books, pick up project supplies. Everything will go much smoother if you’re prepared ahead of time.
Check out library books.
Some libraries offer a special educator’s card to homeschoolers that allows them to keep materials longer and without fines. Your library also may let you reserve books, and some will even order items they don’t already own. Check out or reserve the books you’ll need for the first couple weeks of school.
Make a weekly schedule.
Looking at your lesson plan and your list of classes or activities, make a plan for the week. Decide which days you’ll do any subjects you only need to cover a couple times a week, and schedule your busiest work days around your outside obligations.
Make a daily schedule.
Jot down approximately how much time you’ll spend on each of your subjects, and figure out how to fit it all into the day. This is especially helpful when homeschooling more than one child. For example, you can plan for Child #1 to work independently on his math worksheet during the time you teach Child #2 her reading lesson.
Set up files, notebooks, and charts.
Some states require that you keep detailed records and portfolios. But even if your state is relaxed in its requirements, you still may want to make charts for grades, pages for reading lists, and notebooks for filing completed work, just to name a few.
Buy school supplies.
The beginning of the school year is the cheapest time to grab basic school supplies, so get everything you think you may need. I always liked to surprise my kids on the first day of school with special folders, notebooks, or art supplies.
Organize your work area.
Think about how you’ll use your home for school, and organize your supplies near your work areas. Have all your books and supplies stored in a way that makes them easy to access and easy to put away.
Make a menu for the first two weeks.
The first days of school will be busy as everyone settles into the new routine. Make a menu plan now so you aren’t faced with the “what’s for dinner” question at the end of a long school day. Even better, make up some freezer meals so you don’t have to do much cooking after teaching all day.
FREE Printable New Homeschool Year Checklist
How about a FREE printable checklist to help you keep track of all the things that need your attention? Print it out, add your own tasks, and check off each item as you complete it!
What things are on YOUR new school year to-do list?
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