The starting of a new school year is always exciting! But ending your summer and transitioning into a school routine again for any family can produce anxiety.
These are my thoughts after we were trying to find our flow for our school days. At the time of writing this, I have a mostly 2nd grader, a Kinder 4, and a toddler. Remember that these are just suggestions and ideas! Use what you want, discard what you want. I know you are all very capable, wise, loving mothers and you know your children and your household best.
So let's get into the 5 ways to ease into a homeschool schedule.
Usually this starts with the nighttime routine and getting them to bed at a reasonable hour. That way they can be up at a reasonable hour and be refreshed and not grumpy and resistant, am I right??? ;). First night they will most likely not fall asleep at the expected time, but keep at it and they’ll adjust as the week goes on!
On that “first” morning, do what it takes to prep your attitude. Be open to greet the kids with a warm smile and a hug. What does it take to get you in that mindset? Coffee, Bible study, walk outside, playing gentle music? Exercising, showering, and getting dressed?
Do that, and show the kids that Mommy is going to do her best to show up with a pleasant demeanor and school is going to be something fun we all do together!
Do this for sure on the first day. This may be tough to do EVERY day at first, but plan for at least every Monday and then work up to most days a week.
For the first day or two, walk through typical days with the kids and do NO school work. ZERO. Just show them where, when, and what. Where they need to be, what they need to have, when they need to be there, and where does all the “stuff” go.
Do a pretend run of the day and week. Be sure to include chores in this run, though. They are perfectly capable of doing those chores while practice a school day. This way they all know what to EXPECT and what Mommy EXPECTS of them so there’s no surprises.
“Tommy! Why did you leave your spelling book on the table again??? Adaline, why are your clothes still on the bathroom floor and your breakfast left on the stove???”
You know, things like that. That way you can say to them, “Adaline, I see some clothes on the floor…” in a peaceful tone, and the child will know what she is supposed to do with said clothes, book, etc.
So, on this trial run, plan to do chores and meals and snacks like you want each day, and walk through that typical day. When it comes time for that “school” time, have them grab their needed books or supplies, go sit where they need to sit, then “pretend” to do the lesson for a minute. Then have them put away supplies and move onto the next activity. This part you can make fun! “Okay, kiddos, let’s pretend to do math!!” They may get a kick out of it since they aren’t actually going to do the work yet! Maybe even have them pretend to teach you. Have the youngest kid teach everyone. Make it fun!
Also, for the next two days go through any work with the kids that they need to be shown how to do. Do the first lesson with each of them. This is the time to iron out the logistical kinks with their individual work. What do they do on their computer lessons? How does their Spelling or writing book work? Any work that you want them to do individually, but they need someone to walk through with them how to do it as an example first, do that now.
I did this with Miss E for her online math assignments. First 2-3 days I sat with her and went through it with her. Now she can get out the computer, and get it all set up and work through it all by herself! It’s been really fun to watch.
The first week or so will take longer to get through things because the kids are learning what to expect. Plan for that, and take a deep breath when things don’t go the way you planned for.
THIS is why you don’t jump into full school the first week of school. That way you give yourself and your kids room for inturruptions, because there WILL be inturruptions. Someone will sleep in too late, someone will get frustrated with the computer, someone will get made their brother took their spot at the table…. When you give yourself room for these inevitable interruptions, it will help you be proactive instead of reactive, and you can handle the situation with grace and peace, and even joy!
I REALLY like to do this and have done it since my oldest was probably two years old. It changes as the years go on, but I know you’ll probably have a few kids in your household that would appreciate the visual. It also is good for accountability! Helps keep you and the kids on track, that is if you are the type of mom that needs that sort of thing, like myself.
Have a white board, or laminated checklist on the fridge, or have the kids write it in their spiral notebook or planner each Monday. However you do it, post it for kiddos to follow along. This is one of my favorite parts of homeschool!
So those are the things that I would do to help ease into homeschool again!
I also have a couple Bonus Tips to share as well when it comes to a daily homeschool routine and schedule.
I know a friend who even takes Monday off from school! But I plan for a later start on Monday mornings, because I know my kiddos are likely tired from a busy weekend or Sunday. So instead of fighting it and becoming drill Sergeant Mom come Monday morning, I just plan to have a simpler morning.
So instead of dreading hitting the ground running on Monday morning, I try to come at it with simplicity and peace. There are some lessons we just don’t do on Monday in order for us to have a slow start to our morning. This has been a big blessing to have this time at the beginning of our weeks!
What do you do when your morning is shot? We can’t always plan for all interruptions- family member drops by, un-planned illnesses, a giant spill of milk and cereal in the kitchen (cough cough toddlers), the washer floods the basement, or sleeping through your alarm. Instead of letting these little, albeit frustrating, life moments that can happen in the morning ruin my day, I make sure I have a Plan B in place.
What is the Plan B?? Well, if I only have a couple of hours to complete school today, I decide on what do I absolutely, positively HAVE TO get done in a day??? Everything else- I drop… (or reschedule if needed).
For me, it’s usually Math, Spelling, read-aloud, play outside, do dishes, and make lunch/dinner. This way I have decided AHEAD of time what I fall back on. Instead of me having to make that decision in the heat of the emotion and frustration when it’s 10:30 am and we haven’t even started school, I can say, “Let’s move on.” We move on with what we must do, and not worry about what we can’t do, and finish the day. (Sorry, guys, I usually skip shower on those days, but that’s just me. Maybe you can’t!! Ha Ha!)
I’m not saying this Plan B Contingency plan is something you pull out on a daily basis! My point is to not be surprised by interruptions, but to prepare and plan for them.
I’ve found another way to do this is to schedule more time for things than you think you need. If you know Kindergarten lessons should take 30 minutes, plan for 45 or 60 minutes. That way if interruptions happen, you’re not immediately behind your whole day. That gives you transition time as well! But if you finish early?? Great! Move on to the next thing, or just take a 5 minute break to breathe.