This is the 5th and final post in my Back to “Home” School blog series. So far this week, I’ve given advice to the new homeschooling mother, helped you to get your school materials organized, and given you tips to avoid burnout, and shown you a variety of ways to make your own timeline. Today I’m going to give you some tips to have a great first day of school!
Is there anything more exciting than the first day of school? All those new books and shiny new school supplies…it’s pure joy. I don’t know about you, but after a long enjoyable summer, it’s still a huge relief to get back to our normal routines.
Many families have special traditions for the first day of school. My goal every year is to make this a special day, one they’ll look forward to at the end of summer. Here are a couple ways you could choose to make your homeschool opening day great:
I know I can’t be the only one with kids who love junk food for breakfast. I usually try to keep meals healthy, but on the first day back to school we splurge. My children LOVE monkey bread. It’s been our go-to 1st day breakfast for the past 10 years. Maybe you could make chocolate chip pancakes or french toast with syrup and whipped cream… or even better — go out for breakfast to your favorite diner or restaurant.
Every year, I take a first-day photo of each of my children. Since we rarely get professional portraits done, these are special treasured photographs of my children as they grow up. I love looking back at older 1st-day pictures to see how they’ve matured. They each pick out a special “first day of school” outfit to wear and if the weather is nice, we go outdoors for our pictures.
Start your year off with something they are already excited about. Is your child really into art? Begin with a fun art project. Do they love science? Start with a science experiment. A new read aloud, a nature hike, an exciting field trip, whatever gets you and your children excited to jump back into learning mode. One year, we started off with a Harry Potter theme. All of the spelling words were from the books (pensieve, lumos, wizard, etc.), we made wands, read aloud one of the books, wrote copywork and dictation from the books, did some chemistry experiments (potions class!), and sorted ourselves into Hogwarts houses. You could do the same by starting off the year with one of our Harry Potter unit studies!
This is a fun thing you can do every year just like pictures. It’s a great way to get a different type of snapshot of your child right now. It can be great fun to go back and see how they’ve changed over the years.
If you didn’t already do it for breakfast, consider going out to dinner as a special treat. It can be a great time to reflect on our first day back, discuss goals for the year, and just kick back and enjoy time out as a family when no one has to be in charge of either cooking or clean up.
What could be a better way to celebrate the start of a new year than taking a trip to the beach, a state park, or a local museum. Not only will you get to do something fun, but the crowds should be minimal because everyone else is back in school. Pack a lunch and make it a picnic — for some reason my kids think simple PB&J sandwiches and juice boxes taste better when eaten on a blanket at the local park. 😉 In the midst of the craziness of the last couple of years, even having a picnic in our backyard is a fun treat.
It can be easy for us homeschool parents to get wrapped up in the curriculum, the schedule, the dailiness of school. But by just working in a few simple things, we can add meaning to the day and make special memories in the process. And isn’t that what it’s all about?
I’d love to hear your first day of school traditions! What do you do to kickstart your school year?
Emily Cook is the author and creator of the secular homeschool curriculum Build Your Library, a literature-based K-12 program infused with the teachings of Charlotte Mason. She writes full year lesson plans as well as shorter topical unit studies. Emily has been homeschooling her four children in Southern NH for 18 years. She is passionate about reading aloud to children of all ages and loves to share her love of literature with others. She and her family also makes incredibly dorky videos about homeschooling, books and more on Youtube at ARRRGH! Schooling. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. You can also check out her author page on Amazon.