Your curriculum has arrived. The school year is planned. And summer time schedules are coming to an end. Time to think about the FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL.
We all want to be excited for the first day of school. Not to be dreading it. So, how do we make it fun?
To help get the kiddos excited, we go school supply shopping. I let them help. I always remembered being excited for the new school year with new clothes, supplies, backpacks etc, so let them get excited!!! Let them help setup and get ready in the school work area. Decorate their crate. Have some input. Make a list of school supplies they want. Pick out fun pencil boxes and backpacks. Whatever to get them excited for the new school year.
Some people like to start school on a Wednesday, so they’re only doing three days the first week, then break for the weekend, and then start in on Monday with a full week of lessons. I typically start on Monday, but keep the first day light and fun. Usually ending the week with something fun like a field trip or outing.
Remember, there is not one “right” way to homeschool, and what works for one student might not work for another. What works for one family might not fit for another. So keep in mind what is the ideal setup for your family and don’t worry about what other families are doing. Don’t waste time doing the comparison game because what matters is what works for you and your family.
The night before our first day I like to do a special end of summer dinner. We usually have a fun outside BBQ with a special dessert. Then we make sure that everyone gets to bed at a decent hour so they’re well rested. But whatever tradition you want to instill, get started. I also make sure my signs are ready for the next day so we can take a fun FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL photo!
On the first day of school, I get up a little early and we have donuts. Yes, Donuts! Why? because we never have them. It’s a treat and they love their first day of school donuts! All those cringing moms are saying — what sugar? Yea, i know but it started as a tradition and we left it. But then again, i did say I make the first day of school light!
First Day Photos:
Next, we head outside to take first day pictures. As a homeschooler this is something we can forget to do, but it’s a great way to commemorate the day, so don’t forget to take pictures! I make a sign with the grades so they can hold them up!!!
Discuss the Plan of the Day:
We don’t have a school area or room, if you do, make sure it’s set up for everyone and everyone has what they need. We do school crates so we go through them all and make sure everyone knows what they are doing, what they are using and how the school day will look. Each child has a planner so we mark the first day of school and talk about how to use the planners.
Next we discuss our pre-determined daily schedule so everyone knows what will be expected of them through the days. As we progress through the first few days, I also remind them as we are going what we have next so they become familiar with the schedule.
Finally we start our day with the Pledge of Allegiance and Prayer, then move on to our lessons.
Keep it light:
Since it’s your first day, try to keep it light. Give those kiddos a chance to get to know the new schedule. If you are new to homeschooling, a little grace is very important. It will be an adjustment but should be a good one!
Day 1 might be AWESOME and everything falls apart on day 2. Or the first week is great and week 2 is a bummer, or week 1 is hard but week 2 is easier. You will never know. Every year and every child is different at our house and will be with you too most likely. Don’t be discourage, you will find a rhythm.
There is an ever-so slight chance your student’s excitement may fade once they learn that school is hard work. I encourage you to keep a positive attitude, and if necessary gently remind students of your rules as well as rewards for good behavior. Mine go back and forth on this but it’s ok, that is normal for every kid. Don’t stress, just adjust, be consistent and remember your WHY!
What should my daily schedule look like?
I always get asked about my daily schedule with my kids. While each day can bring on a life of its own, we do have a basic schedule, or more of a routine if you will. Barring any unforeseen circumstances we do our best to stick to this routine. I find that both myself and my children do better with a general overall guideline of how their day will go. But it does differ day to day for us because we participate in group classes on a couple of days.
While everyone’s routine will vary, I know as a new homeschooler just having an example to start off with is helpful. So for what it’s worth, here is what our typical daily schedule looks like. Keep in mind the schedule in a homeschooling home is a fluid thing and can change.
- 0800 Up and get ready for the day
- 0830 Breakfast together (Bible time together while eating)
- 0900 brush teeth/make beds/get ready for school
- 0930 head to the table for together time (history/science)
- 1000 first individual block (math)
- 1030 first break
- 1045 together time (history/science/memory work)
- 1130 break for lunch — kids do one chore then break while lunch is prepared
- 1200 educational video during lunch or chapter book during lunch
- 1300 (1pm) 2nd individual block (reading/handwriting)
- 1330 (1:30pm) outdoor break
- 1400 last block of the day to wrap up school (latin/civics)
- 1500 instrument practice time
- 1600 free time until dinner (wrap up lingering things if necessary)
- 1830 dinner time
How long should school take?
A full school day currently takes us about 4 hours for the older kids (like 4th grade and up), about 2-3 hours for my 1st grader, and about 4-5 hours for high school. However, you will want to check with your state for hourly attendance requirements. Ours is 180 days of school.
Typically speaking I usually suggest 1-2 hours for a preschooler per day depending on what they can handle. If your preschooler starts to get frustrated or disinterested let them take a break and either return to activities later in the afternoon, or the next day. Keep in mind that most preschoolers attend school only 2-3 half-days per week, so there is no need to force a certain amount of time. Don’t force it. Learning games count and math and abcs can be done while drawing, chalk, walking, whatever. Make it fun.
For us, Kindergarten usually takes about 2 hours per day to complete the work. Each subject only takes about 15-20 minutes depending on their attention span. Again you’ll want to check your state requirements. We have fun and break it up for sure!
From first grade and up most states will require a certain amount of attendance averaging a specific amount of hours over the course of your year. You will need to consult your state’s requirements to see how much time you should be spending on school each day.
Most curricula will give you a guideline for the appropriate amount of time to spend on that subject. It might also be based on age. This will help you when planning out your day. For our state, we’re required to average 4 hours per day over 180 days per year. But check your guidance. We do about 4 hours every day, some days a little more or less, depending upon our group meeting times and extracurricular schedule so embrace the homeschooling flexibility here.
Sometimes we even wrap up in the evening with some of the work through read alouds and with dad. Don’t be afraid of that. The kids don’t even know it counts as school !! Do what works for your family. If some needs to be done on the weekend, that’s fine too. Just embrace what works for your family
Check your state regulations for High School attendance. Again we require our 180 days and we do about 4-6 hours a day leaning toward the 4 hours. It works for us. Some days our high schooler has some extra homework to complete after extracurricular activities due to her attending some classes in a group setting 2 days a week. That is fine but we try to make sure she is getting the sleep she needs and the family time that is important as well.
We feel that the family time element is important for our homeschooling journey and having our high schooler off doing her own thing is not what any of us want. Though i have a wide variety of ages to school (from 2nd grade to 10th), I do try to have some of the learning together when possible so we can keep that learning together as a family element alive.
I also feel that sleep is vital to overall health and adjust our schedule when necessary to accomodate. But again, you have to do what works for you.
That’s about it. Remember to make that first day of school special and establish some fun traditions that work for you!!! I would love to hear, what first day of school traditions do you have in your homeschool?