“When are you starting school?”
Ugh. Have you gotten this dreaded question yet? On the surface, it’s so simple. And yet, it seems to come across as such a loaded question – especially from people who aren’t homeschooling, right?
It’s almost funny how this simple question causes so much angst for homeschoolers. Because when you stop and think about it, any child who is attending a brick-and-mortar school or even taking classes virtually has a start date. The class starts on this date and you need to be there on this date. Nice and simple.
But when it comes to homeschooling, that “start date” is a whole lot less clear, right?
Oh, you can have a date when you sit down and start doing your bookwork lessons again, but in my experience, the learning never truly stops with homeschooling. Even in the summer trips, the road trip detours, exploring the backyard, making brownies, melting ice cream, and all the other activities that naturally happen, learning is also happening.
And yet, there looms this question: When are you starting school?
Well, maybe the better question is: Do you have the big things in place so you CAN start school?
Or maybe you need to back up one more step and ask: What are the big things you need to have in place before your school year ‘officially’ starts?
Let’s take a look at five big things you should have in place as you look towards starting this homeschooling year. And if you’re already started, good for you! This is still for you as many times these elements get refined and adjusted as you go through your school year and learn and grow with your children.
#1 :: Choose Your Curriculum
Yup. We’re going to start with that big, scary item: Choosing Curriculum!
Now, choosing curriculum is a tricky thing. Some people absolutely love diving into different curriculums and figuring out which one will be the best for their kids. Some people get overwhelmed at the thought of having to look through more than one curriculum. To some people, it’s not that big of a deal. And some people would rather avoid using the word ‘curriculum’ at all costs!
But the fact of the matter is, you need some sort of a plan to be able to teach your children what they will be learning throughout the year in subjects like math, science, history, and even reading.
There are many different – and amazing – curriculums to choose from and, as this post is not all about choosing curriculum, I’m not going to dive deep into this subject right now. But there are a couple things to remember when it comes to choosing curriculum:
#1 :: Find a curriculum that meshes with your child’s learning style
You want to find a curriculum that works with your child’s learning style. For example, if you have an independent learner, find a curriculum that will allow them to work on their own. Keeping them as part of a group for every lesson throughout the entire year will probably start to feel like torture for them!
Now, if you have younger elementary children and don’t know their exact learning style yet, look for a curriculum that blends group learning with individual work. Many curriculums aimed at younger children also blend auditory (hearing), visual (reading or pictures), and kinesthetic (doing or activities) learning to help your child get the best learning experience possible.
#2 :: Find a curriculum that meshes with your teaching style.
Just like your child needs to connect with the style of the curriculum, you need to enjoy teaching the curriculum! Let’s face it, if you hate teaching your child their school lessons, they are going to pick up on that and your school year will not start out right!
And while homeschooling is about teaching your children, you need to be able to teach in a way that matches your style. So look for a curriculum that does both!
#3 :: Find a curriculum that teaches what you want to teach.
As you choose your curriculum you want to be sure that the curriculum covers what you want it to cover. Now this can be as simple as a math curriculum covering math, but it also applies for other subjects. If you want to teach history from a world history perspective, choosing a history curriculum that focuses on Europe or the United States wouldn’t be the right fit. If you want to teach science from a Biblical worldview, choosing a science curriculum written from another worldview won’t be a good fit.
If you’re looking to dive deeper into the curriculum subject, check out this blog post: Choosing Curriculum that is Right for You. (There are also more resources linked at the bottom of this post.)
#2 :: Get Your Supplies
The second big thing to make sure you’re ready for your upcoming homeschooling year is to make sure you have your supplies. There’s nothing more frustrating than telling your child to pull out their notebook and do their creative writing only to realize that you don’t have a notebook for them!
Or pulling out all the parts and pieces you need to do that first craft project only to find that you’ve run out of glue sticks. Or that all the caps were left off of the glue sticks and you only have dried-up globs of white used-to-be glue in their place!
Now, remember, this doesn’t have to break the bank! In fact, the Dollar Store can be a great place to find a lot of those school supplies.
So before you get going and get frustrated, take a field trip to get new school supplies. Perhaps your husband might even get you a bouquet of sharpened pencils to celebrate the start of the school year!
#3 :: Set Up Your Space
One of the things that never fails to help get me in the homeschooling mindset every year is to set up our homeschooling space. Now, you may have a school room, you may have a school nook, or you may even be homeschooling out of a bin!
Whatever your space looks like, whether it’s big or small, take some time and set up your space. Now, this doesn’t have to be a super complicated, long process. Just start simple! Here are a couple suggestions to get you going on setting up your homeschooling space for the coming year:
#1 :: Keep the curriculum you’re using close.
The first step is pretty simple: All that curriculum you chose in step number 1? Put it all together in one spot. That could be on a specific (reachable!) shelf or two of a bookshelf, in one area, or even in one pile if that’s your style!
The big reason for pulling all those curriculum books together in one spot is this: When it comes time to use those curriculum books, you want to know right where they are! You can take that history or science text you used last year and put it up on a high shelf to wait for the next time you’re going to use it. But putting your science text for this year on a shelf so high you need a ladder to reach it just doesn’t make sense.
So, keep all those curriculum books you know you’re going to use together in one accessible spot.
#2 :: Keep like with like.
This one seems so simple, right? But seriously, how many times have you needed a pencil and had to go hunting all throughout your house only to realize that there were 4 sitting on the floor right back where you started? (True story!)
The simple solution to this one? Put like with like. In other words, put all the pencils with the pencils. Put all the glue sticks with the glue sticks. And so on and so forth. If you can, put them in containers where it’s obvious where to find them.
This super simple organizing strategy saves SO MUCH time later on!
#4 :: Create a Flexible Structure
Up to this point, you’ve been working on the physical elements of getting your homeschooling set up for the coming year. Those tangible things you can see, touch, and feel. But there are 2 very important things you need to set up that fall into a more intangible category.
The first one is to create a flexible structure.
Now, this concept might be very familiar to you, or it might be totally new. Let’s look at it this way: Most of us are familiar with a schedule, right? That feeling that you have to be somewhere at a certain time doing something specific.
Well, when it comes to homeschooling, things can be a lot more….flexible. And yet, to walk into your homeschooling day with no idea of what is coming can spell disaster!
Plus, children thrive on routines and consistency. They like knowing what’s coming next…and wouldn’t it be nice to not have to answer ‘What’s next, Mommy?’ 80 times a day?
The simple answer to this is to create a flexible structure. In other words, you’re creating a pattern or structure that fits with the natural rhythms your family is already in. Once you identify a few key elements in your pattern, you can start to find where homeschooling fits and plug those elements in.
But here’s the best part: This pattern, this structure is flexible! If your homeschooling day gets done early, you’re good to go! If everyone wakes up with a nasty cold, you can adjust your schedule to fit your family.
Now, this is a really high level overview of what a flexible structure looks like, so be sure to check out this post on How to Create a Daily Homeschooling Routine and How To Intentionally Create a Pattern for Your Day to dive much deeper into this concept.
#5 :: Set Your Mindset Up for Success
The other often-overlooked, intangible key to getting your homeschooling set up for the coming year is your mindset.
Before you even start your first lesson for this “official” school year, take some time and see where your mindset is at. You see, homeschooling isn’t the same as a brick-and-mortar school. It’s not the same as virtual school. It’s not even the same as a one-room schoolhouse (as much as I love that word picture).
The truth of the matter is that your homeschooling is unique to you. Your homeschool is going to look different than any other homeschool. Oh, you might have a lot of the same elements in place, but your family is unique. You have a special blend of personalities in your family that isn’t to be found anywhere else in the world.
Now, if your family is a unique blend of individuals not to be found anywhere else, doesn’t it follow that your homeschooling will look different – from slightly different to very different – than anyone else’s? Of course!
And that, right there, is the beauty of homeschooling. It’s creating a unique environment specific to your family, your child’s learning style and your teaching style to help your child learn in the best way possible.
You see, the ultimate goal of homeschooling is helping your child to learn how to learn. To guide them in their learning journey so they can celebrate being further along the path of learning at the end of this year than they were at the end of last year.
The goal is not perfection or the best scores or keeping up with anyone else. The true progress is in the process.
And the ultimate goal is learning.
Wrapping It Up
And there you have it, my Friend. 5 key elements you need to get your homeschooling set up for this coming year.
Oh, and one more thing: You can do this!
Don’t let the naysayers get you down. You are your child’s momma. You can do this. You can homeschooling your children. You can help them learn!
Just remember: This is a journey, so take it one step at a time. As you keep taking small steps in the right direction, you’ll be amazed at how far you’ll go!
- What Style of Homeschooling Curriculum is Right for You?
- How To Create Your Yearly Curriculum Plan
- How To Set Your Homeschooling Day for Success
- How to Intentionally Create a Pattern for Your Day
- How to Create a Daily Homeschool Routine
Elizabeth Tatham, founder of Inspiration in the Everyday, is a homeschooling momma of 5 who loves helping other homeschooling mommas create a unique homeschooling adventure your kids will love…without the overwhelm! Join in on the journey with 7 simple steps to make your homeschooling day go faster, easier, and with less tears here.