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Back-to-School time can be stressful for anyone. However, as a homeschool mom, you have to plan everything for your child. You are the teacher, administrator, counselor, and parent. When non-homeschooling families are getting ready to go back to school, they only have to worry about making sure their child has what he/she needs for the year.
This year, as you are preparing your homeschool for the year, be confident. It doesn’t matter if this is your first year or your 10th year. Remind yourself that you are doing what you feel is best for your children and your family. You know what you are doing, and you will do it to the best of your ability this year. Have confidence in yourself.
Plan for Back-to-School Success
If you decided, as I did, to homeschool your children after they have attended public schools, you know how we always try to set up our children for success at the beginning of the school year.
It’s no different in homeschooling. Back to school preparations are the same except you probably don’t have to get 12 sticks of glue to take in on the first day. You can use what you have left over from last year, but be sure to buy more before the sticks run out.
Research Homeschooling Laws
If this is your first year as a homeschool mom, you are probably overwhelmed. One thing you need to be sure you know is how to legally homeschool in your state.
I live in NC. Our requirements are simple–register, attend 180 days out of 9 months of the year, keep attendance records, and administer a test once a year (after your child turns 7). We have to keep those things on file in case someone from the state asks to see them, but we have the right to decline to show them.
However, there are other states where the homeschooling requirements are more strict.
You can head here to see a list of homeschooling requirements by state.
If you have more questions, check out HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Association) for more information.
Set Goals and Objectives
Depending on the age of your child(ren), you may have to do this alone or with your spouse. As your children get older, they will be able to help you set these back-to-school goals.
These do not have to be academic goals, but they can be.
Questions to Consider for Goal Setting
- What specific academic subjects do I want to focus on?
- Are there any specific skills or areas of knowledge I want my child to develop?
- How do my child’s interests and learning style influence the goals I set?
- Are there any educational standards or requirements I need to consider?
- What are my expectations for my child’s academic progress and achievements?
- Do I want to incorporate any values or character development goals into our homeschooling?
- How will I assess and measure my child’s progress towards these goals?
- Are there any external factors or opportunities, such as competitions or field trips, that I want to consider in my goals?
- How can I ensure a well-rounded education that includes not only academics but also social, emotional, and physical development?
You do not need a long list of goals and objectives for the year. Pick 3-4 things to focus on for the school year.
Create a Schedule
Grab a planner and sit down in a comfy spot to do this. You might be here for a while. You need to establish monthly, weekly, and daily schedules. Just know that they will change. That flexibility is one of the best reasons to homeschool. This plan is only a preliminary one, you will have to revisit each one to make changes as they arise.
Here is a (shameless plug) for you to grab one of my 12-month undated planners. I created it for busy moms like you who need to be able to get to everything in one planner. Since it is undated, you can start it now whenever you want to. It also has a habit tracker for each month and notes pages to help you stay organized.
Think about things like doctor’s appointments, classes, or meetings that you attend on a weekly or monthly basis. Put those on your monthly calendar. In fact, everything you have to do in the month should be on this calendar. That way you have it at a glance.
Go to the pages for the weeks. Put in anything you already know will be there. For example, does your daughter have soccer practice on Tuesdays? Does your son have gymnastics on Thursdays? Be sure to include those on the monthly and weekly schedules. You don’t want to forget to be there.
As you are thinking about back to school time, think about how you want your days to go. Do you want to get up early and be finished by lunch? Would you prefer to let the kids sleep in so that you have time for yourself in the mornings?
Develop a plan for how you want your homeschool day to progress. Set times for studying, taking breaks, moving around, and doing extracurricular activities.
Organize Your Space
In just a minute, we will talk about getting your supplies together for homeschooling. To prepare to go back to school, you need to ensure that your homeschooling space is organized. Can you get to everything you need? Is there stuff missing? If so, make a list to get in the gathering essentials phase of planning.
Choose the Right Curriculum
Over the past few months, I have written several homeschooling posts. It’s what’s been on my heart recently. I hope that they have been helpful.
One of those posts is about homeschooling essentials, and curriculum is essential. Just know that you don’t have to use an all-in-one curriculum. You can pick and choose what you use for your child.
For my daughter’s English classes, her first two years of high school–we only homeschooled for high school–I developed her curriculum. I am a licensed high school English teacher.
For math, science, and other subjects, we got the materials from other places. Some of what we used was free online, but other parts we had to purchase. I don’t think I purchased anything brand new.
If you need help with the curriculum, let me know. I would love to help you. Head over to Instagram and send me a DM. Planning and advising curriculum are some of my favorite things to do. I’m actually helping a friend get her daughter ready to homeschool this year.
Gather Essential Supplies
A great thing about homeschooling is that we don’t have the page-long list of supplies that we have to purchase before the first day of school. Since we plan the lessons, we can use what we have on-hand already or purchase/borrow the items before we need them.
I will say that you need to stock up on basic items–pens, pencils, markers, and paper. One thing you should probably consider is making a homeschool supplies checklist. (If I create one, which I should, I’ll link it to all my homeschool posts so that you can have it.)
Think out of the box when you are considering homeschooling supplies. Anything can become a lesson when you are homeschooling.
As a teacher, part of your back to school preparations is to have lessons ready for the first few days of school. Once you have your schedule planned out (in the previous step), be sure to start looking at what lessons you will do daily.
No matter how old your children are, you can probably do some subjects less often than others. For example, you need to decide what you want to study daily. Are math, reading, and science on your daily list? If so, plan about 5 lessons for each of those. By doing that, you will have a week of lessons ready for those subjects.
For history, art, and music, you might do those once or twice a week. These can be incorporated into other subjects as well. You might do music to go along with a science lesson. Have you heard the period elements song? Maybe you can watch a video about a specific time in history when you are reading about that period.
Don’t make all the lessons the same. Have your children up and moving sometimes. Use music and videos when you can. Homeschooling doesn’t mean “school at home.” That means that you don’t have to do lectures and PowerPoint presentations for them, but you might need to do that sometimes. Know how your child learns best, and try to cater to his/her learning style.
Prepare your children to be lifelong learners. Allow them to choose something they want to learn about and give them the tools to learn it.
- Some tools for learning:
- Educational materials
- Time management skills
- Organization skills
- Space for learning
- Time for learning
If you are a veteran homeschooling mom, you have heard this myth 1,000 times. “Homeschooled children aren’t socialized.” I busted that myth and others in this post.
Homeschooled children may spend more time at home with their families than other children. However, that doesn’t mean they aren’t socialized. Many homeschoolers are involved in Girl and Boy Scouts, 4-H, church youth groups, sports teams, and many other things.
There is no limit to the ways that homeschooled children can socialize with their peers. My daughter was in Girl Scouts (from K-12th grade). In 11th grade, she joined Scouts BSA (Boy Scouts, which now allows girls!). She began bowling in 9th grade and made lots of new friends there. She even earned scholarship money from bowling.
Don’t let anyone tell you that your child will not be able to have social interactions just because you homeschool. It’s simply not true.
Address Challenges and Obstacles
It doesn’t matter how long you have been a homeschool mom, there will be challenges every year. The computer will die when you can’t find the charger. A child will spill purple paint on the white rug. You will burn lunch because you and the kids were discussing planets.
Have patience with yourself and your children. You can read the A-Z of Homeschooling and find ways (like patience) to overcome obstacles.
Distractions and Interruptions
No matter how many times you tell your family your homeschool schedule, inevitably, someone is going to call or come over when you are in the middle of a lesson that you can’t stop.
If the phone rings, you can send them to voicemail and call them back. If they show up at the door, you may have to politely allow them to come in and wait quietly while you finish what you are doing or ask them to come during non-homeschool hours.
There will be distractions, but, as I said before, flexibility is an amazing part of homeschooling. Sometimes we have to roll with it.
Solutions for Common Hurdles
When my daughter first began homeschooling, I was working full time as a high school English teacher. She stayed with my dad during the day and completed her work. I didn’t have an issue with my mom (who is the person who messages or calls me the most) knowing my homeschool hours.
Unfortunately, she often forgot that I was working. That meant that she would text or call in the middle of my lessons at school. Try explaining why the teacher’s phone is vibrating on the desk when the students couldn’t have their phones. (Note: They didn’t believe me any more than I believed them with the “It’s my mom,” excuse.)
To combat that, I would send my mom messages before I would be unavailable.
Other common issues are deliveries. If you have Amazon at your house often, set up a box outside so that the driver can put the delivery in it. You can get the package at your convenience.
You can be as creative as you want in solving your homeschooling hurdles. If you need some help with your creativity, check out my homeschooling hacks.
Embrace the Experience
Part of the homeschooling journey is being able to have joy and freedom during the school year for our children’s education. As you are planning all the back to school things that you need this year, reflect on the previous year. Whether you homeschooled last year or your child was in daycare or in public school, think about the good things and the bad things from the year.
What do you want to keep from the positive things? What not-so-good things do you want to avoid if possible?
Feeling prepared for going back to school as a homeschool mom is one of the most exciting things ever!
If you need help, reach out and ask for it. Other moms, myself included, will be happy to help you and answer you questions. Just ask us!
I hope that this is the best back to school you have ever had!