As a homeschool family we choose to homeschool year round. In the summer we continue with a modified school schedule, still doing school several days a week for a few hours a day. During this time we finish up material that we need to finish and we focus on some fun school unit studies. But as the fall draws near, we get ready to head “back to school” in the sense of a new start, a new grade level, new curriculum.
During the last weeks of July into the first few weeks of August, we begin our transition into a new school year. And even though we aren’t headed into a brick and mortar school to deal with new teachers and classmates, there is sometimes a hesitancy to begin the new year. Kids don’t want to give up their summer schedules of sleeping later and playing more. And sometimes they are nervous about the potential of harder work as their grade level increases. There are some key things we do in our family to prepare hearts and attitudes for the new school year.
Four Ways to Encourage a Good Back To School Attitude
1. Talk, talk, and talk some more.
We love discussions in our home. And we’ve found that our children handle new, uncertain situations so much better if we’ve prepared them by talking. When we talk with the kids about what to expect, we can answer questions- “Is my new math book going to be harder? What if I don’t understand something? Do you think I’ll like the new co-op class we’re doing?” And when the kids feel prepared, they seem to adjust to new situations more easily.
2. Have fun with the preparation.
Even though we school all year, my kids still love buying new school supplies in August. And we always need to replace things like scissors and crayons and pencils. So we make a big deal of going “back to school shopping.” I tell them each what things they can pick out for the new year. I make lists of the supplies we actually need to refresh or replace while the prices are so good, and the kids each get a list.
They also get to pick out what they call their “character notebook.” We keep notebooks for our main subjects as a way of documenting what we’ve done throughout the year. Since we use multiple three ring binders, I make the kids get the cheap ones. But I let them pick one special notebook with a picture or design. This is the ever popular “character notebook” in our house.
Having fun with our preparations makes heading back into our traditional school year something to look forward to.
3. Make plans to succeed.
In the summer, as I’ve worked on our lesson plans for the coming fall, I also work on our schedules and routines. We have a set start time, a set lunch time, and a flow that we follow each day as we do our school work. Taking time to establish these routines is crucial to helping us have successful school days. I find that when we get up and get sidetracked and get out of our routine, people are grouchier, we run late, and we don’t get much accomplished. Having plans and following them as much as possible- because real life happens!- helps us to be more successful as we start back to our regular school work.
4. Ensure that the family has the right priorities.
As parents, my husband and I have priorities for our children and our family. Although academics can be important, they aren’t our top priority. The spiritual heart of each of our children is our highest priority. Occasionally, school work must be set aside in order to focus on character issues. We make it clear to our children that this is important.
We begin our day with devotions and prayer. We study the Bible and memorize Scripture. We constantly evaluate the curricula we use in light of our Christian worldview. And we focus on character over academics.
When we focus on the right priorities, I find that the other parts of our schooling fall into place more easily.
I’m looking forward to our transition into our new school year. I love the new routines and new books. And I love watching my children grow and learn. I’m working now to help them have good attitudes as we head “back to school.”
Originally published July of 2014.
Leah is a homeschooling mom of four children. Teaching, homemaking and providing a taxi service to a multitude of activities keep her pretty busy. But she also enjoys reading, blogging, and reviewing books and homeschool curricula. She writes about all of these things at As We Walk Along the Road.