How to Get Ready for a New Homeschool Year
Here you are, preparing for a new homeschool year. There’s so much to do, but where do you start? Today, I’m sharing some steps for getting ready for a new homeschool year. This post encompasses everything from preparing our school room to preparing our kitchens. Having things in place makes the beginning of the year flow so much better, so let’s get started!
The new year is upon us all and soon I will be rushing the kids to the school table to start our day off promptly at 8:30. The easy days of summer are behind us and it’s time to think about the new homeschool year.
I love routine and knowing what to expect, so there is a sweetness about starting a new school year. The slate is clean, the books are fresh, and the paper is crisp white. It’s going to be a good year, I can feel it!
Every summer, prior to the kids cracking open their books, I have some preparing to do. I could skip this preparation and we would still survive, but it makes the start of our year so much smoother and enjoyable.
In some ways, the preparation is the most important part of our new homeschool school year. If I have done the work to get things ready, then the first months are sure to be successful.
There are several ways I get things in order in the weeks leading up to our school start date (we usually begin in early August, for those wondering). I thought today would be a good day to share a few of the ways I prepare with you!
How do I prepare my Homeschool room?
Preparing the homeschool room sets the stage for all of the learning that will be happening. The school room, or schooling area, will never be as clean and tidy as it is now. Right now, things are in their places and easy to find. These are a few tasks that I complete as I prepare my homeschool room:
1. Organize Literature books-
Each of our kids has a stack of literature books they work through throughout the school year. I shared about where I get our books in both of my curriculum posts- PreK-2nd grade and 3rd grade-6th grade, if you’re interested.
Once upon a time, we had book shelves for our literature books, but now my kids have a shelf in a dining room cabinet where I put their materials. For us, I don’t give them a book order to read their books. They read whatever piques their interest at the time, as long as they have read each book by the end of the year.
For that reason, the books don’t need to be in any certain order. Each student has his or her shelf and his books are kept there so they don’t get confused with whose book is whose.
One reason I like having our books tucked away in a shelf is so they don’t get overly dusty and they are out of sight. I prefer to have my school room (currently our dining room) look like a dining room and not a classroom. To do that, it requires that I have places to store things so they aren’t visible. You can check out more about creating a homeschool room in my Homeschool Room Idea post.
If you don’t have a big literature library in your home to choose from, create your list on a spreadsheet and get the first books checked out from the library so they are in-hand and ready to be read when the year starts.
2. Prepare new school supplies
One of my favorite parts of a new homeschool year is that I get to set out brand new school supplies. A task I thoroughly enjoy is sharpening every pencil and putting them in our pencil container. There’s just something about fresh pencils that makes my heart pitter-patter.
Crayons, Pencils, and Markers
Each kiddo gets new crayons, colored pencils, and markers for their school boxes. A few years ago, I bought clear pencil boxes for the kids. I clean them in soap and water to get off some of the marks and reuse them every year. It makes it fun for the kids to open their boxes and have fresh supplies.
Notebooks are another item I purchase in the weeks leading up to the new year. In our home, we prefer buying college ruled, 70-100 page notebooks. Each subject that requires a notebook gets its own, so we can’t get the monster notebooks. They wouldn’t fit in our homeschool baskets.
For example, each student has a notebook for math, language, science, and history. Our school baskets (which we use as storage similar to the inside of a desk- see my homeschool room idea post above to see a picture of the baskets) can’t hold school books and four thick notebooks, so I purchase the thinner notebooks and we swap them out as needed.
Each child gets their own color of notebook so they don’t get mixed up. The student name, subject, and school year is written in permanent marker at the top of the notebook. All extra notebooks are stored in our basement for future use. When a child fills one notebook for a subject, they go get “their color” of notebook from the storage area, write the details on it with permanent marker, and keep going with a fresh notebook!
3. Organizing teaching materials
Much like the kids’ literature books, my teaching materials are kept on a shelf. I keep each student’s teaching manuals together and easy to access for when I need them. I also make sure that I have plenty of highlighters, sticky notes, and colored pens for writing notes for my kids and correcting their work.
How do I prepare my Student books and supplies?
I have shared many times that we use a basket system for our school supplies. We have schooled in a designated school room, at the kitchen table, and in our dining room. For those times when my kids didn’t have desks, like right now, they use large, plastic baskets to hold their school books and notebooks.
To get the baskets prepared, I clean them out and scrub them so they are clean-ish and ready for a new year. I will fill each basket with the needed school books and notebooks and place
How do I prepare my home for a new homeschool year?
- Laundry– The main way I prepare our home for a new homeschool year is by getting all of the laundry caught up prior to starting. It doesn’t stay caught up, the Mount Everest of homemaking always seems to form again, but it is a nice feeling to have it tackled when we begin.
- Cleaning the house– Even if things aren’t spotless, prior to a new year is the perfect time to do a quick run through of your home and get things put back into place. If you have thirty minutes to tidy that’s enough to complete a few tasks. If you do a thirty minute clean each day for a week, you will get a lot accomplished and feel good about your home when you start school.
How do I prepare my kitchen for a new school year?
Prepare Freezer Breakfasts
For years, I have prepped a few freezer breakfasts to help the first month of school run smoothly. Getting into a routine is the hardest part of starting a new year, so having healthy breakfasts in the freezer alleviates morning stress.
Having breakfasts in the freezer means that my kids get home-cooked meals to start their days, but I don’t have to worry about cleaning up a dirty kitchen each day. I have a few staples that always get batch cooked and then tossed in the freezer. I will list a few of our favorites below:
- The BEST Banana Bread– This banana bread has been a long time favorite after years of my searching for the perfect recipe. It is moist and turns out amazing every time. I make a double batch of this bread and wrap each loaf in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil. It will store in the freezer for several months.
- Pumpkin Muffins– You could easily make this pumpkin muffin recipe into bread loaves, but I keep it as muffins so the kids have something different than then banana bread loaf. My kids love eating muffins and this recipe makes a lot. I let them cool completely, pop them in a gallon ziplock, and put them in the freezer.
- EASY Biscuits– These biscuits are flaky and buttery and… good. Plus, they are easy to make it this recipe bakes quite a few biscuits. Let your kids eat these with some jam or honey on them. Or, you can scramble some eggs and sausage to make a breakfast sandwich.
- Tasty Breakfast Burritos– Breakfast burritos are a great meal for breakfast or an easy supper. All of my kids love these and it takes very little time to prepare them. Once you assemble your burritos, wrap them in individual pieces of foil. Store all of them in a ziplock bag and heat them in the oven when you are ready for them. They will store for a month in the freezer.
- Orange Scones– These scones are a real treat and a great breakfast item to have in the freezer. I prepare the dough, roll it out, cut it into triangles, and freeze them until I need them. To freeze the raw dough, flash freeze the scone triangles on a cookie sheet for 1 hour. After that, place them all in a ziplock and write the bake temperature and time on the outside of the ziplock. Serve these with some yogurt and fresh fruit!
Create a Meal Plan for the first Two Weeks of School
There isn’t much that’s more defeating than a flock of children running up to you and asking what’s for supper and you have no idea. Can you relate?
Meal planning doesn’t come naturally to everyone, and that’s okay, but I promise having a flexible meal plan will make your weeks less stressful.
Is there a “right” way to meal plan?
Meal planning can look differently for different households. Maybe you plan a certain meal for every evening and meal and you don’t veer off of that plan. Or, you might be someone who wants to have a general idea of meal options, but you want flexibility to not have them scheduled for a specific day.
No matter how you meal plan, having groceries on hand to make meals and a general idea of what meals you will create makes preparing meals more enjoyable.
I have a tendency to create meal plans for only supper and just ensure that I have certain items on hand for the other two daily meals. Knowing what is for dinner allows me to be prepared by having the groceries on hand and pulling meat out of the freezer so it’s ready to cook with once the afternoon rolls around.
Meal plans also help with meal prep. If you know what you’re having for supper when you wake up, you can begin prepping things in the morning if you have time and then having more time to enjoy your afternoon.
A good goal for getting a meal plan in place prior to your new school year is to have two weeks scheduled and a grocery list made for those weeks. If you have the recipes you need, then scheduling the first month of school is even better! But, as always, any plan is better than no plan at all, so do what you can.
How do I prepare my kids for a new homeschool year?
After a long summer of flexibility, sleeping in, and staying up late, we all need to prepare ourselves for the new year ahead. There are a few things I address in the weeks leading up to a new year. I will share them with you so you can see some of our top items I tackle to make our new homeschool year a smooth transition.
1. Start Healthy Bedtime and Wake Routines
This is a huge transition for our family. During the school year, the kids are tucked in around 8 o’clock and they rise by 7 am.
In the summer, they tend to go to bed with the sun and wake up later in the morning. That means, we have some sleep adjustments to make before school starts.
This is usually done by moving their bedtime back by 15 minutes every few nights. Doing a gradual change is a gentle way to prepare their bodies for going to bed earlier without forcing them to lay in bed for hours every evening.
It is an adjustment, so don’t be frustrated if they aren’t excited about it. They will, “thank you,” later when school has started and they aren’t super tired from being up late.
2. Implement Chore Tasks for Each Kiddo
We live in our home 24/7, and that means it needs to be tidied and such throughout the day. Summertime can make us all a bit lax, so establishing some realistic chores for every kid will make the transition into the busy school year an easier one.
Chores can be as simple as wiping off the breakfast table and as complex as emptying the dishwasher. Create a plan with a few chores for each kiddo to help lighten your load. Let each child practice their chores for the two weeks leading up to school.
This is also a good time for you, mama, to train them and make sure you aren’t bearing all of the responsibility of keeping the home afloat. It can seem easier to do it all yourself, but I know from experience that the home is a better place to be when everyone chips in a little.
3. Work out any Disobedient Behaviors
Nothing rocks the new school year boat quite like disobedience. We all have our moments, but you need to train your kids ahead of time to be disciplined and to obey.
So much time and breath is wasted when children are always pushing back or simply not honoring God with their effort and obedience.
Begin to speak truths into your kids now so that you all have a successful new homeschool year.
How do I prepare our schedule for a new school year?
I begin working on schedules the month before school. I pull out curriculums that we will be using and I start to get an idea for how our day and weeks will flow.
To do this, you must be familiar with your child’s curriculum. Thumb through the books and see how the subjects progress. That will make your new homeschool year planning much easier.
1. Create a weekly assignment sheet for each child
One of the schedules I create each year is an assignment sheet for each child. These are kept in three ring binders and the child fills out what he accomplished for each subject each day. I keep this as part of our “lesson plans” in case we need it for the future.
This also creates a quick way for me to see what the child has completed and still needs to be tackled each school day.
2. Create a flexible lesson plan for the entire year
Having a flexible lesson plan for the year gives you a bird’s eye view of your year. It allows you to see when you’re ahead and when you’re behind.
You can create a spreadsheet for each child. Each subject will be on that spreadsheet. You will simply list each lesson (for each subject area) on that child’s spreadsheet. When they complete a lesson, they mark it off.
Is is easy to see if you are getting behind and quickly catch up. This has been a life-saver for us and kept us on target many years in a row now.
3. Create a flexible daily routine
Routines and rhythms are important because they give everyone the chance to know what to prepare for and to know what’s coming.
We have a general routine that happens in our home that helps the days to flow well. The kids know what our days look like and, unless we change something, they don’t have to wonder what the day will hold.
- 7 am- breakfast
- 7:30- get ready for the day, make beds, brush teeth
- 8 am- kids go outside to play before school
- 8:25- I call the kids to the school table to get their stuff ready
- 8:30- school begins
- 10 am- school break and snack
- 10:15- school continues
- Noon- lunch
- 12:30- Rest time / finish school
- 3- snack and prepare for afternoon activities
- 5- Supper
- 7- Shower and prepare for bedtime
- 7:30- Family discipleship time
- 8 pm- bedtime or quiet reading time
How do I prepare Myself for a new school year?
Don’t forget about yourself, mama. The new year requires a lot of you and you need to prepare yourself. Let’s chat a little bit about a few ways you can prepare yourself for the new homeschool year.
Establish a Wake Routine
I shared in my Morning Routine post that my summer mornings start much later than my school year mornings, just like my kids’ do. My goal for waking during the school year is 5 am. In a dream world, I’d rise at 4:30, but that only happens in the deep winter when we are turning in super early, as well.
For me, I need two hours before the kids rise to do what I need to do. I like reading my bible, praying, and even tending to my work prior to the house waking up. In order for that to happen, I need to begin to turn in earlier and wake earlier.
This process takes me a couple of weeks. I like to do it slowly. It’s also important to be flexible because things will, inevitably, pop up that will require you to stay up late.
If your neighborhood is having a cookout and you stay out late, that could mess up your sleep/wake plans, but that is okay. Some things are worth being flexible about.