I have homeschooled for eight years now. Every single one of them, without fail, has begun the same way. We have yet to actually crack the books this year. But though my children are getting older, I’m seriously not expecting things to be any different this go round.
The day begins with the zombie shuffling and moaning towards the table. There will be stupid arguments. Yes, those exist. You can’t tell me that arguing over who gets to look at the back of the cereal box or fussing that someone is looking out the same window as you are valid reasons to complain. Next comes absolute disgruntlement over whatever food is placed before them or the drinks in their cups. You get the picture. Children that were ALL SUMMER LONG up before dawn, screaming throughout the house with giddy excitement can now suddenly not remember how to hold a spoon properly.
They know it’s coming. They’ve seen Mom (or Dad) carefully preparing for this day. Books have been bought. Supplies ready. Pencils all sharpy-like. Maybe a little blackboard even, with a smiley-face, welcoming them back to school. Whatever your little attempts to get your crew all eager and ready to learn. Be prepared, oh homeschool parent. If they are older than five, they aren’t buying into your happy juice. They are actually, for really, screaming on the inside. Clutching at their fleeting summer as if by sheer attitude alone, they can turn this around and gain a bit more of the easy life.
So what should you do on day 1?
- Just let this day be easy. Step up to the plate, armed with the knowledge that it isn’t you. Don’t take it personal. Don’t be angry with your spawn. Don’t have any high expectations for either yourself or them. I repeat- do NOT expect much. If you are a comparing parent, just know: public school doesn’t either. I know- I attended many of them.
- Celebrate in some way. Pancakes for breakfast or a trip to Krispy Kreme. Ice cream for supper. A trip to a park, museum, or the library. Get crafty and make something. Whatever you and your bunch find exciting.
- Take pictures! This one is a fun tradition for many homeschoolers. They can hold up little signs, stating what grade they’re in. If you’re like many of us and your child is all over the board, just write down their ages instead. Or they can just stand there with no sign at all. Whatever. Make it your own. Every year, you can take a new pic and compare. Nothing professional, just fun.
- Look at their stuff with them. Let them thumb through their new books, write their names on their notebooks, play around with the new markers. Let them feel the ownership of it all.
- Go over your expectations for the year with them. Tell them your hopes/goals. You can talk about field trip opportunities, books to read together or on their own, projects you hope to accomplish. Make it something to look forward to- hopeful things. Ask them what they hope to do/learn this year or what they want to be when they grow up. You can have them write down their dreams if you want or draw a picture.
- And finally, take charge. Gently. With love. Tell them how much you love them, how you believe in them, and how excited you are to be their teacher. Also include expectations for behavior, consequences for refusing to do work or for poor work done in haste. Sometimes writing reminders on a chart on the wall or in notebooks can help if you need to reinforce this later. Don’t forget to talk about why school is important. If you are a believing family, pray for and with your children for the coming year.
You can choose to accomplish a few small tasks if you’d like, but remember, don’t expect to completely jump into the school year and have them knock out a bunch of assignments. You’ll just be banging your head against a wall. I promise you will all be miserable. Adults need time to adjust to major life changes. So do kids. Take time to enjoy this first day. Tomorrow will thank you for it.