Ten Terrific Tips for the First Day of Homeschool
The first day of a new homeschool year can be a memorable and fun day for everyone. In fact, homeschoolers often have the advantage of spending the day at home together so it is easy to create fun memories.
But even if your homeschool students are in local classes or dual enrollment, you can still kick off the first day of homeschool with a few of these tips.
First Day of the Homeschool Year
Homeschool families don’t have a universal first day of the homeschool year because every family is on their own schedule. The first day of homeschool may happen in July, August, September, or any other time of year you declare it to be the first day of a new school year.
In fact, I’ve been told in Australia that many homeschoolers begin their new school year in February when their summer break ends. So it all depends on where you live and how you like to work the homeschool schedule throughout the year.
When my kids were little, we started our homeschool year in early August so we could take a lot of breaks during the fall when the weather was nice.
As my kids reached the tween and teen years, they wanted to follow a similar schedule to their neighborhood friends so we adopted a little bit of a traditional schedule, including their teacher work days. (*wink)
Now that my entire crew is teens, we let the college schedule for my dual enrollment students dictate our first day, though many families don’t begin any other homeschool classes simply because dual enrollment classes begin.
The first day of homeschool will be unique to each family based on the ages of their children, their planned breaks during the school year, and their own personal preferences. But no matter when you start, plan to mark this day by making a few special memories.
Ten First Day of Homeschool Tips
Plan a Special Breakfast
Begin the day with a special breakfast that everyone can enjoy together as you talk about the coming year. It doesn’t have to be something fancy, but something you know that everyone will appreciate. Grab a variety of flavored cream cheeses for bagels or bake a family favorite such as Monkey Bread. There are plenty of fun options for breakfast.
You can even head out the door for breakfast and grab some grub at a local favorite spot. Maybe a special donut shop or bagel cafe is the perfect way to spend your morning!
Fun School Supplies
I love to have our school table (the dining table) set with a stack of new, fun school supplies. This has looked a little different each year depending on the ages of my kids and what we needed for the coming year.
Typically there is a small pile for each child and then a stack of community supplies in the center. These supplies range from useful to simply fun though I will admit that over the years, we have required less and less.
One year when the kids didn’t need a lot of basics, we purchased each of them an Echo Dot for their bedroom as their school supply! I definitely like to think outside of the traditional box, after all, we aren’t really a traditional school family so why stick to their lists?
Need some school supply ideas? Check them out:
School Supplies that Are Fun to Buy – so many of my favorites
Fun Gifts Based on Our Homeschool Lifestyle – toss in a few of these fun ideas
Great Gifts for a Homeschooling Mom – don’t forget a treat or two for YOU!
Plan a Special Activity
Just because it is the first day of school doesn’t mean you have to dive into academics. In fact, you don’t have to do any academics at all unless you want to kick of a subject or two.
If you prefer, you can celebrate the first day of homeschool to head out on an adventure, especially if the local kids have gone back to school. We hiked some trails and played in the river with friends on the first day of homeschool not too long ago.
But you don’t have to have a full day of adventure, you can plan a special activity for the morning or afternoon as part of your return to homeschool. Plan to go bowling or mini-golf or pull out a few favorite games for an afternoon or game play.
Check out these game ideas and surprise your kids with a new one for the first day:
The Very Best Board Games You and Your Teens Will Love
Board Games the Whole Family Will Enjoy
Fantastic Two-Player Games to Enjoy with Your Teen
The Best Math Games Your Kids Will Love to Play
Math Games Your Teens and Tweens Will Actually Enjoy
Super Fun Card Games the Whole Family Can Play
This is just your reminder that everything doesn’t have to be a full day of academics or routine. Plan something special that your family will enjoy.
You do not have to come out of the gate at full speed with the entire daily routine established and ready to go. Instead, consider adding one or two subjects at a time to the routine each week.
We like to begin with math because it is a core class and I like to get everyone set up and moving in the right direction. Then we might add something more enjoyable such as history once we have a basic routine set up.
Classes such as English and Science are now outsourced for my teens, so their start time is assigned by an outside instructor. I try to begin our home routine a week or two before some of the outside classes start so we can fold them into our established schedule.
Make it a Four-Day Week
This joy of a shortened first week of school might be a leftover feeling from my classroom teaching days because the public school always started mid-week. It made for a nice transition week from the freedom of summer back to work.
I can’t let go of the joyful feeling of a short first week, so I kept it as part of our homeschool life. There are a few options to create a short work. You could begin your first week on a Tuesday or Wednesday or you could take Friday off.
Do what feels right to you, but something about a short first week feels really nice.
Don’t Begin on Monday
Maybe this is just my personal preference, but something feels good about waking up on the Monday of the first week of school and knowing you still have the day.
I like to begin our school year on a Tuesday so we have a four-day week but you could even begin on a Wednesday or later. I had a friend begin on a Friday this year because it was the best day to start her homeschool year as a group while working around all of the crazy teen schedules in the house.
Obviously, do what works for you, but avoid Monday if you can.
Begin a Family Read-Aloud
We are big fans of a good read aloud so I like to spend schedule a little time so we can begin reading a really great book to start our year. It doesn’t have to be one of the books in our assigned reading curriculum. It can be whatever your family enjoys. We tend to gravitate to fantasy, mystery, or adventure books.
Now that I have teens, we have also read some dystopic or suspense books as part of our read-aloud time. I love finding a great book that we all look forward to every day and I have been really enjoying the YA literature during read-aloud time.
Two years ago, one of our favorites was The Martian by Andy Weir, which has quite a bit of language, but you can find a classroom edition to eliminate the language. Since I was reading it aloud, I just edited the words (or not occasionally) as I read.
Grab individual photos of your kids, group photos, or a combination of both. There are no specific rules here but make sure to capture the memories of your first homeschool day of the new school year.
Photos capture the moment and I honestly wish I had more organized photos of our first day. I usually snapped group photos but our individual school year photos at other times during the year. I see all of the photos online with the grade level next to the child and I do wish I had done that sort of thing.
But I do love my babies in their “class photos” that I did take on our first day of homeschool throughout the years:
Complete a Home and School Interview
Years ago I designed a set of interview questions for my kids that were purposefully written to dig in a little bit deeper into their experiences in our home and our homeschool.
Typically we complete these questions during our school break, but I have been known to print them out for our first day as well. These questions help my kids think about the way they feel in our home and our school. Then I can make adjustments to our lessons or to the atmosphere in our home based on the responses.
Sample questions include:
– What are the best things about being part of our family?
– What is difficult about being part of our family?
– List 3-5 of your favorite small surprises. (small gifts, time out, notes, etc)
– List 3-5 words that describe our home.
– List your 3 favorite (and least favorite) subjects in school
– What do we do during the school day that you’d like to do more often? less often?
– Is there an activity or routine that you’d like to add to our school day?
I try to use this set of questions with my kids at least once a year. I also discover valuable insights from their responses.
I love to use the first day of homeschool to celebrate the big educational milestones for my homeschool children. This is going to be different in every house but things to consider include:
First Day of Kindergarten
First Day of Middle School
First Day of High School
First Day of a Senior Year (last first day…sob)
While I have various traditions to celebrate the end of the year graduations, it is nice to recognize the first day of something special as well. In our home, we made a big deal out of the “Last First Day of Homeschool” for my oldest and I plan to continue the tradition.
No matter how you decide to celebrate the first day of homeschool, be sure to have a great time making memories with your kids.
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These are great suggestions. I’ve been following most of these ideas, thanks to you, for a couple of years. I love this update.
Photos! I try to get a photo of all of us together on the first day. I always get pics of the kids for their first days, but I want at least one group pic to include me.
Our first days usually include donuts and kolaches for breakfast, photo ops, and a little setup of new homeschool supplies. This year I’m including a fidget toy for each of them, which will be a new thing. They get new pens because, let’s face it, all of last year’s pens have disappeared. A new “fun” book (like search-a-word or crossword puzzles) or flash cards like BrainQuest (we keep these in the car so they can pepper me with questions while I drive). A little candy surprise. And any new items they specifically need (like a graphing calculator).
My first day of school, I also get a new setup of supplies. This year, it includes new dry-erase markers to replace the dried out ones, a new clipboard, and a bar of dark chocolate.
Have a great school year!