It’s mid-summer. For some of us, school is still a few weeks away. Others have started homeschooling or never stopped! Regardless, we all would like to head into the new year more organized and ready to go, right?!
Here are a few tips for getting off on the right foot:
It is SO important to get recharged. Make sure both you and the kids have stepped away from homeschooling mentally for a while. Also, be sure to get away from the house regularly (go camping, take day trips, go biking, canoeing, kayaking, roller skating… ). As homeschoolers, we spend much, much more time than average in our own homes, so leverage the warm weather get away from it all (you know, as much as is feasible this year!)!
As I wrote in a similar post a few years ago, My 3 Rs: Re-Energizing, Relaxing, and Re-Organizing: I love our breaks! I really, really need time to re-group and get refreshed for another semester. This is probably as important a part of our homeschooling life as when we are going full-tilt with science experiments and history projects!
Picture Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, but doesn’t it just look like the perfect place to relax!!!
2. Finalize Classes
Make sure the kids are registered for classes if they are participating in things outside of the home: co-ops, AP classes, online classes, music lessons, and things like that.
Purchase (or get from the library) the books, units, curriculum you want to start off the year. You might want to glance through this post: History Through Literature: Book lists for units on China, Middle Ages, American Revolution and more for some children’s literature we have used for history.
Be sure to make notes of any movies, documentaries, field trips, games, hands-on activities and extras that will add some sparkle to your kids/ units/subjects.
3. Update your Homeschool Calendar and Planner:
Print out your calendar if you need to (remember that we have a free printable calendar.). Start adding in practices, rehearsals, meetings, and events to your paper or electronic calendar as they come in.
Build out a tentative weekly schedule so you start to get a feel for the rhythm of your week. Here are some our free resources that might be helpful as you get organized:
- Free Homeschool Planner & Discovery Journal: This unique homeschool planning packet is currently FREE to download! It is nearly 100 pages! Not only does this packet include daily and weekly planning pages, checklists and record keeping pages, but it also includes various homeschool journaling pages… think gratitude journal meets homeschool goal setting!
P.S. I’ll be releasing a FREE booklet-style Homeschool Planner any day now. (It’s done, I just need to write up the post!) The free version above prints out on full-size 8×11 pages. The one below you print out one-sided, fold in half and bind along the left hand side.
- Free Homeschool Planner (for planning out the entire year)
4. Print out and make materials ahead of time (including Pin Maps!)
Decide on your “back to school” unit/s.
We have often started the semester off with some review of basic world facts (things like the biggest countries, countries with the most people, biggest cities, longest rivers) as well as basic geography terms (archipelago, atoll, peninsula, and so forth). You can check out our World Facts Packet here. You can see in the picture below that I made a pin map for the deserts of the world. 🙂 (The printable is included in this 70+ page unit.)
Sometimes when we start back to school, I have felt like we need to review some basic information on Civics & Government . That doesn’t necessarily fit into the history topics we’re studying so we often start out with that at the beginning of a semester (to be sure I get that in). One year we also touched on the different forms of government.
Last year we studied American History. Because of that, we started with a review of the American states and capitals. 🙂 The past couple of weeks, I’ve spent time making new pin maps for America (and for the various regions). This was something I could do pretty easily now and put aside for later! I also did one with the 13 colonies to have that on hand as we start off American History. You can grab our US States and Capitals Geography packet here. 🙂
If you are studying other areas of the world for history, you might make pin maps on Europe, Africa, deserts, oceans & seas, or whatever:
We have a free printable map of Europe here:
Last year we studied the Vietnam War, for example, so I made a pin map of southeast Asia. That’s something that can easily be done ahead of time! Sometime this summer I’ll be making new ones for the kids for the Middle East and Asia because we’ll be studying Ancient History. Pin maps are a quick way to review geography while they wait (or while we’re doing a read aloud. I always place the answers on the back of the pin map.
P.S. Last year I made a quick video on how to make a pin map. Click here to go to that Pin Map Resource Page.
If you do a lot of Montessori activities, you can make most of your Montessori cards ahead of time and set them aside for later! We have a ton of Montessori materials hidden away on the blog. If you have young kids you might want to check out the free Living-NonLiving cards (or just do a search here in the blog for Montessori and you’ll come across lots of resources!)
Print out and make any spelling or math games you might want to use this fall. We play/ed a lot of games and did a lot of word sorts to practice the various spelling rules, for example. This is something you could have ready ahead of time! Below is the Long A spelling games and activities, but we have a ton of other spelling sets too (vowel teams like ow/ou au/aw oi/oy, the er sound, the /k/ sound and others)
We also played a TON of games for math (which is why our two math bundles are SO huge and include so many pdfs!! Be sure to check out both the Addition/Subtraction Bundle and the Multiplication/Division Bundle!). You can print those out and have them ready! You can see in the picture below the 4s multiplication game we played (a lot!!). There are over 20 pdfs (I think 17 or 18 now!) that cover all the multiplication and division facts from the 2s to the 9s.
You might consider starting off the year with something different. You might start with a new unit like music or art. We once spent about 8 or 9 weeks learning the music notes, rhythms, music notation & symbols. You can grab a copy of our FREE music curriculum here:
We also have some free materials on music composers if you are interested.
And this past year we spent time studying Modern Artists. The kids really loved that unit! That packet is still free at the moment! 🙂
5. Take advantage of back-to-school supply sales
(but don’t go overboard)! If you have things on your homeschool wish-list, see if you can get them for 40% or 50% off with a Michael’s or Hobby Lobby coupon.
Note: Many of the links below are affiliate links.
- Laminator – I got the Scotch Laminator almost 10 years ago and it is still going strong! I still use our laminator all the time, especially for making pin maps!! lol 🙂
- Laminating pouches – I like the Scotch brand. They have worked well for me over the years.
- Index cards (3×5 cards)
- Spiral binding machine (I use it ALL the time!). I just love it!
- This post has lots of the other homeschool supplies and homeschool science supplies that I’ve enjoyed having on hand… everything from a microscope (we have a dissecting microscope that is comparable to this one- AmScope SE306R-P-LED Forward-Mounted Binocular Stereo Microscope (ours has upper and lower illumination) and prepared slides as well as things such as density cubes, rocks & minerals kits, and fun kits like the solar system: 4M Solar System Planetarium. (which my kids ♥loved making). They also loved the Squishy Human Body!
6. Read through the books you might have the kids read this year.
Our reading list always has more books than we can possibly fit into the school year. You might want to choose a few that you think you will include and read them this summer while you have more time.
I’ve read a number of books this summer and realized that one was phenomenal and I wanted to build a mini-unit around it. I loved The Inquisitor’s Tale ♥ and went on to update our Middle Ages – Feudalism Packet because the book was so wonderful! (And because I want to review that material with the girls.)
I find that if I read some of the books ahead of time, I come up with better ideas of how to pull the unit together in the most meaningful way! So, if you have the time and inclination spend some time curled up with some of your kids’ books! You may be inspired, just because you have the extra time to mull things over! 🙂
So that’s about it for now! Hope you are having a relaxing, memorable summer!!
Enjoy the rest of your summer!
~Liesl and the Kids
See you again soon here or over at our Homeschool Den Facebook Page! Don’t forget to Subscribe to our Homeschool Den Newsletter. You might also want to check out some of our resources pages above (such as our Science, Language Arts, or History Units Resource Pages) which have links to dozens of posts. Don’t forget to check out Our Store as well. ~Liesl
Again, if you are interested in joining our Homeschool Den Newsletter, feel free to subscribe here. It’s a great way to hear about our latest packets and to learn about many of the hundreds of printables & other materials we have tucked away on the blog!
Happy Homeschooling! ~Liesl
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase. Thanks for your support! ?
P.S. Here is a sneak peek at the US States and Capitals Packet. I hope to get that out to you next week, fingers crossed!
P.P.S. Looking for more Hands-On Science Ideas? Be sure to check out this post!!
The Earth Science Unit is really fun and has tons of hands-on activities! We’ve done that unit multiple times through the years!
Hope you’re having a lovely summer!