How to Start Homeschooling After the Holidays
The holidays are almost over… Two or three (or more!) weeks have gone by since you last “cracked the books”… The “normal” homeschool routine is a thing of the past… Are you feeling ready to start back into homeschooling? Here are some of the things I try to do before we jump back into our homeschool routine.
1) Make Sure You’ve Really Had a Break!
If you have spent the break with guests in your home or traveling or overextended with holiday festivities, it’s important to make sure you have time to rest up, rejuvenate and get things in order. Don’t feel you have to start back on Monday if the house is wreck, there’s a mountain of laundry, and suitcases to put away. Remember this is a journey that still spans years, not weeks or months. If you need to take an extra few days to get back on track, that’s okay!
2) Organize, Purge Your Homeschool Space:
If you stopped homeschooling, but left stacks of last semester’s books, papers, and projects neatly (or not so neatly) tucked away in the corner of your homeschool room, try to find some time to put on music, put on a podcast and get things organized.
If your house feels like a wreck, perhaps you can get some outside help. Can you afford to outsource — getting a cleaning service for an afternoon? Can you hire a teenager to come help clean (or watch the kids)? Homeschooling is a full-time job. Remember schools have a janitor team to help them keep things clean. That frees up the teaching staff to focus on creating meaningful lessons. It’s okay for homeschoolers to get help too.
Get some fun, educational materials set up that will get the kids excited. Have intriguing projects or engaging critical thinking activities set up nicely on a shelf or table… but make it clear that *this* fun stuff is for when you start back into the new semester! We all want the kids absolutely itching to get started, not dreading the “same old routine.”
3) Spend Time Planning and Preparing:
This is my favorite time of the holiday–okay so I’m a bit nerdy like that!! But generally we start off each new semester with new history and science units. I love spending time pulling it all together. Over the break, I check out no less than 50 new books from the library… and then pour through a dozen or so–brainstorming and looking for the coolest projects on the planet!! I put sticky notes in the books and have a notebook where I jot down all the ideas I come across. It’s only after I’ve done that, that I turn to the Internet for ideas. Since I work on the computer so much, I find that I am easily distracted. Because of that, I leave my searches on Pinterest or Google Images for last. Be sure to check out my Pinterest account at some point: pinterest.com/HomeschoolDen if that helps! 🙂
I look for activity books with titles like 50+ ideas for learning about Ancient Rome… or… 30 Slimy Science Projects For Learning about Chemistry. You get the idea!! Those types of books always have at least one or two ideas that I can use at some point during the semester.
4) Start Slow:
We generally start back with just a couple of subjects, adding more over the course of the week/s. We usually start our new read-aloud novel (we always read something connected to our unit studies). And, I like to start the semester off with some engaging activities.
This semester, we’re going to start off our math time — not by jumping back into subtraction facts (ED), fractions (DD), or PreAlgebra (LD), but with Math Circles, which are like mathematical mind benders and critical thinking activities. Who wouldn’t come running for an intriguing puzzle like these:
Top: Moving just two match sticks, make six.
Bottom: 8 matchsticks are laid out to look like a fish swimming to the left. Moving just three matchsticks, make the fish swim to the right
We *love* our math circles book, Mathematical Circle Diaries!! We’ll jump back into math-time with that… first daily, then tapering off the following week/s as we add back in our other math work.
5) Start Off Fun:
So, if you’ve read up to this point, I think you can see that I really try to start back to homeschool by…
engaging the kids
capturing their imaginations
appealing to their curiosity
drawing them into a new world (Both by creating a good homeschool environment and by delving into
good amazing books!)
6) Incorporate a Unique Unit
I use the beginning of the semester to cover material that doesn’t necessarily “fit in” chronologically or with what we’ve been covering. What do I mean by that? Well, we tend to cover history in chronological order… covering the Middle Ages, then the Renaissance/Reformation, the the Age of Absolute Monarchs (or something similar in American History). But there are units that I want to cover that don’t “come next.” That’s why we often start off the semester with some general knowledge units like World Facts…. the largest countries, countries and cities with the largest populations, highest mountains, longest rivers, etc. Last year, I wanted to make sure the kids knew all the geographical features like archipelago, atoll, cape, bay, gulf, sound… some of the deserts of the world as well as how to read topographic maps. I added those new topics to our World Facts Packet. On that same vein, I feel like we need to review basic Civics & Government information once a year or so. 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… That’s something we probably need to do again this year (2019).
Or even to add in a completely 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.
We’ve studied various periods in art history as well… like the Renaissance Artists
7) Just Jump In!
Remember, no one ever feel *completely* ready so when push comes to shove, you just have to jump in and do it! Have fun and remember that
Have a good rest of your holiday! See you soon here or at our Homeschool Den Facebook Page! ~Liesl
Are you into making New Year’s Resolutions? I find the process of self-reflection quite helpful when it comes to our family life and homeschooling. I tend to do this twice a year — at the end of each semester in December and again in June. This time of year I enjoy answering some self-assessment questions… Here are some of the questions I consider…
- What am I grateful for this year?
- What went well this year?
- What three words best capture the essence of this past year?
- What was the best memory of the year?
- What was the biggest improvement in our lives this past year?
- What obstacles did we overcome?
- What would make me/us happier? How can I/we make this happen?
These (and the others are all in our free printable… Mid-Year Homeschool Assessment Packet.
This packet has several pages so you can reflect on your homeschool progress… Are we moving too fast? too slow? Are we covering all the subjects or are we spending more time on one than another? Have we covered what I thought we would or have we taken some (wonderful!) side detours? What new kinds of activities do I want to add into our homeschool schedule… and for that matter, what activities should we stop? Have we gotten into some bad habits? What topics and activities are we really looking forward to? These are just some of the types of questions in the first part of this packet.
Planning for Next Year?
Homeschool Planning for Next Year (Free Planning Pages)
These are some free Homeschool Planning Pages that I use as I try to figure out our long-range homeschooling goals. This post shares share the process I go through… and also will share the planning pages that I’ve been using the past few years. I like having colorful planning pages to work on. This isn’t really a weekly/monthly planner, but rather a homeschool vision planner. This 30+-page pdf is currently FREE to download! Let me know if it’s helpful! ~Liesl
And, if you are looking for some printables to create your own Homeschool Planner, you might want to check out our free Homeschool Planner. 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! Again, you’ll find it at this post: Free Homeschool Planner and Discovery Journal. I tend to change up my homeschool planning pages regularly as our needs change, so this packet of materials has steadily grown in size! There might be something you can use there! 🙂
Grab your Free 2019-2020 School Year Calendar here: It includes holidays and other things I like to keep track of (like the beginning of the seasons, daylight savings, etc.).
You might be interested in these related posts:
Creating Your Own Homeschool Curriculum: These are some resources I made that might be helpful as you create your own homeschool plans. These are somewhere between 30 and 50 pages and are FREE to download:
This post has a wide range of different hands-on activity ideas and teaching strategies that might inspire you in your homeschooling! You can grab a free copy of the teaching strategies printable here:
Are you a visual person? Be sure to visit this post with dozens and dozens of hands-on teaching ideas in pictures! Visit the Ultimate Hands-On Homeschooling Guide for some fresh inspiration!!
We love doing hands-on activities and we get a lot of hits from Pinterest on our activities, but equally as popular are our printables — pretty much in all subject areas.
- For the younger crowd, ages 2-6, people seem to really like our science experiment packets and the huge activity list we made. We also get hundreds of hits each day on our “Preschool at Home” posts.
- Homeschool Planning and Schedules: From the Big Picture Down to the Daily Schedule – which includes a printable checklist of science and history units to cover from K-8.
See you again soon here or over at our Homeschool Den Facebook Page! 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. You might want to join our free Homeschool Den Chat Facebook group. Don’t forget to check out Our Store as well. Happy Homeschooling, everyone!! ~Liesl
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