Somehow, a new homeschool year is here already!
It’s a wonderful time, really – notebooks are just 39 cents! All the pencils are sharp and new, and you’re hopefully feeling organized, planned, and ready to go.
Maybe you even have your schedule ready for the year.
There’s just one thing – back to school is big, right? How do you make the start of school fun, memorable and yet not accidentally start a tradition that will leave you kicking yourself in a few years … (ahem, homemade cinnamon rolls)?
Back To School As A Homeschooler
Well luckily, you homeschool. YOU get to decide what kind of start makes sense for you and your unique kiddos.
Maybe your family would love nothing more than to spend the first day of school “out of school,” at a waterpark.
Or maybe your crew would be thrilled with a box of donuts.
This is the beauty of homeschooling – it’s entirely up to you, and you can go ahead and ignore all the ideas coming at you on Instagram.
Instead, ask yourself, how do I want my kids to remember the first day of homeschool when they are grown up and living their amazing lives, maybe even with kids of their own?
Is there a simple tradition that would be so fun and easy, that they could repeat it with their own children?
5 Fun Ideas To Kick Off The New Homeschool Year
A common joke is that homeschoolers are like Hobbits – they are always thinking of the next meal. But it’s a common joke because it’s true!
When you’re all home a lot of the day, you may hear, “I’m hungry,” three times between breakfast and lunch.
But we know that food is more than just sustenance – food is also a way of living out traditions and creating warm memories.
A lot of homeschoolers opt for donuts, because after a summer (or at least a few weeks) of choosing curriculum and prepping, you might not want to cut up a watermelon.
Of course it’s OK to bake your own bread and scramble eggs that came from your backyard if that’s what appeals to your family, but just in case, here are a few other ideas:
- Make a cereal bar. Grab a few boxes of cereal that you don’t normally have at home. Load up on milk. Or get those little boxes of cereal and let your kids combine flavors.
- Oatmeal sundaes. Cook up a pot of oats, and set out ALL the toppings: dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, blueberries, cherries), nuts, brown sugar, cinnamon, chocolate chips, fresh fruit (cut-up bananas and strawberries are great for this). Just make sure you remember the BEST part of sundaes – the whipped cream!
- Order pizza for lunch. If you‘ve never done this before, it will amaze your kids when pizza arrives in the middle of the school day!
- Create a snack bin: Raid the “lunch box” aisle at your local store and create a bin full of individual snacks. Set this out on the table the night before as a surprise for your kids in the morning.
- If you can swing it, have Dad (or Mom) bring home lunch. Surprise! A grandparent might also enjoy being part of your first day.
- Keep it sweet – You can also just add a little something extra to regular breakfast – a Hershey Kiss and a note can make any meal feel special.
Just don’t forget the great caveat – PROTEIN. If you’re planning a sugary breakfast, you’ll want to make sure you have some protein options available too so everyone doesn’t crash an hour into your first day.
Good options are cheese cubes or string cheese, hard-boiled eggs, nuts, peanut butter and crackers or yogurt.
2. A fun outing
It can seem like a funny way to start “school,” but some families really love to make the first day of homeschool a field trip or an outing.
You can head to the library, the park, the beach or just spread a picnic blanket on the ground and start school outside.
If you want, you can combine Ideas 1 and 2 and head out for breakfast, lunch, or an afterschool snack. (Ice cream and an audiobook can be a winner here).
There’s something a bit cheeky about spending the first day of school out of school, but if your schedule coincides with your local school district’s, it can be a nice reminder that homeschooling is flexible and gives you a chance to spend a day in a favorite spot, minus the crowds.
You’ve probably seen those cute signs you can have your kids hold on the first day of school so you can grab a portrait.
BUT, if you are feeling creative, you can go a step further. Grab some photo props and clear an area to create a background. If you can, get photos of each child on their own, and any group photos that you can manage without stress.
It’s also really fun if you can jump in for a few photos. Use your phone’s photo timer and a tripod so that you can get silly too.
Or, if you’d rather take a slightly more casual approach to capturing memories, set a timer on your phone to go off every half-hour or hour, and just take a photo in the moment.
These candid shots really embrace your kids’ personalities, especially if they are not currently loving having posed portraits taken. (If that’s the case, be sure to ask if it’s OK to take some informal pics, and if your child says no, don’t worry too much. You are still creating memories and your kids are still learning, even if you can’t get everything on film).
4. New school supplies
One of our favorite traditions has always been to start the school year with new supplies. Fresh notebooks, sharpened pencils and fun pens can go a long way toward bringing excitement to your first day.
Remember, you don’t have to get boxed in by No. 2 pencils and ruled paper – you’re a homeschool family!
Grab the glitter pens, the silly erasers, a packet of stickers, some highlighters that smell like fruit …
Frixion erasable pens are available in lots of styles and colors, and actually make making mistakes kind of fun!
Remember to get yourself a few things too! You deserve a treat for all you’ve done to get ready for a new year.
5. Start a journal
Speaking of office supplies, a fun way to start the year can be with a new journal – for you, the homeschool parent, and for your kids.
Even your little ones can draw in their own notebook (fine motor skills practice!), add stickers, and you can transcribe their ideas for them.
For older kids, keeping a journal becomes a great way to practice handwriting, grammar, punctuation, spelling and the art of getting their thoughts onto paper.
You can set aside a time of day for everyone to journal, or journal once a week.
For your own journal, consider adding your thoughts at the end of the school day or week, or, you can write down quotes that inspire you, passages from books, or use your journal to keep a sweet record of the hilarious things your kids say.
However you use journals in your home, they are a great way to practice writing without too much pressure (especially if you use those fun pens!).
Planning For Back To School With Homeschool Planet
When you use the Homeschool Planet online planner, you can schedule one or two (remember, this is a choose your own adventure situation) of these fun back-to-school activities into your first week, or, with something you’d like to continue like journaling, you can add a regular time to your Homeschool Planet calendar to create a new habit.
Homeschooling is meant to work for YOUR unique family, so having a flexible way to keep track of your to-dos is key. Homeschool Planet’s quick and easy homeschool planner system offers you a way to schedule outside classes, lesson plans, assignments, co-op, chores, field trips, sports practice, appointments and more!
You can try Homeschool Planet for 30 days for free (no credit card required) here.
I hope your first day and the year ahead are full of wonderful memories.