Are you a brand-new homeschooling family?
Here are some first day of homeschool tips to get you started on the right foot!
I am a former classroom teacher who has been homeschooling my own two kids for the past 11 years. My passion is helping busy parents make learning fun at home for all kids.
A few weeks before my first year as an elementary school teacher, I realized that — despite all my education and experience student-teaching — I had no idea how to structure my first days and weeks in the classroom. Thankfully, I had several experienced teachers to walk me through everything I needed to know.
FIRST DAY OF HOMESCHOOLING TIPS:
1. Kids like pomp and circumstance.
They want the first day of homeschool to be SPECIAL. Do your sign pictures and your special breakfast. And then hop in the car and take a ride around the block. Return to “school.” 🙂 This year, we might take a walk before we start our first lessons, just to talk about how this year might be different.
2. You are both teacher AND mom.
You might need to pull out your teacher hat (and voice) every once in a while when your kids get unruly. Sometimes, they respect “Mrs. Droegemueller” a little bit more than they do Mom. There was a month a few years ago where I would literally put on a hat during school hours to remind them of my role so we could all stay on task.
But it’s okay to take the hat off and be Mom when they need a comforting hug or someone to listen to just how HARD math is. You’ll get used to the juggling act.
3. You don’t HAVE to teach every subject every day.
Look for posts about looping subjects and feel the sweet freedom that comes with homeschooling.
You don’t have to do school from 8-3 every day, either. I’ve taught 22 kids, and I’ve taught 2. Fewer kids = less time teaching. Even if you have to teach multiple math lessons every day…you can still be done by lunch most days. (And you’ll learn to set it up so that everything they need YOU for gets done by lunch. Because Mrs. Droegemueller is only here from 9-11 most days.)
4. You don’t have to do EVERY subject on your first day of homeschool.
We know, you’re excited about all those books that you just spent a ton of money on. But, you have a whole year for that. On the first day, pick just a few subjects, a few lessons, and spend the rest of the time going over routines and expectations. Trust me, teachers spend the first six weeks going over that kind of stuff. Don’t expect your kids to get it right away.
5. You don’t HAVE to have a homeschooling room.
Some people like that kind of thing. We like to use the dining room table and the couch. It’s cozier.
6. Don’t expect to get anything else done during school time for the first few weeks.
Seriously. Leave your laundry in the washer for a few hours. Turn off your phone. Put all your devices and to-do list in the other room. Your kids need you to be 100% on task at first. They don’t have the attention span, stamina, or work ethic to do their schoolwork while you are doing something else. Plan to be ALL THERE for maybe two hours, and then joyfully announce that school is over for the day BEFORE LUNCH. (I know!) You’ll be the coolest mom (and teacher) ever.
Build up to a full day over the first two or three weeks. Every day, stretch them another 10-15 minutes. By the end of three weeks, you might even be able to sneak away for a few minutes at a time.
If there’s something you absolutely, positively HAVE to do, give them a break from school work while you do it. Call a recess. Send them outside. Turn on an educational video. Set a time when you expect everyone to be back “at school” and then stick to it.
This WILL be annoying for a while, but I promise you it will pay off in the long run. Build the habits before expecting them to do it without you.
7. DO NOT COMPARE YOUR CHILDREN TO EACH OTHER.
You will quickly learn that certain things come very easily for some kids and not for others. It doesn’t matter if your younger child is better at math than their older sibling. (I mean…). Some kids can sit nicely at the table while daydreaming while the other is repeatedly falling off the couch and listening to every word you are saying.
One of my most-used phrases around here: “We are all different.” Embrace this. Praise the strengths. Bolster the weaknesses. We are all stronger when everyone succeeds, but success looks different for every child. For one kid, a 95% on a math test might be normal. The other one might get celebrated for a passing grade every week. (Hypothetically speaking, of course.)
8. Make it fun.
This is such a fantastic opportunity to make lemonade out of a bad situation. Your kiddo is ALWAYS going to remember this time of their life. So do the projects. Get messy. Learn more about that thing that they keep asking you about. Wear pajamas. Read books on the couch. Do math outside.
And REACH OUT if you need help. I’m here. Homeschooling families in your area are willing and eager to answer questions. You are going to make mistakes, and you are going to keep going. Because that’s who you are!