The first month back to school can be tricky. This is what I want you to know.
Our very first “First Day Of School” happened a decade ago.
I was so ready, y’all.
I had the workbooks and pencils. I had a whiteboard and dry erase markers. I even had a bell to ring when it was time to start and time for recess (I know. I cringe just thinking about my poor sensory kiddos reaction to the shrill bell ringing just in time to sit down and start completing worksheets. Bless.)
Our schedule was carefully crafted – 45 minutes per subject with short breaks in between for a total of about 5-6 hours of learning. (I know. I was delusional.)
It was perfect, at least in my head.
I had it all planned and ready to go.
I also had two children, only 5 and 8 at the time, who had no interest in any of it.
If you have read any of my back to school prep posts, it may be hard to believe this description of my humble beginnings, but it is 100% accurate.
I’ve radically changed my approach to homeschool in general, and back to school in particular, in the years since.
That first year, it took about an hour to realize I was in way over my head.
It took about six weeks before we even remotely had any sort of routine in place.
It took about two years before I finally let go and started homeschooling in a way that made sense for my children’s strengths and learning needs, instead of the way I thought we should be doing it with bells and schedules.
What You Need To Know About Your First Month Back To School (even at home)
Today, as many of us begin the back to school season, I want to encourage you that “back to school” does not have to be a single day, or even week, on your calendar.
I’ve learned that it takes us at least a month for things to begin to function remotely smoothly. Even longer for it to start feeling like my children are really learning and making progress.
I’ve also learned that this is 100% OK.
When I worked in classrooms, we went into the school year thinking that the first month of school was mostly about routines, and getting an understanding of where the children were currently at in terms of knowledge and ability.
For some reason, when I began homeschooling, it didn’t occur to me that this might also be true for my boys.
Now, I know that it will be at least a month, and maybe six weeks, before we are back to our pre-summer school selves. I expect that most of my job initially, will be managing expectations and helping them both ease into the daily flow of our learning and our lives.
Here are a few things that help:
One Subject At A Time
In recent years, I’ve started introducing one subject at a time, over the course of the first few weeks.
We have our usual learning resources – YouTube, Audible, documentaries and library books. These are a part of our summer as well and never really go away.
To officially kick off back to school in our home, I add in one more formal subject for each child, once or twice a week.
For my youngest, this year it’s language arts. For my oldest, it’s biology. (You can read more about our curriculum choices and how they work with our daily routine here.)
This allows for a much smoother transition and allows us to focus first on the routine of our days and weeks, as opposed to the the learning itself.
Slowly but surely, I layer in another subject, and then another, with the goal of having all introduced by the end of our first month.
Strengths and Interests First
By starting with the things that I know my children are interested in and are areas of strength, I am able to accomplish two things. The first is less resistance. The second is increasing their confidence as learners.
I want them to start off with a feeling of both engagement and success for our new school year.
Lots Of Grace For All Of Us
This is, perhaps, the very best advice I can possible share with you.
It is easy to think you are failing when it doesn’t go well, especially in the beginning. It’s easy to panic and begin to crack down on our kids when the resistance or struggle begins. It’s totally normal to fear that you are messing it up and your kids are never going to learn what they need to learn.
What I know now, is that you have time to figure this out. Your children have time to adjust.
Please, take a deep breath and give yourself and your kids as much grace as you need to work through the kinks.
For Your First Month Back To School (even at home)
It may seem like we are taking the long road back to school, and I guess in some ways we are. But I have found that when I take it slow initially, our entire school year is much more effective (and enjoyable). Establishing an environment of comfort and interest first, allows the months following our back to school season to progress much more efficiently than in the years I forced it all first thing.
You can do this. We can do this.
I wish you nothing but the best as you begin.