Here's a brief look at my TOP TEN summertime steps to school time prep.
Technically, my prep for the coming school year happens the year before...mid spring when I do the following:
- Determine a skeletal curriculum plan.
- Prepare a shopping list.
- Purchase the core of my curriculum at my state's annual homeschool convention.
Assuming that I've started the summer with these first three items checked off my list, I can officially go into summertime prep mode.
1. I create an annual portfolio of last year's work. (First week in June)
While school is still fresh in my mind, I set aside the first week(s) of summer vacation to prepare our annual portfolio. With our year neatly compiled in a new binder, I feel a sense of closure to WHAT WAS and can begin to formulate plans for WHAT WILL BE.
2. I order any last minute curriculum items. (June)
After our portfolio is complete, I try to do very little school related planning for the rest of the month of June. My brain and sanity demand a break. And so, with the exception of ordering any last minute curriculum items that I was not able to/chose not to purchase at the annual convention, I turn "school mode" off for an entire month. (I'm a little behind on this one THIS year. But, only because I'm holding out to see if my remaining BIG TICKET PURCHASE miraculously gets a significant price reduction closer to fall. Admittedly, this is wishful thinking and I need to just take a deep breath and fork over the cash. But, stranger things have happened.)
3. I begin praying for a word from God. (Early June)
Homeschooling is hard. H.A.R.D. On those hard days, I cling to the TRUTH...a verse in Scripture that God has given me to keep me on this path that He has prepared for me. Sometimes, the big yellow bus looks mighty appealing, but with the Word ever before me, I square my shoulders, and press on. So, I start each summer praying for a piece of Truth that God has providentially chosen for my upcoming year. He gave this one to me a few weeks ago>>
4. I pack away the old and bring out the new. (First part of July)
I designate a large portion of a day to sort through last year's curriculum. I toss what needs tossed. Set aside what I plan to resell. And pack away all the rest in a tall storage cabinet or a group of plastic tubs in our basement. I bring out all of our "new" items including curriculum that was formerly used by another child and will be regurgitated for a sibling AND any brand new curriculum specifically purchased for the coming year. I organize these into three groups...child-specific materials, group materials, and parent resources. The child-specific materials are packed away in each child's magazine bin, while the other two groups go into the school hutch.
5. I do some basic house cleaning of our school areas. (Early-Mid July)
While I try to maintain a semblance of order throughout the school year, clutter happens! Somewhere in the midst of cleaning out the school books, I clean out the school clutter. I have the kids help me go through each supply drawer/bin...testing the usability of every item. If a marker/pen no longer writes well, a crayon is down to nubbin-size, or glue bottles are permanently crusted shut, we toss them and make room for new fall school supplies. I compile a mental list of what needs to be replaced and convince myself to STICK TO THE LIST!!! (Perhaps you know about my stationary supply addiction? It's a sickness that no 12-step program can cure me of. I think I need some kind of accountability partner for these specific aisles of Target. But, I digress...)
I also use this time to re-organize my flashcards. Since I invest in quality flashcards, they all have a specific numeric order...making it easy for even my kids to put the mammoth stacks back to "start mode". I farm-out this job to my "willing" participant(s)...the ten and under crowd...and start my year with order.
6. I form a school year calendar-of-events. (July)
I check past school-year calendars and brainstorm any upcoming events that might fall within the school year in order to formulate a tentative calendar for my year. I share more about the INs and OUTs of creating a calendar here>>
7. I schedule my entire school year. (Mid July-August)
I recognize that scheduling an entire school year seems constrictive to some. But, I prepare my plan with purpose knowing that it is a FLEXIBLE plan and can be revamped as needed. Here's how I do that>>
8. I sketch out a "daily flow".
As I've mentioned before, I don't make an actual daily schedule with time slots and rigid order. That's just a bit too unrealistic when you are trying to weave HOME with SCHOOL. But, I do like to have a skeletal plan to how our day will look...how it will FLOW. So, I make a list of all the subjects that need to be tackled each day as well as any home tasks that will require my daily attention...such as making meals, putting The Newbie down for a nap, answering emails...and I sort this out into a "penciled in" order of events. The "penciled in" part is KEY. I can't assume that a flow plan is going to work until it has been put to the test. I usually reevaluate this plan after the first week of school. Often, things need to be tweaked.
9. I brainstorm First-day-of-school-fun ideas. (End of August)
I want the start of our homeschool year to be a bang, not a fizzle. In order for that to happen, the first day has to look different than all the rest. In year's past, I've planned scavenger hunts, wrapped new school supplies in gift wrap, organized special field trips, and much more. WHY? Because FIRSTS and LASTS should be monumental not monotonous, in my opinion anyway. Here's what a typical "first day(s)" looks like in our home>>
10. I take a big gulp and leap...with a smile.
The call to homeschool has been one of the biggest blessings the Lord has ever given me. It's a responsibility I don't take lightly. But, even though I feel like I start each year prepared ON PAPER, there's always a sense of "Can I really do this in real life?" I've learned to recognize that as a whisper from the Enemy. So, when summer gives way to fall each year, I hold fast to The Word I was given, hike up my big girl pants, and START. With much fear and trembling...with a little bit of self-doubt...but with a passion for raising up arrows that God will one day shoot forth into the world for their good and His glory.
And that brings us to the last week in August...
which for us, marks the BEGINNING.
The beginning of something great.
The beginning of something memorable.
The beginning of a new school year.
It's almost here and I'm currently working on step 7. I'd better get crackin'!
Need more HOW DO I HOMESCHOOL....FOR REAL tips, be sure to follow my Homeschooling 101 Pinterest Board.
While you're preparing for the upcoming school year, don't forget to grab your copy of The Big Book of Homeschool Ideas, a must-have resource form 55 seasoned homeschool mommas. This is a book that will grow with ALL your ages and stages of learning!