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Catholic Homeschool Articles, Advice & Resources

7 Tips for a Stress-Free Start to Your Homeschool Year

by Heather Hryniewicki

Happy back-to-school time! This is such an exciting and invigorating time of year. I feel ready to leave the lazy days of summer and embrace routine and structure.

Starting the new year, I find that if I am well prepared, I feel free to enjoy the excitement and challenges without the stress of trying to figure it all out as we go.

So here are my 7 tips on getting back to homeschool.

1. Consecration to Mary

The very first thing I do is begin my preparation for consecration to Mary. I typically use the book 33 Days to Morning Glory by Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC. This is an invaluable time.

It helps me to entrust our school year to our Blessed Mother and remind myself of how she has led me to this lifestyle of learning. If I place everything in her hands, and entrust them to her care, then I can be assured that each child will receive what he or she needs during the coming school year.

My consecration date is August 15, on the feast of the Assumption. We begin our new year the following Monday.

2. Review Books & Lesson Plans

One of the most enjoyable aspects of preparing for our school year is going over the lesson plans and new books for each child.

I really enjoy seeing what they will be learning and becoming familiar with how each subject is presented. In doing this you will find out what topics will be covered, and when. You will also be able to prepare yourself to teach each subject and brush up on any subjects you may feel a little rusty in.

It is also a way to get your child excited about topics they are interested in.

3.Make a Weekly Schedule

Once I know how many days per week each subject will be covered, I can make my weekly schedule for each child. I use the lesson plans to map out each day.

Some subjects, like math and religion, will be five days a week. Other subjects may be only one or two days a week, like physical education, art, or music.

There are also certain subjects that have predictable testing days, like spelling and vocabulary, which I include on the schedule.

In this way I am less likely to forget any subjects, and my children know what is expected each day.

4. Approximate a Yearly Schedule

With all of this information I am able to create an approximate schedule for the entire year. I know that there are 36 weeks of classes scheduled, and I figure out where the holidays are that we will want to take time off for.

By doing this I will feel secure with how much time I have to complete the year, and I know where the schedule can be tweaked if circumstances arise. It also allows extended family to see how our year looks. I send out the children’s yearly schedule to their grandparents so they know when school is happening, and can plan fun visits with the kids when they are off.

5. Children’s Chore Charts

My next step in getting ready is making chore charts for the children. One of the things I have come to understand, and then helped my children understand, is that home education is a family affair.

We all need to pitch in and help, and by doing their assigned, age-appropriate chore each day, they are helping to make things run more smoothly and comfortably.

They are acquiring life skills, learning time management, and receiving the satisfaction that comes from a job well done.

6. Organizing the Play & Study Areas

Next, I organize our play room and study area. With young children this includes clearing out any unused, outgrown, or broken toys. The less clutter the better.

School books are organized on book shelves, each child having their own area within their reach. I try to place the older student’s books higher to keep them safe from my younger students.

School supplies are put into small bins that each child knows where to find. I also make sure that any items we may need, like art supplies, pencils, erasers, etc., are refreshed so we will have what we need to begin.

Art class is one of the courses that I find is helpful to know what materials you will need beforehand so that you are ready when it is time to do each project.

7. New Outfits & Haircuts

The last thing I do to get ready to begin our year is to purchase the children a new outfit or two and get each of them haircuts. This may seem like a superficial thing to think about, but I find it makes everyone feel fresh and excited.

It underscores how important their education is, and that they should feel excited and prepared to take on this brand new year.

I hope these tips help you to feel prepared and ready to begin your new year. It is such a wonderful experience, and by being well organized and confident, it will enable you to enjoy this precious time with your family.

You will be able to feel more relaxed, and your children will be able to learn in a loving and enriching environment.

Read Heather Hryniewicki’s ‘Feature Family article:

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