This school year was going to be different than all the others. I was
determined to make this the best homeschool year ever! During the lazy
span of summer days I had allowed my mind to wander into dangerous
territory. Good, sound ideas and teaching methods soon ballooned into
wild educational expectations and unrealistic homeschool goals. Unlike
other years, my students' curriculums were purchased by early July and
the lesson plans were meticulously lined up until Christmas. I could
barely wait for the first day of school so I could present my well
considered curriculum to my unsuspecting students.
As the little scholars settled into their assigned seats around the
kitchen table to begin our best homeschool year ever, I inhaled deeply
and delighted in the slight crispness I sensed in the early August air.
(I should have realized that the crispness was only wishful thinking and
a symptom of my over eagerness.) With what I thought was infectious
enthusiasm I launched into a detailed overview of what each learner
would accomplish in the up coming year; educational, vocational,
spiritual goals, detailed reading lists, and the new books were handed
out. As my spiel reached its crescendo, I glanced around the table to
see all three children crying . . . and within 10 minutes flat. A new
This school year certainly was different than all the others and not
even in the running for the best. Under my expert tutelage, I expected
my students to respond with irrepressible joy and unbridled enthusiasm.
Instead, my children responded with tears. Somewhere during the dreamy
days of summer, I traded in home educating my children for teaching
students. Long forgotten was the best part of home education-the freedom
to consider the needs of my children. This year, my children needed just
a few more carefree days of summer and a gentle easing into the school
year that lay before us.
Here are a few suggestions to help you E-A-S-E into the first days of
- Establish traditions. Transition into the first days of schools by
establishing traditions that will cue the children that summer is coming
to an end. Our yearly traditions included the County Fair, tubing down
the Niobrara River, day trip to Water Park, dentist and eye doctor
appointments, school shopping, and of course, the first day of school
pictures for the scrap book.
- Assign a reasonable amount of work for the first few weeks. I liken
the act of starting the school year off to juggling. One would never
begin juggling all four balls at once; rather you would start with one
ball and then add another and another. The same can be said with school
subjects. Begin with one or two subjects and then as the days go by add
another and another. Pretty soon you will be juggling a full day of
- Sense your children's needs. One of the true perks of home
education is not just being the teacher, but being a parent who is aware
of their children's needs. You have the ability to gently lead them into
the school year rather than drag them kicking and screaming.
- Enjoy! Why make the first days of school so serious? Lighten up!
Hand out tongue twisters for your students to master. Have classes
outside to enjoy the last days of summer. Plan a First Week of School
celebration and invite the grandparents. End your first full school day
with a water balloon toss in the back yard. Be creative!
My abrupt approach to the first day of school was as grating to my
children as fingernails scraping the chalkboard were to me! My method
was altered and the entire week was devoted to reading aloud from a book
we all delighted in. As I remember, that year did turn out to be
different from all the others as my children and I eased into our best
homeschool year . . . ever.
Shelley Noonan is a homeschool veteran, popular conference speaker and
co-author of four books including The Companion Guide to Beautiful
Girlhood. Visit her online at PumpkinSeedPress.net.