Practical Tips for Back to School

Practical Tips for a Great Back to School

School is pretty much underway across the United States and with all of us trying to get into the new routine there’s alot to be said for getting things to run smooth. I know, some days you just need a “do over”, but most of the time there are things you can put into practice that will help the day work better.

I’ve learned over the years with my six children that if I want things to go smoothly, then I need to be proactive. Easy – smooth flowing days don’t just happen. But, if I’ve put a few things into practice before the day starts then most often (notice – I didn’t say always!) our day ends up great!

Make a Check List for both you and the kids. We love the curriculum that we use currently. It offers a weekly planner that I can create for the entire year that pulls vacations and weekly breaks. It brings together everything they need to do for the day to complete their assignments, and then I add a check sheet for additional items such as timed reading, online geography, and even their online spelling assignments.Practical Tips for Back to School

Plan Ahead the night before. I know sometimes you don’t feel like it. But, take a minute before you head to bed and make sure everything is ready to roll for the next day!

Get into the routine of each day. Your check sheets that you’ve made will help with this. Instead of answering the “what do I do now?” question a hundred times a day, your kids will follow the check sheet and soon it will become habit. Make yourself a check list too – be sure to include work, home, and homeschool tasks.

Get enough rest. I know everyone says “get your 8.” Well, listen to them. Your kids need at least 8 hours, maybe more if they are growing fast. I know I need 8 or I get a headache. So, listen to your body, get the rest you need. You’ll find it gives you a bit more patience when you hit that terrible math lesson! BUT, the hard part is going to bed. I find that I love the quiet after the kids are in bed… but I can stay up half the night enjoying that quiet. So, for me it takes extra work to shut everything off and head to bed in time to get my 8 hours.

Question your time. Sometimes we lose time on silly things, often it’s social media, email, or even TV.  Cut back on all those time wasters, and limit yourself especially during the school day. Limit your email inbox checking to about 5-10 minutes each day. I try to avoid social media  – even though my work requires some time on social media channels I try to remind myself frequently to stay on task and FOCUS!

Some of these may seem so simple, but they can be life changing! Take one at a time and add them to your day. If you need help with a daily check sheet. Here’s a copy of our check sheet.




Top 6 Ways to Organize your Homeschool

Making a plan, organizing it and putting it into practice is the key to successful homeschooling. So many of my homeschooling friends have suffered through burn out, stress, and myriads of other issues simply because they failed to make an organized plan for their homeschool. I love how the summer time affords me the opportunity to rest, recuperate, and revamp my homeschool. From kindergarten online homeschool to printable worksheets whatever type of schooling you use… you still need to plan. As I take the time to make my homeschooling plan I typically follow these six steps…

1) Set goals. This is by far one of the most important things you can do to keep your homeschooling running efficiently. As with any endeavor if we know where we are headed… we are bound to get there. Review your curriculum’s scope and sequence or determine what major areas of study you want to cover. Then write a simple goal for the whole year. I like to break this LARGE goal down into a monthly smaller goal. If you school for 9 months, you can break up that large goal into 9 smaller goals that you will cover each month.

2) Review the past. Hindsight is 20/20 isn’t it? So, looking back and determining what things worked well and which were… uhmmm… not so great is a super way to make sure the future is better. I like to make notes at the end of the year while things are still fresh – to help me remember what subjects/methods the kids really did well with and which seemed to be a struggle. This helps me plan better when ordering and making curriculum.

3) Make a schedule. Everyone is different in this area, but having a routine of some sort will help maximize your children’s learning. Whether you have a very detailed schedule or just a general outline of what happens each day… your homeschool will benefit!

4) Put meat on the bones… now that you have a basic schedule it’s time to determine the course of study. Once you have your curriculum, review it and determine how many lessons it will take to complete it. Then divide that into how many months/days of school you have. This will help you see how frequently you need to include the course in your schedule. There have been some classes that we do twice a week while others we do every day. Make sure that your lessons support your monthly goals…

5) Put it together, with a planner. Yes, I know that sounds redundant… but truly some sort of organizational tool can be a life saver. I started with printed planners, but since I do most of my work online I have switched to spreadsheets in the past year. This year I developed a schedule for each of my kiddos and then put in weekly/monthly assignments in a Google Doc which I shared with them. I left blank boxes between each assignment so that my children could X each assignment as they completed it.

6) Organize your school area and stock up! Yep, the final activity before school begins. I love going through the whole school room and reorganizing it to be the most conducive to learning. Each year I try to improve how we store our curriculum, how I keep grades, and how we conduct each day. I also take inventory of what supplies I have, and then estimate how much I will need to last me till May. Then I head off to the store and take advantage of the “back-to-school” sales!

Homeschooling in the Bumps of Life!

I really enjoy having everything in order, and being on schedule… that fits my personality…but sometimes it just doesn’t work.

This past week was a perfect example. I was ready to start school, had all my curriculum, supplies, and even a schedule… but then I got sick. I don’t usually get sick, so when I do it typically wipes me out for at least a week. Once again, that was the case. My great plans for starting school were totally blown out of the water. At first, I really let it get to me. After all, I had entered dates into the spreadsheets that I made for tracking my children’s progress.

As I lay there thinking, ( and believe me I had a lot of time to think) I realized I was being so foolish. I was worrying myself over nothing. This was WHY we homeschool… to enjoy the freedom to rearrange our schedule and to accommodate for real life. I was letting outside expectations alter my personal expectations. I had to step back, and refocus. We have a whole year ahead of us, plenty of time to get all of our lessons in.  So, in the mean time – I asked the kids to do some review lessons and some fraction games to get their minds headed in the right direction.

This little life incident helped me see that so often I put “what is expected” ahead of what we really need. If I’m not breaking any laws, who cares what people think. We home school for the best interests of our family… we home school for us!

Saying goodbye to summer… and hello to school!

I have to admit that I am so sad that summer is… well I hate to say it… pretty much… over. I enjoy the relaxed carefree days of not having to be up and “at it” every morning. I enjoy not having to make lesson plans and fight with children who don’t want to “do” school. Of course, with six children it’s pretty much normal to have someone in a bad mood at any given time. But… in the summer… who cares? You can leave them to themselves to play (or get their attitude straight …alone in their room).

Ahhh… but school days… it’s all so different. Many people stuck in a small room for hours a day… not such a pretty picture… but it works… most of the time! But to make it work I have to do alot of preparation. That’s pretty much where I’m bogged down right now. I have two older daughters that are in high school, and yesterday I spent about 9 hours creating a college prep course of study for them complete with spreadsheet assignment tracking. Now my 4 younger children are in my line of sight. Of course, I use an online elementary curriculum as a backbone underneath a mix of other “favorite” studies. This year, I’m looking at changing up what we do for math. Since I’m a math teacher- I’m not really worried that the text will ruin my child. I’m sure I could make most any math text work… I just feel like they need a little bit of a different perspective.  A language arts workbook that is comprehensive yet easy to do is my other tall order, and geography is gaping hole that I need to cover. I found these geography games, that would really help but I would like to find a simple workbook as well. I’ve still yet to find the bell ringer for each of these… but if you have any suggestions let me know! What about you… what is your back to school order?

Back to School

Back to School

Well, it is that time of year again. Time for getting back to it.  Time to get back to school. How are you doing?  Have you begun homeschooling yet, or are you still trying to get it organized? Are you still excited, or has the newness already worn off? For us, we have been at it about 3 weeks now. The children are still pretty excited and seem to be interested, but I am beginning to encounter a few of the same old pitfalls.

First, something that started happening at the end of the last school term,  the children are starting to “rush” through work so that they can go play. It is always my desire to instill in them a love to learn, and I believe that they do – to an extent. This week I have tried to remind myself that they are “kids” and kids must play. In fact, at their age play is learning too. So, I had to come up with some guidelines to make sure that we are reaching our goals each day in “school”, before we try to reach our goals in “play.”  I have had to make the rule that they can’t go outside until all of their work has been checked, and fixed if needed.  Unbelievably, this has really made a difference. They know that they will have to fix or redo “rushed” spots, so they are doing a much better job. We had typically just done most of our work together, and I kept an eye on their daily progress.  This new “rule” has for the moment, fixed our situation.

Secondly, I have been a bit discouraged with some of the resources that I had planned for this year. I needed a few more ideas and even some lesson plans. I have been able to regroup a little in this area by looking for resources online. I found some online lesson plans and even some free online study units. I think we will give these a try to see if it helps. I have looked back over my lists of free/cheap  online resources that I published this spring. It reminded me of a few that I had forgotten… if you have time take a peak…

Foreign Language


Free Resources