Gearing Up . . .

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Over on Sonlight's Homeschool Support Forum they're beginning to gear up for the coming school year. One of my favorite blessings of homeschooling is the ability to determine your own school schedule ... when to begin and when to end your year. August was always a great start time for our family. However, regardless of when the first day of school may fall, summer is a great time to think about what the year will look like.

One of the most helpful exercises we would engage in prior to the start of school each year was the "principal/teacher" meeting. My husband and I would head out for an afternoon or evening to a local park or restaurant where we could talk without interruption. The purpose was to review the previous school year and set goals for the coming year. For each child/student we would make a list of 2-3 Academic goals and 2-3 Spiritual goals. Those goals would be based on our review of the previous year. So a sample goals list might look something like this:


  • Master phonics skills
  • Focus on foundational math concepts
  • Work on "immediate obedience" - answer the first time mom calls
  • Encourage and facilitate scripture memory in AWANA

The value in writing out each student's goals was two-fold ... 1) it helped me to head into the school year with a clear picture of what I was aiming for, and 2) in the middle of the school year (usually long about February), when I had days where I was overwhelmed and couldn't remember why in the world I was homeschooling, it was a good reminder of where my focus should be.

Box Day was always another favorite event as we geared up for the coming school year. In our family, Christmas and all the birthdays fall within a month or so of each other. So Box Day in August was like having a summer birthday! But once all the books had been handled and pored over and drooled upon, they still required some organization. My school year always went so much more smoothly when I knew where our school books "lived".

Sonlight has a wonderful webinar and a workshop video on organizing your home and homeschool. I always find it helpful to hear tips and ideas for organization that have worked for others. So grab your laptop and head for the back porch or pool-side to watch and listen to these great resources. Then plan a trip to the local office supply store to purchase some inexpensive organizational tools (i.e. crates, folders, etc...) and be sure to buy some new pencils for your kids. Who cares if most kids don't use pencils any longer ... school isn't officially started until you smell the new pencils!

Still on the journey ....

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  1. Great post, Judy! I'm just starting our homeschool journey, and I think that determining when to "start" your year is one of the most freeing things about homeschool! I've heard people on the forums talk about starting in November, because they have a new baby coming in September and want to get settled first; in January, because they like to go with the calendar year; in March, because they have the hardest time getting work done during the coldest months of the year and they take their vacation then (or because they're in the southern hemisphere and that's their summer!). It's such a great example of one way that homeschooling can really free you up.

    In our case, my current plan is *not* to have a specific start date. We plan to school year-round, but freely take shorter vacations or breaks whenever we need to along the way. Also, we'll move up in each subject once we're done and ready to, rather than trying to time core, language arts, math, science, etc. to all start and finish at the same time. So if we have a math whiz and we start a year of math in August and finish in March, we'll just move on to the next year of math, even if we're still on week 26 of the core. Sonlight's schedules make doing something like that easy, which is another favorite thing of mine (I just ignore the week number and day listed, and just do one day at a time, even if we're doing "Wednesday's" work on Monday).