Homeschoolers’ Back to School Rituals Unveiled
I had to laugh when I typed that title in! Even as prevalent as homeschooling is these days, there are still so many who view homeschooling as mysterious, never really sure what it is homeschooling families do all day. Recently I was having a back to school discussion with a few fellow moms. We were talking about back to school sales, getting the kids ready for the fall schedule changes, and more. One of the moms looked at me and said, “Oh, well I guess you don’t have to really worry about all this stuff, do you?” I about fell over! Back to school season for homeschoolers isn’t much different than in a home where the children leave each day and go to school. From this homeschooling mom of four, here’s a peek into how the back to school season plays out at our house.
Schedule Changes - Like any normal family, our schedule changes dramatically once school starts. Our lazy summer days turn into full, scheduled days of lessons and activities, and we have fun counting down to the first day of school with anticipation just like everyone else. Our kids have a school night bedtime just like other children, and I try not to schedule well child checkups and dentist appointments during school hours just like most moms. We have a daily start time for school lessons (although it is a bit flexible since it just requires walking across the house to the school room), and we also have scheduled extra curricular activities, field trips, etc. We usually start a few weeks before the first day of school making small changes to our schedule to smoothly transition into the new fall rhythm. I’ll share some tips for a smooth schedule transition next week!
Back to School Shopping - This is one section that is a bit different for homeschoolers. We buy supplies such as notebook paper, binders, index cards, pencils, erasers, glue, folders, and more just like everyone else. I shop the many back to school sales trying to find the best price on glue sticks and markers right along with the rest of you. I also do back to school clothes shopping, except it’s basically seasonal clothes shopping for us. I do it during the back to school season to take advantage of the back to school sales, and get the kids prepared for the fall and upcoming winter season, purchasing any clothes and shoes we might need to complete the next season’s wardrobe. Contrary to popular belief, we don’t do school in our pajamas everyday, only some days.
This is where my shopping is a bit different in preparation for back to school. We also have to purchase all our textbooks, workbooks, testing supplies, and more to make up the bulk of our curriculum. I usually do this a bit at a time throughout the summer to spread out the expense. These supplies can get a bit expensive and involved depending on the grade levels and how many children you have. We also purchase all our own art and crafting supplies, as well as any supplies needed for science experiments. Some of these items are spread throughout the year as we need them, but I try to plan ahead at least a few months and get things prepared for the start of the school year. Last year, part of our back to school shopping included purchasing a new laptop and desk for Caitlyn, our oldest. So, sometimes large items end up on our back to school list, too. One last thing I also have to make sure I get are supplies for me! My teacher’s desk has to be prepared as well, making sure I’m stocked on staples, red pens for grading, permanent markers for labeling, paper clips, sticky notes, and more!
School Lunches - School lunches at are house aren’t very different than yours. I do have the advantage of not having to pack it every morning, but I still have to buy the food and figure out what they are going to eat. Check out Tricia’s post with some easy back to school lunch ideas, and be sure and download Vanessa’s printable lunchbox notes to stick inside!
Fees - While many of you pay field trip fees, sports fees, etc. at the start of school, we also have different fees we pay. We go on field trips just like other students, so field trip fees come up from time to time, or when it’s time to renew our family membership to the science museum or zoo which usually falls around back to school time. Each of my children are also involved in extracurricular activities like many of yours. While we prepare for back to school, many of these types of activities start up again from the summer break. This year, both of my girls will need new dance shoes since their feet grew so much over the summer, and we also have some new TaeKwonDo equipment needed for John David and Kylie’s fall classes in preparation for their black belt test.
The back to school season at our house is just as busy and crazy as most households. My only advantage is that if I’m running behind on my preparations, I can hold off the start of school for a few days!