It is early July. I am still soaking up lazy days with simpler schedules. This Friday, I hope for nothing more than taking my oldest to violin, sewing, and reading.
And yet, a new school year looms on the horizon. With a new baby coming, new schedules to work with, and regular daily life, I need a good plan for making these days run smoothly. I am starting next week, mid-July, to ease us into a busy new year. Hopefully a few simple plans and weeks of practice will help the year get off to a fabulous start.
Haha! Who am I kidding? A “fabulous” start will be a day with minimal whining, everyone up with 10 minutes of “on-time”, and me with coffee in hand while on the way to the first school drop-off. It will be imperfect. It will find me a bit crazed and stressed. Hopefully it will turn out just fine, because at least lunches will be made and shoes will be on feet.
Oh, the “out the door for the first school drop-off part”? Yes, we are still homeschooling–the girls. They still participate in a local enrichment program once a week. And the boys? They are going to attend a classical charter near us. It will be a big change, but we are hopeful for good things and looking forward to the year.
The wake-ups and lunches might be the hardest part of the first few weeks.
To avoid mass-chaos, tears, stomping of feet, and forgotten lunches, I am working on a few simple ways to smooth over the transition before it even begins.
Even in years when we have solely homeschooled, the first week seems to be bumpy and difficult. I may be a dreamer, but I want to avoid a difficult week as much as possible. Here are my plans to ease into a new school year, for the homeschool side as well as the traditional school side.
I am making a list of 5-10 simple, nutritious lunches, to rotate on weekdays. In the weeks before our official school start, I’ll work towards a set “lunch hour” and give the kids plenty of practice prepping and assembling. Not only will they learn the routine, they’ll have learned the life-skill of preparing a meal for themselves.
Last year, we started in late July with about half of our subjects, and worked up to a full load by the 2nd week or so of August. This summer, the girls and I chose to begin even earlier, with one (maybe two) subjects, and we will build up to a full load by mid-August. They chose science. I hope this will give us time to focus on a subject we often overlook or skim over when days and life overflow with distractions and unexpected events, as well as give us a nice head-start so we can have several weeks without science in the lesson plans. I like to think of it as a buffer of sorts. Using a small amount of time now allows us a huge amount of leeway later on when I know we will need lighten the load.
Faith Formation and Prayer:
This year, my 7yr old will make his First Holy Communion! I will devote a whole post to that later on, but I already ordered some materials from Catholic Heritage Curricula to help our preparations at home. Our parish does provide materials, but when I prepped our daughter a few years ago, I appreciated (as did she) the extra formation from the prayers and activities in the CHC materials.
Also, I splurged on a set of Bible study tools from TAN Homeschool, for the whole family. My hope is to gather together on the weekend or a calm weeknight to study and learn together about the New Testament.
This might seem like little in the way of early prep…but even thinking ahead and choosing one thing to focus on as a family for faith growth gets you planning and moving towards your goal. Think of it like the Christmas in July sales…only you are proactively taking steps to deepen your family’s faith before the next bug sacrament, before the parish religious ed registration opens, before you feel so stressed by everything else that faith gets lost in the shuffle. The easiest and most important part to this one: setting aside time for prayer and Bible reading each day. We were good about this during our regular school year, and I miss it. We’ll add this back in, either by taking 10 or ao minutes after breakfast or at the lunch hour. So simple, so important.
What keeps us plugging along? Having prayer as a proirity, but also quality family time. Each week we try to keep Sunday as a family day after Mass, and when we have a chance other days or evenings, we do the same. It looks like special dinners out (Chipotle works!), bike rides or evening walks, trips to the zoo when Daddy is off work, hiking the beautiful local trails, and if time allows, camping. These times together help us stay connected, have fun together, and make lasting memories. Family time builds us up and gives us a strong foundation of love so we can face other challenges together as they come in any part of the year.
That’s it! How about you? Any tips for getting your family into a groove before hitting the books?