It’s the sparkle that we put into any life event that makes it memorable. It doesn’t have to be expensive or fancy, it just has to be “special.” It needs to be celebrated. The truth is, celebration can make anything seem amazing.
Back-to-school is a season that is well known for it’s celebration, but it’s one that is often ignored by homeschoolers. Maybe it’s because many homeschoolers have school year round. Or perhaps the thought of preparing and organizing a new year is so daunting, that the celebration part falls exhausted in between the lesson plan pages. Whatever it is, I want to issue you will a simple challenge.
This year, let’s have a back to homeschool celebration!
Don’t panic. This isn’t another thing to add to the ever-growing to-do list. I’m all about Simple Homeschool. We can have a celebration of this wonderful homeschool journey without breaking the bank or losing hours of sleep.
The key is to make a big deal out of stuff you probably already need to do. Remember, add a little sparkle and anything is special! Here are some simple ideas to get you started.
1. Go shopping together for school supplies.
I know that I don’t have to tell you that EVERYTHING is on sale this time of the year. I’m sure you’ll take advantage of those sales and stock up. Why not take the kiddos with you? Believe me, I know it’s a lot of work to do that, but it’s so fun to decide what color notebook you will get for the year. It really creates a sense of ownership for the kids. If budget is a concern, give each child a specific list and cash to spend. Help them learn to stay in that budget and choose the things they really need most rather than the character folders that are significantly more expensive. I’ve got a list of some of my favorite purchases here in our Homeschool Printable Collection if you need some ideas to get you started.
2. Create fun Notebooks
I absolutely LOVE to have my kids create their own notebooks each year. Yes, I’m aware that this means that they won’t be perfect. But it also means, that they will totally own it.
I’m picky about the binder. I buy only avery 1.5 inch binders each year. I’ve tried generic brands, they don’t make it the whole year. I let the kids pick their color when we go shopping.
Next is the cover page. We’ve done all kinds of things like decorating with stickers and drawing. My kids prefer to draw their own. I use PicMonkey and create a custom image (816px by 1056px). Then use the font of my choice to write their names.
This year we covered the back with washi tape. It was such fun. Even my 6 year old boy enjoyed it. If you look closely, you can tell that this wasn’t done by a professional. I love it that way! Find out what we put inside our notebooks here.
We fill these notebooks with weekly checklists and many other record keeping pages to keep us on track!
Read more about how we kicked the lesson plan book to the curb here. Just imagine what you can do with all of that free time!
3. Create a special space for school
I am not a fan of individual student desks in homeschool, although I have tried it. I much prefer a central space that incorporates everyone. It stays cleaner, makes collaboration easier, and makes my job a breeze. But children do enjoy having something that is their own. We set up student cubbies, as pictured above. You could also have them decorate their own pencil box.
Need help setting up and laying a strong foundation for your homeschool? You’ll love Organize My Homeschool.
4. Take some fun pictures.
This only takes a few minutes, but it lasts a lifetime. AND it creates a super fun excitement over back-to-school. There are literally hundreds of FREE printables on Pinterest that you can use for your photo op. I’ve got several on my Back-to-school board here. I used these printables. You might also find one you love here: 30+ Free Printables for First Day of School Photos.
5. Create a new tradition.
I think traditions are so much fun. They don’t always require a lot of work, just a lot of consistency. I know families that go out for pancakes on the first day of homeschool. I’ve heard of people who take a half day and go to the park the first afternoon. I think it would be fun to have slurpies after a job well done. Truly, the options are endless.
But in our family we have a favorite tradition that started on accident about 5 years ago.
Our tradition: Kids in Charge Week
Yeah, you read that right. Our tradition is called “kids in charge week.” We pick one week in the summer (usually close to the start of school) and, you guessed it, the kids are in charge. But don’t panic. Let me explain.
Each child is assigned a day. They get to choose the activities for the day, the menu, and any other fun things we want to throw in. As a family, we sat down and made a list of all the fun things in town we could think of. I made sure to throw in things like the park and museums.
I was certain my kids would all pick amusement parks or super expensive activities. I was wrong. They didn’t all pick free things, but they did choose reasonably. One wanted to walk around Cabela’s and then get ice cream. (I have to admit, it was way more fun than I could have imagined. Pictured below for your enjoyment, too.)
They also chose things like family game time at home, a trip to the homeschool bookstore, the local history museum, a glow stick party, and a trip to a bakery downtown.
The key to getting good activities is sitting down and brainstorming the possibilities.
Also, if your kids are old enough, give them a budget. This is a great way to teach them quite a bit about the real cost of fun activities. My kids have a budget this year and they are super excited about being trusted with the money.
By the way… the week really doesn’t matter. Once, we did it two weeks after school started. This year it will be a few weeks beforehand. Whenever you do it, the kids are going to love you. So pick a date and get excited.
Then tell me how it goes, ok? I can’t wait to hear what you did!
6. Start with the Fun Stuff
Whenever we start back to school, we never dig into to the hard stuff. I prefer more of a soft start. The first several days we make journals/notebooks fun like pictured above. We also do goal planning, make a list of ideas for field trips, an All About Me interview and other activities. This isn’t just plain fun either! These pages are great record keeping for the school year, too.
You can download this set of FREE printables as a part of our Homeschool Printables Collection. Click below for more info.
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