3 Tips for Back to School

It’s back to school time! Pencils are being sharpened, golden beads counted, and trays arranged on shelves. We’re ready to move forward in the new school year. Or are we? There’s always a hiccup or two in the plan.

We’re heading into our third week of school for the year. Our first day of school ended up not being our first day of school. I had spent the week before prepping, arranging the shelves, and making sure I had all my lesson plans printed and ready on my clipboard. Then I went away for the weekend.

I woke up Monday morning more tired than I predicted with less patience and just not mentally as ready as I thought I would be. The kids were having a rough morning (or at least I thought they were…it was probably just me). They wanted our traditional pancake breakfast. I just wanted coffee.  For our first day of school, things were not turning out quite like I had imagined. I planned so well for this. It was all printed out in coordinated colors!

I could’ve pushed through it, but it wouldn’t have been pleasant and in my head I know I would’ve have seen it as a failure and felt guilty for starting our a new year off with a bad attitude.

So I called for a redo. Even if things didn’t go perfectly, I knew with a little more sleep and a change of attitude Tuesday would be a better day.  So we went to IHOP and ran errands (oh, yes…we were also in need of groceries).

Tuesday, I was ready. And everything was a hundred times better. I made the pancakes, even for Mr. Bunny.

3 Tips for Back to School

1. It is what it is.

Perfection isn’t the goal, nor is it real. There will always be hiccups. There will always be There will always be tired mornings. There will always be mishaps we didn’t plan for–water on the floor, an unexpected clothing battle, misplaced lesson plans.

It may not be every day, but we know from experience something will happen. So what do we do then?

Accept that there are some things in life we can’t change and no matter how well planned we are, we can’t plan for everything. There will be bumps in our homeschool days and family life. It is what it is.

But that doesn’t mean we need to take a defeatist attitude. We’ve had a set-back, so?  Maria Montessori had to dissect cadavers on her own at night,  because society at the time thought it would be immodest for her to dissect cadavers alongside men.

Take a breather and start again. Separate yourself from the situation, even if it’s just a five-minute bathroom break (lock that door!), and ask yourself,

“Does this absolutely need to happen today? In this way? At this time?

What will my children and I gain if we continue with this/these attitudes?

What will we lose if we keep pushing on with these attitudes?

What can I do to change the atmosphere right now?”

Sometimes we need to know when to push through and when we need to put the breaks on the day. The answer will change based on the day, needs, and circumstance.

2.  It’s okay to reevaluate.

Even in the beginning of the year. Maybe you realize you need to change directions. That one of your children needs something other than you planned. Perhaps you’ve over planned and need more margin. Maybe you realize you haven’t given enough room for play or interest-led projects. Change it. Your plans are not set in stone.

You have freedom to change and find what works for you and your family. And if this new thing doesn’t work as you thought, you can change that too. We’re educators and parents, homemakers and culture makers, we’re guides and cultivators. We’re making choices to find what best fits our family’s educational goals, but more than that we’re making decisions to help our children reach their full potential.

It’s going to take time, trial and error, and patience to figure out what that looks like.

We’re not going to know all of what our children need on our first go or even our second or tenth. Parenting and teaching isn’t as linear as we think. We will constantly be adjusting ideas and methods to help our children and ourselves.

(Two out of four looking at the camera…that’s pretty good, right?) 

3. Remember your why.

When you start to feel overwhelmed with your over planning or lack of planning or somewhere in between. When you see everyone else’s “perfect” spaces or a great unit idea and you feel you have to add in one more thing, remember your why. Why are you homeschooling? Why did you choose this method?

But more importantly, what is your goal in the long run? To finish all the language lessons in a year? To get through a certain amount of history? To know the difference between a planet and a dwarf planet?

What’s your ultimate goal and reason for homeschooling? Compare all the new ideas and insecurities to that. Readjust if you need to, but most often we get sidetracked in our vision and purposes when we forget our end goal. We see everything else (lots of great ideas!) and feel like we’ve missed something.

Maybe we have, but more likely we’ve lost sight of our direction in the haze of everyone else. Look up, instead of around and maintain your course.

You’ve got this!

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