The 2020-2021 school year will be another out of the ordinary year for us all. Whether you have decided to homeschool or virtual school the children this year, this post is for you.
Here are four things you may want to consider this back-to-school season:
1. A Designated Space
First of all, where is all the learning going to take place? I don’t know about you but the Covid kitchen table nearly did me in last spring! The kitchen table is always a go-to for families but, it may not be where you want to set up shop for a full year of learning. Erasers bits and pepper anyone? No! You just had a snack!
- Is it time to invest in a desk for your child?
- Do siblings need to be separated and free from distractions while learning?
- Is the kitchen table, the hub of the home, too distracting for your little one?
- Can you purge and move some things around to accommodate all the people being home? (I’m using our guest closet to house some of the extra learning materials because guess what? We are entertaining no-one for a while!)
Consider utilizing other spaces in your home for learning time.
Blankets and clipboards on the floor and reading on the couch can make learning time more inviting (and tolerable).
2. Curriculum + Learning Materials
What are the children going to learn? Are you following the school district’s virtual plan? Or are you going rogue, like me?
If so, you need to get busy gathering your homeschool curriculum and learning materials. I must say that I am secretly excited to be in control of what my child is learning. I’m also a bit like the emoji with no mouth and big eyes! The girl has way more energy than caffeinated lil ol’ me and the lack of separation between school, home, and quarantine is like . . . but we do what we have to do. I digress.
If you are going virtual . . .
- Get acclimated with what the school and the teachers are expecting.
- Write all those dates and times down.
- Create a desktop folder for each child on his/her device.
- Save those important PDF’s.
- Round up those chargers and cords. (And label those bad boys while you at it!)
- Teach the big kids how to unplug and reset the modem.
- Order the ink and stock up on paper.
- Bookmark or home-screen those websites when possible.
- Have the devices save the passwords automatically.
- Take deep breaths and try to think ahead of all the things that will make things easier in the days to come.
If you are homeschooling . . .
- Decide on a curriculum stat and order the materials you will need to teach it.
- Join a homeschool Facebook group or two to get ideas and support.
- Find a few seasoned homeschoolers on Pinterest and social. Who speaks your Mom language? Then hold on for dear life!
Here are some unlikely places, I have found teaching materials you may want to consider, no matter y0ur route.
Thrift Books: Used books for cheap = winning! You need to know what you are looking for though. The descriptions are vague.
eBay: Homeschoolers resell their gently books and I’m here for it. The price is right too!
Teacher Pay Teachers: TPT is a great place to snag supplemental learning materials. Teacher creators make the best learning materials but I’m biased.
Evan-Moor Publishers: This company has an extensive line of teacher created materials that I loved while in the classroom and especially now for homeschool. They always have the quick and dirty lessons that reinforce those core skills. It’s hard to name my favorites but if I had to- Spelling, Daily Language, Daily Fundamentals, Basic Math by grade level, they are all amazing!
- School Specialty Supply: I really love their kid-friendly dictionaries for young writers.
Amazon: Find that publisher you like and add a grade level and boom! Books! I’m also adding those picture books I see online to my cart constantly. Stop influencing me!
Walmart: I found an adjustable dry erase board, chart paper, and resource books like an elementary dictionary and a world atlas.
Organization is the foundation of sanity when it comes to learning in my book. Now that computers, devices, books, papers, and CHILDREN (maybe the spouse) are home, our homes are looking like giant messy lockers! Ugh. This is why a little organization will especially go a long, long way towards keeping our houses homes. In addition to the children having dedicated learning spaces, the papers, books, and learning materials need a home too.
On the kitchen counter, I have a desktop file sorter to keep all the completed papers. I also keep extra copies of papers that I’ve already made copies of, like basic facts tests or the reading logs.
Next to the file bin (which I found on Amazon), I have a mail sorter (that came from an office supply store). The sorter is great place to keep journals and workbooks standing up neatly.
I’m also a huge a fan of school binders for children, no matter which way they are attending school.
- One binder with all the subjects divided into tabs for Elementary Students.
- A binder per subject for middle and high school students.
- Create an additional school binder for the house. Click here to learn how to make a school binder.
The school binder just keeps everyone on the top of their game. If you’d rather listen, I talked about it on my friend Maria Dismondy’s Empowering Kids Micro-Podcast. Listen to the podcast episode to see what you will need to make one!
4. What’s the plan?
What will the average week look like? What’s the daily schedule? The routine?
What are the big goals for the year?
How can we make this work for EVERYone, including the Mom? Do you feel me?
When is lunch?
When is outdoor time?
When will we break?!
Mommy needs some #cmoncoffee time!
I think it’s extremely important to get your head in the game and think about the big picture. Even though many of us are feeling thrown into this, I think there is still time to salvage our attitudes.
We can still dream up school vision for our children if we try. You are more than welcome to follow along on our #cr8joihomeschool journey (just click the social icons to the right of this page.)
I shared some of these ideas on an interview with our local news station. Click here to watch.
I would love to know what are your school plans are this year.
Veteran homeschooling parents, please share your advice.
Teacher friends, chime in.
We are doing this!