Going back to school (or not going back to school for that matter) doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Keep things simple by starting slow and by using the resources you already have available.
Focus on what’s right for your family, right now. Choose what fits your priorities and goals, and let go of everything else — I promise you won’t regret it. So here are five tips for starting off your school year right.
1. Simplify your supply list.
Beware the back to school sales! They’re so tempting, and who doesn’t love a good trip down the office supply aisle? Remember that you have to store and maintain whatever you buy, though. You can just say no to most of it.
Since you don’t have to buy everything on a classroom supply list, only choose what you know you’ll use. Leave everything else behind. If you turn out to need something later, you can always go back.
You might not get a rock-bottom back-to-school-sale price that way, but you also won’t have spent time and money on supplies you’re never going to use.
2. Just say no.
Since your schedule is flexible and a little unusual, you may find that other people ask you to do all sorts of things you don’t have time for. There are more classes and co-ops and lessons and enrichment activities out there than any family could handle.
You don’t have to do everything all at once, and you don’t have to start everything at back-to-school time. You can decide what your goals and priorities are for this season. Those get a “yes,” but everything else can take a “no” for now.
If you need a “no” script, try one of these:
- That won’t work for us this season.
- We’re going to skip that this time.
- I can’t commit during school time.
- I’m sorry, that’s not for us.
- We’re not up for that.
- Our margin for activities is full for now.
- That sounds great, but we’re going to pass.
3. Combine activities.
Multitasking is distracting, depleting, and doesn’t help you get more done faster. That’s not a great strategy. Instead, sometimes you can combine activities into single tasks that help pare down the to-do list faster.
- Combine driving time with audiobooks or educational podcasts.
- Combine “school time” reading with bedtime reading by reading the stories on your curriculum list aloud before turning out the kids’ lights.
- Combine subjects. Nature journaling can have elements of science, art, handwriting, and creative writing, for example. Reading historical fiction can lead to learning about history, geography, art, and literature.
- Combine projects by encouraging your kids work on books, experiments, and other learning activities together whenever possible. They’ll each get something different out of the collaboration based on their age and stage.
- Combine efforts with another family. For things like science experiments and art projects, simplify by working together.
It’s not multitasking, it’s just getting more out of each single task.
4. Know your library.
If you don’t already know what your local library has to offer, this is a great time to find out. Can you request books online? Renew books online?
Do they have a collection of ebooks, audiobooks, or educational movies to choose from? Are they part of an Inter-Library Loan system that allows you to request books from other libraries?
If you’ll be using library resources often, set up a system to remind yourself to request, renew, and return books. Schedule a weekly or monthly library trip, or set reminders on your phone to keep from drowning in late fees.
Choosing one shelf or basket or book bag in your house to store all library materials can be smart, too, so you’re not stuck hunting for missing books on their due dates.
5. Use your tech.
Instead of learning new systems to keep track of school things, just use the tools you already know in new ways.
Pinterest — can be used to organize videos, articles, printables, or lesson ideas.
Goodreads — can be used to create book lists by subject, by grade level or by student.
Evernote — can store your to-do lists, you archives, or your ideas.
Instagram — could become an instant art gallery or portfolio for your child’s work. Once you photograph it, you don’t have to save every piece of paper or project.
A simpler back to school season is possible. How are you keeping things simple?
Help your homeschool friends out by sharing this with them:
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