Preparing for your first day of homeschool

How to Prepare for Your First Day of Homeschool

If you’re new to my blog, welcome! My name is Nike (nee-kay) and I’m a third-year homeschool mom to two awesome boys. This year, I’ll be teaching kindergarten and second-grade, and I’m super excited! I created this August series, titled “Ready, Set, Homeschool!” to offer encouragement and tips to homeschool newbies. The tips I’m sharing this month are things I’ve learned from homeschool veterans and through personal experience. Be sure to stick around for the next few weeks as I uncover some homeschool basics and more!

This week? How to Prepare for Your First Day of Homeschool. Keep reading if you want to know the foundation for my homeschool preparation and how it helped our homeschool thrive.


 How to Prepare for Your First Day of Homeschool


1. Don’t forget internal preparation.

Sometimes we get so caught up in buying school supplies, curricula, and setting up for our classroom that we completely forget what’s most important. That’s right! You can’t run a successful homeschool without taking care of your mind, body, and spirit first. What does that mean? Take care of ALL of you! For me, that means getting adequate rest, making healthy food choices, exercising regularly, and spending time with God.

I know, I know; this sounds so cliché, right? But friends, I wouldn’t feel right NOT to mention this significant detail of my life. Why? Because omitting internal preparation has NEVER amounted to a good day. Like EVER! I don’t mean perfect days, I mean good productive days where I’m full of energy, grace, love, and patience. Trust me, I’ve seen a difference in my demeanor. Perhaps you will, too! My current devotional? Be Still and Know!

Be Still and Know

2. Read books.

I like to read up on parenting, homeschool, education or whatever I feel will help me become a better homeschool mom—or person in general. I find when I read books on these topics, I gain a sense of confidence in my ability to homeschool and manage my home. And let me tell you, mindset is EVERYTHING! If you believe you can do it, you WILL. If you don’t believe you can do it, you WON’T. Come on, you’re a parent, I’m sure you’ve read The Little Engine That Could!

So, what am I reading now? Rich Kid, Smart Kid | Giving Your Child a Financial Head Start. This book has really been helping me decide how I want to teach finances in my homeschool. Other books I recommend are the series What Your Kindergartener Needs to Know. This series includes all early elementary grades. I love these books because they help me make better curriculum selections. You can even build your own curriculum around them. And of course, what’s a homeschool without reading The Well-Trained Mind? A book that makes a brilliant case for classical education.

3. Review all your curricula.

You will thank yourself for reviewing all your children’s curricula and becoming familiar with what they’ll be learning. Reviewing the curricula will also help you prepare for additional resources and supplies that may be needed. For instance, looking at my second-graders curriculum ahead of time allowed me to make a list of all the things he’ll need to complete his science experiments, geography projects, and more. Reviewing curricula also offers an opportunity to peruse Pinterest for fun hands-on activities to accompany formal lessons.

4. Make a tentative schedule…or several schedules.

I don’t know where I’d be without my home management binder. I have a homeschool schedule, a daily schedule, a cleaning schedule, an exercise schedule, a meal planning schedule, a work schedule, a calendar of events, and more! Why do I have so many schedules? Because they make homeschool manageable! Which makes me feel like I’ve got this!

You don’t need all of these schedules. I’m just a bit of a scheduleaholic. I simply listed the types of schedules I keep as a reference for you to decide what types schedules will make your homeschool days run smoother. In the past, when I didn’t keep as many schedules, I found myself using homeschool time to get things done—especially cleaning and meal prep. Having a system for all things “life” ensures our formal homeschool hours are solely spent on lessons.

Home Management Binder

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5. Create a learning space.

You don’t need a classroom, just a functional learning space. If you have a classroom, great! If you don’t, you can homeschool just about anywhere. Many of my friends like the living-room sofa just fine. Other friends prefer to sit around their dining room table. At our home, we like to homeschool outside on the back porch when we can. Other days, we homeschool in the boys’ room, which I turned into a classroom this year due to some changes happening around our home.

Personally, we did not have a decked-out classroom right away. During our first and second year of homeschool, we used what is now our office. The décor was VERY minimal and only included what I felt was totally necessary; a dry-erase board, a political map of the world, an alphabet border, and some reference charts for math and science, among just a few other things. This year, I approached homeschool with a similar attitude that “less is more.” So, everything you see in our classroom is something we’ll actually use on the regular basis—even down to the school supplies.

Homeschool Classroom Decor

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6. Create a homeschool budget.

Not just for curricula and school supplies, but also for fun stuff like field-trips and extra-curricular activities. Personally, I like to create a homeschool budget month-by-month because, as business owners, our earnings look different each month. I also like to set aside money each month to save for curriculum purchases for the next school year. I know setting money aside makes me sound super responsible, but, trust me, I only implemented this system due to the mass amount of money I ended up spending in one lump sum on homeschool purchases. Don’t be like the old me, be like the new me. Plan ahead!

7. Join a co-op.

If you’re new to homeschool, I highly suggest joining a homeschool co-op. Why? Because it makes “back-to-homeschool” season that much more fun when your kids have friends who are sharing the experience. This year, my boys are looking forward to seeing all their pals again. They’re super excited to take on new classes with friends and go on field-trip adventures with their homeschool group. We did not have this experience during our first homeschool year and we did okay—but having a community makes things so much better!

Homeschool Co-op
First Homeschool Field-trip at the Museum Viewing the Solar Eclipse 2017

8. Organize your home.

It’s a great idea to get the entire house in order. After all, it’s your “school building.” Before we homeschool, I like to do a bit of spring cleaning in the summer. You’d be surprised at how many school supplies are buried in your catch-all drawers, closets, garage, etc. I barely had to purchase any new supplies this year. I found a bunch of Expos, craft supplies, markers, crayons, sticky notes, and so much more. And they were all in perfect condition.

Additionally, when your refrigerator and pantry are neat and organized, it makes meal time a breeze. The kids won’t have any trouble finding mom-approved items for snacks and lunch. And if you still prepare all the meals, you’ll feel so much better preparing them in an organized kitchen. I like the notion that a decluttered home helps declutter your mind, shifting the environment and making you feel more at ease.

9. Make the first day special.

Roll out the red carpet! Hey, why not? It’s your homeschool and you can be “extra” if you want to (you totally read that to the “It’s My Party” melody). At our home, we play music, take pictures, talk about what we’re most excited about for the upcoming year, and I even give my boys a special goodie basket filled with fun stuff I know they’ll love. I don’t spend much on the goodie basket items, as most were from Dollar Tree or Target. I probably spent $20 bucks at the absolute most. They’ve got stickers, markers, ninja turtle pens, color pencils, mechanical pencils, fun pencil sharpeners, paint sets, art kits, sketch pads, fruit snacks, and other little odds and ends.

Back-to-Homeschool Ideas

10. Read my previous posts on “Ready, Set, Homeschool!”

In my previous posts, I go over homeschool laws, free curricula and homeschool deals, homeschool must-haves, and more. I don’t want to sound redundant, so click the links below to read them!

7 Homeschool Must-Haves That Didn’t Make Your List

30 FREE Homeschool Deals That’ll Help You Save Some Coins

10 Things You Should Know Before You Homeschool

 


 

And there you have it! This is not an all-inclusive list, but it’s definitely something we do in our home that makes a huge difference in starting our homeschool year off right. Congratulations on your first year of homeschool!  If this is not your first year, welcome to a brand new year! I pray for much success for all of you reading this post. Let me know in the comments: How do you prepare for your homeschool year?

 

 

 

 

 

Toddler Diet

8 Tips to Get Your Toddler to Eat Veggies

Let’s face it. The best way to get your toddler to eat his vegetables is to introduce them during infancy. Some parents do this and still have trouble getting their kid to eat the green stuff. Other parents have given in to more pleasant foods at the first sign of disapproval. Whatever category you fall into, it doesn’t matter. The truth is that even with the best diet, some toddlers enter the protesting phase once they realize they have an opinion. While this phase often results in barely touched plates and frustrated parents, take heart—this too shall pass. Here are some tips that may help your toddler adopt a more balanced diet.

1. Be an example.

You can’t expect your child to eat healthy foods when you don’t even eat them yourself. Although this should go without saying, you’d be surprised how many parents actually think this is possible. Children are sponges! Their first lesson on a healthy (or unhealthy) diet will come from you. So load up your plate with the green stuff and be an example!

2. Give them variety.

Sometimes we get in a rut and offer our children the same foods day in and day out. If you find that is you, be sure to add new and exciting veggies to your shopping list. Remember that your child may have a different palate than you, so don’t be afraid to buy those vegetables that you don’t care for—your child may love them! My toddler was the only one in the house who liked raw carrots. Look below at the vegetable chart for ideas from Cooksmarts.

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3. Respect their taste buds.

I get it. You’re frustrated and you have your child’s best interest in mind, but please don’t force (or threaten) them to eat their veggies. Just like there are some vegetables that you like and some you can do without; your child also has likes and dislikes. Take into consideration that it may not be stubbornness, but your child may actually prefer the taste or texture of another veggie.

4. Retrain their palate.

Has a weekend at grandma’s got your child refusing to eat anything void of sugar? No problem. You can retrain your child’s palate by either not offering any foods containing sugar (including fruits) or offering a very tiny amount until they are back on track. Vegetables are less tasty after eating something very sweet. So be sure that your little one doesn’t have any fruit, candy, or juice right before lunch or dinner time.

5. Offer them as snacks.

It may seem weird to some of you, but calling a vegetable a snack may encourage your child to eat more of it. Instead of fruit or crackers for snack time, offer your little one some baby carrots and cucumbers (or whatever they like!). When this is practiced on the regular basis, it may not only get your child to eat more vegetables, but also teach them that a snack doesn’t always have to be sweet or come in a package.

6. Eat together.

Many families these days eat their meals on the sofa or in front of a screen. But your toddler will benefit greatly from seeing the entire family (especially their older siblings) partake in, and enjoy, eating their vegetables—which, in turn, will encourage him/her to follow the example.

7. Explain the “why.”

Some kids just want to know why they should eat something green instead of snacking on cookies all day. Take the time to explain to your child about the good foods that will help them grow to be healthier, stronger, and smarter. Explain to them about the bad foods that should be avoided or eaten in moderation. The downside to this is that they may become the food police when you are hanging out with Netflix and a bowl of ice-cream!

8. Be patient.

Yes, it’s easier said than done, but making eating a stressful time for your toddler is not good for either parties involved. Relax! Chances are it’s just a phase. And remember, if you are truly concerned about your child’s change in eating habits, schedule a visit with your pediatrician to rule out any serious conditions.


 

As a disclaimer, your pediatrician’s advice is the best advice. I am not an expert, but I do have two boys who now love eating their favorite veggies! Let us know in the comments below your tips and tricks to surviving the “veggie protesting” phase.