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

AirBrush_20170821222002 (1)

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


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?






7 Homeschool Must-Haves

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

We all know school supplies and curricula are a must when shopping for the upcoming school year. But, I quickly learned that’s not all I need to complete my shopping list. For those of you who are new to my blog, I am a third-year homeschool mom to my kindergarten and second-grade boys. Today, I want to share seven odd items that always make my back-to-homeschool list. The following items are totally preference-based, but sure do make our homeschool days more successful.

I won’t bore you with a long intro, so let’s get straight to the point!

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

1. Fruit

Fruit of the spirit, that is.

“22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV)

Unfortunately, these characteristics aren’t something we just have. They are muscles that need to be worked daily. The more you use the challenges of life as an opportunity to grow in these areas, the stronger you’ll become.

I think many homeschool moms would agree that homeschool would be a challenge without a great measure of love, joy, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These attributes are the foundation of a successful homeschool.

So, if you find yourself like me and need constant reminding to practice the fruit of the spirit, especially on those challenging days, print out Galatians 5:22-23 and hang it somewhere in your classroom.

Click here to download Galatians 5:22-23 for FREE!

Fruit of the Spirit

2. Music

If you have morning devotionals with your kids, don’t forget your worship music. There’s nothing like starting the day off singing and dancing. What tunes do we like? Newsboys! My boys also like tunes from “Our Daily Bread for Kids.” These tunes are available for download on Amazon. The songs are light, bubbly, and fun for kids—such excellent mood-boosters! Add them to your playlist and you’re good to go!

In addition, we also like to play light classical music as relaxing white noise while we do classwork. Classical music reduces stress levels, as well as boosts memory and creativity. In fact, university research in France, published in Learning and Individual Differences, found that students who listened to a one-hour lecture where classical music was played in the background scored significantly higher in a quiz on the lecture when compared to students who heard the lecture with no music. So there ya go!


3. Essential Oils

That’s right! Lavender, frankincense, and peppermint are our favorite “go-to” oils. Just place a few drops into your oil diffuser and enjoy a calmer classroom. Why these three oils? Lavender is known for helping with relaxation and improving mood. Frankincense is a great “healer” oil that also helps support brain health. Lastly, peppermint oil improves focus and boosts energy.

It’s not 100 percent foolproof, but it makes a difference for us. In fact, sometimes my kids ask to be rubbed down with oils when they aren’t feeling well. I like to use coconut oil as a “carrier oil,” add a few drops of essential oils, and rub the mixture into the soles of their feet. I also found that these oils help with relieving allergy symptoms for my children—especially coughing and congestion. So give them a go in your classroom!


4. Early Finisher Activities

I purchase low-cost crafts and activities and place them into a bin for my kids. The purpose? To have “mom approved” items (quiet items) that keep them occupied should they finish their assignments early. I’ve discovered that if my child knows what to do after completing an assignment, he is less likely to interrupt me while I’m working with another child.

The Dollar Tree and Target’s Dollar Spot will be your bestest friend. Yes, I said “bestest!” Fill a plastic container with loads of coloring books, puzzles, art project kits, play foam (much better than Playdoh), and little odds and ends that you know your kids will love. Check out the goodies I picked up from Target and Dollar Tree!

Early Finisher Activities

The NASA activity books were given to me by a friend, but the rest of the items were new purchases I will add to my existing  “early finisher” collection. As you can see, some of the items I purchased are consumable, like the paint sets, stickers, and coloring books. However, I try to ensure I include reusable items like puzzles, games, and the like, to save money.

5. A “Feelings Chart”

Checking in with your kids before the school day begins is a great way to avoid misbehavior during school hours. We’ve implemented the “Feelings Chart” in our home. After devotional, we gather around and I have each child point to a picture that best represents how they’re feeling. This method gives my children a chance to express themselves and have their needs met.

You can get a FREE copy of my “Feelings Chart,” here! This chart, as well as the “Fruit of the Spirits” chart, are new additions to my online store, Nike Anderson’s Classroom. Be sure to follow my store to be the first to know when I upload new freebies!

How do you feel

6. Family Membership Cards

To your favorite museum, local zoo, learning center, or wherever! Family membership deals typically offer great admission discounts for up to one year. If you pay $150 for an annual family membership card to a museum, that typically costs $20 per person for admission, for a family of four you’ve already saved $10 after the second visit. The third visit, and any visit thereafter, are basically free for an entire year!

Even more? When you invest in family membership cards, you can use them to your advantage to plan fieldtrips and family adventures during low-traffic hours. That means you’re more than likely to get the entire place to yourselves. Not to mention on those “off” days (that we all know we have), having a family membership card to the zoo or museum can be a sanity-saver! Just pack up the kids and go. No need to worry about admission costs.


7. A Timer

Or anything that will sound when it’s time to move on to the next lesson. I personally use the alarm setting on my tablet. I set it for the duration of the lesson, and it sounds to notify me to move on to the next lesson. The timer is not to be militant with time but serves as a gentle reminder to wrap things up.

Before I implemented this method, I would totally lose track of time and got stressed out when I learned it was later in the day than I’d initially thought. Even with a clock in the classroom,  I sometimes forget to look at it when I’m in the swing of things. Having an audible signal is a great way to ensure I stay on track!


That’s it in a nutshell! I’ll spare you the outro this week. I want to know from you: What are your homeschool must-haves? Let us know in the comments below!