Posts Tagged ‘homeschool’

Diverse children's books teaching life lessons.

Lil’ J was tumbling through the playroom as I read off a list of signs of stress from a book I was reading.

“Difficulty focusing, feeling tense or nervous, forgetting directions someone has told you, ‘stuck’ thoughts in your head that you can’t get out–”

“I have all those things!” My daughter halted mid-cartwheel to exclaim. “I have a lot of stress!”

Part of me wanted to laugh. Another part of me not only empathized with her, but admired her ability to recognize that.

My parents would be like “You’re kids! What do you have to stress about?” But I’m listening. Or trying to.

The book is called Mind Over Basketball: Coach Yourself to Handle Stress and it’s about a boy who loves basketball, but has a lot going on in his life that’s affecting his game. He meets a gentleman who helps coach him while also giving advice for handling stress.

Each chapter pushes the story forward, then has an informational section about stress. My oldest daughter and I are enjoying reading it together. I’ve even begun to notice her using techniques from the book on her own.

Diverse children's books teaching life lessons. Magination Press

Our kids are so capable of holding mature conversations about our bodies and minds. When I hear of “stress” I think of an adult concept but children very well experience it too. Reading books with creative ideas and important messages help us navigate through challenges like stress.

Magination Press Family is a publisher that has a slew of diverse children’s books that encourage mindfulness and thought-provoking discussions with our children. It’s like a pot of gold for my homeschooling mama heart.

Diverse children's books teaching life lessons.

Let’s Meet Up

This weekend, Jon Lasser and Sage Foster Lasser the authors of another great book, called Grow Grateful are coming to Austin for a book reading and signing. Lil’ J, Big T, Lee Lee and I will be hanging out and learning more about this important topic. We’d love to see you there!

The book is a about a girl who goes on a camping trip with her class and learns a lesson on gratitude.

Diverse children's books teaching life lessons. Magination Press

Gratitude is something we discuss often in our family, but I love when books bring a colorful story and new perspective to the table and allow us to approach the topic differently. This book is based on the “theory of mind,” which is the ability to take perspective of others and recognize that each person has their own thoughts, feelings, and perspectives. There’s a nice “Note to Parents and Caregivers” section that gives information on teaching children how to be grateful. Which is an important topic anytime but especially prevalent this time of year.

The authors will be there to sign copies of the book and do a special reading. It’s this Saturday, October 20th at BookPeople at 603 N Lamar Blvd, Austin TX 78703.

You can RSVP here.

Hope to see you there!

Diverse children's books teaching life lessons.

Exactly two years ago our family began our homeschooling adventure. My daughter just finished kindergarten and the nagging feeling I’d been having about homeschooling for years finally won. I un-enrolled her from pubic school and began homeschooling her over the summer.

Beginning when school was out gave me time to get comfortable with the process so that come fall I wasn’t panicking about “doing it right.” Though the thing is, I soon realized there isn’t really a right or wrong way to homeschool. There are dozens of curriculums and methods of teaching. From Classical to Unschooling to STEM-based learning… Options are endless.

I’ve shared a bit about our homeschool experience already:

Working out the kinks of our homeschooling strategy

What I learned after our first year

a day in our homeschool life

What you Don’t need to homeschool your kids

The truth about homeschooling

and First Day of Homeschool Tradition Ideas

homeschool curriculum

Getting started with homeschooling and choosing a  curriculum (if you decide you want to follow one) can be overwhelming. These last two years we’ve tried out several different homeschool curriculums and methods and there are pros and cons to each. A lot of people have asked what we use for homeschooling so I thought it would be fun to share some of what we’ve tried.

Over the next several weeks I’ll break down what we’ve tried and review different homeschool curriculums to hopefully help those of you who are considering some of these.

Requirements vary by state. Luckily getting started homeschooling  in Texas is pretty much a piece of cake.

Here’s a quick rundown of the homeschool curriculums we’re tried. I’ll come back and add links to this master post as I publish each review.:

All-in-one Curriculum

Ambleside Online (free)

Heart of Dakota

Power Homeschool (formerly known as Acellus)


Acellus Math

Math U See

Math Mammoth

Reading and Writing

All About Reading

Handwriting Without Tears

Explode the Code

A homeschool day in the life. Our homeschool routine.


Magic School Bus Science Kits


Unit Studies – Greek Mythology, Black History, A Wrinkle in Time

Adapted Mind


Kahn Academy (free)

Charlotte Mason Co-Op

Wild and Free Conference

Wild Explorers Club

I’ve bounced around a lot because our needs have changed over time. But that’s the great thing about homeschooling–How flexible and perfectly tailored it can be for your child.

We’ve truly enjoyed our time homeschooling so far and I hope there are many more years ahead for us. With a new baby coming in a month we’re still deciding our plan for this fall. It breaks my heart to think we may need to take a break, but I know it’s always something we can come back to. Hopefully this list will be helpful for those of you looking for some more homeschooling curriculum resources and reviews.

If you have other budding questions about homeschooling let me know, I’ll keep coming back adding to this post!

Last year I started a little challenge with my kids to read 365 books together. Partway through the year my daughter and I got sucked into some chapter book series that took us longer to finish, so our progress slowed down. But in February we checked out a couple dozen books related to African American history and plowed through them during Black History Month.

People frequently ask me what books we read to our kids about Black History, specifically slavery and Civil Rights. I’ve been meaning to compile a list for some time and I’ve finally done it! Here are twenty of them that we’ve loved that you can either find at your own library or order for your own collection online. If you do through our links we get a little kickback at no extra cost to you.

Not all of these are specifically related to Black History, but all are great children’s books that show diversity and many do dive into civil rights or slavery in ways that’s gentle enough for young children. I’ll point out our top favorites with an asterisk!

1. Little Melba and Her big Trombone*: The story of Melba Doretta Liston from daydreaming about music to to learning about her extraordinary gift. We loved this book about a trailblazing musician who followed her passion.

2. An American Girl: Meet Addy: The story of one girl’s family’s dangerous escape from slavery. Based in 1864 this is a great story of love, hope and freedom.

3. Make Way for Dyamonde: Not a story of black history but one hilarious book that’ll teach your kids a thing or two about being the new kid in town and trying to make a friend. Dyamonde has an upbeat and spunky attitude that has you rooting for her from the start.

4. Firebird: Ballerina Misty Copeland Shows a Young Girl How to Dance Like the Firebird: The title says it all. Gorgeous illustrations and a sweet story of a girl learning to believe in herself.

5. This Is the Dream: A touching yet simple story written as a poem in rhyme that takes you through the Civil Rights Era and the people who were fighting for equality.

6. Goin’ Someplace Special*: This was one of our favorite stories. Based in a 1950s segregated south, a little girl is on her way someplace special, where all are welcome no matter the color of their skin. We loved the mystery of wondering where she was going then the grand reveal.

7. Only Passing Through: The Story of Sojourner Truth*: We tend to hear a lot of stories about Harriet Tubman but this is a beautifully-told story of another inspiring abolitionist: Sojourner Truth and how she came by her name.

8. A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin: Last year in our homeschool co-op we did a unit on Horace Pippin. This book tells the story of this self-taught painter who’s love of art and perseverance still inspires us today.

9. The Piano*: The story of a little black girl growing up in the early 1900s who loves music and learns to play piano from her employer. The older woman’s hands are to stiff to play the keys but together they learn to make music.

10. Of Thee I Sing: One of our favorite books that has a fun take on famous, strong individuals throughout history.

11. When God Made You*: I don’t know what I love more about this book. The gorgeous illustrations or the beautiful words. This book helps start a discussion about how God has a plan for their life, and they have a special reason for being here. At the end of the book the author drives the point home to love one another as sisters and brothers. Not a history book but definitely one worth reading to remind our children how they are unique, and how we’re all connected.

12. Grace for President: A fun story about a little girl running for class president. A great way to teach kids about the electoral college.

13. Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.*: This is a book we go back to time and time again. We read it every MLK Day and usually again and again through the year. The inspiring words remind us the importance of making change through light and love.

14. The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage*: Another book we like to read time and time again. A short story sharing the story of the Lovings, an interracial couple who took their case all the way to the Supreme Court, eventually overturning laws against interracial marriage. Crazy to believe this was only a generation ago.

15. Early Sunday Morning: June has a big solo coming up at church. She’s nervous but as the weekend goes on she gets love and encouragement from her family and friends.

16. Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt*: A great children’s book about the underground railroad. A little girl is learning how to sew and she designs a quilt that doubles as a map to freedom.

17. Dancing in the Wings*: A sassy young lady who doesn’t let her physical challenges hold her back, but makes them work for her. From the illustrations to the captivating story we love this book!

18. Follow the Drinking Gourd: My daughter first heard this book in Kindergarten. Pretty pictures and an easy introduction to the Underground Railroad.

19. Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African-Americans: A story over a hundred years of African-American history told from a 100-year-old narrator’s perspective. Take it slow, but the illustrations are absolutely breathtaking.

20. What Color Is My World?: The Lost History of African-American Inventors: A fascinating book about Black inventors you may or may not know about. From who invented the ice cream scoop to open heart surgeons. It may not be as interesting for younger kids but definitely kids in the upper-elementary grades and beyond.

Those are some of our favorites we’ve come across so far. We’ll be sure to update this list as we add more. What have been some of your favorites? Have you read any of these? Share in the comments!

*Denotes our favorites!

With Sneaky’s summer arrival our homeschool plans for this fall are still up in the air. I love working with my kids. I love witnessing their “ah ha” moments and finding new things that interest them. It breaks my heart a little to think we may be taking a break from it all for a while, but I’m trying to cherish every bit of it until then.

It’s hard to pinpoint a favorite homeschool subject. When it comes to going through our subjects we give language arts and math the most time. I couldn’t stand history growing up, but as I’m reading and teaching I love learning about all the things I’d long forgotten. Science is another one of my favorite homeschool subjects but sadly it’s also one I tend to neglect the most.

I love S.T.E.M. topics (science, technology, engineering and math). Sometimes we’ll take a week and crack open a bunch of science experiments and see how much we can learn about different topics: From space to the human body, magnets and more.

This week we spent some time learning about Rube Goldberg machines. You know, those complicated contraptions that are linked together and create a domino effect to complete a simple task, such a pouring a bowl of cereal.

General Mills sent us six different newly released Rube Goldberg themed cereal boxes to help bring some education and fun to our breakfast table. Lil’ J lined them up and picked a couple projects to try (actually she wants to try all of them, but these are the two she’s build so far).

She learned how to make a pulley and inclined planes. And now she can more easily spot machines that work that way in the real world.

Here’s a little video of how she put them together!

It’s a simple project that you can work on together for some fun bonding time and learning. Then enjoy some breakfast for dinner!

If you create your own General Mills Cereal box machine make sure you snap a picture because you can use it to enter for a chance to win a $20,000 college scholarship for someone in your family! You can find out more at www.RubeCerealMachine.com.

Today’s post was sponsored by General Mills Cereal but these life lessons and awesome creations are all our own.

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Ends at 11:59 p.m. CT on August 1, 2018. See Official Rules at www.Rubecerealmachines.com

When people ask about my plans to homeschool my son I can never give a straight answer. “He doesn’t really listen to me,” I usually say at one point. He doesn’t like to sit and draw, or follow my direction. My daughter LOVED to draw when she was four. She loved to cut and create art and she’d work on any project I’d give her. My son just is not that way. But you know what? He surprised me this week. I grabbed a new workbook I’d had on the shelf for months. It’s a guide to teach your kids to read allegedly in just 100 lessons.

I sat down on a bunch of pillows and asked him to come sit on my lap. I turned to the first lesson and began, half expecting him to run away before I finished the first question. But, he stayed and listened and participated. Halfway through he grabbed his stuffed shark to practice with us. And he asked me to talk in a “shark voice” while we finished. But he was all in. Focused, saying letter sounds and even grasping the concept of following multiple letters and saying their sounds. A skill my daughter didn’t have at that age.

I don’t like to compare them but I think to some degree it’s natural. My daughter is bright, inquisitive, creative and talkative. My son is detail-oriented, playful and extremely silly. One thing I’ve loved about homeschooling is finding out what excites my kids and gets them enthusiastic about learning then tailoring the way I teach to that.

My daughter has shown a big interest in mythology since we’ve been reading the Percy Jackson series. This month my daughter and I have been doing a lot of our lessons surrounding Greek mythology. We tie in spelling words, language arts, hand writing and even science and math. With my son I help teach him letter sounds and addition and subtraction using snacks and his little Cars characters.

On their LeapFrog Epic they both love using their their LeapFrog Epic Academy Edition tablet for entirely different reasons. On her profile my daughter loves to play all of the games that increase in difficulty and adapt to her level as she goes. We don’t have a video game system so all of these new apps are so fun for her. I don’t think she even realizes they are learning games, or if she does, it doesn’t keep her from wanting to play them.

My son though, using the exact same tablet, on his profile plays with it differently. He isn’t as into games yet, or at least hasn’t found one he wants to keep playing over and over. However, he loves the LeapFrog Factory videos. Especially the one with a shark that looses his teeth and they sing and count how many he needs. And another that goes through all of the letter sounds. He’s always enjoyed learning through music. I should make some time to snag it from my kids and play some of the games myself so I can find some I think he would like and set them to the top of the navigation menu on his profile.

Big T is 4 and Lil’ J is 7 and they learn and play in different ways, so it’s not always easy to find a gift both of them love. They both consider the LeapFrog Epic Academy Edition a winner and I’m pretty thrilled about that. Now I just have to decide if should add another to the Christmas list or if I continue to let them master the art of sharing.

I’m passionate about getting my children excited about learning. That’s why I’ve partnered with LeapFrog for 2017, to share our journey to making learning fun and inspiring my kids to be the best they can be.  The LeapFrog Epic Academy Edition is a great gift for kids ages 3-9 that love to learn and have fun all at once. New customers also save 25% and get an extended free trial of LeapFrog AcademyTM when they register their LeapFrog EpicTM Academy Edition. Purchase a LeapFrog Epic Academy Edition tablet and signup for a 3-month free trial of LeapFrog Academy, $5.99 per month after the trial period ends. LeapFrog Academy guides kids on a variety of fun Learning Adventures that explore a blend of math, reading, science, creativity, problem solving and social-emotional skills, You can learn more about the program and sign up for a free trial here.

LeapFrog Epic Tablet Academy Edition is the one of the best tablets for young kids. Here's why...

A new school year has started for many, including us, and you might have created a list of all the things you will need for the new year. But, do you have a list of things you don’t need to homeschool your kids? I have created a list of items that are not required when it comes to homeschooling your child.

Homeschooling has become very popular, and you have many options when it comes to homeschooling. Whether you teach your children at home or join in a co-op, there are items you don’t need for a successful school year.

A Designated School Room

Nature hike with kids Austin.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to have a room that is designated just for teaching your kids. It might be nice to have a little space you can use just for teaching that you can decorate, but it isn’t a must. You can teach your kids at the kitchen table, on the living room floor! It doesn’t have to be fancy. We will sometimes have lessons outside, in my bed, or even at the pool. Usually we start in the living room, move to the kitchen then to the playroom for our final lessons.

A Teaching Degree

A homeschool day in the life. Our homeschool routine.

When you take on homeschooling some may people think you have to have a teaching degree. It can be intimidating starting out, but you don’t have to be a certified teacher to teach your kids. You will be working one on one with your child, and you will have many resources at your disposal that will help give you the tools to teach them properly! As your kids get older there are many online programs to help them learn on their own, or with online instructors as well.

A Specific School Calendar

Homeschooling is a lot different than public school. You might decide to teach year round or only do four days a week. It is up to you, and you choose when you do school and when you don’t. You don’t have to mimic school breaks that your  public schools follow.We had school on Labor Day but we’ll take off a day when I’m out of town in a couple weeks. We went a little further into the summer and sometimes we have Saturday classes instead of Monday. You choose how long you take off at Christmas or Thanksgiving, or you might decide you won’t take a vacation. One of the beauties of homeschooling is having it fit to your life and schedule.

Child Working on One Grade Level

Some homeschooled kids work at different grade levels. They might do one grade for language arts, another grade for history, another for science, and so on. With my daughter we started second grade history, science and language arts last year. We also finished math early and moved on to the next series. She’s struggled a bit with reading so we’re working on that on her own pace as well. A lot of homeschoolers don’t really focus on grade level but tailor it to fit the child’s needs and abilities.

Involved in Lots of Activities

Some families love to do a variety of different activities. But you don’t have to be on the go all the time. You might do just 1-2 activities, and that is okay. Last year we did a homeschool co-op, a Wild Explorers Club, tumbling, piano and art. This year she’s just doing competitive cheer, piano and art (and Wild Explorers when we remember). Don’t feel you have to go-go-go all the time, you can keep a more relaxed pace if you prefer!

Approval from Others

When you tell someone you are homeschooling your children, you’ll could get a variety of reactions. There is still a bit of a stigma to homeschooling. Just last week my daughter asked me what “awkward” meant because she overheard someone saying homeschooled kids are awkward.

You don’t need the approval from others to take the leap to homeschool. Don’t worry what others will say, do what is best for your family and your child, and ignore the comments!

Buying New Curriculum

homeschool curriculum

You don’t have to buy new curriculum each year. There are free online resources, or you can buy used curriculum through a homeschool conference or bookstore! This can help cut down cost, and make homeschooling a bit more budget friendly. You can also make up your own curriculum based on your child’s interest, a bit of Pinterest and trips to the library. I personally buy my curriculum because I like having a schedule to go by, or at least pick from but it’s not required. I also like to bounce around using different workbooks and programs, games and activities.

The great thing about homeschooling is that YOU are in control. You’re not in a race, you get to work at your own pace and go through the school day when and how you wish. Embrace that, have fun, and you’ll be off to a great start.

7 things you don't need to homeschool your kids.

When it comes to schooling decisions we are taking it year by year and kid by kid. I’ve finally settled on the approach we’re taking with our son this year. Today’s post is sponsored by LeapFrog, but the story, and opinions I’m about to share are all my own.

I went back and forth trying to decide if my son would go to preschool this year. He is a completely different kind of learner than my daughter. He can sit and work with his hands, build, and play for hours. But he’s not one to sit down and color a piece of paper, work on crafts or anything like that. But I have a serious problem with underestimating him. He’s my youngest and in my eyes I still seem him as a 2-year-old. Not the 4-year-old he is. I often assume he can’t understand me, or he’s not ready for chores, this or that, but I’m totally selling him short in the process.

He is finally starting to sit and listen to a lot of books, he’ll make requests for what he’d like us to read to him, and he’s communicating a lot better, so I figured we’d give some preschool a try at home. Last year I didn’t do much with him since I was just getting my footing with homeschooling Lil’ J, but this year I’m going to put some of the focus on him as well. He will still be in his gymnastics mothers’ morning out program four hours a day twice a week, but the other three days I’m going to try to have a little schedule planned for him as well. I’m still working out the kinks but here are a few things I’m wanting to experiment with.

Montessori Activities and puzzles

I’m not a pro at putting together Montessori lessons but I did try a couple last year. The first one involved me taking a muffin tin and putting a different colored piece of construction paper at the bottom of each circle. Then I gave him tweezers and had him move different-colored puff balls from a Tupperware container to the matching color paper. I showed him how to do it once then he took over. I was thrilled when he completed the task with a proud look on his face then proceeded to do the activity two more times.

The second one involved a bowl of hot and cold water and tongs. He moved his color-changing card between them. He loved this too!

Cars lightning mcqueen montessori activity

The next day I researched a dozen other Montessori activities and hit up the dollar store to make a handful more to try later that week. He liked one with bowls of hot and cold water that he could change the colors but he decided he’d rather play with his toy trains and dinosaurs and I gave up, considered it a bust. I think that he would be interested in more of these activities but probably not back to back, and in short increments of time.

Leap Frog Academy

This is an online interactive learning tool for kids 3-6. I thought LeapFrog would be a great brand to partner with because we love their educational videos on Netflix. They recently launched a new online/app based learning program and we just started it last month. As I was getting it going I thought it may be more for my daughter. She is struggling a bit with reading but excelling at math and really savvy on computers. I set up profiles for both of them and my daughter was chomping at the bit to try first. I set her level to intro to 1st grade–The highest option right now, and she sat down and as I expected, started flying through it.

She did get hung up on some of the reading words but what I loved about the game is that it has a very good mix of fun and education. We’ve tried a couple similar programs and usually either she gets bored with education games that are all flash cards or trying to get correct answers, or I cap limits on games that offer no educational value. So far this seems to have a really good mix of both. My Learning Lab gives extra practice in subjects she needs help mastering and gives more difficult activities to challenged.

Next up I gave my son a try. There is an app I can install on our iPad, and I knew since that’s what he’s familiar with he’d probably be able to play it better, but I figured since we were already on the computer I’d give him a shot.

Watch his first try

I set up a profile for him, choosing the pre-k level. Mind you he’s never sat at a computer before, besides to bang on my keyboard and drive me nuts when I’m trying to work. This was my first time showing him how to use a track pad and computer.

Once again, I realized I have seriously been underestimating his capabilities. It took a little bit of coaching but within a couple minutes he was getting it on his own and laughing at making the game work. He was really excited to be using the computer on his own, and did really well identifying the numbers on the screen and completing the game. But his attention span was much shorter than my daughter’s. He was ready to go back to playing with his cars and bridges after three or four games where my daughter probably could have played for an hour. But you know what? That’s totally ok! I’m putting this down as a free-time activity for her, and a lesson activity for him during this school year. I’m excited to see how it goes and watch his skills progress.

Reading Practice

I’m taking this approach with a bit of trepidation because I don’t want to go overboard and stress either of us out. But I feel pulled to play with this a little with my son and see where it leads. See, he has an incredible memory. He knew all of his letters at 2 just from watching YouTube videos of letters on a train. I’ve told him the numbers of his Cars toys and he remembers… “Lightning McQueen is ninety five”, “Cal Weathers is forty two” and so on.

A homeschool day in the life. Our homeschool routine.

When I present information in a way that’s interesting to him, he will remember a lot. So I’m wanting to play with sight word flash cards, and letter sounds. Nothing too intense and only for 5-10 minutes a day. But I think if I stick with it, he will really pick up on it. And if he doesn’t? No pressure, we can try other strategies.

I think the main thing with this guy will be remembering his short attention span. And not forcing him to do any activity for too long. Going for 5-10 minutes then letting him take a break while I work some more with his sister. Most importantly I want to incorporate things that make learning fun for him. That will likely mean incorporating his dinosaurs and toy cars. I really don’t want to stress out about this, but keep it simple and enjoyable. We’ll still plan a lot of time outside and time for me to read aloud to both of them. I may even get Lil’ J to do some kind of learning activity with him daily. Maybe even just selecting his profile on Leapfrog Academy, or doing a puzzle with him. Something that gets her helping and keeps both of them learning and learning how to work together.

Do you have preschoolers? What are your strategies for encouraging learning?

Homeschooling a preschooler.

I’m passionate about getting my children excited about learning. That’s why I’ve partnered with LeapFrog for 2017, to share our journey to making learning fun and inspiring my kids to be the best they can be. LeapFrog Academy takes kids on Learning Adventures that guide children around the islands in My World to explore eBooks, games, puzzles, videos, music, and art activities. Adventures focus on specific subjects and have titles like Get Ready for Preschool; Letters, Sounds, and Rhymes; Math and Science; and Critical Thinking and Problem Solving. You can learn more about the program and sign up for a free trial here.

As a little girl I always looked forward to the first day of school. I loved all the hype and excitement around back to school shopping for supplies and new clothes. Heck, I still get excited for this with my own kids, but the dynamic is different now that we homeschool. With public school there can be first day of school pictures, a new outfit, backpack, and so on. It’s not exactly the same with a class of one. But just because you homeschool, doesn’t mean you can’t create your own first day of school traditions.

If you homeschool you might already have some first day of homeschool traditions that you do in your home. The idea of making the first day of school more exciting and creating fun traditions for you and your kids, can be so special. If you are about to begin your first year of homeschooling, or have been homeschooling a while and haven’t even thought about this, that’s ok too!

I have pulled together 10 fun first day of homeschool traditions you might want to do to start the year off on a positive note. Have fun and make a big deal of the first day (or first “official” day if you’re like me and school year round). Your kids will love it, and I think you will too.


10 Ways to Make the First Day of Homeschool Special

1. First Day Pictures

Find a shaded spot in the yard or somewhere in the house and take first day pictures. Grab a chalkboard and write first day or something clever along with the child’s grade. If you plan ahead you can order these milestone cards and have your kids decorate them before the first day. Or have a custom Etsy printable designed first day sign like we did last year. This is a fun way to do something special, and you will be able to look back over the years. I love doing the first day and last day of school. You will be amazed at how much your child will change during a school year!

2. Decorate

If you have a designated area where you do school work, maybe get a banner or add some fun decorations for back to school. You can shop online at like Amazon, or find decorations at your local stores. This can be a fun way to make them feel extra special!

3. A Special Breakfast

Do you have a special breakfast you like to make? If so create a fun breakfast for your kids, as a way to celebrate the new year. Some fun breakfast at home are sprinkle pancakes, a breakfast casserole, french toast, or anything else your family loves. We love making heart-shaped or Mickey Mouse waffles with fruit but we also enjoy our local donut shop. So heading out to pick up your favorite muffins or donuts is totally another fun option.

4. New School Supplies

Have some fun school supplies waiting for your child. This could be a pretty and fun binder, neat pencils, anything to make a big deal about the start of the new year. If you present them in gift wrap or a gift bag it can make opening them even more fun for the occasion.

5. A Poetry Tea Party

10 first day of homeschool traditions

We kicked off the official school year last year with a poetry tea party. Gather up your favorite poetry books, or check some out from the library, set out muffins, fruit and other snacks and don’t forget the tea (or in our case, apple cider)! Take turns choosing poems to read aloud while enjoying the warm drink and snacks. We even kicked ours off last year with a candle and “happy first day of school” song. We continued to have poetry tea parties about once a week through the rest of the year.

6. Goals for the School Year

You know I love setting goals. On the first day of school sit down with your child/children and let them create a few goals for the year. Maybe they want to read 20 books, or learn Spanish, or learn the capitals of all 50 states. Do some short term goals and even long term. It is a fun way for your child to feel inspired and reach to meet those goals throughout the year.

7. Begin a New Read-Aloud

Starting a new book is a fun way to kick off the year. If you aren’t reading aloud to your kids yet you totally should. Not only is it a great for their development but it’s a great bonding experience. You can choose a book together before the year starts, or pick one to surprise them with that you know you’ll all love.

8. First Day Gift

Find something small to give to each child. Then when school begins they will have a small gift to open! This could be something fun like a book, pencil box, a journal, new calculator, new shirt, a fun toy they can play with after school, or something else. It is a way to make them feel extra special.

9. Get Out of the House

Surprise your child with a first day of school field trip. Whether it be to go to a local museum, library for a learning activity, a park, or somewhere else. It can be a fun way to kick the year off. Just find a field trip that can tie into a subject you will start teaching on!

10. Time Capsule

homeschool traditions make a time capsule

On the first day, create a time capsule with your child. You can have them write down fun things on what they like at the moment. Toss it in a shoe box and if you’re ambitious–bury it in the backyard, and try to forget about it. Then when the next school year comes around, you can go out and dig it up. If you’re like me you’ll hide it at the back of a closet and remember it when you finally clean it out a year or so later. Either way, you’ll get to see what has changed from the previous year.

Some ideas: Favorite color, favorite subject in school, favorite food, favorite book, favorite movie, etc. Have them sign it and then fold up the paper and toss it in a box and bury it or even hide somewhere in the house!

Hopefully these give you a starting point. And if you have your own first day of school traditions (homeschool or not) I’d love to hear them!

10 first day of homeschool traditions


Hi! I’m Jennifer Borget


I'm a part-time journalist, full-time wife and mother striving to make the world a better place and inspiring others to do the same. This is the space where I share my journey in making the most of every day.

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