One of the questions I get asked most often is how to emotionally prepare to homeschool. The start of the school year feels like an assault for many of us. An onslaught of back-to-school lists, schedule changes, organization and planning to-dos, and more. It’s no wonder that this time of year can bring so many mixed emotions to parents and kids alike, regardless of where you’re sending your kiddos to learn. For homeschooling parents, this season can be particularly stressful because, well, we’re it! We’re responsible for our children’s schedules, curriculum, lessons, learning, social outlet, future, etc.  It’s no wonder I often want to hide under the desk when August arrives.
The truth is, even though the curriculum may be in and prepped, your schedule all laid out, and the supplies and homeschool space ready and waiting, your heart may be lagging behind. If you’re wondering how to emotionally prepare to homeschool, you’re not alone. Here’s how I get my heart and mind prepared each year (OK, all year long!).
Devotional Time
Getting truly ready for the school year starts with your heart, and telling it the truth. I like to start preparing my heart to homeschool by choosing a good devotional for the year, just for me. We do Bible every day as a family and my husband also does morning devotions before leaving for work, but I need ME time in the Word. Choosing a devotional that is just for me gives me time to focus on my heart before the Lord and find the peace and calm I need before I start the day. If I can’t get to it right away (because my daughter is up before the birds!), I take some time after breakfast to enjoy my coffee or tea and a few moments with just Him and me.
A Morning Routine
Which brings us to another important way to prepare: having a morning routine that radiates calm. This is so key for many of us who have different ages and different demands on us all day long. From work and homeschooling to being a wife, mom, and teacher, there are so many voices screaming for your attention all day. It’s important to start your day with whatever activities will help you find balance and put your mind in a calm state. For me, it’s a cup of coffee or tea and worship music while I get ready, then a long walk with our puppy. I also find that quiet, classical music sets the tone for a more peaceful and productive day. For you, it may be a run, staying in bed while you sip your beverage, or a cuddle with your littlest one on the couch. Whatever you find that takes your mind and heart to a peaceful place, do that, first thing!
Keeping a Journal
I’m a list maker (list addict, more like it!). In learning how to emotionally prepare to homeschool, I have found that writing out my fears, worries, goals, and anticipations for the year help me to be less anxious or over-excited. Each August, I make a list of what I want to accomplish for each child and me, as well as a list of my concerns. I can then use this list to pray, to set goals, and to discuss concerns with my children about the year. Even better, I have them make their lists as well! Then, we all sit down and talk about them. Each person gets a chance to rate their “school readiness” on a scale of 1 to 10 and then share their feelings. Through lists, drawings, and stories that we talk about as a family, we are exploring our feelings about the upcoming year together, setting the tone of communication and togetherness while addressing issues that we may or may not even know exist. This has become one of the foundations for starting our year well emotionally.
Pursue Positivity
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I find that pursuing positivity and turning worries into challenges help me prepare to homeschool and find the bravery to jump into a new year. If you constantly dwell on the negative, your days will be negative. Turn your concerns into goals, your fears into challenges. Instead of “We fought so much last year! I just can’t take it again this year,” tell yourself, “We fought a lot last year. This year we are going to pursue fun and fellowship and learn to speak gently.” Rather than, “We barely made it through it all, how can I do it again?” say, “I’m going to take on less this year and really enjoy what we choose to pursue together.” Changing your negative thoughts into positive goals and challenges is a way to make your expectations more realistic while maintaining peace. This takes practice, but you’ll eventually get there! And the best part is that your kids will become more positive and goal-oriented as a result.
The school year is here, and while many of us are nervous and wondering how to prepare to homeschool, I’m not shaking in my fall flats, because I know that a positive attitude, peaceful mornings, and time with the Lord are just what my heart needs to approach this year with joy, peace, and readiness. Maybe that’s just what you need to get your calm back this year, too!
How do you find calm at the beginning of the school year? Tell us in a comment below.