“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.” —Alexander Graham Bell

Spring has come and we’re almost ready to jump into summer! We’re all ready for a brain break, some sun, and a great vacation. But before the urge to put on your swim goggles and head to the beach or off to the mountains on a family retreat strikes too hard, it is best to think ahead to get ready for the school year. I know, I know; it’s the last thing you want to do! Summer days are long, but, the fall will be here before we know it and you could find yourself behind and wondering how to get ready for the school year with such little time. Why not start now and get ready for the school year early so that you can your August? It’s never too early to get ready for the school year, and planning ahead means we can actually relax during break.

So what’s our advice for you to ward off the late summer panic attacks because you’re not sure how to get ready for the school year? Follow our easy step-by-step guide for “springing” into a successful homeschool year this fall! Get out a pencil and paper, and get off to a great start right now.

How to Get Ready For the School Year before Summer Hits

Step 1. Review your previous year. If you want to get ready for the school year, its best to start with a little self-analysis. What were the highlights and successes? What parts didn’t go over the way you had hoped? Were there any particular issues either you or your child struggled with? Did the curriculum you choose really work for your family, and where could improvements be made in the upcoming year?

Step 2. Identify your homeschooling style. First, think about your child. Is he/she self-motivated or does he/she need extra encouragement? Is he/she a visual learner or more of a hands-on student where lots of demonstrations/labs are necessary? Does he/she learn or study best on the computer? Also think about your own teaching style. Were you comfortable with your knowledge and skills last year, or do you think you could benefit from additional support? All these factors will weigh in to what sort of curriculum you choose for the upcoming year.

Step 3. Determine your homeschool year. You can’t get ready for the school year if you don’t know when you’re going to start, how many week’s you’ll complete, etc. Some curriculums come organized for a 40 week schedule. If your homeschooling curriculum doesn’t come with a schedule, it’s best to create one before you embark on your school year. If you follow state guidelines and hold school for 180 days, then you must determine your homeschooling schedule and decide which days will be celebrated as holidays. Be sure to include time in your homeschooling schedule for any final tests and studying for those tests as well. Find out more about scheduling your school year here. 

Step 4. Identify some yearly goals. To truly get ready for the school year you need to identify what it is that you want to accomplish. What do you want your children to learn in the upcoming year? Do you know what courses are required? (This is especially important in the high school years, as you begin to zero in on what’s needed to graduate and apply for college). Remember that not only do you want your children to learn academics, you want them to absorb critical life skills and experience extra-curricular activities as well.

Step 5. How much time and money do you have? One very important consideration that will help you get ready for the school year and save you from stress is thinking through your budget. If you don’t have the time to do hands on projects, for example, you would want to look closely at any curriculum you are thinking of buying. And although science projects can be a wonderful learning tool, if you don’t have the extra money to buy the materials needed, then your child can’t learn from them! Finances will also dictate your chosen curriculum, and any extras such as books and materials. Start budgeting early so there are less surprises later! And if you plan ahead, there are numerous ways to save money on supplies .

Step 6. Research your state requirements. In some states, you are required to teach a basic homeschool curriculum, which is just about universally accepted as “standard.” It consists of Reading, Writing, Math, English, American History, the History of your state and, possibly, Civics or Health. In other states, parents are not required to teach this curriculum, but it is suggested. Other states have more specific requirements about courses, credits, and hours. You need to know these requirements before starting to plan your school year and choosing curriculum. We’ve got you covered. Find out your state requirements here!

Step 7. Identify ways to stay active in your local community. In any town, the feeling of community is often built around its schools, so in some ways, learning in a public school promotes the feeling of citizenship. Some homeschooled children do not encounter the diverse perspectives in a large community group, and so may become at risk for not easily understanding other points of view. Moreover, when homeschooled children do participate in group situations, it is most likely with other homeschooled families who share similar values, background, and social class. Think of ways to volunteer or interact in your community, and establish a sense of belonging and pride in your town and country – and also appreciate its diversity. Get ready for the school year, and for life beyond by planning this important piece early!

Step 8. Narrow your curriculum choices down. Selecting two or three choices now – well ahead of time – will give you the ability to mull the pros and cons of each over the summer period. Discuss options with your child, and get his or her input as well. Don’t forget to take into consideration 1) areas that he/she is very interested in or inspired by, and 2) areas where extra time and effort is needed to bring your child up to speed. Think in terms of developing their natural strengths but also correcting any basic weaknesses that might prove essential in later years. Not sure what to choose? Find out your homeschool style here and discover your child’s learning style to make the right choice!

So there you have it! Eight easy steps to get you on course for a fabulous summer break followed by a smooth transition into the new school year come fall. And don’t forget, there is always help whenever you need it. If you’re looking for a homeschool partner or are overwhelmed by your curriculum choices, scheduling, credits, and grade reporting, we’re here for you. Call anytime at 800-863-1474.