Can you smell it?
The wonderful smell of a new year, with all of it's gifts just waiting to unfold before us.
The plans have been made, the books have just about all arrived, shiny new stationery is sitting here just waiting to be picked up and used.
If you're anything like me, the days just before a new school year are always somewhat bittersweet. I still yearn for the long, carefree days of summer, but at the same time I am so eager to get back into some kind of regular routine.
Eager to open up and begin exploring all of the possibilities that a year ahead of learning will bring. Eager to jump right in and fill our days with all of that learning goodness.
However, the kids on the other hand aren't generally as enthused as I am to begin a new year. Now please don't misunderstand me here, they are always happy to get started again and are especially eager for all of their regular activities, classes and co-ops to begin again but after such a long summer break it does take them a while to find their groove.
These are always the moments when I consider year round schooling once more, however I know for at least this year that's not how we're going to roll. When the children were younger and we were a great deal more relaxed in our homeschooling, year round worked for us perfectly.
Now though as the kids are all growing so quickly and things have gotten somewhat more structured, sticking relatively closely to school terms is what's working. Not forgetting that we are now heavily involved in two co-ops that also meet many of schooling needs and both of these fit within the regular Australian school terms of four per year.
Anyway, I digress. Today I wanted to chat about the first couple of weeks of a new year straight after a very long break from regular lessons.
I learned very quickly and very early on in our homeschool days that the kids find it incredibly difficult to simply jump back to all that is expected on the first day of school and often times they are still struggling to find a good groove into the second and third weeks of the year.
This is where I've learned to slowly ease us back into things extra gently. It makes the transition as simple and smooth as possible for everyone.
So this is what works for us, not saying it is the best way, it's just something that seems to work well here in our home.
You would think that I would want to jump everyone very quickly back into the 3R's and of course we do need to get back to the basics of homeschooling. However that is not at all what I do.
Day one will see us gathering together at the table, chatting about the year ahead. Even though we continually do this in a less formal manner throughout the summer break I always like to make sure we have a more formal discussion about some of the plans ahead.
From there we will have a look through the new offerings in our morning basket and hopefully get somewhat excited about what we find! I'll try and have the kids guide me here with what we actually begin from the morning basket, but it always involves lots of reading and generally some drawing.
We will most likely head out for a casual lunch to celebrate our first official day back and folks that's about it for day one of a new school year. We may come home and watch a movie together but really it is a very laid back, casual day.
Now day two is where things can get weird. Day one is generally always a pretty great day and therefore I'm super keen to add in a bit more the next day and I've learned from experience, trust me, that this is the day the heels will dig in. So this year I'll be trying my hardest to simply allow day two to flow, if the mood is great I will have an art or science lesson prepped and ready to go but if we don't get to it then that's ok too. There's always a documentary to watch together.
Over the coming days we simply and slowly begin adding in little chunks of extra's. A history lesson here, a maths lesson there and continue along that way until we are back into our regular days and routine.
Which in my head this year see's us following this basic structure. On a day in which we have no co-op and are home all day it will look like this. Begin all together with our morning basket, break into our independent rotations, with morning tea during this time and follow that up with an after lunch session of art, science, history or geography. I will try at some stage to come back and post in more depth about how we structure our days.
So it really is a quite simple way to start the year off but at the end of the day if we don't have our kids hearts then we also don't have their minds. Therefore working together in a way that mutually suits both of us is simply the best way to get our year off to a great start.
If you've struggled with the back to school blues with your kids I encourage you to let go of the long list of items to be checked off your list and just allow the first couple of weeks of your year to flow in gently, like a beautiful, slow flowing tide. Trust me, you will be rewarded in the long run.
Here's to an amazing year of connection, fun and learning in your homeschools.
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