Move over summer, the new school year is here! Whether you are preparing for ‘back to homeschool’ or just wrapping things up from last year, I am sure your adrenaline is revved up as you prepare for a fresh start ;).
While some of us have some form of regrets and wished we had done things differently, there are others of us who are excited about trying out new ideas or set ups that we have just stumbled upon. Either way, it’s important to reflect on the previous year and strategize from there, looking into what worked and what didn’t.
Attending the Better Together Teacher’s Summit gave me the opportunity to do just that, as it allowed me to create a ‘do more of’ and a ‘do less of’ list. The summit was a chance to not only learn new things and get inspired, but to also look back to what didn’t quite work so well for us, as well as what did. After learning about all the benefits of writing, I couldn’t resist but to add that to our ‘do more of’ list. As for the ‘do less of,’ it has to be to stress and to worry unnecessarily over things like one of my children’s slower math progress. I learned that processing things slower does not always have to be a bad thing, and that our brain actually develops more when we make mistakes.
We all know that homeschooling is not easy, but with proper planning we can make things not only alot more manageable, but better than ever before! And who wouldn’t want to try to set the stakes higher for this year? So to start off on the right foot, here are a few of things I will be doing inshaa Allah 😉
Back to School Tips:
Organize the work space: Recently, I have been on a mission to organize my home, the Konmari way (more on that later 😉 ). And considering that I am a bit “organizationally challenged”, I am surprised about how much fun I am actually having folding everything up into neat little packets lol (see examples here). The first step of this method including discarding items that do not “spark joy,” so it may be challenging for those of us that are compulsive hoarders (sadly, I fall into this category 🙁 ) , but once you have managed to loosen that tight grip, you will inshaAllah feel so liberated (trust me on this one! 😉 ) Less stuff also means you will have an easier time managing them all, especially after you have organized it using much more sensible konmari techniques. For example, instead of stacking things horizontally as some of us tend to do, Konmari method advocates stacking them vertically, where it will be more visible. Check out Marie Kondo showing you how to do it in this video.
Reflect and grow: This is another important part of the planning process which requires you to reflect and learn from past mistakes or triumphs. Allow yourself some quiet time, maybe in a tranquil nature setting, to reflect on the past year and to jot down some notes on any insights you have developed based on these reflections. Use these reflections to help guide your next school year.
Get your kids on board: While some of us may already do this, involving our kids in the planning process is an excellent way to make them invested in their own education. Ask your kids to set some goals for the next school year, get feedback from them about what they liked and did not like about the past year, and allow them to come up with ideas on how they can make things better. Apart of the goals may also be personal development goals such as working on being more patient, or learning to be more assertive. Hanging these goals where it’s visible is a great way to remind them what they should be working on.
Buying supplies: With the great back to school deals going on, now is the time to stock up on things you use a lot of such as notebooks, printer paper, markers, etc. Keep in mind to also not to go overboard with supplies that will just end up crowding your space.
Make curriculum choices: For those of us who like to follow formal curriculum, start making or rethinking curriculum choices by researching them properly, either through online reviews, or from people you know.
Looking into classes or tutoring, if necessary. Many of us have subjects which we know our child may need more support in, and we would rather outsource ;). Maybe you feel that your child will respond better to another tutor, or in a group class, or maybe you just want to reduce the number of things on your plate. Either way, it is time to research vendors and/or other educational resources in your community.
Plan Field trips and/or enrichment activities: Outings to museums, and other venues provide excellent hands-on learning opportunities, and can add a lot of value to your homeschool. Inquire whether the ones near you offer homeschool days, or other special events, and “save the date” so you don’t miss out on it. You may also consider getting a year membership to places where you may want to visit more than once. If your child has interest in a particular sport or activity, you will need to start planning ahead of time to meet deadlines.
Create or if necessary, recreate your mission statement: Think about what you want your family to get out of homeschooling and take the time to come up with an inspiring mission statement to refer back to on “stormy days.” We all have moments when we might question the choices we have made and whether we are on the right track. InshaAllah, having this mission statement handy will help you to steer and navigate your “ship” even through “rough waves.”
Set learning and/or personal development goals for yourself: There is no better way to teach your children the love of learning, than to model it yourself. Is there something that you always wanted to learn but have always put it off year after year? Then, make a commitment to learn it this year inshaAllah! As Muslims, we are always encouraged to seek knowledge, especially when it comes to beneficial deen-related knowledge. So, for example, if you always wanted to learn Arabic, and never seem to “get around to doing it,” put time aside each week to help you finally realize this dream!
Do you have any more tips for Back to School?
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Thanks, Josy! I love reading your blog posts. This is my second year homeschooling, last year was a transition period where we were figuring things out. This year I will still figure things out but I know we also need more organization in our lives.
JazakAllahu Khair for your kind words! InshaAllah, I’m looking forward to going on this journey with you 🙂 Yes, organization I am realizing is so important even though it’s not my forte lol…