Tag Archives: homeschool

Step by Step Plan to Start the Homeschool Year

A new school homeschool year can present formidable challenges when the anticipated first day of school ends up disappointingly overloaded, stressed, and frustrating.

This is a simple way to avoid that. Break that first day of school into smaller, more reasonably sized activities that you do before you actually want to begin your bookwork.

See how Melanie did her homeschooling startup this year.

  1. On Thursday, the children received school surprises and set up their school books.
  2. On Friday, Melanie had individual meetings with each child to discuss the school year, what their schedule would look like, and how they would move through it each day with their assignments.
  3. Monday was the “real” first day of school, and they were ready to follow their school and do their actual school work.

Trusting in Jesus,
PS: Here are a few past Mom’s Corners on beginning school year encouragement!

Three Crucial Steps to Fruitfully Start the Homeschool Year
School Year Preparations
I Just Want to Be a Mommy

“Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the
Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20).

Melanie Maxwell’s Pick for An Extra Curricula Filler

Sometimes it’s nice to have a productive filler for homeschool kids, and when I asked Melanie what a favorite pick was for the prior school year, here’s her answer.

The Never Bored Kid Books!

(Titus2’s Amazon Affiliate links are in this post, above and below: see our privacy policy.)

With dot-to-dots, puzzles, riddles, word games, and more, there are plenty of things to encourage kids in their learning skills. As with all things, one must use discernment. If Melanie comes to a page that doesn’t meet what they’d like for their kids to do (i.e. magic or scary themes), she’ll just tear it out.

The Never Bored Kid Books might be a good addition to your homeschool day.


“O Lord, open thou my lips;
and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.”
Psalm 51:15

Second Generation Homeschooling

(Sarah’s note: I had originally planned to share about Mount of the Holy Cross hike today, but I’m moving that off until later. 🙂 )

Steve and I have the joy of seeing the 2nd generation of homeschooling as our married children homeschool our grandchildren. How well I remember the first day of homeschooling each year and the photos we took.

Recently, we saw Melanie and Anna Marie’s first-day-of-school photos for the school year they are just starting. I love having daughters-in-law who will invest their time back into their children through homeschooling. I love their faithfulness to that calling. We are blessed!

Trusting in Jesus,

PS: You might be encouraged by these Mom’s Corners on beginning your homeschool year successfully:
Three Crucial Steps to Fruitfully Start the Homeschool Year
Time Management for Homeschool Moms Through Scheduling Perseverance

“And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them
up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”
Ephesians 6:4

Four Ways to Make Your First Day of Homeschool A Breeze

Y’all, I’m excited. It’s back to school time! I loved those days when we were gearing up for a brand-new year.

Here are some things that could help you streamline your first day of back to homeschool. These come from watching my mom, a veteran homeschooler who experienced 30 first-days! But she would be the first to tell you they weren’t all dreamy. Through trial and error, she discovered some best practices to help her achieve peaceful days.

1. Purchase school surprises for your kiddos.

A huge highlight to me on our first day was school surprises. Simply put, Mom bought new school supplies plus some fun extras. Here are things you could purchase (and hint: it’s the weekend, so run out to the store, as I know many of you are starting next week!).

  • Notebook / binder (the more colorful and cuter for girls the better, and manly ones work well for the boys!)
  • Sticky colored tabs (we used these to mark where we were in textbooks)
  • Pencils in fun colors or mechanical pencils
  • Erasers (not the ordinary pink ones but funky colors!)
  • Rulers (those bendable, really slick ones!)
  • Coloring books for young children
  • Fun crayons (they seem to come in all shapes, sizes, and scents!) or markers for young children
  • Browse the back-to-school aisles: they are full of ideas!
  • Puzzles
  • A reading book (hint: a Moody book!)
  • Candy (yep, I really said that! what child doesn’t like candy?!)

This was Mary YEARS ago with a school surprise!

Nathan, me, Joseph, and Christopher many years ago!

2. Ask for your children’s input on their schedules, the flexible areas.

My mom was awesome with this. There were certain time slots that needed to be held to, but other times that I could plan, and I loved working on my schedule.

3. Plan a pre-first-day-of-homeschool.

School doesn’t just happen. So plan a non-actual-school day, but make it a super fun day. Make an awesome breakfast (hint: Chocolate Chip Muffins), give school surprises to the kids, go over their schedules, and play some games! To top it off, plan a special dinner so Dad can feel included to. Or, better yet, order in pizza. Now doesn’t that sound incredible?

The year 2000 school group.
The year 2000 school group.

4. Be excited yourself.

If Mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy! Put that smile on your face, and enjoy your time too. New beginnings are always fun, when they are planned for correctly and with proper expectations.

My mom is Queen of practical advice, so I encourage you to check out some of her wisdom:

Three Crucial Steps to Fruitfully Start the Homeschool Year

First Day of School

School Year Preparations

First Day of School Disaster or Success? 

Back to School

All 8 Maxwell Young People

Y’all! This is fruit! All eight of us Maxwell young people on Mary’s graduation evening.

Happy making your first day the best ever!


“So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom,
and apply thine heart to understanding.”
Proverbs 2:2

Back to School

For many homeschoolers, August represents a return to school after a summer break. In our homeschooling years, we had activities to make the first day of school special. Those things we did to make it special also made it less likely to be a successful real day of academic school. Not meeting our academic goals for the day made a very exciting day turn into a disappointing day. So we learned to do our special school-beginning kick off a day before we began our usual bookwork school.

I think I loved our memory-making school starting activities as much or more than the children didcelebration breakfasts, school supply surprises, photos, instructional meetings, and setting up notebooks were the mainstays of that day—no real schoolwork!

What about you? What do you do to make the first day of school special whether you are homeschooling or your children go away to school?

Trusting in Jesus,

Thanks to Sarah and Abby, Betsy, Tina, and Drew for the pictures!

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that
needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
2 Timothy 2:15


Thirty-one years ago, our oldest little boy headed off for his first day of school. He was very cute with his navy shorts, white polo shirt, and lunch box in his hand. We took his photo before he left the house to get on the school bus in order to capture the memory of that momentous day. He only headed away to school one more year. After that, he was homeschooled.

Even with homeschooling, we made it a priority to take first-day-of-school photos. Now there were two children to photograph and eventually there would be eight. No longer did the children have their lunch boxes in their hands but instead they held a few of their school books for their pictures. We took an individual photo of each child and a group photo. Those photos were put in albums with the rest of our family photos, but I had a plan in my mind to someday, when life slowed down, collect all those first-day-of-school photos into its own special album.

In 2010 something happened. When school began, we were preparing for Christopher’s wedding in October and also our fall speaking trip. We planned to do the photos the evening of the first day of school, but we forgot. We didn’t think we had time to reschedule them before our speaking trip, and when we got home late in October, we decided that since we had missed the actual first day of school, the photo didn’t matter than much anyway. Because we missed the 2010 photos, we decided it wasn’t that much of a priority in 2011. We were down to only two homeschooled students and besides we had never done anything with those photos anyway.

By 2012, I had almost forgotten about the first day of school. We had one homeschooled student who was in tenth grade and by choice started her new school year as soon as she finished her last one. She was way beyond the excitement of first-day-of school special breakfasts, school surprises, and photos.

However, this year my heart was heavy when I thought about the missing first-day-of-school photos. My last homeschooled children are as important to me as my first ones were. Sadly, I let the urgent push out the important. We thought we had good reasons for choosing the urgent, but in hindsight they were only excuses. A photo takes very little time, and it would have been well worth the effort.

I regret those three years of no first-day-of-school photos. I can’t redo those particular days and get the photos, but I can learn from that mistake. This year, even though we missed three years, we have a first-day-of-school photo for Mary for 11th grade.

What about you? Could I encourage you to look for what is important in your life and not let what seems urgent push out what is important?

Trusting in Jesus,


“And whatsoever ye do in word or deed,
do all in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God and the Father by him.”
Colossians 3:17