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Back to School: Make the First Day of Homeschool Special

I have a few memories from my childhood that involve the first day of school. I remember kindergarten and standing in a long line on the steps of the school, holding my mother’s hand and discovering that she wasn’t actually staying with me. I remember the first day of school at my new middle school and being the only new kid that year. I also remember the first day of school as a senior in high school because my nephew was born that day. I think the only consistent thing from year to year was new school clothes. Not every memory I have of the first day of school is a good one and very few of those first days were memorable at all.

When you homeschool or have kids in an online learning program such as K12, good memories and tradition can be part of the first day of homeschool every year. I know families who began traditions from the earliest years of schooling and others who started traditions later on when their children were in high school. Here are a few ideas for back-to-school traditions that can make the first day, or the first week, worth happily anticipating every year:

Special Breakfasts or Lunches

On the first day of school, plan to share breakfast or lunch together as a family. You can make something special at home or plan a special breakfast or lunch out at your favorite restaurant or diner. During the meal, have each person share something he or she is looking forward to in the coming months.

Field Trips

During the first week of school, take a day to go on a field trip to a place that will be newly empty because everyone else is back in class. Our family loved hitting the beach or the Museum of Science during that week. It was wonderful to explore the out-of-doors and science in those places and kick off our year by learning in a fun way.

Make Lists

As a family, or individually, create lists of three goals for the year or three things each person would really love to learn about. Revisit those lists each month on the same day and see how much progress is being made. Revisiting the list allows everyone to recommit to the goals and learning. Make sure those items are written by your children and not you!

Write a Letter

As a fun way to start the year, have each child write a letter to him or herself sharing their hopes for the year. Seal the letters in an envelope and put them aside to be opened on the last day of school. These can be kept from year to year in a scrapbook and can be wonderful mementos for a family to keep and hand down.

Time capsule

On the first day of school bury a time capsule with one fun item from each person and open it on the first day of school next year. Take pictures each year showing what you found from the year before. You might even keep lists of the fun items that were included.

The possibilities are endless! Bake cookies. Pack a picnic. Visit grandparents. Go for a bike ride. As a family, decide what will make a memory and what will be something that your family can happily anticipate each year, and then get off to a fun start!

This article was updated August 2015

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Lori Beverage

Lori Beverage is senior manager of national community and family support for K12. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in elementary and special education from UMaine at Farmington, a Master of Arts degree from Emerson College in theater education, and a decade of experience in the brick-and-mortar classroom as a special educator. She also has 17 years of experience homeschooling her four children using K12 and other curricula.

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