Okay, mama we are getting close – are you ready to have an awesome first day of homeschool?!
Whether you decide to homeschool for this coming school year only or if you plan to homeschool your kids for the long haul, making their first day of homeschool special will be something your kids can remember forever.
I always loved the first of school as a kid, and my kids look forward to their first day of homeschool every year.
Because we have so many fun traditions that make the first day of homeschool special and different from all the other days.
Keep reading for some great ideas (and free printable first day posters!) that you might consider trying on your first day of homeschool this year.
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First Day of Homeschool Photos
It is always amazing how much our kids grow during a school year, isn’t it?
Make sure you document this special day by taking an individual photo of each of your kids.
To make your photos extra special, download and print these first day of homeschool posters for your kids to hold in their photos! There is a poster for every grade from PreK-3 through 12th grade!
I recently heard a great idea to really measure the growth your kids experience in a school year:
Take their photo outdoors (better lighting anyway, right?) next to a tree or other perennial plant that will live for years. Over time you’ll not only see how much your kids grow, but you’ll be able to see their growth in comparison to the plant too.
Introduce a theme for the homeschool year
The first day of homeschool is a great time to share a theme for the year that you would like to focus on throughout the school year.
Having a theme can help you and your kids notice behaviors, ideas, or mindsets that you want to instill in your kids over time. We know that character growth doesn’t happen in one lesson or discussion, so having a theme that you refer to often throughout the school year can give your kids the repetition they need.
Ideas for a yearly homeschool theme
There are so many options for a great yearly theme for your homeschool. Here’s a quick list of ideas to get you started on choosing one for yourself:
- choose a scripture verse you want your kids to memorize and remember
- pick a fun, lighthearted meme to display that teaches a small lesson
- come up with an acronym of characteristics or traits you want your kids to develop
- choose a short phrase or couplet that can easily be memorized and repeated (this is especially good for young kids)
- decide on a famous or inspiring quote to memorize and recite often together
Create a way to display your homeschool theme
While you may consider asking your kids to contribute their ideas for a homeschool yearly theme, I have found it is best to choose the theme yourself.
Use the first day of homeschool to introduce the theme and have your kids complete some kind of project to commemorate the theme.
This could be painting, inscribing, drawing, or coloring the theme on a canvas or poster board to display in your homeschool room.
You could get more creative and have your kids sculpt or build something that corresponds to your theme.
Whatever you decide to have your kids create, have all the necessary supplies on hand and organized as you introduce the theme and the project they get to make!
Special first day of homeschool breakfast
While I am all about having a pre-determined daily schedule or routine, taking the time on the first day of homeschool to prepare a favorite breakfast for your kids can really start the day off on a fun note.
Think of a breakfast they love but you don’t prepare often. Then think of a way to make that meal extra special.
For example, if you’re going to make waffles, consider adding fresh strawberries with homemade whipped cream. Of if you choose to make special smoothies, add a fresh mint sprig and a few ripe berries as garnish to make it extra fancy.
While these little details don’t seem like that big of a deal, they will matter to your kids!
And when your kids see you putting forth these extra small efforts to make the first day of homeschool super special, they may feel even more excited to begin homeschool themselves!
Introduce your morning meeting routine
One of the very best ways to begin your homeschool day is with a morning meeting.
The morning meeting is the first thing we do for homeschool everyday. It serves to signal your kids that the school day is beginning and can prime their brains to begin learning.
On the first day of homeschool, spend some extra time describing and walking through the morning meeting so your kids will know exactly what to expect everyday.
What to do during your morning meeting
Here are some ideas of what you could do during your morning meeting:
- recite the Pledge of Allegiance
- sing your country’s national anthem
- offer a family prayer
- hold a short devotional
- sing a song that teaches the days of the week, months of the year, the planets, or the fifty States, etc.
- do a quick logic puzzle or rebus together
- recite your theme for the school year
- discuss the date and the weather
- have a country focus and learn one fact about a new country (we studied one country a week a few years ago)
- read aloud together from a work of classic literature (I love the Classic Starts series that makes understanding the classics so much easier – and more fun!)
You don’t have to do all of these things in your morning meeting.
In fact, it is much better if you can keep the morning meeting short – 15 minutes or less is ideal! (Other than the read aloud portion).
On the first day of homeschool, expect the morning meeting to take a bit longer as you describe what you are doing and why. Remember, having your morning meeting is extremely important – it will be the foundation for every day of the upcoming school year.
Go over your kids’ weekly assignment schedules
Part of your morning meeting on the first day of homeschool can be spent reviewing your kids’ weekly assignment schedules.
Kids (and adults!) perform better when they have a clear picture of what is expected of them, and this is true in an academic setting as well.
Whether you are facilitating virtual school or are teaching from a homeschool curriculum, having a weekly assignment schedule will help your kids stay organized.
A sample weekly assignment schedule
Here’s a quick look at one week’s worth of assignments for a second grader:
You can see that the schedule only lists subjects. It is up to your kids to fill in what they accomplish each day. You may need to help your youngest kids, but letting your kids keep track of their completed assignments is a great way to teach organization and responsibility.
Great news: You can get access to the weekly assignment schedules in the Reluctant Homeschool Mama’s resource library right here!
You may be wondering what the significance of the Red Days and Blue Days might be. This is a tip I learned from the excellent homeschooling book, Teaching from Rest by Sarah MacKenzie (and I think ALL homeschool moms need to read!):
Having alternating days for different subjects is common for many public schools, especially for those with a block schedule. But missing a day of school can make it difficult to be sure that all subjects are covered equally.
If you should miss a homeschool day (and it happens!), you simply resume school with the next color day – either Red or Blue – from where you left off. Of course, you can choose your own colors (or get creative and give your days animal or cartoon names!).
But having a simple alternating schedule that you can easily pick up after taking time off from school will help your kids get an equal number of days for each of their school subjects.
Look through new books and supplies
After going over your kids’ weekly assignment sheets, it is a good idea to give them time to look at their new school books and supplies.
You may consider thumbing through their books in advance and putting a bookmarks in a few sections your child might find particularly interesting.
Give your kids some time on the first day of homeschool to check out their new school supplies. Be sure to make it clear that all supplies need to be put away into their correct spots at the end of the school day!
Finally, let your kids spend a few minutes checking out their notebooks so they can be familiar with how they will organize their assignments.
Our simple homeschool binder system
You can use any system you like, but having three ring binders for different subjects has always worked well for us.
Preschool and kindergarteners only need one three ring binder for all of their subjects.
For the elementary grades, I recommend two binders: one for math, science, and social studies and the other for language arts (spelling, grammar, writing, reading, and handwriting).
For the middle and high school grades, three binders have worked well. The first binder is for math, logic, and science. The next is for social studies, foreign language, and …. The last is for language arts: writing, grammar, and vocabulary.
Create a short list of homeschool rules
The first day the school year is a great time to choose some rules for your homeschool.
While I don’t recommend getting input from your kids for the yearly theme, I do believe having them contribute to the homeschool rules is VERY important!
You will want to keep this list of homeschool rules fairly short. Usually five to seven rules work really well.
As your kids come up with their homeschool rules, you will want to write them down (or have an older child write them).
Once the rules are decided on, be sure to display them somewhere in your homeschooling classroom.
Ideas for homeschool rules
Here are a few ideas for homeschool rules to get you started:
- Always do your best work.
- Be kind.
- Listen well to others – don’t interrupt.
- Treat others the way you want to be treated.
- Be willing to try again.
- Encourage others.
Complete All About Me pages
One of my favorite things to do on the first day of homeschool is to have my kids fill out these All About Me pages that are available in the Reluctant Homeschool Mama resource library! To get access to the resource library, just fill in the simple form right here!
It is so fun to see what things they list as their favorite food, color, book, etc and to see how much they change over the course of the school year.
I’ve saved my kids’ All About Me pages since they were small. It is so fun to look back and see what used to be so important to them. These All About Me pages have become such a sweet reminder for my kids about their younger years!
Play a few fun learning games
To finish out your first homeschool day, it is a great idea to play a few fun learning games.
You may consider searching for a game that corresponds to a topic you’ll be studying during the school year.
For example, if you will be studying world history, your kids could put together this awesome puzzle of the world.
If you are going to be studying the animal kingdom for science, try this fun game called Guess in 10 – Animal Planet (there are 4 other topics in this series as well!). It is similar to 20 Questions and is a simple, easy game for all ages.
If you’ll be studying the human body and anatomy this year, get out the Operation game and play a few rounds for fun.
There are lots of fun trivia card sets by Professor Noggins that you could try on the first day of homeschool. It could be really fun to compare how much easier the cards will be at the end of the year. There are topic sets such as Medieval Times, Outer Space, and Earth Science.
There are so many amazing educational and learning games available – I’ll have a new post available soon with all of our favorites!
Whatever game you choose, your kids will be happy to start of the school year with some light-hearted learning.
Final thoughts on how to have a great first day of homeschool
Now, just a short word of caution before we’re through here: don’t expect the first day of homeschool to be perfect, okay?!
While having a plan and some great ideas can make the first day of homeschool special and fun, make sure your expectations are in the right place.
Homeschooling may be new for you AND your kids – they may be expecting more of a public school environment and may take some time to adjust to homeschool life.
That is okay.
Over time, especially if homeschooling is something you continue for several (or many!) years, the first day of homeschool traditions will be something your kids will look back on with many happy memories when they are older.
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