Whether you are a total newcomer to homeschooling, or a seasoned professional, it’s that time of year when you are probably brainstorming how to make the first day of a new homeschooling year special!
One of the cool things about homeschooling is that you can choose when you’d like your first day to be. It doesn’t have to match public school exactly! In fact, many homeschooling families wait until late August, or even early September, to start a new academic year. Other families homeschool year round (taking vacations according to what works best for them). No matter how you run your academic year though, it’s still fun and exciting to plan something to designate your “first day” of the next level of study. It can get everyone excited and – even if you’ve schooled through summer- can be a good way to reset the tone and mood of your homeschool. If you are brand new to homeschooling, then an extra special first day can help both you and your kids get excited and on-board for this new adventure!
No matter how many years I’ve been homeschooling, when I think of the “first day of school,” my memory always takes me back to my own first experience at school. I remember things like brand new tennis shoes on my feet, a shiny new Trapper Keeper on my desk, and a stomach absolutely sick with first day jitters.
For me, the first day of school was always a petrifying day. It was sad enough I had to trade the beautiful freedom of summer for hours of daily confinement, all in the name of “education.” But the whole thing was made 100 times worse by the miserable uncertainty of that first school day of the year: Who will my teacher be? Will she be nice? What if I don’t know anybody in my class? Will I be able to make friends? Who will I have to sit next to? Where will I sit at lunch?
The wiser teachers recognized all those first day anxieties and made Day 1 all about helping students get to know them and one another. Only the meanest of teachers made us do actual work on the first day. And usually if they did, it was not a good sign of things to come!
But I’m a homeschooling mom now! And this gives me the liberty to make my kids’ first day of school look as much or as little like anything I ever experienced in public school as I desire. And I love that freedom! You may prefer to hit the books with your kids from the first day. If that’s the way you roll, I won’t criticize! But personally, I like to ease into school a little more and make our first day as fun and as different from everyday school as possible.
If you would like to do the same, here are 5 ideas for making your first day of school fun and memorable for your kids. You could do just one of these, or do bits and pieces of them all!
1. Make it a Cooking or Baking Day!
Most kids love getting involved in the kitchen, and it’s a great way to teach them some important life skills. (Not to mention the math, and even science, you can sneak in on them while cooking!) Have all your ingredients on hand and spend your first day of school cooking together. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are a given, but you could also make cakes or cookies for neighbors, dinner for a needy friend. You could utilize that first day for your future good by whipping up some freezer meals for those extra busy homeschooling days you know are sure to come!
2. Have an Arts and Crafts Day.
Most kids love art and craft projects. They don’t have to be expensive, complicated, or extra messy for the kids to have fun and learn as they create! For example, you could create or paint a logo/sign/banner with your official homeschool name on it and take some fun photos with it! We also have a ton fun, simple craft ideas here for you on this site and on our sister site, Only Passionate Curiosity. Buy your supplies and invest in a few materials to protect surfaces and make cleanup easier, like disposable plastic tablecloths, paper towels, newspaper, and paper or styrofoam plates, bowls, and trays.
3. Take a Field Trip!
This is one of my favorite first day of school activities! Kids are always game for a field trip, and odds are there is a historic site, museum, event, art gallery, or factory within driving distance of your home that would make for a great field trip. If time or money is limited or your family dynamics make travel a challenge, a scavenger hunt on your own street or even within your own home can make a great alternative. Or if you’re simply unable to find/take a local field trip due to Covid-19 concerns, check out this list of fun, virtual field trips you can take (you could even do several on the same day)!
4. Have a Book Day.
Fill your first day of school with books! Visit a bookstore to look for some reading treasures. (Used bookstores are one of our favorite places to hunt, and we almost always find books at a steal of a price!) Of course a visit to the library can yield a stack of books as well–more than you could ever read. Whatever you find, take it home and then read to your kids like crazy! Also allow them to read to you, to each other, or on their own if they prefer. You can even encourage them to create their own books or draw their own illustrations for the books you’re reading to them.
5. Spend the Day Serving Others.
Truly, few things can teach a child more than having compassion and serving others. Maybe you can spend your first day of school volunteering with your kids at a local soup kitchen, pregnancy center, veterans’ organization, etc. If not, perhaps you can do yard work for an elderly neighbor, take a meal to a sick relative, or clean house for a tired, expectant mom. It will likely make for a day your children, (and you!) will not soon forget.
Do you hit the books on your first day of homeschool, or do you like to do something a little bit different? What do you do to make your first day of homeschool special and memorable? Please share your ideas in the comments so others can borrow your great ideas!