Fun Ways to Celebrate Back to Homeschool

Are you getting ready for your first day back-to-homeschool?

We homeschool through the summer because the routine helps structure our day and keeps us all on track (rather than clawing each other’s eyeballs out, ha, ha!). But we drastically reduce our formal schooling and complete just a couple of math assignments per week, and increase our hands-on learning as we travel, explore, hike and camp.

Related Reading: 7 Reasons We Homeschool Through the Summer

The relaxed homeschooling we do during the summer gives me time to gear up for the new year, re-evaluate goals and make new ones, and research new curricula. It also gives us all a bit of a break, so we can be excited for the start of a new school year, instead of just feeling overwhelmed.

I love fun traditions that make events (like a first day back to school) feel like a celebration. It’s easy to add a special treat to your shopping list, and it hardly takes any time, but it will pay huge dividends in the form of excitement and anticipation.

I wrote up this list of homeschool first-day fun ideas for my own kiddos and thought I’d share them with you, too.

Because I have a large family, all of these ideas are cheap (or free!) and are suitable for families with a variety of ages and stages.

Pick one or two, or do them all. Do what you think will be fun for your family.  You’re a homeschooler with all of the accompanying freedom!

These fun ideas have the potential to create excitement about the new year and momentum for learning. Use that to your advantage.

Three cheers for homeschooling!

 

10 Fun, Back-To-Homeschool Ideas

 

1.  Have a Fun, Celebratory Meal

Do your kids have a favorite breakfast menu?  My kids always want bacon and omelets.  Food is one of the best way to celebrate special occasions and create fun memories.

Create-your-own dish lunches are also fun and would be an easy tradition to establish. I know my kids would love it if I set out english muffins, small bowls of toppings and let them each create their own pizza, because we so rarely do that. Build-your-own ice cream sundaes would be a fun treat, too.

Fondue is our favorite celebratory meal. My kids love that they get to choose whatever they want and dip to their little heart’s content. I always make Easy Crockpot Swiss Fondue AND Easy Chocolate Crockpot Fondue together, so it’s a double whammy of celebration.

2. Take Back-to-school Photos

Photos were always an essential part of our back-to-school celebrations while growing up, and I treasure those photos now. So I like to continue the tradition with my own kiddos. Nowadays, it’s easy to find free printables to make the photos even more fun. These First Day of School Chalkboard Printables from Yellow Bliss Road are so cute!

OR, if you have a smallish chalkboard, you can let your kids design their own. Hey! These might even help my kids remember what grades they should be in, for the next time the elderly lady at the grocery store asks.

3. Serve Up Special Snacks

Nothing brings my kids to the table and inspires them to work like a fun snack. All I have to do is set a tray of snacks on the table, and they all come running with big smiles. You can ask your kids if they want to help choose and prepare the snack, or you can make it a surprise. Either way, it’s sure to be a huge hit!

4.  Decorate Your School Space Together

Set up your school area with posters and fun decor the night before your homeschool first day.  My kids LOVE that I let them hang their mobile of the solar system from the light fixture in our school room. They also loved creating a cursive-writing poster for my kindergartener. We let them put push-pins into our school map to designate the places we’ve visited, and add stickers to our globes.

5.  Set Up a Treasure Hunt for School Supplies

Let your kids help you choose and purchase school supplies when they go on sale in July/August, then hide them away with the promise of a special treasure hunt. Leave a clue on the table the morning that you start back to school, leading the kids to their much-anticipated school supplies.

6.  Create a Homeschool Vision Board

Save a couple of junk-mail catalogs, and set them out with some art supplies and a large piece of poster board so your kiddos can dream up ideas for homeschool learning all year. Vision boards are a fantastic way to create and work on homeschool goals!

7.  Build School Spirit

Do you want your family to feel like a cohesive, unified team? Do you need some team spirit? Use your families talents to create a secret handshake, a team cheer or a fight song. Or maybe your family needs a crest. You could collaborate, or even make it a competition. Trust me, you’ll use it often and it will have special meaning to all of your children.

8. Construct a School Calendar

Brainstorm with your kids about themes, activities and field trips for your upcoming school year. We like to designate several DEAR (Drop Everything And Read) camp days, and some field trips. Talk about things your kiddos want to learn, and list them on the calendar.

We also add a few places we want to visit. You can build unit studies around these ideas, if you want. For example, after reading a geology book my kids wanted to visit Crater Lake and Mt. Saint Helens. We turned it into a road trip, and learned portions of several science disciplines and some history and geography before we left.

Our calendar helps my kids to comply better and work harder. When they see a field trip or DEAR camp scheduled and coming up, they know that they need to complete schoolwork today, but a break is coming. Our calendar is not very detailed at the outset — I fill in details as we go.

9.  Establish Routines and Display Your Schedule Somewhere Prominent

I’ve found that when my kids know what comes next, they are much more amenable to everything. If you want to have a smooth start to the school year, you must establish clear homeschool expectations,  routines and procedures.

About ten years ago, we finally found a schedule that works perfectly for our family. So now we just tweak it a little here and there as lessons or classes change. But the overall structure remains in place, year to year.

Still, though, each school year brings a few changes, and since my kiddos still need reminders about even the basics, like waking up and dressing themselves in the morning, I find it helpful to review the schedule and expectations at the beginning of each new school year.

Probably my favorite organization strategy is to write out our weekly schedule, hour by hour, including all the mundane things like chores and meals as well as school classes and events, on a large schedule, and displaying it in our kitchen.

10. Host a NOT Back to School Party for all of your homeschool friends.

Getting together with other homeschoolers is so important because a homeschooling lifestyle can sometimes be isolating. I love that my kids are all each others best friends. But as kids reach the age of 12 or so, they really benefit from friends outside of our home.

Our kids have friends from church and orchestra, but those friends go to school with each other and have private jokes and a language of their own that, though not intentionally exclusive, is exclusive.

It’s a lot more work on you, mom, I know, to have to host get-togethers and attend more activities. I’m a hopeless introvert, so it’s that much more difficult for me. But it’s work that will be well-rewarded as you see your children find lifelong friends and learn great social skills!

So take the time to host that party! And be sure to stay late, since it’s not a ‘school night’ for you!

 

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I’d love for you to reply below and share your favorite ideas for making the first day of NOT back to school fun!  It’s so helpful for homeschoolers to share their creative ideas with each other!

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6 Comments

  1. This is such a great way to kick off a fun homeschool year! I love the idea of celebrating every new homeschool year. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Amy Saunders says:

      Thanks, Brandi! My kids especially love having a few fun traditions. 🙂

    1. Amy Saunders says:

      Isn’t it fun to celebrate back-to-homeschoo?!

  2. I was not homeschooled but my parents did a great job making Back -to-School such a fun time. I remember them taking me to Open House to meet the teachers and then taking the supply list and shopping together and finishing the evening with a dessert. It was such a precious time that I remember so fondly now. I try to create the same atmosphere for my son, who is homeschooled. We usually go out on a lunch date the day before. I make a special snack on the first day of school. We make school supply shopping super fun and we work together to get his planner ready to go. (He’s 12). I love this!!!

    1. Amy Saunders says:

      What great memories! I love that you go on a special lunch date the day before and that you have fun traditions in place for your back to homeschool!

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