Back to Homeschool – How We Celebrate

Back to Homeschool - How we celebrate

Back to Homeschool – How We Celebrate

It’s hard to miss all those back to school photos of kids going back to school the first day. Just because we homeschool doesn’t mean we don’t participate in back to school, or “not” back to school traditions too. I believe celebrating the days of our lives in fun ways will be something our kids will gladly remember. I know I will! I already enjoy looking back at first day of school photos of my kids from the last few years and remembering the good times we have had.

This post contains affiliate links, which means if you purchase something as a result of clicking on one of these links, I may make a small commission at no additional charge to you. Thank you for your support of this site!

There are tons of ways to make the first day back to school a special day for you and your children.

Here’s what we do:

Back to School Photos

You know you see them all over Facebook and Pinterest. People posting photos of their kids on the first day back to school. We do it pretty simply. We take our chalkboard and write the year on it and take our photos holding it. I usually try to get in at least one photo with the kids so I drag out my tripod. That usually means we end up making silly photos too! back to school photo

New School Supplies

Everyone loves new school supplies, right? And this time of year there are awesome deals on back to school supplies. I set out each of the kids’ new supplies on their desks for them to find first thing in the morning. I like to get them new supplies that are fun and inspire their creativity. new school supplies  new school supplies

Fun Treats

We had ice cream for breakfast on our first day of school. My kids were totally surprised smoothies for snack and thrilled to find out we were having ice cream. Then for our mid-morning snack, we made smoothies to pack back in some nutrition that we missed with breakfast. I let the kids decide what they wanted to put in the smoothies. They turned out yummy!

Fun Activities

Firecracker loves science and wants to do it everyday. We were studying wind on our first day of school so we made some little kites for them to play with out of supplies we have around the house. Simple. Fun. I made sure to do plenty of fun artsy-craftsy and science-y fun stuff the first week. We can’t always do as much as we’d like to, but I wanted us to start the year off having lots of fun with each other.

first day fun

Student Interview

I like to mark the passage of time with a student interview. I always find out some interesting facts about my kids. When I interviewed Firecracker on our first day, he told me that he wants to learn Japanese. And his self-portrait was of himself as a ninja. The Japanese – I had no idea. The ninja – I wasn’t surprised.  Download and print out my free student interview printable.

first day of school checklist

Enjoy your first day back to school! Be intentional about it; your kids are worth it!

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This post is part of the iHomeschoolNetwork Not-Back-To-School Blog Hop: School Photo Week. Visit for plenty of inspiration! And if you are a blogger, post your own School Photo blog post! Please leave friendly comments below. How do you celebrate the first day back to school?

Big-Book-promo-2

I wrote chapters on How to Make the First Day of Homeschool Special and How to Make a Homeschool Budget and Stick To It in the newly released The Big Book of Homeschool Ideas. And these are just a couple of the many ideas you will find in this ebook. Click the picture for all the details!

 

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Homeschool Room Tour

HOmeschool Room Tour Homeschool Room Tour

It’s always interesting to find out “where” homeschoolers actually “do” school. In our family, we strive to have a life filled with learning opportunities. So essentially we try to teach our kids everywhere we go. But that doesn’t mean we don’t need a place for us to call home – for our homeschool – so to speak.

Our first year of homeschooling, we did not have a dedicated room or space for our homeschool. We did our schoolwork primarily on the kitchen table and our books and supplies ended up everywhere. Everyday I had to pack up all our school stuff and move it somewhere else so I could put dinner on the table. It ended up in stacks and bunches here and there. I tried to keep most of it in a nearby closet, but it just got so messy that I never wanted to pull anything out. The un-organization (is that even a word?) of it drove me crazy!! I get all stressed just thinking about it.

So after our first year of all that, we transformed our bonus/storage room into our homeschool room. And it has been such a blessing to us! We know how fortunate we are to have this space. I know not everyone has a room they can dedicate to homeschooling. But whatever space you have, I suggest organizing it wisely so you won’t go all crazy with the books and stuff everywhere!

Our homeschool room has different spaces. We have a preschooler space, a bigger kid space, a teacher space, craft and storage spaces, and places for reading. Plus a big bonus is the open floor area where we have room for my kinesthetic learners to move around.

This post contains affiliate links, which means if you purchase something as a result of clicking on one of these links, I may make a small commission at no additional charge to you. Thank you for your support of this site!

Preschooler Space

Preschooler Space

 

In the area for my preschooler, I have:

  • a small desk that has a chalkboard inside (an updated desk that used to be my husband’s when he was little!)
  • a book case that holds books, preschool toys and puzzles, coloring and activity books, and blocks - from IKEA
  • a pegboard for her crayons, markers, and scissors (see below for details on the pegboard)

Big Kid Space

Bigger Kid Space

My bigger kid has the following in his space:

  • a desk with drawers for papers, science tools, drawing supplies, and more – from IKEA
  • a book case for books and learning games - from IKEA
  • a pegboard for holding his markers, pens, pencils, scissors, glue, and crayons (see below for details on pegboard)
  • an extra chair at his desk so I can sit with him for our seat work lessons
  • lots of artwork hanging on the ceiling – his idea! I came into the school room one day and found all this artwork hanging and he was so proud of it! Although it made my inner must-have-it-neat-and-organized self cringe a bit, I do not have the heart to take it down. I love that he wants to express himself creatively!
  • All our scripture from the past year is on note cards on the wall by his desk.
  • You may notice the line on the white slanted ceiling above his desk. That is our timeline that goes from one end of the room to the other. It’s just a piece of yarn that I have tacked on the wall and we add our timeline pieces to it as we study them.
Pegboard Organizer

I got our black plastic pegboards from The Home Depot. They are very similar to this Bulldog Hardware Peg-A-System Pegboard Panel Kit from Amazon. I used some pegboard hooks I found in our garage to hang their buckets on that hold their crayons, glue, markers, scissors, pens, and pencils. The hooks that we use to hold their scissors are made for holding screwdrivers. You can find all kinds of neat pegboard hooks/accessories like this Pegboard Hook Assortment kit. You can also find baskets like this Wire Mesh Basket that could be really useful. I have found it to be a versatile way to organize little items that need to stay easily accessible.

Teacher Space

teacher space

In my area, I have:

  • My desk and storage cabinet – from IKEA
  • Refurbished bookcase where I keep all our current curriculum and books/games/cards/etc that I am planning to use this year. I try to keep the kids out of my area, so that I can keep things there that are fresh to them when I pull them out.
  • I keep Ladybug’s sensory boxes by my desk. She would have those out all day long with rice and beans all over the floor if I would let her.
  • I have a Sony iPod Docking Station with CD Player and Radio that we just love having in our school room. It was on my school-room wish list and the hubs got it for me last year for Christmas. We listen to audio books, CDs, music on the iPod, and the radio while we are in school. Love it! (And in every space will be my dog if I’m anywhere nearby. My family calls him my shadow.) 

Craft Space

Craft supply storage

I got this cabinet with the drawers in it from a yard sale last year. It is perfect for keeping our craft supplies in. But my 3 year old, who is quiet as a ninja, likes to get the paints, glitter, and glue out without asking permission and I’ve had to clean all that up too many times. So, to limit her access, the hubs just got me a little lock to put it on.

Ultimately, I’d like to move this all to a closet and use this space for those rain gutter bookshelves. A girl can dream, right? Those are on my homeschool room wish list. Ahhhh, that’s a post for another day…

Reading Spaces

HS room

We have a lightweight kids couch that I found on Craigslist that we use when we are reading together. We also have a big round chair that the kids sit in while reading. Or we just sit on the floor, or read on the couch in the living room, or in the car, or outside. We like to read everywhere! Reading is certainly not limited to our school room.

When I was designing our school room, I spent hours and hours on Pinterest looking for ideas. I compiled a list of 20 Inspiring Pinterest Boards for Designing & Organizing Homeschool Spaces that you must drool over look at if you are looking for inspiration for your homeschool space.

This post is part of the iHomeschoolNetwork Not-Back-To-School Blog Hop: School Room Week. Visit for plenty of inspiration! And if you are a blogger, post your own School Room blog post!

Please leave friendly comments below. Where do you “do” school?

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Big-Book-promo-2

I wrote chapters on How to Make the First Day of Homeschool Special and How to Make a Homeschool Budget and Stick To It in the newly released The Big Book of Homeschool Ideas. And these are just a couple of the many ideas you will find in this ebook. Click the picture for all the details!

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

 

Start the Year With a Student Interview {Free Printable}

Who I Am - An Interview for Homeschool Students

Start The School Year with a Student Interview

The school year is just beginning for lots of families. Mark the passage of time with a student interview and you may also find out some interesting facts about your kids. When I interviewed Firecracker today, he told me that he wants to learn Japanese. And his self-portrait was of himself as a ninja. Oh bless…

Anyway, you can include your students’ interview as part of their portfolio for the year or add it to your scrapbook. It will serve as a reminder of who they are right at this point in their life. I like to interview my children at the beginning of the school year and then again at the end. It is interesting to see how their thoughts and opinions change over time. And it’s a great way to get to know them! They may answer the questions in ways you don’t expect!

I’ve created a printable that you can use to interview your students. There is one sheet of questions that you can use to interview your students with a second blank page for them to draw a self-portrait. For your younger children, you can ask the questions and write in the answers for them. For your older children, you can give them the questions and have them write out their own answers and/or use this as an essay prompt.

I’m all about documenting my children’s lives. It’s one of my pieces of advice to new homeschool moms, because our children are growing up so quickly, and I don’t want all the good things to be forgotten. I know you don’t either.

Use this interview sheet as a way to capture some precious memories of your children. Enjoy!

Please leave friendly comments below. Do you have an annual beginning of year tradition with your students? If so, what?

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Big-Book-promo-2

I wrote a chapter on How to Make the First Day of Homeschool Special in the newly released The Big Book of Homeschool Ideas. And this is just one of the many ideas you will find in this ebook. Click the picture to the left for all the details!

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

5 Lessons Learned Through Homeschooling and Unemployment

5 Things I've learned about homeschooling and unemployment

Our family has just come through a period of unemployment. My hope for you is that you never have to experience it, however… there are worse things in life. You can recover from this. So if you find yourself homeschooling and your bread-winner is unemployed, I hope these bits of insight from my experience help you through it.

And if you aren’t going through a period of income loss, these life lessons may be just what you need to hear today to motivate you to get your financial house in order.

Homeschoolers, one of my fears during our period of unemployment was that I would have to go back to work, and we would no longer be able to homeschool our children. If we had not had an emergency plan in place, that would have been a certainty from the get-go of this whole thing. I see this opportunity to homeschool as a blessing as I’m sure you do too. So protect it by getting your finances in order so that should an emergency arise in your family, you will be able to continue homeschooling.

5 Lessons Learned Through Homeschooling and Unemployment

1 – Men and Women View Things Differently

Okay, we all know this right? But especially when it comes to money, men and women see things from different perspectives. My husband and I are a good balance for each other. But it takes intention and practice to try to see things from the other person’s point of view. We have been through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University and welcome each other’s point of view. Make sure you are open and honest with your spouse about your finances and are sensitive to their feelings and opinions. You each bring something valuable to the discussion.

In his book, Total Money Makeover, Dave Ramsey writes:

“Somewhere down inside the typical lady is a ‘security gland’ and when financial stress enters the scene, that gland will spasm. This spasmodic gland will affect your wife in ways you can’t always predict.”

That totally describes me. Luckily my husband is well versed on the Financial Peace course and he recognizes this behavior from me when he sees it. whew!

Mothers, in particular, often find their purpose in caring for their family – whether they work outside the home, work part time, stay at home, or whatever. Their “job” or “income” doesn’t define them the way it does for a man.

So what about the men? They are born to be protectors and providers.  God has created them this way. I’m not saying all men embrace this role. But for the homeschool family who is dealing with unemployment of the main bread-winner (usually the husband), it is important for the wife to understand that her husband is dealing with different emotions and a different kind of loss than she may expect. Although their job should not be their identity, providing for their family is a huge part of their identify.

If you want some guidance in getting your financial house in order, I highly recommend The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness by Dave Ramsey. And no matter what your situation, recognize that your spouse has different concerns, fears, needs, and responsibilities when it comes to your finances.

2 – Transition Period

It’s pretty obvious there will be a transition period for your spouse if they become unemployed. But recognize that your children will go through transition periods also. They will be thrilled that Daddy is spending more time at home, but it may take some time for them (and you) to adjust to doing school when Daddy is at home.

And when Daddy goes back to work, look for behavior and attitude changes that may be the result of him not being around as much. Kids thrive on consistency. And the changes in their routine and structure will take some adjustment. Be sensitive to their needs and give them some time to adjust to their new normal.

3 – Support Structure

Seek out people to provide emotional and prayer support to both you and your spouse. Look for people who have experienced unemployment who understand what you are going through and can give solid advice on getting through it. As with anything, guidance from someone who has experienced what you are going through is meaningful, helpful, and often more valid than what someone else can offer.

Many homeschool families rely on the income of one spouse. Although losing one income in a two-income family can be just as painful, the affects on the family are different. But support from any friends who have experienced job loss is encouraging and grounding.

4 – Want vs. Need becomes Need vs. Need Right Now

When making decisions about our finances, we often ask the question, “is this something we want or need?” And when there is no money coming in, we are careful not to indulge on things we want but don’t need. However, during unemployment, we began asking a new question, “is this something we need right now?” We have a list of things that we need, but don’t need right now. We know the priority of those things and will tackle them when we can.

Depending on the ages of your children, consider having discussions with them about want vs. need vs. need right now. Having this discussion with your kids helps them see that you and your spouse are focused on providing necessities for the family, and helps them think through the best use of resources.

5 – The Best Things in Life Really Are Free

Getting to spend extra time together as a family was a blessing for us. We knew the time would not last forever and were able to cherish the extra time we had together.

Find ways to enjoy time together as a family that doesn’t cause you any extra expense.

  • Dancing, laughing, singing
  • Enjoying the outdoors – going on hikes, biking, etc.
  • Reading books – the library is a wonderful, free resource
  • Church events

The best things in life really are free. Love. God. Family. Grace. Peace. Laughter. Sunshine. Rain. 

Please don’t let the stress of losing an income keep you from enjoying your family time. Seek God and use this time wisely. There is a reason and purpose for what you are going through.

My prayer is that this post is helpful to you and that you will be blessed as you continue to homeschool through this difficult time.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 NIV

How To Prepare for Life’s Financial Emergencies

Because incomes are never certain forever, I encourage everyone to get on a plan to financial peace to prepare for an uncertain future. We never saw this period of unemployment coming, but we were prepared for an emergency because of the Dave Ramsey plan. Get The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness by Dave Ramsey and get started on baby steps to financial peace so that your family is prepared when an emergency hits.
Financial peace is possible, but you’ve got to get on a plan!

Let’s talk about it. Are you prepared (or preparing) for a financial emergency? Please leave comments below.

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Big-Book-promo-2

I wrote a chapter on How to Create a Homeschool Budget and Stick to it in the newly released The Big Book of Homeschool Ideas. And getting help with your homeschool budget is just one of the many helpful ideas you will find in this ebook. Click the picture to the left for all the details!

Back to School with Financial Peace GiveawayEnter my giveaway this week for a chance to win my Back to School with Financial Peace Gift Basket!

 

 

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Back to School with Financial Peace Giveaway

This post contains affiliate links, and when you purchase anything after clicking them it benefits my family. Thank you for your support of this site!

Back to School with Financial Peace Giveaway

I am able to homeschool because of Dave Ramsey and his plan for financial peace.

Before the thought of homeschooling even entered our minds, my husband and I got on the Dave Ramsey plan to get out of debt. Getting our finances under control was a priority for us for a number of reasons. But I was motivated to leave my full time job and stay home with our children. Little did either of us know at the time, but God had even bigger plans for us – to homeschool our kids.

The Total Money Makeover and Financial Peace University by Dave Ramsey laid the financial foundation for our family. If you need direction or encouragement to get your finances in order, this book is a must-have. If you feel like you are drowning in debt and bad financial decisions, get this book and get on the plan. Even if it feels like your finances are doing okay but you know things could be better, you need this book so you can live your best life. God wants his best for you.

“The enemy of “the best” is not “the worst.” The enemy of “the best” is “just fine.” – Dave Ramsey

Our family has just come through a period of unemployment. Through it we were able to continue homeschooling because of being on the Dave Ramsey plan and having an emergency fund in place. Our emergency fund was not intended to last that long, but through God’s provision we made it through it. So again…

I am able to homeschool because of Dave Ramsey and his plan for financial peace.

Financial Peace Junior helps us teach our children to earn and manage their own money. They learn that money is not just given to them, but earned. It helps set them up for the real world where they have to earn their own money. And they learn how to save some, spend some, and give some. It’s presented in a fun, child-friendly way. The kit comes with:

  • a dry-erase chore chart to track weekly earnings
  • envelopes for tracking cash (Spending, Saving, Giving)
  • kids activity book
  • calculator
  • stickers and crayons
  • an audio book
  • and parent guides to help you get started using this system to teach your kids financial responsibility

Adding up commission

You have to teach children about money intentionally – create teachable moments. – Dave Ramsey

The Big Book of Homeschool Ideas

The Big Book of Homeschool Ideas

Homeschool families are most often single income families, and budgeting for homeschool can seem intimidating. I’m so passionate about homeschooling AND financial peace, I wrote a chapter in The Big Book of Homeschool Ideas about How to Create a Homeschool Budget and Stick to It.

“A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.” – Dave Ramsey

Why You Need This Book

Getting help with your homeschool budget is just one of the many helpful ideas you will find in The Big Book of Homeschool Ideas. Topics vary from how to make the first day of homeschool special to what are my foreign language options to what to do if my child hates math. Authors will guide you through stages and transitions that affect your homeschool from preschool to high school, and through different situations like moving while homeschooling, working while homeschooling, and homeschooling as a single parent.

This book will be a great resource for you on a wide range of topics that you’ll be able to reference again and again. Need some new ideas for your homeschool? 55 homeschooling bloggers from iHomeschool Network have written about 103 different topics. There are plenty of ideas from moms who have lived through it already!

This ebook is $10.99 and you get access to 3 different formats (pdf, mobi, & epub) so you can read it on your computer, iPad, tablet, laptop, smart phone, or any device that can read those formats.

Visit The Big Book of Homeschool Ideas main page to get all the details and to purchase.

Back to School with Financial Peace Giveaway

And because I want to help families get and keep their finances in order, I’m offering a Back to {Home}School with Financial Peace Giveaway!! woohoo! I have filled this basket with items that I believe will bless your family now and for years to come.

What is included:

 A special thanks go out to the gracious folks at Heritage History and Ultimate Typing for providing their products for this giveaway. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

More Back to Homeschool Gift Basket Giveaways brought to you by iHomeschool Network

And that’s not all, folks! We have a lineup of 28 Back To Homeschool Gift Baskets sponsored by iHN bloggers. There’s a variety of baskets being offered. Visit the links below to enter as many giveaways as you like.

August 2014 Gift Baskets Giveaway from iHN

(1) STEM {Science, Technology, Engineering, Math} Gift Basket from Amy
(2) Hands On Science Basket from Colleen
(3) Second-Third Grade Back to Homeschool Giveaway from Heidi
(4) Back To School Sensory Resources Basket from Nicole

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(5) Foreign Language Learning from Selena
(6) Toddler Fun Basket from Dianna
(7) Apologia Basket from Stephanie
(8) Tot School Supplies Basket from Kara

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(9) Middle School Science Basket from Megan
(10 Nature Discovery Gift Basket from Amy
(11) The Ultimate Back-to-School Giveaway from Sallie
(12) Explorer’s Basket from Tina

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(13) Back to School Gift Basket from Janine
(14) Back to School Homeschooler’s Art & More Basket from Renee
(15) Classically Charlotte Gift Basket from Lara
(16) Learn to Knit and Crochet Giveaway Basket from Aadel

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(17) Let Freedom Ring ~ A Back to School Patriotic Giveaway from Eva

(18) Geography Learning Tools Basket from Heather

(19) Back To School with Financial Peace Giveaway from Amy

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(21) Five Homeschool Essentials Giveaway from Sam
(22) Getting organized for the new year from Laurie
(23) American History Basket from Karyn

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(25) Charlotte Mason Homeschooling Basket from Cindy
(26) Mom’s Favorite Things from MacKenzie

(27) Pampering Mama basket from Shannen
(28)Homeschool for Free Gift Basket from Amy

And don’t forget to get your copy of The Big Book of Homeschool Ideas to encourage and inspire you as you go back to {home}school this year!

The Big Book of Homeschool Ideas

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