1. Don’t set high expectations. Have a mindset that you’re just going to go through the motions of school and get everyone back into the routine. Anything learned will be a bonus. Lower the bar this week and attitudes will soar next week.
2. Don’t start with every subject. We started our first week with only Bible, math and language arts. And I don’t think we got to any language arts until the last day of the week. Kids have cobwebs in there. Give them time to work it out. It will improve. I promise. The next week add another subject or two. Keep adding something each week until you’re hitting it all.
3. Don’t schedule appointments. Interruptions are the kryptonite of your super homeschool, especially the first week back. Save outside appointments for afternoons after your first couple weeks are going well.
4. Don’t be discouraged by the tears. Yours or theirs. They will cry, most likely. You might, or will at least feel like it. It’s hard for everyone to get back into a routine. Give your children and yourself LOTS of grace.
5. Don’t skip prayer so you can get an early start. Better to gird your loins with prayer and start late, than to start on time ahead of the Lord.
6. Don’t make the beginning of homeschool also the week you start new chores, routines and organizational systems. We organized sorts like a fresh start. All the world is a blank slate waiting for plans of organizational bliss. Regular Chores. Ready-on-time-and-budget meals. Small laundry folded neatly by everyone over two. Homeschool planned to perfection. Why not just start everything at the same time? I’ll tell you why. . . it’s a bad idea. You’ll be fried before dinner on day 3. Go back and read Number 2. Add new things in slowly. One a week is fine. One a month is better. Lasting change stands a chance when you can slowly make it part of your life.
7. Don’t give up too soon on new curriculum. Give it time to work. Sometimes curricula just gels and we can hit the ground running. But other times it takes more effort to make something work. Give it a couple of weeks. And if you’re still struggling, get online for some help and encouragement. There are Yahoo groups for just about every curriculum out there. Join one and ask your questions. Or go to the vendors website and ask for help—they want to see their product put to use successfully and are often willing to answer your questions. Or ask a mom in your local support group.
8. Don’t forget to get lots of sleep, water and healthy breakfasts and lunches in everyone. This helps to alleviate some of the tears in Number 4.
9. Don’t give up coffee. In case you don’t get everything you need in Number 8, you must have this. And even if you do get everything you need in Number 8, you will still need this. Well, I need this. God bless ya if you don’t.
10. Don’t let your thoughts run wild. My first week back I found myself startled at the snail’s pace we were moving and my thoughts were overwhelmed with fear. How will we ever learn at this rate? Math took two whole hours. . . forget 180 days, we’ll be schooling 300 days a year at this rate. STOP. THE. TALKING. IN. YOUR. HEAD. Just do the next thing. Take the next step. And keep your eyes on Jesus.