Preparing For A New School Year

1. The pictures of kids heading back to school are already hitting my Instagram feed. (You Southerners start back early!) Fulton and Teddy just wrapped up their summer programs and won’t head back until after Labor Day. (Jersey schools understand people need plenty of time for last-minute beach trips.) Addie’s online classes start the last week of August. I haven’t quite decided what schedule I will stick to for Byron and Edie. Year-round schooling seems out of the question, but I’m so used to taking long breaks around Christmas and Easter I can’t imagine enjoying the holidays and lesson planning in only a week. Tony reminded me I’m only planning for two kids and with the boys in school, perhaps a week off will be enough. So we’ll see. I’m planning out 12 week trimesters (one at a time, with the first one 1/2 way done) and we’ll just have to see when we complete them. You can read about how I create my lesson plans (and how you can too!) HERE and HERE.

2. I haven’t written lesson plans for only two kids since Addie and Byron were in First Grade and K. And back then I had a newborn and we had just moved into a house that we soon realized was more of a fixer upper than we anticipated. Now, homeschooling two kids seems like a cakewalk. I have all sorts of grandiose ideas…sort of like the year we had nursing care for Fulton and I thought life would be so much easier and then we lost the nurse a month into the school year and I scrapped a bunch of stuff. I’m really hoping to not have a repeat of that year. My biggest addition is a morning meeting to start our day (because I’m afraid morning basket or morning time sounds just juvenile enough to incite a revolt). Based on this post by Pam, I planned out twelve weeks of memory work along with a daily agenda that will include prayer, a saint or feast day reading from my missal, the reading of a ‘this day in history’ entry, and some French. I’m also reintroducing Sequential Spelling, which I love, but had to shelve for a bit because I couldn’t make time for it everyday. Our memory work will also serve as the basis for daily dictation; another important task I kept omitting amidst the daily bustle.

Email subscribers will be able to check out my 12 weeks of memory work when my August newsletter comes out next week. Click below to make sure you don’t miss it!

3. Our local library loans out museum passes so I’m hoping to take a few field trips this year as well. There’s a few places I want to go that I know would be difficult to get the boys’ powerchairs (Battleship NJ), but for a few other places, I just don’t know how accessible they are. I’m going to use the loaner passes to scope out accessibility, and parking, so bringing the whole family in the future will be less stressful.

4. I’ve already started skimming my favorite homeschooling reads for ideas and encouragement. If you’re interested they are:

5. On the flip side, I’m a bit dismayed I’ll have to buy at least some of my school supplies before they go on clearance. Typically, I hit up Target the week after school starts and clean out their 33 cent glue bottles and such. Now, I’ve got a list of supplies I need to purchase before the boys head back. I’m seriously considering adding everything to my cart on Amazon instead of driving around trying to find the exact brand of low odor, semi-washable, fine point something or other ONLY IN BOXES OF EIGHT! Amazon has some premade classroom supply packs, but they do not include the ‘four new white socks- to be used as erasers’ so I’ll have to add items individually I guess.

6. I made the momentous effort to clean out the homeschool cabinet over the last couple weeks. Hidden in the back of the lower cabinet was two years worth of work I had yet to sort and file, along with lots of old artwork I hadn’t yet used as wood stove kindling. I managed to complete the task without too much interference from the kids and everyone’s files were updated with selections of school work, art projects, certificates, etc. Going forward, I hope to make a better effort to file, scan or trash school papers sooner before I accumulate such a back log…. says the mom with a month’s worth of summer program “creations” yet to sort, times two.  Ideally, the best art gets displayed, then either filed away or mailed to a distant, elderly relative after saving a snapshot to Evernote. Most school work gets tossed at the end of the year except the best samples of writing and a math assessment test. Thankfully, I don’t need to maintain a portfolio for the state.

7. The boys schedule will, out of necessity, put us on a more strict schedule than what we had previously. As someone who needs outside motivation, it will probably be good for me, though getting enough sleep will be a challenge. During one exchange with Addie regarding our next school year she said, “You’ll have so much time you won’t know what to do with yourself!” And I admit, when I first thought about putting the boys in school, I did think it might equal oodles of free time for moi, however, what it actually means is that now I will have more time to do what needs to get done, and do it well. Rather than squeezing in school with the big kids around the needs of the little kids, I can take my time with corrections, do the better spelling program and maybe actually shower on a regular basis. I’ve always been able to squeeze everything into my day on paper. In reality, 98 percent of my days did not match that paper schedule and I felt like there was something wrong with me because I couldn’t do it all, and what I did accomplish often wasn’t done well enough. Now, what’s on my paper schedule is doable. It’s realistic and doesn’t require superhuman amounts of energy. I have a routine planned for our day that has breathing room and isn’t packed to the gills. Pretty sure all this optimism means something dire is going to happen, but for now, before school starts back up, I’m going to savor how manageable, and even enjoyable, everything seems.

How is your back to school planning going? Write it down then link it up below. Be sure to include a link back to this post so your readers can find the rest of the Quick Takes. I look forward to reading your posts!





  1. I have order a few supplies for the homeschool year, but I am dreading going into our homeschool cabinet. Pretty sure I’ll find some scary moldy diorama and flashcards incrusted with glue. But I better get on that ASAP!

  2. A quick note on using school work are wood stove kindling- just make sure it’s not work that still needs to be TURNED IN! Don’t ask how I know…..

  3. Kelly,

    I’m trying a new system this year, so we’ll see how it goes. We’re doing 12-week trimesters too. I’ve got a recipe box with dividers in it, one for each subject. On the divider is written how many days per week I want to do the subject, and what books/materials I’m using. Then I have one index card per week, labelled with the week # on top and split into sections for the number of lessons per week (no, I’m not using a ruler – what am I, crazy?). In each section I have written what the next “thing” is. So for geography, the card for week 4 might have a line across the middle and one says “Read CH2, do wkbk p 11” and the other says “do wkbk p 12, review vocab”. I figure this way, when we get behind, I don’t have a lot of changes to make, because who cares if week 4 happens to be the second week of October instead of the third week of September? And when baby #4 comes in November, I can easily have my husband pull the cards that are on top and tell them what their “next things” are.

  4. I go to Walmart once a year, for cheap school supplies. Target and Amazon just don’t match their sale! But I did it in July to avoid other people.

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