Fall 2018 / by Mari Fitz-Wynn
Each year many homeschooling parents across North Carolina spend a good deal of time thinking about how to make the first day of school exciting and fun, hoping to produce an “I can’t wait” reaction from their children. Other homeschool parents are anxious and, with no real plan in place, dread the first day of school. Which one are you?
Before deciding to homeschool and bring our children home, I noticed how students walked into the classroom on their first day. The teachers and administrators made a big to-do for the occasion. The celebrations seemed to have some measure of success and popularity. When I became a home educator, I decided that I wanted that wow factor on our first day. I remember thinking, “Why not give it a shot and make our first day of school a standout day for everyone?” It took several years for us to find our groove as a homeschool family.
Those first years, something was still not quite right. I was working with the wrong equation. I was directing and planning our first day of school activities as a solo act, rather than listening to and considering suggestions from my children. Once I learned the importance of their input, the low expectations were suddenly pumped up from ho-hum to can’t wait! I believe we succeeded in achieving at least that when the kids begin asking in July what we were going to do on the first day of school in September!
That’s the can’t wait factor!
Here are a few ideas taken from my book, Take Heart: 26 Steps to a Healthy Home School:
- Have a picnic with old-fashioned field day games.
- Take a field trip that will be a fun kick-off to your first unit or major area of study for the year. If this is the year your students will study geology, take a field trip to pan for gold or to a rock quarry.
- Stay up late one last weekend and have a two-day movie marathon.
- Blow up pictures from the previous year of your students holding trophies or ribbons or some other prize they received.
- Create a “Welcome Back to School” banner using the same idea of decorating it with their school photos and fond memories or celebrated accomplishments from the previous year.
- Show your school colors. The first two or three days of school we wore our school colors as a way to connect and bond as a family. This just one great way to achieve that goal.
Here are a few descriptions my kids wrote down about the first day of school over the course of our homeschool years: interesting, weird, long, fun, exciting, more first days, please, hectic!
What adjectives will you and your students use to describe the first day of school? I want to encourage you to celebrate the start of a brand-new school year. Forget about the difficult end you may have had last year and create momentum for starting school. Create memories and create a tradition by planning a special first day of school.