It’s been a really, really good summer here.
We have had our share of crazy to be sure. Summer travel, family visits, and even our new service dog all brought increased levels of stress. The usual sensory overload that only summer can unleash has been a constant for the past three months.
It has not been easy.
But it’s been good – really good.
Part of what worked so well was our approach to summer school – a bit of a break while still adding structure and lots of Harry Potter. It was fun. My boys enjoyed our activities and crafts. I enjoyed listening to audiobooks and having long drawn out discussions about Professor Snape and Lily Potter. (In fact, this week is our final week at Hogwarts Summer School. We are having a feast and awarding points to the two top performers – can you guess which two they might be?)
It’s been good, but now it’s time to get ready for our school year routine.
Getting Back To School
While I am not 100% ready to let go of summer, it’s time. We need the increased structure a school year provides. I have a high schooler this year and my youngest needs more consistent reading practice than the summer schedule really allowed.
It’s time, but I find I cannot pull the band-aid off all at once.
Here is how I am slowly and simply transitioning us back to school this year.
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Simple Ways To Transition Back To School
Very slowly. Our family typically starts our increased school schedule just a few days a week to start with – Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. Wednesdays and Fridays will either look like our summer schedule or have scheduled field trips.
We also ease slowly into the amount of time we spend each day on more formal learning routines. For example, we may only “do school” for two hours a day the first week and then gradually increase to our more usual four-hour schedule by the end of August.
Make Lists Not Lesson Plans
I just can’t start the year with a full lesson plan. My kids aren’t ready for it and neither am I. Also, I need some time to assess what skills have regressed a bit over the summer before I fully decide how to best proceed.
I like to start the new school year with a lot of lists.
A list of the curriculum I think might work and samples from each.
A list of field trips we will enjoy.
A list of books I would like to read aloud or buy on Audible.
For the first month or two, I just pick and choose different activities from these lists as I plan for each week. It gives me a chance to eventually determine a more informed and comprehensive approach for the remainder of the year, as I see what works and what doesn’t. It also helps us all ease into the new routine.
Stack and Strew
A visual representation of all of my lists is the “Stack and Strew” method I employ as we get started. While this is true for all us year-long, the stacks are a lot taller and the strewing much more pervasive in the beginning of our new school year.
Basically, as I see educational resources, games, hands-on activities, books and craft supplies that I think may work for my boys, I buy them throughout the summer – and then I hide them. When it is time for our transition “back to school,” I start to strew these items about the house. A stack of new books will be in the basket next to the couch. The kitchen table will have a new robot to build on it one morning. The ingredients for a science experiment will be left out in the kitchen after breakfast.
The early days of a new school year can be tough for my children. Transitions, in general, are a struggle for them both. Stacking and strewing helps to peak their natural curiosity and desire to learn, in ways that help us all get back into the swing of things.
The good news is, although I am sad to see our summer end, the more I prep and plan for the fall, the more excited I become. I need to pace our transition as much for myself, as I do for my children. Slowly, but surely, we’ll get there.
But for now, I need to go and help my boys create their own Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff banners.
Afterall, it is still summer!
Are you getting ready for school?
Join me all next week, August 7th through August 11th, 2017. Every day I will be sharing a different aspect of homeschooling children with learning differences – from hands-on learning activities to handling the doubt and fear that can threaten take over our hearts. For easy access to the entire series, please enter your email below. I will send you a note with the completed series at the end of the week for your reference.