Originally Sent: 8/21/2014

HSLDA's Toddlers to Tweens Newsletter

August 21, 2014

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Back-to-(Home)School Basics

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Vicki Bentley helps HSLDA members homeschool children in preschool through 8th grade. She and her husband homeschooled 17 children and led a support group of over 250 families. Read more >>

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Seems as though we just got the porch swing up, got in a few cookouts on the deck—and it’s suddenly the end of August! Did summer whiz by quickly for you, too? Here are a few ideas to help you transition into your school routine.

Renew your aspirations for your family, specifically in the area of homeschooling. Why are you homeschooling? (Hint: Write it down, so halfway through the year, you can remind yourself!) What are your goals this year for each child, and for your family in general? Ask the Lord to renew your plan—His plan—for your family.

Have an educational plan for the year so you can accomplish those goals. This includes a plan for recordkeeping!

Organize the highly visible areas of your house so you can all concentrate on learning. (Members can log in to see the full Court Report version of “Organizing Your Home for a Learning Lifestyle,” with photos!)

Re-think your school storage. Summertime re-organizing means a fresh start—not only for the children, but for mom, too! Think “outside the box” (pun intended) for homeschool storage and learning centers as you organize your home for a learning lifestyle.

Start the school year with a special celebration or event. Do you have a special breakfast on the first day of school? Maybe your children get a few new supplies. Or maybe you start with just one favorite class on the first day, then have a back-to-school tea party (or teacup party, as my grandson calls it). If you don’t already have one, consider a new back-to-school tradition!

Check out the Fourth Annual Not-Back-to-School blog hop for more fun ideas!

Put as much of your life on auto-pilot as you can. We all need a routine. Kids generally feel more secure knowing what to expect next, and mom can reserve some mental energy for those little things that are going to pop up. While a routine should still be flexible, having a realistic, basic starting point helps keep life in perspective and gives mom some margin—some breathing room—in her day.

Have a plan for keeping the house in some sort of order. When you are all living in your house 24/7, there’s not a lot of down-time for a clean-fest, so build some family service time (a.k.a. chores) into your routine. When the kids are putting away the Legos and the books and the little cars and building blocks, they are practicing classification and organization—math, language, and science skills (plus home economics). Need some guidance? There are many chore systems available to help you get started.

Enjoy your children. Remember that each child learns differently and at his own pace. Having realistic expectations can help you keep your joy!

And remember that you are a family—home education is just one facet of your home discipleship or raising of your children. There is a time and season for everything; this is just one season of your life, and it will pass more quickly than you can imagine. So enjoy it! Enjoy your babies, and your toddlers, and your young people.

You’ll make some mistakes this year. Most of us don’t get to have our children when we’re older and wiser—we usually get them when we’re still young and inexperienced—so we have to rely on God! So pray for the Lord to give you His calling for your family. Then trust Him to guide you day by day in the path that is right for your family this year.

Excited with you for this new chapter in your life,

Vicki Bentley
HSLDA Toddlers to Tweens Consultant
www.hslda.org/toddlerstotweens

• • •

Recommended by Mom

Some “gotta-have” school supplies and resources, according to a few moms:

• A good pencil sharpener! And we have limited storage so I use an over-the-door shoe pocket organizer for all the little supplies like scissors, pens, pencils and flash cards.—Nicole H.

• Photocopier and laminator—We made and laminated bingo-style cards with pictures of stuff he had to memorize, such as the Hebrew letters or such. We also took apart a small coloring book of the letters in Hebrew, laminated each “page” and used it to teach recognition, and had him put them in alef-bet-ical order.—Gayle S.

• Laminator and pencil sharpener and Rainbow Resource catalog—Rysa H.

• Composition notebooks, mechanical pencils, copy machine, internet—Debra H.

• Good pencils! Ticonderoga! I LOVE YouTube to watch science videos, history stuff, etc. And my VHS for oldies-but-goodies cheap videos found at yard sales: learning flicks, space travel, science, etc.—Allison A.

• Not a supply, but a necessity—the library!—Julie G.

• Three-ring binders with clear sleeves. I like to three-hole-punch most all of my teacher’s manuals and store them in binders. Binders are also a great way to store student work for the school year. Just keep adding to the binder and at the end of the year you have an easy, fun way to look back at your student’s progress over the school year.—Shea G.

• That reminds me … my PLANNER! Of course, you know MY favorite is My Homeschool Planner (from HSLDA’s bookstore)—simple but comprehensive, and I had one for each child who could read on her own.

• My kingdom for a good pencil sharpener! I LOVE the wall-mount ones, but I don’t have one yet. Also for us, the internet is a necessity. We constantly look up info on what we’re studying, especially for science and history. This past year we’ve looked up things like bird calls, different sorts of nests, science fair projects, laws of motion, ancient Egyptian gods, and biblical structures, to name a few things.—Vanessa M.

• I let all of mine pick out their own notebooks and my 4-year-old had to have her own colored pencils. If that is all it takes to keep her happy during brother’s school time, that will be great!—Tamala H.

• A good pencil sharpener.—Claire G.

• I usually pick out my kids’ supplies so that they can be color coded. Everyone has a pencil box in their color and a plastic file size box in their color to hold their work and supplies. All of the boxes go on our homeschool bookshelf (where they are regularly dumped out by the 2-year-old).—Julie G.

Do your children waste—or lose—school supplies? Read how one mom solved the dilemma!


"Homeschooling Toddlers to Tweens" is a newsletter of the Home School Legal Defense Association. All rights reserved. For more information on Homeschooling Toddlers to Tweens or the Home School Legal Defense Association please contact us at:

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