Hi, we’re new! Lily and Lydia is an online publication for Christian women that was launched in July 2023. While we’re regularly adding new articles, please be patient with us as we build the site!

Hi, we’re new! Lily and Lydia is an online publication for Christian women that was launched in July 2023. While we’re regularly adding new articles, please be patient with us as we build the site!

Homeschooling Prep Tips for a New Year

Jul 31, 2023 | Parenting and Children, Life

We interviewed three experienced homeschooling moms about how they plan their homeschool calendar and prep for the year! Here’s what they had to say about preparing for the academic year ahead, plus how they planned their schedule to fit their families’ needs.

Meet the teachers:

Sarah Hoover – 6 years of homeschooling

Sarah Hoover is a happy wife to Matt and Mom to Richard (4th grade, age 9) , Hannah (2nd grade, age 7), Samuel (kindergarten age 5), and William (age 3, along for the ride!), whom she homeschools. They live in Clearfield, Pennsylvania where they enjoy spending time with family, enjoying God’s creation, reading, and being involved in their church – Grace and Truth Church. 

Rachel Kovaciny – 11 years of homeschooling

Rachel Kovaciny is a wife, mom, and author. A Midwest native, she now lives on the East Coast, where she homeschools her children and writes books. Find her on Instagram @RachelKovacinyAuthor or at her website, www.rachelkovaciny.com.  Rachel has three kids. This fall they will be in 6th (age 11), 8th (age 13), and 10th (age 15).

Lynette Roukes – 16 years of homeschooling (more than half of which was done without the internet)

Lynette Roukes is a wife and mother of two grown daughters.  Lynette and her husband have lived in their present home in New Hampshire for 32 years.  After finishing homeschooling, Lynette worked in retail and then as a special education paraprofessional. She spent the last four years as her school’s Wilson Reading Instructor before retiring in 2023. Both of her daughters graduated from college and are on their own. Katie is on the other side of the world working as a nurse. Amy lives in Wisconsin with her husband and is the editor of Lily & Lydia.

When do you start planning for the next school year and ordering curriculum and supplies?

The unanimous answer – start general planning and supply orders for the next year before the current academic year ends!

The exception?  Rachel says, “If I see a good sale price on curriculum I know I want to use in the coming years, I will nab it any time.”  Sarah also mentioned that she is always on the lookout for something that is a good fit for her children, regardless of the time of year.

Rachel and Lynette both wait to finalize their planning during summer break. Rachel also noted, “If I find a particular textbook or course that I love and want to use for all my kids, I will get more workbooks for it right away to have them on hand for when my younger kids are ready for them.

What are a few things you do every year to prepare?

Sarah – “The first thing I do is gather materials for each student, sorting through what I have already that I would like to reuse and filling in the gaps by purchasing, whether new or used. I really like the free planning sheets from Pam Barnhill and have been using those for a couple years now for setting some goals and planning for each student. I make lists of resources I want to use (divided by student) and then a list of things we will work through together and forecast how many lessons we will need to do each week, roughly. I do not make detailed plans for the whole year at this time, just a rough idea for the sake of pacing.”

Rachel – “Pray, asking God to give me wisdom to choose the right schoolwork for each kid, and asking him to bless our learning. I also make a list of what subjects each student will be learning in the coming year – that’s something I’m required to submit with our ‘notice of intent to homeschool’ every year anyway…I just print a copy for myself and make it into a checklist to be sure I have books to cover all the subjects.”

Lynette added, “We attended a homeschool conference where vendors were present.  This helped us to see what new materials were available and encouraged us to carry on in our homeschooling journey.”

Do you have any beginning of the school year traditions that you do with your kids?

Sarah – “We start back in August and our county fair takes place the first week of the month. So we have a field trip day of attending the fair and parade. This year we plan to submit some art entries, too! We also start back to school very gently, just easing back into the routines and slowly adding subjects back in while also enjoying the remaining days of nice weather as much as possible!”

Rachel – “On the first day of school, I always grab a fat black marker and some colorful paper, and I make a sign with their grade on it for each kid to hold.  Then we snap a photo or two of them together holding their grade signs in our foyer.”

What does your academic calendar look like?

The common theme here is also one of the perks of homeschooling – complete customization based on your family’s needs!

Sarah – “We start back to school slowly in the beginning of August, getting back to our full schedule by September.  My husband is an executive at a school supply company, so we save our family vacation for the end of September, when he is less busy. This doesn’t mean no school days, though – we often have several field trips planned during that time. October and November are pretty normal and then we cozy up for ‘Christmas School’ in December, which looks like Math plus a lot of Christmas focused reading and activities.”

“We don’t end up taking many vacation days during this time. My youngest son has disabilities, so sometimes we rearrange our schedule and have a random day off here or there for one of his appointments, or the kids do school with Grandma during that time. We try to keep good routines with some flexibility. “

“We are usually able to finish up our official ‘180 days’ of instruction that is required in our state by the end of April or beginning of May. As most homeschoolers will understand, the learning never ends, though! Even during our summer break there are many educational things going on, not the least of which is so much reading, [both] together and independently.”

Rachel – “We start the last week of July or the first week of August, and we finish up the last week of April or the first week of May.  That lets us enjoy the lovely early summer weather of May and June when everyone wants to be outside.  When the temperature and humidity soar in late July, we are all just cowering inside in the air conditioning anyway, so might as well start doing school again. For the first month of school, we often only do 4 days of schoolwork each week instead of 5.  That lets us have time to get together with friends who might not have started school up again yet, and gives us some flexibility to ease back into the daily school-time regimen.”

“We take breaks here and there throughout the year.  Our breaks around traditional holidays like Thanksgiving and Easter are usually only a couple of days, but we take off something more like ten days for Christmas and New Year’s.  We take all of the our kids’ birthdays off, if they fall on a school day, and try to go on a fun outing as a family.  And we often take off a random week in the fall or spring to go visit grandparents.”

Lynette – “We started in the beginning of September and [we] were usually finished with our school year by the end of May.  We took days off here and there to take advantage of activities that were important to us.  We always took time off in the fall to attend a large fair in a neighboring state.  During the winter, we took one day a week for skiing lessons and skiing with other homeschoolers.  We were involved with a homeschool group and went on field trips with them, as well as doing special events with my sister who was also homeschooling her children.  My daughters were disappointed that we did not have snow days like the public schools had!”

What is one thing you wish you’d known when you started homeschooling?

Lynette – “I wish I had known how time-consuming it would be!”

Sarah – “Relax! I have a degree in Elementary Education and taught in a Christian School Classroom for 3 years. Homeschooling does not have to look the same as classroom instruction, though. You can embrace the flexibility of homeschooling and make it work the way your family needs it to work while still instilling good habits and structure. “

Rachel – “I wish I had known it is perfectly normal to throw out a curriculum for a particular subject because it just isn’t working for a specific kid.  The first couple times I had to do that, I thought it was because I was really bad at choosing school books, especially because my own mom never switched textbooks or workbooks mid-year when I was being homeschooled.  Gradually, I realized that was because, when she was homeschooling me in the 1980s and ’90s, there weren’t really many options for curriculum.  Now options abound, and if something isn’t working, I will find something that does.”

1 Comment

  1. Beverly Ohlendorf

    This looks like it will be a very worthwhile project. I look forward to reading it for many years! Since I homeschooled in the 80’s and 90’s, this article was especially interesting to me!

    Keep up the good work!


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