By TMoM Team Member Sydney D. Richardson, Ph. D.
It is back to school time and many households are in prep mode as children get ready to end summer and enter the classroom. While it is common to see families shopping for school supplies, taking first day of school pictures, and waiting in drop off and pick up lines, there are also families preparing for the new school year in other ways.
Homeschooling families may have begun their school year a few weeks ago or will begin in the coming weeks. They are buying new curriculum materials, planning field trips, and/or meeting with other homeschooling families to tag team instruction during the year. However, what if you are a split school family, with some children attending public/private school and others being homeschooled? That takes a bit more planning, but it can also be fun.
Both of my children have experienced public school, private school, and homeschooling (pandemic schooling not included). Now, one of them will be a homeschooler (2nd time around) and the other one will continue with public school.
Believe it or not, there are many families like mine where children thrive in completely different schooling environments. When that is the case, fear can arise quickly in a parent because the thought is that the home will erupt in chaos if everyone is not on the same schedule or attending similar events. However, there are ways to prepare and plan for the school year when multiple children navigate a mix of traditional schooling and homeschooling. Here are some tips to consider if this relates to your household:
Below are five back to school prep tips for public and homeschooled children.
Back to School Shopping
Back to school shopping is not just for children attending public or private school. All children need newer clothes (they grow quickly), paper, pencils, pencil cases, folders, lunch boxes, craft materials, and more. Make a list of what each child needs and make back to school shopping a family event. They’ll enjoy picking out their own supplies, even if some of those supplies are staying at home, and no one will feel left out.
Plan Certain Field Trips as a Family
Planning educational field trips for my homeschooled child is so fun for me, but sometimes my public-school child can feel envious. In that case, I plan some field trips during the week, but save special field trips for the weekend so that the entire family can participate in it. Consider doing the same and asking the children which field trips they would like to reserve for the entire family.
Attend Open House Together as a Unit
Another event that the family can do together is attend open house with the child who is attending public or private school. Make it a two-part day/evening: Part I of the evening can be an at home open house where everyone can review what the homeschooled child will experience over the year (i.e. curriculum, field trips, co-ops, academic goals, etc.). Part II can incorporate the family attending the other child’s (children) school open house. Then, the family can end the day with a family dinner celebration. In this way, each child feels that they received special attention, and it gets them excited for the school year.
Keep Kids on Similar Bed Schedules
People often assume that homeschooled children do not have strict sleep schedules because they do not have to be “at school” early. That is often not true. Sleep schedules are important, even for adults. For the children, consider basing sleep schedules on age and not on the type of schooling. Because my children are two years apart, their sleep schedules are basically the same and that won’t change any time soon. They both need a healthy dose of sleep, even if one child will begin school later than the other.
Start School Around the Same Day/Week to Make it a Big Event
In my case, I created strife in my household when I attempted to have my homeschooled child begin school weeks before the child who attended public school. I strongly advise against this. Instead, start school for all the children around the same time. Doing this can help parents even more than children as it keeps everyone in the house on a somewhat stable schedule. This also allows families to get one more vacation during the summer. As the first day of the new school year draws closer, consider ending the summer with a new school year celebration.
Whatever your family chooses to do, make sure that each child feels special, loved, and not left out of the back to school festivities. It’s an exciting time for everyone involved.