This is article Number 4 in the Series, Essentials for Successful Homeschooling
This Essentials for Successful Homeschooling series is written for the benefit of anyone who wants guidance to implement a successful homeschooling program. These articles will be numbered, and should be read in order. The content for each article is taken from the Enrollment Application and processes for students in Family Tree Private School, a school for homeschooling families. Family Tree Private School supports a Biblical foundation for life and learning, and enrollment is open to all.
Do you remember when you went to school the feeling you had just before the first day of school every year? You did not know quite what to expect, but you knew it would involved a tour of the school, special announcements, meeting new friends, and a lot of house keeping, such as possibly putting your name on your desk, or up on a board. You want to make the first day of school for your homeschooler special when you start your homeschool program every year. This article discusses how to have an “Orientation Day”, or first day of school to kick the year off. You will choose the overall plan including the schedule, and curriculum.
The following example is for an “Orientation Day”, a day that is meant to be fun, and informative. On this Orientation Day, you will lay out the ground rules for your children, and get their input so they feel they have a part in being responsible for their own education. This will be the day you child can ask questions, pose suggestions, (complain), and understand what you expect of them. Very important also is the fact that your child is going to see what you are responsible for doing, how you will check their work, how you will document work, and what methods, forms, and supplies you will use to fulfill your job as their school director. Sharing this information between you and your child is a good strategy in supporting your program since it opens up the doors for communication.
Plan the details of the Orientation Day ahead of time.This means preparing your whole program so you can present it to your child in an organized fashion. This includes picking subjects, curriculum, electives, how privileges will be earned, penalties (or use of demerits) for misbehaving, how you will handle homework, etc. Print a schedule out like this one below, and review it together at the beginning of the day with your student, explaining that this is an “Orientation Day”, but that there will be “some” school work. This way, the next day, when school begins in earnest, you will not need to introduce, or review these details in depth. This is the day you will explain everything, and walk through it in real time. The actual schedule can be made for any time frame that best fits your family.
FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL “ORIENTATION DAY” EXAMPLE – A real life First-Day-of-School Plan (Some items below are explained in future articles, i.e. Book Reports, Goal Charts, and Student Offices.)
8:00 – 8:45 WAKE UP/BREAKFAST/BIBLE VERSES
8:45 – 9:30 INTRODUCE THE “ORIENTATION DAY” SCHEDULE, AND CHORE LIST. DO CHORES (dishes, clean room, walk dog, get school supplies/area ready, etc.)
9:30 – 9:35 Transition Time: Prepare for school work
9:35 – 10:20 1ST SESSION (SESSIONS usually would be school work time. On the Orientation
Day, do the following):
PICK AND ARRANGE OFFICE
CHECK SUPPLIES & BOOKS, PLACE ORDERS IF NEEDED
If using “Pace” booklets (from http://www.aceministries.com known as School of Tomorrow), don’t forget to pull the tests out that are stored in the middle of the workbook before giving the workbook to your student.
10:20 – 10:30 BREAK
10:30 – 11:20 2ND SESSION:
REVIEW SUBJECTS/SCHOOL BOOKS CLOSELY FOR ALL SUBJECTS
FILL OUT STUDENT “GOAL CHART” FOR THE NEXT DAY
11:20 – 12:30 LUNCH AND RECESS
12:30 – 1:20 3RD SESSION:
DISCUSS AND DESCRIBE PORTFOLIO, MAKE FILES FOR CATEGORIES
DISCUSS THE MONTHLY REPORT YOU WILL BE CREATING TO KEEP IN THE “PORTFOLIO”
DISCUSS BOOK REPORT OUTLINE & GRADING SCALE & ASSIGNMENT QUALITY
1:30-2:20 4TH SESSION:
DISCUSS BEHAVIOR EXPECTATIONS
DISCUSS ANY BEHAVIORAL CHART PARENT WILL USE
DISCUSS PRIVILEGES/DEMERITS/ HOMEWORK/SCHEDULE CHANGES
2:20-3:00 CLEAN UP & COMPLETE UNFINISHED WORK
3:00 STUDENT IS TO PUT GOAL CHART AND WORK AWAY.
PARENT/TEACHER CHECKS GOAL CHART AND MAINTAINS THE MONTHLY REPORT THAT WILL SAVED IN THE PORTFOLIO
(Homework for unfinished work can be scheduled for the evening.)
You don’t have to be perfect in presenting the schedule. It’s important to know that the tone, and discipline you set will be the standard your child follows. If your child becomes too argumentative about any issue, STOP. Tell them you will think about it, and move on. Children are able to argue to excess, so be aware to stop any needless acceleration of an argument (as Proverbs says). Gently tell your child that if you decide to add, or change anything in their program, that you will let them know.