Get Your Feet Wet: First Weeks Homeschooling

I grew up in the beautiful PNW and some of my best memories were swimming in the pristine lakes and wading in the mountain-fed rivers. We even took the occasional swim in the frigid Puget Sound! As I got older, I became less of a dive-right-in kid and more of an ooch-my-way-in kid. Get my feet in, get used to the cold, and then go in a little deeper until I'm having a grand time. This, dear friends, is how I recommend starting your homeschooling year: just get your feet wet!





The first few weeks of school - any school - are usually about kids and teachers getting used to routines, procedures, and finding a flow. It needn't be any different at home. I always spend the first few weeks just getting things going - getting back into (or finding) our rhythm, helping the kids navigate new routines, giving them little tastes of the things we will be doing during the year.


To help others, I created a little quick guide for getting started based on my years as a public school teacher and as a homeschool mom. I hope it is helpful to all, but it is especially for:

  • New homeschooling families.

  • Homeschooling families without a clear plan or specific resources for the year yet.

  • Homeschooling parents who are feeling overwhelmed and maybe even slightly terrified.

  • Homeschooling parents who don't even know where to start.


1. Create touchstones. For us, these are things that happen every day, around the same time each day, that are essential to our well-being. Our touchstones are wake-up routines, meals, and bedtime. If you need to include snacks because you are still in charge of making them, put those in, too. But keep it simple. These touchstones are literally the things you need to do to survive each day. Write them down and include the approximate time these things happen each day.


Wake-up routines/breakfast 7:00 a.m.

Lunch 12:00 p.m.

Dinner 6:30 p.m.

Bedtime 8:30 p.m.


2. Choose three or fewer subjects or activities you want to do this year every day or most days that you can implement fairly easily. For example, it might be reading, math, and handwork/crafts. It could be poetry reading, copy work, and nature journaling. Whatever they are, write them down and include the approximate length of time you might want to invest in those subjects and activities. Put a time for each kid if times are different. I have two and they each spend a different amount of time.


Reading 20 minutes/45 minutes

Math 20 minutes/45 minutes

Handwork/Crafts 30 minutes - 1 hour (open-ended)


3. Decide if you are going to add any extras - just a few. If you are brand new, pick one. I give you permission. (Ha!) For us, we have a morning gathering time, a mid-morning walk and snack, and a read-aloud time in the afternoon. Again - write them down with the amount of time you want to invest and any notes about when this typically works best for your family.

Morning Gathering 8:30ish - 10-15 minutes

Walk/Snack 10:00ish - 20-30 minutes

Read-Aloud After lunch, about an hour


4. Now look at your touchstones, your subjects/activities, and your extras and put them in an order you think will work. I say "think" because if there's one thing I know - life is full of surprises! I like to do it in a word processing program. In a former life, I typed for a living and I am wicked fast. Some people use sticky notes, some people prefer handwriting. Whatever works for you. Get it in front of you and start shuffling it around. Try not to agonize over it. Get it done and remember that if it doesn't work, you can change it later!


Here is an example:

Wake-up routines/breakfast 7:00 a.m.

Morning Gathering 8:30ish - 10-15 minutes

Math 20 minutes/45 minutes

Reading 20 minutes/45 minutes

Walk/Snack 10:00ish - 20-30 minutes

Lunch 12:00 p.m.

Read Aloud & Handwork/Crafts 30 minutes - 1 hour (open-ended)

Dinner 6:30 p.m.

Bedtime 8:30 p.m.


This is a fine and glorious schedule for the first few weeks of homeschooling. If I was using this schedule, I could easily implement it even if I wasn't sure about my resources yet. How?


5. Get a little more specific - but it doesn’t have to be complicated.


Morning Gathering might simply be reading an inspirational story or poem, looking at the weather, and clapping a times table.


Math might be some problems I create myself or even a worksheet I pull from the internet.


Reading is simple. My older child will pick a book to read and we will talk about what he has read. I might even sneak in some writing by asking him to summarize the plot. Little guy will read a book he chooses to me and we will work on any challenging words along the way.


For read-aloud, I pick something I know they will like and I let them pick their handwork/craft this week. They do something they like and are familiar with and that is perhaps the most pleasant hour of the day.


There. Done. That's it, that's all, the end. We've officially begun our year without overtaxing anyone, some rhythm essentials are in place, and our feet are pleasantly wet. No matter what other people are doing or posting on social media, this is officially enough for us and it might just be enough for you, too.


Even though we do a getting-our-feet-wet start, I'll be taking 8/22 - 8/27 off as we begin our school year. Being a mom and homeschooling my kids are some of my most important jobs and I want to give that my full attention next week. If you've ordered a physical product, I'll be keeping tabs on it during my break. If you order before 8/21, I'll process your order right away. If you order 8/22 - 8/27, I'll process your order on 8/28.


I hope everyone who is beginning school soon has a great start! If you try my quick start method, let me know how it turns out. I'd love to hear about it. Send me a message or tag me @hearthandgnome on social media.




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