We all have things that we associate with the start of the school year. New crayons, scissors, and folders, etc. And the smell of newly sharpened pencils. Here’s a few random “pencil” thoughts to add to your back-to-school bouquets.


Kids and School Supplies

I love office supplies. Even in the day of boring manila folders, pale yellow sticky notes, and staplers that were functional rather than a fashion statement, I loved them. Each August I would take a trip through a local office supply store just getting ideas. Now, you don’t even have to leave home. Just skim through the School Supplies section of our website. It’s a veritable feast for the eyes. The planning part of my brain goes a little crazy with the possibilities.

And while we’re on the subject: if your finances allow, give each of your children a small budget so they can select some special school supplies themselves. One child might choose colored pencils; another might choose a pencil box/bag but having the opportunity to personalize their belongings will heighten their investment in the whole school experience.


Keeping It All Together

One year early in my homeschooling career, I stumbled across some sample packs of curriculum that a school was disposing of. I have absolutely no memory of the actual curriculum – it obviously didn’t hold my interest for long. However, the packs were provided in a cardboard carryall tote. These had a handle and two side compartments that would hold a binder or notebooks and/or textbooks. I had gleaned a number of them and my children used them for years in our homeschool. It was a handy collecting place for all their schoolwork and one that could be easily transported from their school desks to the kitchen table to the living room sofa. And they were; many, many times. While I can’t expect everyone to have my good fortune, I can tell you that we carry a plastic version that is remarkably similar to those old cardboard totes – here. Whether you have your own version of this, a canvas bag, a backpack, or a box, I think having a collection spot for each child’s schoolwork is a wonderful thing. It gives them their own “space” and helps you to know exactly where to find something of theirs that you might need. While we’re on the subject, pencil boxes – or something to keep the little things together – are also a big plus.

If there’s been any one spectacular change from when I was keeping my homeschool organized to now and how moms today are doing so, it would have to be in the realm of electronics. I started out with binders, file folders and horizontal files. My daughter now does practically everything digitally. Whether you’re a print gal, all digital, or somewhere in-between, the principles are the same: find a system that works for you and keep it up to date. Lag-behind filing (and grading, for that matter) can be the perpetual headache of a homeschool parent and the downfall of a homeschool.


Make Your Life Easier

If you haven’t tried prepare-ahead meals, this might be the time to consider the possibility. Whether you cook up ten pounds of hamburger at a time or put a month of meals in the freezer, the convenience of being able to pull a meal together quickly is a wonderful feeling. A few tips from my years of doing this:

  1. Go together with a friend or family member and make enough for both of your families. Having a cooking buddy makes it so much more fun.
  2. Use/adapt recipes that are family favorites; only incorporating a new culinary experience once in a while.
  3. Freezer bags are the best – the nice lasagna pan meals take up way too much room in your freezer.
  4. Be sure to label and date everything (including those little bags of toppings) – noting how many a meal will feed.
  5. Spend plenty of time on your shopping list; a little quality organization here will save you hours of shopping and storage time.
  6. Think through carefully how you will quickly and efficiently freeze all the food you are preparing.


Delegate the Work Load

Don’t forget to think through chore schedules for your children. The fall can be a great time to implement a new system. Two thoughts have remained with me through the years concerning children and chores.

  1. Regular chores and being accountable for doing a good job on those chores is good for children.
  2. There is no perfect system for chore charts. Any system might work for awhile but at some time it will need an overhaul.

Gather up your “pencils,” thoroughly enjoy that wonderful “new start” aroma and have a blessed school year 2016-2017.