Today is our first day back to school.

We’re easing into our school year this term, but the first day back requires even more ease and grace.

The first day back is like jumping into cold water. It’s a reality check. So it’s better for everyone if I anticipate the shudders, the squeals, the struggles. Perhaps I am excited to try out my new plan, but not all my children will be.

I’m not a naturally fun mom. Some moms might plan the first day back to be art day or play day or reward the kids with treats.

Some families have great traditions to mark the first day back to school. I haven’t landed on anything that’s stuck.

Giving them new crayons and notebooks counts as a tradition, right?

We’ll be starting our ninth homeschool year today, and these are the top three things that have helped it be a good day rather than a bummer day:

Include one-on-one meetings

“Orientations” replace any actual lessons on the first day of school.

I do a one-on-one meeting with each child to show them their new books and new assignments. We talk about what they’ll be learning about and also what other interests they might want to look into. We go over each item on their checklist just so we’re on the same page. We look at the calendar together and note any upcoming family plans.

Mainly, we sit down together and make sure we’re on the same page. We sip a beverage together and remember that we like each other and can communicate civilly and productively.

Have a surprise ready

I am not good at cheerleading or being fun, but I’ve definitely learned over the years that morale is critical – for everyone. Each person’s morale affects everyone else’s.

The one-on-one meetings help with morale, but so does a little surprise or two.

A new stack of “just for fun” books waits on the table when they wake up.

A brand new coloring book will be hiding in their Morning Time binder.

The new crayons and notebooks aren’t surprises, but will also help that feeling of “fresh and new.”

Start with review

The first day back is not a day to dive back in where you left off in the math or Latin book. Yes, they do a math page, but it’s as review page from a previous lesson.

We’ll do a little warm-up Latin together, but they’ll not do any work on their own until midweek.

They’ll have some things to do, but they will be more warm-up sorts of things that will just help them get back in the groove.

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