Preparing for a New School Year

As a mother, and particularly as a homeschool mother, I often feel like all I do is prepare.  I prepare countless meals, prepare to leave the house to go on field trips or swim meets, and prepare for school.  I have often thought that I spend more time preparing to do something than I spend actually doing it.  Seriously, how long does it take your kids to wolf down dinner?  When it comes to preparing for school, though, I know that every second I spend preparing will mean smoother school days.

We start back to school tomorrow after an 8 week break.  Over the past 8 weeks, I’ve spent lots of time preparing for our new school year.  What are some of the things that can be done over break to make the school year run more smoothly?

  • Read over teacher’s manuals.  Over break, I’ve used the trapped time I have while waiting for my children at swim team practice to plan for our new school year.
  • Spend some time at your local office supply store.  This summer, I’ve been a frequent visitor to the copy center at Staples.  I’ve had bindings removed, copies made, and curriculum materials spiral bound.
  • Clean, organize, and re-decorate the physical space in which you spend much of your school day.  While not everybody has (or wants) the blessing of a dedicated school room, I love having a space specifically for our homeschool.  I’ve spent lots of time in our school room this summer and am particularly excited about our new cozy rug!
  • Make freezer meals for busy school days.  Well, let’s just say I sure do wish I had a freezer full of yummy meals already prepared.
  • Plan field trips.  I try to only plan those field trips that will fit in with what we are studying in history and science for the year.
  • Make a master schedule for the school year.  After spending some serious time with our calendar, I was able to design a school year that works around out-of-state swim meets, holidays, and a homeschool convention that we’re attending.  I’ve completely parted ways with the traditional school calendar and have planned a 36 week school year that works for us!
  • Set up a schedule for your school days.
  • Do as much prep-work as you can while you have more time.  I usually cut out the mini-books for the lapbooks that my children complete.  Having the pieces pre-cut really streamlines the process of actually getting a lapbook completed.  If I can cut out pieces while relaxing at the end of a long day with a movie or favorite television show, I enjoy the prep-work.  So, prep game boards, gather materials for science experiments, and laminate things when the pressure is off.

So, what do you do over the summer to get ready for the new school year?  Do you enjoy the prep-work involved in homeschooling your children?  What tips have you learned to help you streamline school-prep?

Samantha writes about family life and homeschooling at To Be Busy at Home.

Angie Kauffman
Angie, a domestically challenged nerd and mom of three very fun kids, is the founder of Real Life at Home.  Angie also listens to music every chance she gets, writes eBookspodcastsloves Pinterestdocuments the little moments in life on Instagram, and occasionally sleeps.


  1. says

    I love your idea of using ‘trapped time’ to read over teacher manuals. Brilliant! And I will also be taking your advice on pre-cutting lapbook pieces. Thank you.
    One thing I do along the lines of freezer meals is to double or triple meals as I am already making supper. Then I stick it in the freezer for future. I am always so glad I did. And I already had it all out making a mess anyway :)

  2. says

    I think my favorite part of teaching has always been the planning. But it can get draining when you realize how much of it you do as a mother, because it really is so much more than just planning lessons.

    I really wish I had a freezer full of meals, too. :)

  3. Chrissy says

    Thanks for sharing these great ideas. I have been thinking of doing a week of freezer meals to space out over the month to have a dinner available for our busy back to school days. I am not brave to do a monthly meal thing yet.

  4. says

    This has been one of the MOST HELPFUL posts I’ve read in a long time! Thank you so much! This will be my first year of homeschooling and I love it when other moms share about their experiences and include pictures!

  5. says

    Our deep freezer died this summer, so instead of freezer meals I am putting together pantry meals that my husband can make while I am finishing school with the kids some evenings. I have several plastic baskets, one for each meal. Each basket contains ingredients and a recipe for a one pot meal. On busy evenings, DH can go to the pantry shelves, grab a basket and be reasonably comfortable preparing a healthy dinner.

  6. says

    I often think the same thing! The prep work always seems to take more time than the actual doing! But, those minutes spent preparing are so worth it!

    What a great idea to pre cut those lapbook materials. I plan to do a solar system lapbook with Leah (1st grade) this year. If I had known that I was going to do that this summer, I would have prepared more.

    I haven’t cooked for the freezer in a while, but whenever I do, I am so grateful! Wow, the more I read your post, the more I realize that I didn’t to this summer! Ha!

    Thanks for a great post.