First Day of School

Written by contributer Amida of Journey Into Unschooling

By now, a lot of you have probably started school again. If you took the summer easy like we did, you might have found it a little difficult to jump start the ol’ school bus. Sure, we knew the day was approaching but even so, it caught us off guard and totally unprepared.

I wasn’t the only one. One friend decided to postpone the first day all together, starting next week instead, and the others downright ignored it. Between bites of my sourdough toast and sips of coffee, I decided to jump right in.

While the kids finished up breakfast, I announced our plan for the day and did a quick mental list of what I wanted them to tackle this morning.

Our day went something like this:

  • 9:00 -10:30 am breakfast and clean up
  • 10:30 -1:00 pm writing, language arts, math, reading, phonics

My oldest spent this entire time writing, while my 9-year-old worked on grammar and math exercises on the computer. After sitting with him for a bit, I worked on reading with my 4-year-old, forming words with “at” endings. We read stories and practiced more phonics work on the computer.

Afterwards, we broke for lunch, followed by some outdoor biking time, which was a welcomed break for all.

As far as spontaneous planning goes, this was a pretty productive day for us, even if all the actual school stuff only lasted 2.5 hours. As we settle back into a routine, we will have days of focused school work, like these, where we spend a couple of hours on academics, and the more “unschooled” days where we work on projects or take field trips. I think both work well for us and create a nice balance of activities.

While far from perfect, it was just what we needed to transition from summer break to school again.

Cups of Coffee: 2
Diapers Changed Before Lunch: 5
Times I Told The Kids To Finish Breakfast So We Could Start: too many to count!

How did you spend your first day of school? Were you prepared or did you wing it like us?

About Amida

Amida is the mom to three darn kids. She used to stress about state standards and test scores but has since come to her senses and enjoys blogging about her family's journey into unschooling.


  1. Sounds perfect! I am following the Moore Formula, so we won’t begin anything formal for awhile – DS is not quite 5.
    Emily’s latest post: You Don’t Need To Supplement…IF…

  2. Melissa R says:

    We school all year around so we kind of don’t have a first day of school. We do, but it blends in with the other days. For the 2011/2012 “school year” we had our first day at the end of May. Yup. We finished our year a month earlier than we usually do and jumped right in to the next one. We have 70 days already racked up for this school year and it’s been easy going so far. We take days off when we need to and don’t worry about what the calendar says.

  3. This is my first year homeschooling my two sons, 11th and 7th grades. I started Monday with my oldest as planned. I wanted to wait a week before starting with my youngest, but decided to jump right in on Tuesday. It wasn’t the smoothest day, but I’m happy I didn’t wait a week.

  4. Our first day was rocky – I think we had all forgotten how to do school even though we only took three weeks off! The second day also went poorly. Then I prayed, talked to my husband, made some changes, and the third day went great! I forgot that it’s okay to ease into school. Last year we started slowly, doing only a few subjects on the first day and adding subjects gradually over the next couple weeks until we were doing a whole school day. Even then, with two kids ages 6 and 3, we only take about 2 hours to do school – amazing how much we can cover in that short time! In most public schools, the teachers give the kids some time to adjust to being back at school, and I figure it makes sense to start slowly at home, too.
    Mandy’s latest post: Making Some Homeschooling Changes

  5. We always eased back into things gradually, with half days the first week. Miss those days!
    Living the Balanced Life’s latest post: Is your life a roller coaster ride?

  6. We’re starting next week! I’m a little nervous about the change in routine, but if you can just “jump right in” I think I can too. I might need more than 2 cups of coffee, though!
    Anne @ Modern Mrs Darcy’s latest post: Women, Work, and How to Have Your Cake and Eat It, Too

  7. Karla Gray says:

    We have started off just like you (= We are just winging it this week. By next week hopefully we will be more in the swing of things. I work the same way as the year goes on though, we have our days of school work and we have our hands on project field trip days as well. I am a firm believer that the more hands on you have them do the more they will learn. Going to the zoo, botanical gardens or what ever to choose creates great material for learning. Just the other day we read one of The School Bus books, on (Rocks & the earths core) and while we were walking down town San Antonio my son started noticing rock like the book was talking about. The walk ways, the rocks on the buildings, the street, pebbles you name he was pointing them all out and he wanted to know the names of all the kinds of rocks each where. So we took pics of the ones we were not sure of and brought them home to look them up. I was so excited that he was so interested in walking around down town to learn about rocks while seeing other things as well, but he was learning while we were having fun. What better way to learn rather than sitting in a chair being told this is how it is, now learn it….just saying….lol

    I love reading your blog, thank you for talking the time out to share your wondering information and your stories with us.


  8. I think we tend to be more unschool, but I have been trying to slowly add a little more “school” into our days for a couple of weeks now. A few math games and worksheets here, a reading game there. Some things we never stopped doing through the summer, like handwriting with grandma, but I’m pretty sure my kids don’t count that as school 🙂

    I’ve noticed on the chillier mornings here the kids are actually wanting to stay inside for just a bit doing some sort of “work” whether it’s a project or school work or educational game, and I feel like it will progress pretty naturally as the days get shorter and bring us inside more frequently.

    I love your winging it day, sometimes I feel like those work out better than the planned days.
    Kerry’s latest post: One of Those Days

    • I think kids sometimes enjoy “busywork” if they aren’t force to do it all the time. It’s certainly easier to fill out a worksheet than write a 500 word essay!
      They are great for those days we can’t school but need something concrete to turn in.
      Amida’s latest post: Six Flags Discovery Kingdom 2011

  9. We started about a wk and a half ago with more of a meeting and then some Putt-Putt! You can read about it here
    Tracy @ Hall of Fame Moms’s latest post: Second-hand Children’s shopping events in or near Canton, Ohio.

  10. I won’t be starting till summer is offically over. No school in September for us. We are to busy bringing in the harvest to worry about sit down learning. There is plenty of time for that when the weather turns cold.

  11. We start next week. I’ve already been working on revising our morning routines to help the kids be more automatic. We will have classes at our alternative school on Mon/Wed mornings. I’m planning a nicer breakfast than usual for the first day next week, and we’ll do some book work in the morning and maybe go to the beach in the afternoon. This will be my first year with two official students, so I am working on being more structured. In the past, I haven’t really been ready when school started, so I winged it a lot. 🙂
    Jennifer’s latest post: Summer has finally arrived!

  12. Sounds just like our first days of school too, but we kept swimming every evening since it’s still over 100 degrees every day here in Texas. An awesome trip to the library seems to spark all my four kids’ desire to study again too.
    Karina Palmer’s latest post: Escalator episode

  13. this sounds like a great day!….we are still is the sourdough toast phase… 😉

  14. We jumped right in. I have ALWAYS been excited for the first day of school, even when I was a kid. There’s something magical about going back for me–call me crazy! After a summer of planning, I was eager to request our library books that we would use for the first month. Maybe it’s because I’m homeschooling a Kindergartener and a First Grader! 😀
    Austin’s latest post: Math Idea

  15. Oh I love the last line of this post… true every morning, true every morning!!!
    se7en’s latest post: Sunday Snippet: Bringing Up Girls – A GiveAway…

  16. i love your balance of some focused “schooly” days and other interest-led/go-with-the-flow/get-out-of-the-house days. that seems to be the approach that we prefer as a family, too.
    andie’s latest post: new stages

  17. I am a planner!!! I have things ready and copied the night before. Type A personality all the way!

    sandy toe
    sandy toe’s latest post: I may have a newborn…

  18. That sounds great!!! I did our first week of school this week too, and the first day was stressful and then I decided that a little more relaxed approach to begin was okay!
    Martha Artyomenko’s latest post: A Young man’s guide to making right choices by Jim George

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