Welcoming the New Semester

Written by contributor Amida of Journey Into Unschooling.

It happens every year. It seems like we just came back from summer vacation when, WHAM! December creeps up on us. It is the end of the year.

Where did the time go? What did we do? Did we do anything? This is when it is very helpful for those who write down yearly goals (or even semester goals) to check off what they’ve done.

Unfortunately, I am not one of those people. I’m more of a make-it-up-as-I-go-and-hope-for-the-best kind of person, eternally optimistic that things will turn out in the end and that whatever needs to be learned will be learned in due time.

The problem is that when December comes knocking, time seems to move in warp speed. Suddenly there are birthdays to celebrate, Winter Solstice to observe, Christmas to shop for, and of course, the semester to wrap up (and another to get ready for).

Sounds stressful? Well, it shouldn’t be.

Here’s how to beat the end-of-semester blues:

Blast from the Past

Rather than focusing on what has yet to be done, recall instead some of the fun activities you’ve already had.

Did you visit an especially interesting place? Get caught up in a new exciting book? Cooked a totally rocking dish with beets?

If you’ve been hoarding away your children’s school work (and you know you have), pull out their best work and put it together, along with photos, in a scrapbook. This doesn’t have to be fancy — save that for when you aren’t pressed for time.

Stuff everything into a 3-ring binder, curl up on the sofa, and take a stroll down memory lane and celebrate another semester completed. Hot chocolate is a plus.

Get Input

Here’s an idea: Ask the kids to come up with a game plan for the first day back — and follow through — even if it ends up being a day of playing games.

Many times, we get caught up in the schedules other people have set before us — get-togethers, national holidays, school events — hey, we homeschool! The beauty of that is that we get to decide when to wake up, when to start school, and what should happen in any given week.

Who says a Lego marathon isn’t educational? Think of it as a self-proclaimed holiday from the rest of the world. How would you celebrate?


You can’t beat a jar full of new sharpened pencils or a box of new crayons to get the itch to scribble or doodle.

Start your New Year with these, along with a stack of clean fresh paper–I guarantee they will be put to use.

While you’re at it, pick up another 3-ring binder and start filling it with ideas for your new semester.

How do you welcome a new semester?

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. What a fun way to refresh half way through the year. I’ll have to remember these ideas in the early spring when it’s our 1/2 way point! (Great thing about homeschooling is you can choose your own yearly schedule too!)

    A fun way to review would have a ‘show and tell’ night with friends and family. Invite them over and show off what you’ve done for the first part of the year! There are a variety of ways you can do this including slideshows of pictures, big science-fair type boards with info, or just a casual sit around and talk and pass papers.

  2. What a wonderful post! I’m a big fan of reverse records. I print out planners and use them to track what we’ve done instead of what I want to do. It always helps show me how much we’ve done and how much the kids have learned even when I swear we haven’t learned a thing. 🙂

    I also stock up on fun educational stuff during the holidays and it gets us off on an enthusiastic foot when the new year starts.
    Alicia’s latest post: Free Ink and Fairy Dust magazine focuses on Laura Ingalls Wilder

  3. I print up pages that serve as our daily schedule, my lesson plan, and a record of which assignment was done in each subject by each child each day. It works great for us.

    We spend time reviewing all our memory work to start up after a break: poetry, Scripture, catechism songs, science songs, geography songs, etc.
    I Live in an Antbed’s latest post: The Death of a Neighbor

  4. This has been our first “real” semester homeschooling, and it’s been a learning experience, for sure! More for me than for them, I think. Ha.

    We started out fairly eclectic but classical and it has so far morphed into more of a life learning scenerio. Whatever keeps it simple, peaceful, and interesting!
    Jessica’s latest post: The Shifting of an Educational Paradigm

  5. Great post, it is really nice to know that it isn’t just me feeling like the months have rushed by without a whole lot of ‘achievement’. I love the idea of taking stock, revisiting what we’ve done in words and images as well as taking the time to reboot and get ready for the new semester with renewed purpose. I feel thoroughly cheered up!
    Emmalina’s latest post: A single moment

  6. Yes Yes Yes! Relax… December is here, we didn’t get as much done as ( I wanted to) and so far as I can tell, they are still learning and we are still homeschooling after 10 years….I’m an eternal optimist too… I BELIEVE.. it will all work out!
    thanks for the encouragement…. new art supplies are always on our list for a new semester… and this year a trip with the teens to Washington D.C. in February!

    Debbie’s latest post: This Moment A Friday Ritual

  7. I love your idea of letting the kids plan the first day of the semester! It gets rid of “do we have to” and trying to get them back into the rhythm of things and instead replaces it with excitement since everything is their idea! This is especially nice as with the holidays ending, many of us are going to need a little break and planning the big first day back can be difficult.
    AprilS’s latest post: Does Spell Check Have a Place in State Writing Tests

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