1. Do any simple craft project together. Don’t obsess about neatness: have fun. Make decorations for a “Family Friday Feast” party and kick off your new school year with a celebration.
2. Read aloud to your children, even if it’s only for one week of the summer or for a short period each day. Pick a short, simple book or use fun poetry. Be expressive! Use different voices for each character. Take turns and let the children read, too. Listen to an audio book as an alternative.
3. Take your children for a walk each day. Keep it short, if desired. Focus on everyday sights you usually overlook. Use this time to get into the routine of discussing simple things together.
4. Use the hot summer days to hide in the air conditioning and learn italic handwriting, read and write silly poetry, read a stack of books from the library (even picture books), do a jigsaw puzzle, or play every board game you own at least once.
5. Visit a museum, zoo, or other “field trip.” Follow up with a time of family discussion about each person’s favorite points and new discoveries.
6. Hold a “Cooking Marathon Day” to make some basic meal components ahead and freeze them for use on busy homeschool days. Make a huge batch of cookies and freeze them in small packages for quick treats in the car on field trip days.
7. Hold a “Game Day” and let each child select a favorite game, and everyone plays together, rotating through the selections. Relax, laugh and get silly, and enjoy each other’s company.
8. Hold a “Family Conference” to discuss what each member expects from homeschooling. Let each express his hopes and fears, likes and dislikes. This time of open sharing will reveal some new things you had not thought of trying and some other things you may want to avoid. (I had not realized how traumatizing a teacher’s red pencil had become to my formerly public schooled child until she shared, so I then began marking her papers with other, happier colors.)
9. Back-to-school shopping–even homeschoolers enjoy a few new items. Find some new containers for homeschool storage, art materials, or just some fun pencils and notebooks. Purchase a special reference book, wall map, or other useful learning aid for the whole family. If your students have left public or private school to begin homeschooling, allow them to choose some things that were not allowed for use in their last classroom (Trapper binders, mechanical pencils, colored-ink pens).
10. Begin classes with only one subject per day for each student. After a week, add a second subject; week three, add two more subjects. Continue until you are up to your full schedule.