A New School Year

Despite our inability to travel outside of the province, we have had a wonderful summer exploring Nova Scotia.

It’s been gloriously sunny and warm, spent together as a family, enjoying a slower pace of life.

I have the best tan ever.

Summer, please don’t end!

Regardless of my desire to have an eternal summer, fall is just around the corner and a new school year, which means I am in full school planning mode.

Planning, for me, is an essential part of the homeschool process and one I get asked about A LOT.

I will admit, I have an advantage. I am a teacher, which makes choosing curriculum, mapping out the school year and creating educational goals fairly easy. Even though I have this edge, it doesn’t mean you can’t home educate your children. Parents make the best educators and bring countless skills and expertise to the home learning process.

Think of it this way. If you have medical questions, you ask a doctor. If you need countertops installed, you consult a carpenter. I have never in my life just decided to install a toilet, fix a cracked tooth or put in new landscaping without first researching and most importantly, asking a professional for guidance.

If you’re thinking of homeschooling, the first thing you should do is check out The Home School Legal Defense Association

Here is the LINK for my Canadian friends.

Yes, HSLDA is a Christian organization but secular homeschoolers will find their resources just as helpful. Membership is not required to access their site.

If you click on the first link above and scroll down, you will see their “7 Simple Steps to Start Homeschooling”

When we started our homeschool journey back in 2017, I went right to this page and clicked on Step 1. I connected with local homeschool groups online, via social media and sent messages to veteran homeschool parents. I had SO many questions, and I immediately found the network of local homeschoolers invaluable.

Once you feel connected, it is much easier to complete the subsequent steps. All of a sudden, finding your state or province’s homeschool laws and how to register doesn’t seem so daunting.

As soon as your registered, the fun (I love this part) starts in choosing curriculum and HOW you want to homeschool. Everyone is different in their approach…some parents choose all in one curriculum programs, while others (like myself), pick and choose from a variety of educational materials.

For new homeschoolers, this can be where the panic sets in. I get questions like:

Betsy, how do I even choose curriculum?

How the heck do I know what a kid “learns” in first grade?

Although your curriculum doesn’t have to follow state or national standards, I like using the Common Core State Standards as a road map.


For me, it’s helpful to see suggested learning goals broken down by grade and subject matter. Even though I know the curriculum I choose will cover these expectations (and more), it helps in planning out our educational year.

Remember, you don’t HAVE to meticulously follow the standards. Every child learns at their own pace, but I encourage you to at least visit the site to get an idea if you are feeling overwhelmed.

For example, one of the 5th Grade English Language Arts Standards for Reading Literature stipulates that a child should be able to “Compare and contrast two or more characters, settings, or events in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., how characters interact).”

Okay,…then how do we do this?

My answer…however you like.

With Elsa, we read novels, look at the characters within those stories and use graphic organizers like THIS as we go through the story. Sometimes she will write an essay based on these characters (part of the Writing Standards), while other times she may create a presentation or other visual project of her choosing.

Remember, the standards serve as a guide…how you implement them is up to you, but ultimately should be focused around the needs and interests of your child.

Believe me, once you start to plan, everything falls into place.

Whether your children will be attending public, private or homeschool in the fall, I wish everyone the best of luck and happy school year!

“And so for a time it looked as if all the adventures were coming to an end; but that was not to be.”
– The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis

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