We are constantly learning in our house, and we homeschool throughout the year, much to the chagrin of our kids. It is, however, not as bad as it at first sounds. With homeschooling, doing a little learning all year round is not as agonizing when you're spending a fraction of the time each day doing it while allowing yourself time off for for travel and other assorted activities. Plus, you can't beat the uniforms.

Even still, that doesn't mean that we completely ignore the regular academic calendar. Our kids are involved with the local schools on many levels, and most of our friends attend the local schools, so sports and social activities are often coordinated with when they are available. We take time off for holidays, and while learning doesn't stop completely over the summer, things do slow down.

With that in mind, once fall approaches, it's time to kick things back into gear and get ready for the school year. This requires preparation on many fronts, many of which most parents are not used to addressing. However, with a little diligence and organization, it can be done in a timely manner that frees you to focus on the fun of learning once the school year begins. Here are some of the things that need to keep in mind.

1. Know the Rules

Every state has different rules regarding homeschooling, so it's important to contact your local school board and state government to find out what they are. Much of this information is easy to obtain either online or with an email or phone call to your local school. There are national common core standards, as well.

2. Make Contact

In Vermont, homeschooling parents are required to inform the school and the state that their kids will not be attending as well as submit an end of year portfolio or assessment. Every state has different rules, including important requirements and deadlines, so contact your state school officials to learn more.

3. Create Your Curriculum

One of the most challenging aspects of homeschooling is deciding what to teach your kids. There are numerous commercially available curriculums for sale, and often homeschoolers will sell their old ones at a discount. If, like us, you create your own, most schools and states provide guidelines and requirements online or in print.

4. Keep Good Records

Before the school year starts, take steps to keep track of your activities and school work, keeping in mind that everything counts, even dinner time conversation. Everywhere you go and all the things you do are opportunities to teach your children something and enrich them. Try to keep track of the books they read and check out of the library.

5. Gather Materials

This can occur throughout the year, but start with the baseline basics of math, english, writing, grammar. There are workbooks available at book stores or online that cover these topics. They are well organized and can serve as a model for your curriculum. Plus, many of them make schoolwork more interesting. You can have fun science, social studies, and history.

6. Mentally Prepare

Kids and parents alike benefit from getting back into the school mindset. This doesn't have to be an abrupt plunge, but can be a gradual re-introduction. Start things slowly before working up to the regular learning schedule.

7. Watch, Listen, and Be Flexible

The start of the year is a good time to figure out what your kids are going to learn and how, but it doesn't have to be written in stone. It's perfectly reasonable to shift gears and move in another direction based on what your kids interests and strengths are, so watch and listen.

8. Communicate

Talk to your kids constantly about schoolwork and let them know that their opinion matters. This goes a long way to building self-esteem while discovering their interests. We factor their input into learning the basic foundation subjects, i.e., math, English, reading and writing.

9. Do Some Research

There are probably countless opportunities in your community where your kids can learn something interesting or valuable. If you live near a college, find out what programs they offer in the arts or sciences. Your local school or library are also good resources. Check the newspaper and look for activities online.

10. Talk to Others

Teachers, parents, and other homeschoolers are good resources to get more information about what kids are learning these days and what sort of activities they take part in. Schools will often make available their curriculum, which you can use as model to follow. Seek out other homeschoolers for advice.

As daunting as it may seem, homeschooling can also be exciting and rewarding. It makes you realize that teaching your children is an amazing opportunity, and learning can be a journey of discovery if you put your mind to it.