Review: Back to School Survival Manual

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This year we’re embarking on our 6th year of homeschooling, and I can honestly say that each year has been a completely different adventure! The mission — our “why” — is the same, but as we grow as a homeschooling family, the “how” adapts and grows along with us.

When it’s time to revisit the “how” and lay out plans for a new homeschooling year, I like to wipe the slate clean and ask God to help me put the most essential components to the season our family is embarking upon back on the drawing board. At first, it’s refreshing and invigorating to visualize this fresh start, however it can easily become discouraging and overwhelming when you cloud and clutter that view with too many options, opinions, expectations and comparisons.

Thankfully, Alicia Michelle’s new book, Back to School Survival Manual: A Girlfriend’s Guide to an Organized and Successful Homeschool Year, can quickly put you back on the right track. Like a coffee conversation with that candid veteran homeschooling mama, Back to School Survival Manual is a much-needed reality check filled with sage advice and practical tips and tools to help you start your homeschooling year on the right foot, whether it’s your first or fourteenth!


And if you’re already “back to school” for this homeschool year, you know what’s coming next: The letdown! When the shiny newness of your best-laid plans is dulled by everyday reality, the Back to School Survival Manual will breathe life back into your homeschooling. It’s the perfect “reboot” button for this time of year.

Drawing from 10 years of homeschooling experience, Vibrant Homeschooling’s Alicia Michelle walks you through the big picture challenges that all homeschooling families face, as well as drilling down to the daily details that can make or break your homeschooling experience. Each chapter is followed by “Points to Ponder” — a chance to get real with yourself and reflect on what you’ve gleaned — as well as helpful resources and related tools to put your revised plans into practice right away.

Here’s a glimpse at a few valuable nuggets you’ll take away from this must-have homeschooling survival manual:

  • Self-confidence in your homeschool’s purpose and vision
  • Practical tips for managing daily homeschool chaos and clutter
  • A realistic learning rhythm and “living” lesson plan
  • Powerful tips for daily homeschool success

See this sample chapter for a taste of what’s to come when you sit down for your survival session with Alicia.

Along with Alicia’s words of wisdom, Back to School Survival Manual also contains 30 pages of well-designed, reproducible 8.5 x 11 inch checklists, charts and planning activities for you to use year after year. It was such a treat to have ready-to-go tools like these right at my fingertips as I was walking through Alicia’s planning and preparation process. Download the TOC for a snapshot of all the valuable resources included.

The Back to School Survival Manual is available in several formats: in Print and Kindle version from Amazon.comin PDF form at the Vibrant Homeschooling Shop, and for a limited time, it’s part of a Vibrant Homeschooling Back to School Product Bundle for just $15.99!


Earlier this summer, I had the chance to actually sit down for coffee with author Alicia Michelle IRL, and let me tell you — we closed down the coffee shop! Her real-life honesty, humor and passion for homeschooling shines through in the pages of Back to School Survival Manual. So I encourage you to get to know her for yourself, and glean from the valuable insights God has given her to help you in your homeschooling journey!

How are you feeling about being back to school? Do you get excited about making a fresh start? As the dust settles, are you starting to feel like you could use a reset button? What advice would you seek from a homeschooling veteran like Alicia Michelle?

Renée Gotcher is a wife, writer, editorial consultant, and home-educating mother of three daughters. She has been married for 26 years to her best friend Kenny, whom she met while attending Oral Roberts University in the early 90s. Renée was homeschooled during her last two years of high school and started homeschooling in 2010. A former journalist, she is currently editor of NextGen Homeschool and blogs on personal topics at A New Chapter. Her family lives in Castle Rock, Colorado.

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