Our family has moved a number of times over the past several years, and without fail the moving day usually lands right in the middle of our school year. As with any other big change in a family, moving tends to be pretty stressful. And we all know that stress in the home equals stress in the home . . . school.
It’s hard to pack up a school room. There’s always the nagging fear that the kids will fall behind or that it will take a really long time to get back into a good routine. But it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. In fact, I’ve learned that moving can actually be a great learning experience for our children.
Here are a few things that a family on the move can keep in mind while homeschooling:
1. Relax. Know that things will be different for a while, and that’s okay. It’s part of real life. One of the greatest perks of homeschooling is its flexibility and the chance to “live life” with our kids. Moving is definitely real life. (We’ve also moved enough times for me to realize that the kids won’t fall behind as a result.)
2. Stick with the basics. When we get down to the wire, I stick with the basics. We don’t try to do an entire day of subjects. Usually that means we focus on math and reading in the morning and then jump into packing.
I keep one large handled box or laundry basket right up until the end that holds the kids’ basic texts along with the chapter books they’re enjoying at the time. (This box is also easy to access once we’ve moved in so we can start up school again more quickly. Here, too, we stick with the basics until we’re ready to jump into a normal school routine.)
3. Teach creatively. Look for alternate ways to engage your children while you’re buried in boxes. Books on CD, educational videos or maybe even a “substitute teacher” (such as grandma) are all helpful options.
4. Involve your children. Do this as a family. Encourage older children to sort through and pack their own rooms. (Added bonus: they will be much more inclined to pare down and simplify when they see for themselves how much stuff they’ve accumulated!)
Younger children will love fetching empty boxes. They will be especially motivated if they get to label and add their own artwork to the packed boxes. Finding appropriate box sizes is also great for developing spacial awareness. A smaller child will enjoy the challenge of finding a box that is just the right size for certain items.
5. Seize the moment. Watch for ways to teach along the way. While sorting through the games, have your child inspect those which will be donated to make sure that they’re not missing any crucial pieces. Have them count puzzle pieces or put the puzzles together to make sure that you’re not packing or donating items that are no longer useful.
6. Encourage creativity. As the house is gradually packed up, toys and other forms of entertainment will be out of sight. With fewer distractions, children will discover new ways to play with the toys that are left. Their creativity will have room to blossom.
7. Have a garage sale. Clear out the clutter and earn a bit of extra cash! Involve the children in pricing, sorting and selling. They’ll likely jump at the chance to run a little lemonade stand on the side, as well.
8. Don’t forget the library! When the school books are all packed away, the library is a perfect resource for adding a variety of materials to your in-between days. These books will be especially precious as the accessible possessions dwindle.
9. Be flexible. Remember that school doesn’t have to happen at a certain time. Hold school for a couple of hours in the morning and declare the afternoon to be family packing or unpacking time. If your energy is greater in the morning, then pack first thing. After lunch, snuggle around with library books and let a little bit of informal schooling take place. Taking a few weeks off in the spring might mean focusing on a few subjects during the summer. And that’s okay!
10. Learn about your new community and surroundings. It’s exciting to learn about new streets and new routes. As you drive to and from your new home, name the streets for your children. Explain that taking this road a bit further will lead to the library, church or grocery store.
Kids will also enjoy observing how the scenery is different or the same compared with their former home. Keep a few field guides handy so you can identify the birds and trees that make up your new home.
Although moving takes up an incredible amount of time and energy, it doesn’t mean that learning has to come to a halt. Our children will continue to learn and grow, and the flexibility of homeschooling becomes an added blessing during a potentially stressful season.
Have you experienced a family move during the school year? What tips would you add for making the transition less stressful?
When not buried in moving boxes, Julianna writes about family, faith and the fullness of joy over at Petunia June.
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