When a family needs to make a move it really turns life upside down. Change and transition is always challenging and if you are a homeschooling family, it can be a chaotic time. Moving AND homeschooling? How in the world can we accomplish all that needs to be done? Is it possible to pack, plan and prepare for the move, to set up housekeeping in a new home, educate the children, adjust to a new community, keep up with the family’s everyday needs?
Here are some things that will help you keep up with your schooling during while preparing for a move:
- First, take one step at a time. You have made the commitment to homeschool. Educating your children at home is what you do. To keep from being overwhelmed just focus on what needs attention right now.
- If moving to another state, read up on their homeschooling laws and requirements. Doing this before you get there eases the stress of moving and makes it easier to get started once you are there. Each time we’ve made a move I have found contact information through a web search for homeschool groups in the community and by contacting HSLDA asking for their input.
- Streamline curriculum as much as possible. You may be able to cover some subjects as a family rather than having separate subjects for each individual child. History, science, literature are some areas in which many different ages can work and learn together. This streamlines your schedule, cuts cost, and lightens your load.
- A general daily routine helps the days run more smoothly. List a few necessary things that must be done each day, do them every day, making them a habit. It will be easier to pick up where you left off or move on to what comes next when you need to take phone calls or have to be away for a time.
- Cover the 4 R’s – Reading, wRiting, aRithmetic and Religion. If you spend a bit of time on the basics on days you do school, you can rest easy knowing that you’ve made progress even amidst the chaos of appointments, repairs, house-hunting and whatever else is demanding your attention. We found it worked best to get out the books right after our morning/breakfast routine. The rest of the day we would do ‘the extras’ or moving related activities.
- Think ‘Outside the Box‘ when it comes to schooling while preparing for a move. There are endless possibilities for learning activities that will help everyone transition to their new home. Get out the maps and the almanac to learn about the population and geography and topography. Find out about the local climate and compare how it differs to where you live now. Write to the chamber of commerce for an information and tourist packet. They’ll send a treasure trove of educational and helpful material to you.
- Be creative. Ask yourself “what must we do today and what can my children learn from it?” If there are boxes needing to be packed, have the children sort items needing to be packed. They can separate stuffed animals from baby dolls or children’s books from grown-up books. It’ll be easier to fill boxes with like items, it gives the kids something constructive to do, and hones math skills all at the same time. Maybe a brainstorming session, listing out a checklist of everything needing to be done. Children can write it out (handwriting). Print out copies for each person and have them check tasks off as they are accomplished (reading). Give them a box or suitcase and have them estimate how many items they can fit into it (math) and then let them do it (problem solving). Allow them to take pictures of all your rooms, the yard and neighborhood (photography, art).
- Use portable school bins. Milk crates work great for texts and workbooks. Your other school supplies fit nicely in them as well. They stay organized and are easily transported from room to room and house to house. You could assign one bin to each child, or one bin per subject and load it up with all the necessary materials (books, paper, folders, pencil caddy, etc). If you are packing up the house so it is ready for showings, or if you will be in temporary housing (maybe a hotel or small rental?) these crates are great because the stack nicely, take up very little space and are easily kept neat and orderly.
- Give yourself permission to take a break. Our family has made many moves through the years. It became ‘normal’ for us to take some time off our formal schooling before a move to prepare, and after a move to adjust. There was no one to say that our school year must be September to May. If we took extra time off in mid October or early Spring, we might start our year earlier or continue into the summer. After it’s all said and done, everything balances out.
- Most importantly, take time to connect with God, personally and as a family. It will strengthen you, comfort you, restore you, give you the wisdom and discernment you need in these challenging times. Everything else seems to slip into place and our relationships with one another are better.
During our first 7 years of ‘official’ homeschooling, our family moved 7 times. SEVEN. Knowing that my husband’s career would mean many cross-country moves for our family was one of the reasons we took the big leap of faith into the homeschooling lifestyle. Personally, I would never have chosen the nomadic lifestyle, but now I am thankful for it. I learned I could choose to be content. I figured out that successful homeschooling wasn’t about following someone else’s schedule or having all the right books or perfect little desks lined up in a row. Those seasons of change and transition taught me we could ‘make do’ with our circumstances. We depended more on each other and on God because we were all we had.
It is possible to homeschool and make a move and survive it all. In fact, your homeschool is the one constant in your life during this time. Your children’s teacher and classmates will be the same in their new home as it was in their former home. That is awesome! and gives you the freedom to put more energy into adjusting to your new surroundings.
A big thank you to Linda Sears of Apron Strings & other things for writing this article.