One of the things that I love the most about homeschooling is the flexibility. I think we have stretched it to the end of its abilities and then flexed it some more with all the moves, changes, special needs, modifications that we have done over the last seven years. I want to share some tips with you on how to deal with homeschool when you are moving or going through another big life change. If you want to know why I’m an expert in this subject you might want to check out this post about traveling the world with your kids.
Moving in the middle of the school year does not have to mean that your entire year gets messed up and you never recover. It does cause some difficulties, but with planning and acknowledgement of the challenges, you can work through it and not only will you have stayed on track with your schedule, you will have also taught your kids valuable life lessons about time management and priorities.
Let’s start at the beginning.There are two kinds of moves in life.
Ones that are sprung on you at the last minute causing a mad scramble just to get everything in the boxes in time.
And there are the ones that you know are going to happen months or even years in advance (like a scheduled military move or a missionary going on furlough….I might be a bit up-close-and-personal with that one!)
Both of them are going to have different effects on your homeschooling schedule.
So let’s go with the one that has the most obvious and immediate effects, the instant move.
When you find out that you need to move with very little time to plan, your focus needs to immediately shift to moving and off of homeschooling.
The first thing you need to know is that it’s okay. It’s okay, to stop schooling to get ready for the move. There is no need to feel guilt about it or spend time worrying if you will ever get back on track. You will, but right now the priority is not staying on schedule with your pre-set curriculum plans.
Now for the move that you have known was going to happen for a while:
This move is a bit different because you can better prepare yourself financially, emotionally, and packingly. Okay, so that wasn’t really a word, but you know what I’m talking about. I’ve known for 4 years that we would be moving back to the U.S. this fall. That made me prepare from the very beginning. First of all, I didn’t buy a whole bunch of meaningless knick knacks or random furniture just to fill space.
But way back in March of this year when I was doing spring cleaning I started clearing out the things that we wouldn’t need here again. Because I’m making an international move with only things I can take on an airplane and then moving into an RV, my priorities are a bit different than some, but the basic principles are the same. Our move will consist of what we can fit into 14 suitcases (because that’s our free allowance). 6 people and only 14 suitcases means lots of prioritizing! (But that’s another post altogether.)
Because I’ve known this move was coming, we made the decision to continue schooling through the summer. That way the kids would be ahead of schedule when it came time for the move and we wouldn’t have to worry about getting behind.
We had a wrench thrown in our plans when we discovered we were going to be leaving two months ahead of schedule, so we are in the process of making the switch to the instant move plan.
But the big advantage to having advanced knowledge of a move, is being able to schedule around it. Plan to school extra ahead of time or after the move. When you know it’s in the plans, it will become less stressful.
Things you can still do even though you are not following your usual schedule:
Have your kids count the boxes for each room. Are there more for one room than for another room? Why? These reasoning skills are important for kids. It also demonstrates the need for priorities. For us, the room with the most to pack is always the school room. Why? Because that’s where we focus a large portion of our life.
Have your kids help you with the meal planning to empty out the fridge and freezers in time for the move. You don’t want to waste food, so coming up with meals that will utilize the things you already have is vital to the success of your move. This is a good opportunity to talk about math (measuring, doubling ingredients) and healthy food choices on a limited supply.
Besides these things, your children can be involved in deciding how many boxes you need, where to source them (a shipping company or dumpsters), the cost for packing and renting a moving vehicle. Some people may not agree with me, but I don’t think it’s necessary to shield kids completely from the costs involved with major life events or even day to day finances. However, you should manage your stress level in association with your finances because that is what can hurt them with their future money management skills. Rather than talk to them through stress, as any move will cause; talk to them about facts. They need to see how you re-allocated grocery money (because you’re eating out of the freezer) to use for moving expenses. They don’t have to know what you have in the bank (or don’t have!) they just need to know about money available to use for those expenses.
What about after the move?
Take a couple weeks to get the house in order. Do not do school. Just don’t. Don’t think about it. Don’t talk about it. Put the school supplies on their new shelves and leave them there.
Then after you have the house in order, leave them there for a few weeks longer.
You have just gone through a very big life change and you are no doubt feeling stressed about it. If you are feeling stressed, imagine what your kids who do not have the cognitive nor social abilities to deal with that stress in a manageable way.
Instead of pushing to get back to a regular school schedule. Make a schedule of exploring your new surroundings. Find new parks, new stores, the new library, new homeschool co-ops, new play groups. Show your kids things that are familiar to them. Is there a Wal-Mart or Target like near your old home? Can they find the same books at the library? These are essential to them feeling safe.
Teach them the emergency numbers for the new home. In the U.S. it’s taken for granted now that the emergency number is 9-1-1, but in other places it’s different. Here in the Republic of Georgia it’s 1-1-2.
Go get lost. I promise you this is the best way to get to know your new surroundings. Get in your car, drive, take some turns without GPS assistance. Take a few more turns and then try to find your way back home without directly back-tracking. You will find some hidden gems that way. Keep your GPS with you just in case, but really make the effort to find your way.
Then, after you have taken a month or so to settle into your new life, gradually start back to school just like you would at the beginning of any new school year. For us, we begin with math and English only. Then every week we add a little bit more until we are up to our regular schedule. If you are behind schedule, make a plan to work a few Saturdays or take a shorter winter/summer vacation.
Embrace the flexibility of homeschool!