We had a tumultuous few years of many moves. Boxes were barely unpacked. School rooms never set up. We moved from Ohio to Georgia to Tennessee to Pennsylvania to New York in just over two years’ time. We lived in hotels for weeks during this period and I learned a little something about planning for homeschool during a transitional period.
While you may find some useful tips below if you’re moving across town, this article is really aimed at helping homeschool families continue schooling during an extended upheaval, such as a cross-country move or a temporary stay away from home, such as while caring for a sick parent or while your child is recovering from an accident in the hospital.
Pack a box with all of the supplies you’ll need for your lessons, so that everything is in one place. Clearly label it, even painting it or wrapping it in colorful paper so that it will stand out among the stacks of other boxes. Depending on the age level of your children, this box should ideally contain the following items:
- crayons/markers/colored pencils
- construction paper
- plain white paper
- blank notebook for each child
- stapler and staples
- glue stick/bottle of glue
We were lucky enough to maintain Internet access during our times away from home, so I could research information and plan lessons, but I could not print.
If you will not have Internet access during your transition, you can bring several books to meet your needs, including workbooks and general subject books. I like the Don’t Know Much About series by Kenneth C. Davis. They are comprehensive, orderly, and intuitive. You can bring a few books to read aloud together or allow the children to each bring a few books of their choosing.
Every day, I would write in each child’s notebook a numbered list of her assignments. Since I was in a hotel, I had more free time and would handwrite math problems, spelling words, and grammar worksheets within the notebooks; however, you can certainly refer to the workbooks in your child’s assignment page.
An assignment page might look like this:
Name: _________________________________________ Date: ___________________________
- Do the math problems on page 35 of your math workbook.
- Write out your spelling words three times.
- Write a story using at least 5 of your spelling words. Draw a picture for your story.
- Circle the nouns in each sentence on the next page in your notebook. Underline the verbs.
- 15 minutes of quiet reading.
- Play the game of “war” with your sister using the deck of cards.
- We will go outside and play tag after your school is done.
Use the rest of this page for any questions you have for me or anything you want to tell me. Or just draw a silly picture of a giraffe.
The kids really enjoyed waking up to assignments and loved having their own notebook. They enjoyed the personalized sentences in their grammar lesson and enjoyed writing me notes or drawing the pictures I requested.
We also made full use of construction paper, glue sticks, and the nature around us. Be creative. Have fun. And join in the learning!
One day I challenged the kids to make seasonal-themed math games using the supplies in the school box. They did not disappoint. We learned about the presidency and discussed campaign posters. We each made our own poster and held an election. We heated rocks in the microwave and then colored them with crayons, watching the colors melt and blend. We went for a walk and collected pebbles, flowers, pinecones, and other items. We then wrote nature poems and illustrated them by gluing the items we collected to create a picture.
While it’s important to continue with general school subjects, remember to use the experiences around you to initiate learning. Take time to discuss the transition. Encourage the children to keep journals to express their feelings about what they’ll miss from the old house and to help them to be excited about what is new. Even the younger ones can draw or tell you what they’d like you to write down.
Don’t push yourself or the children during this time of transition. It is an emotional upheaval as much as a physical one. My children needed the sense of normalcy during a time which was anything but normal. Yours may feel overwhelmed or frightened or any number of completely rational responses to transition. Sometimes the best way to homeschool during such a transition is to not homeschool at all. Don’t feel guilty if you take a little time off to allow everyone to adjust to the change before slowly working school back into your routine.