How to make a smooth transition back to homeschool after a long break
Of all the challenges in homeschooling, there are few I used to dread more than having to transition back to school after taking a long break. We’ve tried so many different things over the years, and we are finally at a point where our transitions are going smoothly (and tear free!). Following are a few of my top tips.
1.) Add things slowly.
This is the most important thing to us. I count back from when my “official” start date is, then look at when I need to start adding things in. If it’s two weeks until we need to officially start, then I’ll split up our schedule into tenths and add a fraction every day until we’re at our full schedule. We also try to keep up some subjects even during our long breaks so it’s easier to transition back. Core things like math practice and daily reading are just part of our daily habits, whether we are on a break or not.
2.) Start with review.
Don’t start your first day back with new concepts. Review something the kids have already learned, to increase confidence and decrease frustration.
3.) Start – and end – with something fun.
Double ending your daily schedule with fun in the beginning and at the end is a guarantee to help kids avoid procrastination. Instead of crying and whining and procrastinating (I mean me too, not just the kids!), you’ll all be done before you know it. You could start the day with either a video or a chapter from a fun read aloud. End the day with a fun art project or science experiment. Whatever motivates your kids! Doesn’t even have to be something purely educational. We will often plan some short field trips for the first week of full-time school (for after schoolwork is finished). Things like trips to the park, zoo or beach. These kind of activities take some extra preparation and time, but remember you don’t have to do this every single day – just to get things going in the beginning.
4.) Make sure to factor in one-on-one time with each student.
This can be true for independent learners as well as younger children who still need one-on-one daily. My sixth grader is a very independent student, but I find it gives him extra confidence and prevents daydreaming and procrastinating if I offer one-on-one help for at least the first day or two. It makes for a longer school day for me, but it’s just for during our transition.
5.) Check your sleep schedules.
Have your sleep schedules gotten way off track during your break? We like to start our school a bit later in the day (hey, it’s one of the perks of homeschooling!), but we still need to make it on time for some earlier extra curricular activities. Slowly get used to waking up earlier in short increments, so it’s less exhausting.
6.) Start organized and have ALL your supplies ready to go.
This point has been the one that took me the longest to catch on to. I did not start our homeschool journey as the most organized person in the world – but it comes as no surprise, that the more organized I am, the more smooth our transition is. What I try to do now is to have at least the first 4-8 weeks fully planned. That means a daily schedule of not just what subject each student needs to do each day, but also includes at which time each child needs one-on-one time (making sure they don’t overlap), and specific assignments. It also means that all prep work has been done for every activity or project. Things are photocopied, supplies are gathered, everything is ready to just open and go. Having this kind of “uber preparedness” to begin back to school gives you an extra cushion to prevent obstacles from getting in your way. It gives YOU time to transition back as well. Cause let’s face it, transitioning back to school is not just about your kids. You also need to transition back to all the extra tasks. It’s not a bad idea to have things like meal prep and chores planned in advance of starting back to school too. Think of all the likely obstacles to get in your way, and take care of them ahead of time. Check out my Pinterest board of tried and true healthy recipes to help with meal planning. Most of these recipes are also really quick or easy to adapt to make ahead.