5 Ways to Gently Transition Kids from Lazy Summer Days to a Fall Homeschool Routine

a boy reads a book outside; his legs are on a hammock

Spend even a little time with children, and it’s apparent the important role transitions play. When I have the foresight to give my kids a heads up that change is on its way, things go a lot smoother. From the simple reminder that we’ll be leaving in ten minutes to the ritual of a bedtime snack and story before bed, preparing kids for what's coming next gives them the capacity to better adjust.

For our family, summer is all about sleeping in and staying up late, lots of downtime and very few requirements. From past experience I know if we go straight from lazy summer days to fall’s more stringent routine, there is going to be a lot of push back! I’ve found it’s best if we take a couple of weeks to gently transition into new rhythms.

I’m not ending summer early. There’s still plenty of swimming and time to make s'mores! I’m simply adding school in tiny increments to our days. This deliberate transition makes all the difference for a better adjustment. Cold turkey just doesn't work for my kids.

1. Back-to-school Anticipation

While I try hard to live in the present, I also know the power of looking forward to the future. We love summer, but the rest of the year is pretty great too. To help us transition from summer into fall it’s important we get excited about what the next season bring su. 

What helps us get excited

  • Buying new school supplies! (Is there anything better?!

  • Making a bucket list for the school year. What are all the things we hope to learn and do?

  • Planning field trips.

  • Choosing curriculum.

  • Making a list of the books we hope to read. 

2. Morning Time Rituals

5 Ways to Gently Transition Kids from Lazy Summer Days to a Fall Homeschool RoutineOne simple way to transition from summer to homeschooling is by starting a morning time routine. Choose a specific time to gather. I like doing morning time with breakfast.

  • Read a poem or short story together.
  • Read a chapter from a novel.
  • Listen to a podcast or audiobook.
  • Practice skills from the previous year—penmanship, cursive, or math facts.

Remember this is transition time, so it doesn't need to last all morning. A short nugget will do.

3. Reading Time

Another great way to help kids transition into homeschooling is to have a set time for kids to read. Depending on the child, this might be time to read with you, independently, with an audiobook, or as a family. If your family is like mine, reading can take a backseat in the summer. Find favorite authors, new books, or interesting subjects and spend a little time each day getting back into a reading routine. 

4. Family Game Time

One of the best ways to get kids learning is through play.

  • Play word games get kids back into spelling and reading.
  • Play cards or dice games to help them practice math facts.

Apples to Apples, Bananagrams, The Scrambled States of America, Sushi Go, and Scattergories are some of our favorite games that disguise quite a bit of academics under the fun! 

5. Earlier Bedtimes

It’s hard to go to bed in the summer. We’re in Indiana where it doesn’t get dark until 10 pm. While it’s nice to stay up late and sleep in, the freedom to do so can’t last forever. As the summer days get shorter, I encourage my kids (and myself) to head to bed earlier. Bedtime reading becomes a priority again. Turning off the TV earlier does, too. We will certainly squeeze in last-minute cookouts and campfires, but more than not, we’ll head inside before the sun heads to sleep. 

I’m not going to lie; the end of summer is bittersweet! I love the lack of schedules and long lazy days summer offers. By August, I also find I am craving a good routine, and I know the importance of one when it comes to homeschooling. Like a ten-minute clean-up warning, gradually moving my children and myself into a new routine, even one that is familiar, always pays off. 

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About the Author

Kelly Sage of Curiosity Encouraged

Kelly left teaching middle and high school English to homeschool her children and reclaim how she and her family spent their time. Followers of interest-led learning, her family's days rarely look the same, but they tend to include a lot of books, art supplies, and time outside.

Kelly facilitates local writing circles for women and children and blogs about nurturing the love of learning on her blog, Curiosity Encouraged. She loves to journal, read memoirs, hike, and travel. She seeks quiet mornings and good coffee daily.