Even though our homeschooled kids might not have new classrooms to find or new teachers to get used to, each homeschool year brings plenty of changes. Maybe you’re trying a new curriculum or you’re joining a co-op. Maybe your kids take online classes, local classes, or—like me—you have children from your community joining you in your home for the first time.
Change is constant, and for many kids, it can come as a challenge. Helping our kids meet the change and transition of new routines is important.
Getting into a New Routine
Chances are your homeschool routine shifts, at least a little, each year. Kids can be creatures of habit, even when the change is fun and more engaging. Kids, like all of us, appreciate having some autonomy over how they spend their days, and they need time to adjust.
My kids and I discuss and tweak our homeschool rhythm every season. It helps things stay fresh and gives us time to try new things. We don’t change everything though. We enjoy reading together at lunch, find screen time works best in the afternoon, and we do math in the morning. These routines work well for us so there is no reason to change them.
Starting a New Class
Getting out of the house is hard enough. Add in a new start time or the anxiety of new classmates, and it can be downright painful.
It’s important we try to anticipate what our child might need and plan in extra time.
What does your child need to get out of the house on a normal day?
What brings them comfort?
Are they excited about this change?
Are they nervous?
In my house, it helps if we begin prepping the night before. My children pack up the things they need to take to their homeschool co-op class and leave them near the door. We make sure their favorite clothes are clean. We talk about what they’ll want for breakfast and lunch so I can have it all ready for them when they come downstairs.
When Children Are Anxious
For the last four years, my daughter has consistently attended the same homeschool co-op classes. Even though the class times and days, teachers and friends, are often the same, coming out of summer or winter break and back into a routine is an adjustment for her. New experiences, playdates, and field trips can also challenge her.
She has a hard time finding clothes that feel comfortable, wants to bring a certain item with her (whichever one she can’t find) and needs gentle pushes to get out the door.
Reading together or doing something calming and fun before we go somewhere or start something new.
Giving her plenty of time to get ready.
Making sure she’s not hungry.
Being okay with anxiety, and not trying to take her feelings away or dismiss them. I avoid saying things like, “Don’t be silly. There is nothing to worry about.” Instead, I confirm what I’m hearing or seeing, “It’s hard to get back into a new routine. It’s so frustrating when you can’t find what you’re looking for.”
Giving her a choice about leaving the house, but letting her know if she wants to go, we need to leave now. (This might not work with all children. My child often wants to go wherever we are going enough that when I say, “I’m getting in the car” she joins me.)
Having a little symbol of love to take with them. I can’t tell you how many little hearts I’ve drawn with marker on my children’s wrists. Although it's a tiny reminder that they are loved, they often exhale and smile before the ink is even dry.
The tone we set during times of change and transition also matters. Play fun music, make a child’s favorite breakfast, and make sure you have enough time to get ready and not feel rushed. It’s important I have time to myself before my kids get up so no matter what our day holds, I feel ready to be with them. I’ve learned too many times that if I am stressed, frantically looking for supplies, not ready to leave or start a lesson on time, there is no way my children will be ready either. Taking the time to plan and anticipate what our families need can help us all move into new routines a little more smoothly.
About the Author
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.