At our house, back to school is not easy.
My kids do not look forward to getting back to a school routine after a long break. My kids thrive on routine, and any change in routine requires a period of adjustment.
Over the years, I’ve created a few routines and ideas for helping kids who struggle with routine changes get back into school without creating stress, fears, or tears.
How to Ease the Transition Back to School after a Long Break
Use these tips to make your own back-to-school experience happier!
1. Start with the Fun Stuff
My daughter’s favorite subject is science. She loves conducting experiments and learning about how the world works. She is a lot more likely to be responsive to a change in routine if that routine involves her favorite activity–science projects. I always try to plan a fun activity for our first day back to school.
Another option is playing educational games. There are lots of games that can be used to teach math, science, geography, history, and more! This is a fun way to get back into structured activities that your children will look forward to.
2. Create a Routine and Stick with It
Since routine is so important to my kids, they are much more accepting of getting back to school when we follow a strict routine. My eldest, “Monkey,” likes to create her own routine, so I include her in the new semester plan. She likes to assign a specific time and order for each subject in school. If she is allowed that control, she is much happier about the return to school.
Some families do better when they plan an order for the day but not necessarily a strict schedule. In other words, you might decide to create a flow for your day so that your children know what comes next, but you might not want to assign strict times for each subject or other activity.
3. Start Small
After long breaks like Christmas break and summer break, we often start small and gradually increase our school to the full load over the course of a week. For example, on Monday we might do science and math. Then on Tuesday, we add English. On Wednesday, we add a couple more subjects until by Friday we are doing every subject. The slow build-up keeps it from being overwhelming to the children and to me.
4. Have One-on-One Time
My kids start to act out when they do not get enough one-on-one time. During a holiday break, they spend a lot of time playing on their own but get less parent face time. My kids respond well to one-on-one time, and I bet yours do too! However, if I ask them to do something alone (a hard school assignment or a difficult chore), they will get upset and – inevitably- conflict will occur. After a break, my kids like to see me right there in the trenches with them, either offering hands-on guidance in school, reading something to them, or doing chores together.
5. Spend Time in Review
Sometimes it seems that my kids forget an entire grade level during a long break. I know this is why many families choose to homeschool year-round, but for us it works better to take breaks during holidays and summer. If you feel like year-round homeschooling might work well for your family, though, our article, 10 Reasons Why Year-Round Homeschooling Is a Great Idea, will give you some information and even free printables to use for planning.
When school starts again, it helps make things easier if…well, if it is easy! I often go back and have the kids work on things they haven’t forgotten in order to build up their confidence before giving them something new to learn. This has worked well for us in preventing meltdowns and stress during the return to school. Many curriculum programs even have this review system built right into the textbooks.
These simple strategies have worked for us as we transition back to school after a long break. I find a little foresight goes a long way!
NOTE: If you’re struggling with getting back to school because of feeling burned out, please read Dear Burned Out Homeschool Mom. I think it will be an encouragement to you and will give you some strategies for dealing with burnout and hopefully preventing it from happening in the future.
Do you have ideas for easing the transition back to school after a long break? Please share your tips in the comments!