Moving home is said to be one of the most stressful life events, ranking alongside divorce, loss of employment, and long-term illness. However, moving – whether to a neighbouring suburb, a different province, or abroad – can also present wonderful new opportunities, including new jobs, new friends, and new possibilities!
While the period immediately before and after a move is stressful for any family, it can be doubly so for those educating their children at home as all the packing and preparation happens with your children around.
Although moving takes up an incredible amount of time and energy, it does not mean that learning has to come to a halt when you are planning a move. In fact, the flexibility of home education becomes an added blessing during this potentially stressful time.
Another great advantage of home education is that when you move, your children don’t have to change schools. While their surroundings may change, their approach to learning will largely stay the same. What may change are extracurricular activities, as you may have to find new places for your children to take art classes, play sport, or study music. This, however, is part and parcel of moving for all families.
Here are a few things to consider when moving:
- Teach creatively: look for alternate ways to engage your children while you are buried neck-deep in boxes. Helpful options include audiobooks, documentaries, educational content on the internet, or maybe even a ‘substitute teacher’ (ask a friend or family member to present a few lessons).
- Stick with the basics: do not try to do an entire day of subjects if it is going to stress everyone out. Focus on one or two subjects like Mathematics or English, then get packing.
- Pack like a pro: when you pack, clearly label your children’s books and lesson material. This will allow you to grab the required box at your new house easily when you are ready to start teaching.
- Involve your children: there are so many life skills involved in moving – organising, planning, etc. – making it a perfect opportunity to teach your children valuable life lessons.
- Take a farewell tour: visit any favourite playgrounds, museums, or other special places around town before the move, and enjoy a final meal at your favourite restaurant (remember to take plenty of photos).
- Learn about your new area: let your children do researchabout your new area. They can look at different communities, places to visit, and activities to try once you are settled.
- Bring a backpack: your children may feel stressed on the day of the move, so let them pack a few favourite items in a backpack that they can carry with them. Included items could be a blanket, toy, book – whatever brings them comfort. Also include items to help pass the travel time, such as materials for drawing or games.
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- Keep a watchful eye: moving is a big deal. Children who are home educated may have smoother transitions in some ways, but moving does represent a transformation in life. Even if your children are excited about the move, there are still plenty of emotions to work through: sadness about leaving friends and familiar places, anticipation about what is coming, and possibly apprehension, fear, and anxiety about the unknown. If your child displays unusual behaviour – sadness, moping, crying, yelling, defiance, hyperactivity, or inattentiveness – try to be understanding and supportive rather than punitive.
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- Take a breather: flexibility is one of the keystones of homeschooling, so use it to your advantage during a stressful situation such as moving. Know that things will be different for a while, and that is perfectly fine. In fact, it is part of life. So, take a few days off to allow your children and yourself to adjust, explore, and get things unpacked.
Learning to adjust and adapt to change is just as important as any academic subject. Home education allows your children the freedom and flexibility to learn these necessary life skills. It also gives your family time together to work through the emotions associated with change. So, try to be present and include your kids in the process because there is much to learn during a move!
By Danielle Barfoot