Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Transitional Homeschooling

What is “Transitional Homeschooling”?  It is the type of homeschooling you do, anytime your life is in transition.  I can think of several times..
- New baby
-Caring for a chronically ill child
-You or your husband have a chronic illness
- Caring for an aging parent.
- Job changes- schedule changes
I am sure there are many other reasons, but this is a fairly good sample of possibilities.

It all begins well.. at the beginning!

Why are you homeschooling?

This answer will be different for each family. For me some of the reasons we have homeschooled, is to instill a love for God , a love of learning and a  love for family. I want my children to grow up seeking knowledge, having the tools in their tool belts to learn what they need learn as they face life’s adventures.

How you handle your transitional homeschooling will entirely be based on how you answered that question. There is NO WRONG ANSWER!

Once you have looked at the goals of your homeschool  and depending on the age of your children, transitional homeschooling can actually be very freeing. Generally during transitions, you will find that you strip down the fluff and stick to the basics. 

Our family happens to be a family that loves field trips and hands on activities, but truth be told, when you are struggling through a transition, these are not the best years for learning in that fashion.

In our 13 year homeschool career, we have gone through many transitions

Our Transitions

In our home we have dealt with….
~ A Chronically Ill Child
~ My Father Battled Cancer and Passed Away
~ My husband lost his job
~ I am now currently working outside the home
~ I currently have children at home, in school and in college..

In all honesty.. I think we have been homeschooling through transitions.. our whole homeschool career!

Depending on the Transition… your game plan will be different!

Before we go any further… whether you are going through a transition or not, you must bathe your homeschool in prayer. However, it is especially important that you seek the Lord’s face when you are facing transition, to ensure that you are not making rushed, emotional decisions.

The Transition is the Lesson

Before we get into the nuts and bolts of still ‘schooling’ through the transition, I encourage you to look at the transition as the lesson. No matter what the transition is, there are life lessons that are sure to be learned during it.

It’s okay to take a break from academics. This is real life! Sometimes- life really is the lesson!

New Baby- caring for sick child- sick parent- or you are sick- moving… these are times when you can consider making the transition itself can be the lesson. It will be a passing transition, and the life lessons that can be learned here are great.

When you are caring for an aging or dying parent, or even in my case, where I was simply making my dad a priority, you are teaching your children a wonderful lesson. Compassion. Prioirtizing. Putting what’s first, first. I am so thankful that when my father was battling cancer, that I was able to have the time to spend with him, without worry of a ‘school’ schedule. Sure academically, it was not our most productive. But rather than feeling behind, we picked up where we left off. We worked and played, and spent time with the person we loved so much. Even though they were small, they were seeing all of this.

Another thing to remember is when you are dealing with stressful transitions, your children feel the stress, and they feel your stress. And during times like this, you cannot expect them to have the best school year of their life. For some of these situations, getting through, is half the battle.


I remember focusing on bible time and prayer, because I needed it so much, and so did the kids. Academically, we concentrated on reading, when we did do our work. And then we supplemented with audio/video learning that could either be done in the car, or while I was working on something else.

Learn to at minimum accept help when it is offered… perhaps even get comfortable asking for help.

Are there classes that are taught by your homeschool group/ co-op that you can take advantage of during the crisis?

Is there a good friend who homeschools their kids, willing to take you child under their wing for a subject or two?  Are there friends, or kids of friends, that can come clean your house, or do yard work, so you can focus on the important things.

Take a look at what you have been covering.

Find resources that can help you teach those subjects.
When you have wee ones in the home, I would recommend lots of reading.. on the couch, or in the bed, read together as a family.  If you have readers.. all the way through high school, this may be  a way that your older kids can help with the little ones… sharing the reading responsibilities, have them help out with helping the little ones learn their reading as well.

Watching educational videos, lots of discussion.. you can watch a movie/documentary, have them write about, or dictate, or draw what they learned..

Now,  when your children are older, in junior high and high school, (feeling like you don’t have the time to take off) you will want to give them, perhaps, a more traditional type of education, even if that is not what you are typically used to. During transitions, it is not the time to rethink the wheel. You are going to want to look for something, laid out for you.. that they can independently work on their own, with minimal help from you.

Nuts and Bolts of Transitional Homeschooling

Take a day, or a weekend, and plan what you and your children are going to cover. All those grand ideas you have in your head will better serve your family, once they are on paper.. or in a planner of sorts! 

There is a saying, what gets planned, gets done!  This will also help the kids know what's on the agenda, in an otherwise, perhaps stressful time!

Use workbooks for the basics.. to keep their math skills intact.. and handwriting or vocabulary, whatever basic skills you want them to keep working on, get them some workbooks to keep working on..

For grades 3 and up, there is Switched on Schoolhouse. You can spend an afternoon or weekend to get all set up and then have them continue working pretty independently.

MathTutor DVD – now this has helped us all along, even when not in transition, however, this is a great tool, when mom’s time is limited. These DVD’s can help your student by coaching them through their math. Now, this is not designed to go along with one particular curriculum, it will strictly teach the concepts.

At our local mom's night last night, one of our mom's, (Thanks, Gina!) reminded us how helpful Teaching Textbooks is.  You can learn more about them by visiting their website.. 

Los Angeles County Library One on One Live Tutoring – if you have a LA County Library card you can use this service! Live tutors will help you online with your homework!
If you are not in LA County, check with your local library.

Utilize Netflix or Amazon, for Documentaries on historical and sometimes scientific topics that you are studying.

There is a great company called ZeeZok, that actually sells study guides that go with movies, classic movies and newer movies, that turns them into an educational opportunity. We have used several of them, and quite enjoy them.

WORKBOX Type learning

Check Pinterest for some great ideas - http://pinterest.com/search/pins/?q=workbox

This is great for transitional homeschooling as you can gather up everything for each child, stick it into a box of your choosing. You can even set up an ‘appointment’ box – for appointment, or errands.. and a reward box to inspire them to help the family with their good natured obedient behavior!

Time 4 Learning
 Online fee-based curriculum through the 8th grade. May not be complete, but it has quite a bit available. And the kids can do this independently. Not Christian.

Khan Academy
Tutorials through highschool  Math, History, Science
Test Prep, Computer Science, Art History

Subscription service (fee) unlimited audio book rental

If your kids are small, I would recommend playing educational games to help them with their basics. Chances are if there is a lot going on, you are going to be limited on time you can spend with kids. Might as well have fun, while learning!
Rainbow Resource has a whole host of games.

List of Top Ten Educational Games

Don’t sweat the small stuff. Lean on God.  Trust Him!
Remember, He made our children very resilient!