As annoying as they can be at times, there is something preparatory about morning routines, commutes, even car lines, and school bells. Kids who go to brick and mortar schools have a fairly extensive transition routine from being in bed to being fully engaged in learning. The transition at our home typically involves shouting up the stairs, “School starts in ten minutes so get your rear down here.” Admittedly, that’s a little abrupt and not a super positive way to start the day. We can do better. You might try some of these ideas with us this coming year. I think you will find a little planned transition between pajamas and calculus will improve the morning learning time. Here are ten ideas for transitioning into the school day.
1. Get dressed
An easy way to mark the transition from not school to school is simply to put on a new set of clothes. Of course, you can get dressed according to your predetermined policies. You might have uniforms and you might decide to change into another set of pajamas is enough. It is really about the transition and using that activity to bring us closer to being mentally and emotionally ready for school.
2. Go for a walk
Maybe leaving the house and coming back in makes for a good transition for your crew. It could be a family walk or, if the kids are of appropriate age, they can go on their own and give you a few minutes to breathe. If the weather isn’t cooperative, you could drive around the block, drive through the coffee shop, or some other quick trip. The idea is to leave and then re-enter.
3. Make breakfast a fun lesson
If you are making breakfast before school, you could turn it into a quick and light lesson. Science and math are easy pickings, but you could also tackle something simple like manners. If you do a little research and a little preparation you could get creative. Make founding father pancakes, for example. Jefferson and Franklin are rumored to have had favorite griddle recipes.
4. Have a family convocation
Have everyone start by meeting in the living room or your bed or anywhere else you like and have your own family get together. It could be a simple time of reading a poem, singing a song, or talking through the plans for the day. You could have more formal components like saying the pledge or some devotional time. With a little planning, the kids could take turns leading this transition as well.
5. Assign a writing prompt
In an English class of mine many eons ago, I started every class with a short writing prompt. The prompt would be on the board or their desk and the exercise was taught to be about five minutes of essentially continuous writing. No unnecessary emphasis on the organization or even grammar and punctuation and strictly no revising. The goal is just to get the brain warmed up. You might extend the transition by having your student(s) share what they wrote.
6. Do a puzzle
My wonderful fifth-grade teacher started every day (or at least to my recollection) with a Rebus Puzzle. Plenty of options here because the goal is just to create a halfway space between home and home school.
If you mix it up a bit with your transitions, how about Thank You Thursday? What better way to start off something we’re not always incredibly grateful for than with a reminder of things for which we are grateful. Multiple rounds may be in order and don’t forget to include yourself.
8. Breathing exercises
Some days this option may quite useful. Teach your kids to box breath and then do 1 minute before you dive into some work.
9. The illusion of choice
How about transitioning from not schooling to schooling by allowing your students to choose something to do. Perhaps they can choose between 1) finishing some work from the day before, 2) reading or re-reading a selection you’ve marked, or 3) writing spelling words for the week. Remember: one is a command, two is a dilemma and three creates the illusion of choice.
10. Write goals
Before you get started, you could simply have everyone write two or three goals for the day. Perhaps they don’t even end up having anything to do with school. If John writes a goal to play outside on the trampoline, then perhaps the challenge is to stay on task with school so that can happen.
You are likely to develop additional transition plans which work for your kids and your situation but allowing for some space between being at home and being “at school” can make those first minutes or lessons of your school day just a little easier.
HomeschoolFacts.com has a complete list of support groups to help support you in your homeschooling endeavors and connect with homeschoolers near you. You can search the list of support groups here: https://www.homeschoolfacts.com/homeschool-support-groups.html
Nathan Manley is a certified teacher and coach with a master’s degree in education. He has taught multiple subjects, every age group, and from Jamaica to California. Between his three children, his family has experience with public school, private school, charter schools, hybrid programs, and full-time homeschool. He believes music and film produced after 1989 is “meh.”