Encouragement Homeschooling

How to Ease the Transition Back to School after a Long Break

At our house, back to school is not easy.

My kids do not look forward to getting back to school 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 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!

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.

Create a Routine and Stick with It

Since routine is so important to my kids, when we follow a strict routine my kids are much more accepting of school. My eldest, Monkey, in particular likes to create her own routine.

I include her in the new semester plan. She likes to assign a specific time and order for each subject in school, and if she is allowed that control, she is much happier about the return to school.

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.

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, but if I ask them to do something alone (a hard school assignment or a difficult chore), they will get upset and 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.

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.

When school starts again, it helps 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 in preventing conflict and burnout when school starts up again, particularly after Christmas break or summer break.

Do you have ideas for easing the transition back to school after a long break? Please share your tips in the comments! 

About the author


Brenda is a professional writer and homeschooling mother to two girls in Dallas, TX; with a passion for books, DIY, and creative education. Her blog, www.schoolingamonkey.com, is all about homeschooling, crafts, green living, and fun. Keep up with the fun here!


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  • Really great post, thank you for sharing.
    My kiddo’s thrive on routine as well, the last few weeks the routine has been gone.
    We are looking forward to getting back to it, but I know it won’t be easy going at first. Always some bumps in the road.
    Love the start small tip.
    Thanks for sharing.

  • This year we did A LOT of traveling over Christmas break, and returned home Sunday evening. With being gone, we really needed to get some rest and get our house back in order. This week, we are focusing on life skills… Learning how to organize, learning what to purge and what to do with it (trash or donate). It’s giving us enough work to be busy and engaged and still recoup from all the travels. I think next week will be a smoother transition back into school after a week of having to do lists and goals.

  • I think getting back into the routine is the best way 🙂 I school year round, so taking that extra time to adjust is easy. Jumping right back into things after any type of break – Christmas, Easter, Vacation, etc – isn’t worth the frustration. Homeschool is about the HOME first – then the school.