Anyone who has homeschooled for more than one hour knows that interruptions are part of the job description.
On my good days, I try and embrace the interruptions – the many opportunities for real life training and modeling grace and patience. I totally agree with the writer of this post who said, “Interruptions are not obstacles to our plan; they are opportunities for us to embrace God’s plan.” So true.
But some seasons bring so many interruptions – so much chaos – it just seems impossible to maintain any semblance of order or sanity, much less get any meaningful homeschooling done.
Over the past four years, we’ve renovated nearly our entire home, room by room. Home renovations are definitely one of those chaos-inflicting seasons – but there ARE things you can do to make it through.
How to Homeschool Successfully During a Home Renovation
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AVOID Problems When You Can
For a lot of reasons, you won’t always have the luxury of deciding when a construction project will happen. But if you do have some control over the timing, remember your homeschool is a high priority. If the bulk of construction can happen during the summer or other break weeks, you can avoid some of the school conflicts altogether!
We were able to begin our big main level renovation (kitchen, dining & living room) in April and it ran through early September – most of it happened over summer.
DECIDE If You’ll Stay Or Go
Leaving wasn’t really an option for us, but many people choose (or need) to leave the house entirely during their renovation. This might be a great option but it will depend on your situation and preferences.
On one hand, leaving will minimize the sore throat you’ll get from yelling over hammering noises during read-alouds. But, on the other hand, will you be able to get your kids to stop jumping on the hotel beds long enough to finish their math? Take some time to think through the pros and cons of staying and going with YOUR family in mind.
PREPARE Ahead As Much As Possible
It’s hard enough homeschooling on top of regular life stuff. Once you add in a big home renovation (or even a small one) everything gets exponentially more complicated. Think ahead further than you normally do to make life easier once the project starts. You’ll thank yourself later!
- Schedule upcoming appointments for the dentist and well-child doctor visits before construction starts so you’re all caught up for a while.
- Minimize outside responsibilities. Construction is unpredictable and you’ll often need to be available at home or at least by phone. If you can arrange it, take some time off from volunteer or work positions. At the very least, don’t try to tackle any new responsibilities!
- Prepare your kids for what lies ahead. Especially for younger kids or sensitive ones, talk about areas that will be demolished and rebuilt, how things will be different, how the renovation will change your routines, etc. Show them videos or pictures of other construction projects and workers so they know what to expect.
- Mentally walk through your day as you set up your temporary kitchen or temporary homeschool spaces. Pack-up non-essentials and try to find ways to create some order in your spaces so your project-months aren’t filled with “I can’t find any pencils” and other preventable, chaos-induced disruptions.
- Think of special areas for pets or kids that will be disrupted by the construction and try to provide a new temporary alternative. Maybe even invest in a special pop-up tent or reading nook canopy that they can use as their own private retreat from the chaos.
- Put away school stuff that might be damaged. Drywall dust doesn’t discriminate. It settles on special artwork, expensive microscopes, electronic globes and clarinets alike. And don’t think that just shutting a door will help! Invest in some plastic storage bins with tight-fitting lids to protect your stuff.
MOBILIZE Your School Space
Don’t be fooled…. even if the construction isn’t IN your schoolroom, you’ll still be affected by the renovation! The noise, dust and debris gets everywhere. Plus, you might have temporarily-relocated things from other rooms encroaching on your usual work space (a microwave on the school table is fun at snack-time but otherwise kind of a nuisance).
When our project WAS the downstairs schoolroom…
… I planned ahead to set up our school base camp in a temporary spot.
But during our main-level/kitchen renovation, I was totally caught off guard. Partway through the project, we found out a week of electrical work would need to be done in our school area (on our lower level)!
If you can make your school room portable, this kind of unexpected event won’t be as disruptive.
- Use portable bins, baskets or backpacks to hold supplies and school books.
- If your usual whiteboard or chalkboard is permanently attached to the wall, get some inexpensive small whiteboards or a tabletop easel board you can move around as needed.
- Try using a rolling cart (I love this one) so you can organize your school stuff and relocate as the work migrates.
- Use portable desks, like these, for instant workspaces.
- Keep checklists or papers for the day together with clipboards. They double as a writing surface and some, like this one, can hold papers and pens, too, so each kid can carry supplies with them no matter which room you’re in.
- Find ideas from others who homeschool on-the-go for different reasons. For example, the book Carschooling has TONS of ideas for organizing and implementing a ‘portable school’ – helpful whether you’re going cross-country in an RV or upstairs to avoid the electrician.
CREATE Temporary Rules & Routines
Flexibility is key during a construction project.
No one can predict the delays and schedule changes that will inevitably happen. And, even on days that are going according to plan, there will still be nail guns, excessive phone calls and chatty contractors that repeatedly throw you off.
To overcome these interruptions, try to create loose schedules and routines that can accommodate the complete and utter unpredictability of a renovation project:
- If you can, shift baby’s nap to coincide with the contractor’s usual lunch time. If not, use a white noise machine (or get this app) to cover up the power drilling.
- Take advantage of other locations more often – a grandparent’s home, a local park, the library – anywhere there isn’t hammering!
- Whenever possible, take your work outside! When you’re planning out a year that you know will involve home projects, intentionally include more outdoor-friendly topics like plants and animals or rocks and minerals (and save the “kitchen science” unit until you have a functional kitchen)!
- Change up your usual schedule. We ended up doing more of our easy/fun subjects during construction hours and saved our heavy-concentration things for late afternoon, once the crew left for the day.
- Have plans B & C ready in your back pocket. Accept that your Plan A for each day WILL be interrupted. So have busy boxes, activity books, easy crafts and educational videos and other ideas at the ready. Then your kids won’t waste the day away while you’re making calls to track down the fridge that was supposed to be delivered yesterday.
- Don’t use your screen-time willy-nilly – be intentional! Especially if you have family limits for TV shows, computer time or video games, save it for times when you need kid-free time to talk over details with your contractor or walk through the project with the inspector.
- Set clear expectations for your kids. If there are physical areas off limits or construction materials not to touch, don’t assume they already know. If routines are changing, let them know ahead of time.
Before we started homeschooling, I worked in the architecture and construction industry. In all those years I never once witnessed a construction project that took less time than scheduled — so pace yourself for inevitable delays!
It will all be worth it in the end!!
Expect the unexpected, do what you can to prepare ahead and you’ll be well on your way to homeschooling through even the most daunting home renovation.
Check out the next post to discover the most important way to homeschool successfully in the midst of construction!
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