Homeschooling Through Frequent Moves

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In eight years we moved six times.

  • twice to a different country

  • three times to a different province

  • once to a different apartment in the same city

Twice we gave up beloved pets. Every time we lost friends.

Two of those moves were forced upon us rather suddenly. One of those moves – the last one – happened with the span of 72 hours. In three days’ time we discovered we had to leave, packed what we could, and were out of the country.

Transition became a theme of my life and a word to dread.

I still can’t pass a stack of cardboard boxes without evaluating their capacity to hold, move, or ship my belongings. I find it hard to throw away the original boxes for anything I buy because I might need them for packing one day.

I understand the challenge of homeschooling through frequent moves. Through that entire eight year period and the years afterwards, I have homeschooled my daughter. We had lessons in hotels, in guest houses, on buses, and on trains. Our books were often in trunks or backpacks instead of neatly organized on shelves.

Homeschooling is difficult when you move frequently.

Our games, books, and art supplies were packed; we didn’t have access to libraries. We were living with the stressors of frequently starting over, setting up a new home, and making new friends. We were grieving the loss of all we left behind.

But through those terribly painful times, I have learned that homeschooling through frequent moves is also a huge blessing.

Homeschool is a Constant in a Life of Change

Throughout our moves, homeschooling was a constant that we could rely on. The content of our lessons may have varied depending on where we were or what materials were in storage, but having school offered a structure to our constantly changing routine. Sometimes doing school was the only sure thing in the day. I relished that oasis of normality in the midst of a life that was always throwing curveballs at me.

Homeschooling meant that we could continue learning while on the road, in between homes, and during upheaval. With a novel and a math workbook in my tote bag, we could be mobile homeschoolers.

At the end of the day, if we did a little math or reading, I could reassure myself that I had accomplished something important.

After our most traumatic move, we were back in America with the option of public school. Some well-meaning friends and family assumed I would take this break and send my daughter to school. No, homeschooling was the only familiar thing in my child’s life at the time. I would not take that away from her, too. Homeschooling was something normal in a huge sea of churning transitions. It was a blessing to homeschool through our moves.

Homeschool Means Emotional Health

Homeschooling meant that I was there for the emotional meltdowns. Because I was with my daughter nearly all the time, I knew how she was coping and was there to comfort and speak truth into the situation.

I was aware of the warning signs that another teacher would not have seen – a sullen mood, a teary eye, a lethargic attitude. And because I was going through the transitions right beside her, I understood in a way that an outsider could not.

When the stress or grief was too much (for either of us), I had the full freedom to toss out academics and tend to the heart. Even on the book side of learning, I had control over what we read. I omitted emotionally wrenching novels in favor of more uplifting, empowering, and humorous titles.

We never ignored our feelings. We talked, cried, and talked more. Homeschooling meant we had the time with each other to invest in the parent-child relationship. I made grieving and processing our transitions a priority equal to multiplication and vocabulary.

Addressing the Academics

I agonized over her academics and the lost months when we could not have school. I was plagued with fear of failing her as a teacher.

Unfounded. All unfounded.

God ordained our multiple moves, and he extended grace to turn the evil into good. I was faithful to do what I could when I could – a math worksheet here, a word game there. And God multiplied my humble loaves and fishes. My child is academically on track. If you are in the midst of a big move or even a series of moves, let go of the guilt. Homeschooling is a blessing in that situation not a liability.

The Glory in the Affliction

I would not wish my six moves in eight years on another family. But I do wish you could know the amazing treasure that came out of that time.

Through those years, we lost our home, our possessions, our pets, and even our friends, but we always had each other. Frequent loss instilled in me and my daughter the value of being together, the supreme importance of people over things, and the urgency to cherish every moment.

My daughter has a sense of compassion for the outsider like no other child her age and even most adults I know. She has been that person time and time again, so she knows how to treat a newcomer with genuine attention that does not embarrass.

Trust that even in the frequent moves, homeschooling is a blessing.


Jimmie LanleyJimmie Lanley is the mother of one creative teenaged daughter. Living abroad in China necessitated the original choice to homeschool. But now that she and her family are back in Tennessee, Jimmie can’t imagine any other way to educate her middle schooler. Jimmie’s Collage is where she blogs about her Charlotte Mason styled homeschool. In the early years, Jimmie’s lesson plans were full of hands-on activities and lapbooks. As the years passed, she began using more and more notebooking and became so passionate about the method that she created her second blog, The Notebooking Fairy. That site features free notebooking printables and how-tos plus the affordable eBook guide Notebooking Success. Jimmie is co-owner of iHomeschool Network, a social media company.


  1. This is really encouraging. We are getting ready to move across the U.S. within a matter of months and I needed to read this. If you can move eight times in six years, some internationally, I have nothing to complain about. Thanks for encouraging me today, putting my mind at ease and showing that it CAN be done. I’ve recently started following your blogs, etc. Looking forward to reading more. –Brenda

  2. I’m reading this months after you posted it, but I am so blessed to have found it. My family just moved in May, then had a couple roommates move out in July (shaking up our bedroom situation and allowing us to finally get the majority of our belongings out of storage), and now we are preparing for another move. The chaos of it all has really had me questioning whether I could handle homeschooling, even though I feel very strongly that it’s right for my daughter. You’ve given me some piece of mind. So maybe I just need to toss my plan out the window and stick to making sure we just do something together everyday and keep reading to her. She’s only six. I shoulld probably stop worrying that a time of chaos now will destroy her education forever.

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