Are you considering homeschooling your child? Before making the switch, there are many things to think about, but one of the most important decisions you'll make is how to transition from public school to homeschooling. Don't worry - we're here to help! In this post, we'll outline some tips for making the transition as smooth as possible for both you and your child. So read on for advice on everything from scheduling to curriculum choices.
How To Make The Transition
Bring Your Kids Into The Conversation.
Get on the same page with your spouse and talk about this decision with your whole family. Share your goals with your children and listen to their excitement and concerns. Identify what you're aiming for, not just what you're trying to avoid in the school setting.
Legally Withdraw Your Child From Public School To Homeschool
This process varies from state to state and system to system. So first, check your state's legal requirements. Typically, a form or document is used to formally withdraw your child from homeschool.
Find A Support Network.
You want supportive friends who can help you during the hard times and celebrate the victories of your homeschool journey. You also want to find places your kids can connect with other homeschoolers. A local homeschool group is often a great way to meet these needs.
Enjoy getting involved, but be careful not to overcommit as you adjust to the new life of homeschooling!
Plan Social Times With Both Old And New Friends
Think as you connect with people from your community. For example, planning playdates with public school friends and new homeschool friends can reassure your kids that they can maintain relationships while making new ones.
Can You Start Homeschooling At Any Time?
You may be wondering about the timing of this switch. Is it best to make this decision between school years so that your child completes one school year in public school and then transitions to homeschooling in the fall with a new school year? This kind of clear-cut division makes sense to many parents and feels like the right way to handle a switch to homeschooling. Unfortunately, fear of quitting keeps many families locked into finishing a school year.
But instead of thinking of each school year as a discrete unit, think of all of life as a learning journey. And then ask if you want to continue even a few days longer with an educational environment that's not working. Then, make the course correction as soon as you realise it needs to be made!
- Can you switch to homeschool in the middle of the year? Absolutely! You can legally make this transition any time of the school year or calendar year. The timing is up to you and your preferences. But if you know you're going to leap, do it as soon as is feasible for your family.
- At what age can you start homeschooling your child? Technically, you've been teaching your kids since birth! Some families do preschool at home and call that homeschooling. Other families don't call it homeschooling until their child would have been obligated to attend school (in kindergarten). Other families initially enrol their children in public school and later opt to homeschool. This change can happen in very early grades, upper elementary, middle school, and even high school. You can start homeschooling at any age or grade.
Don't Recreate School At Home.
Trying to recreate the school environment in the home is an easy trap to fall into. It can happen in your schedule or approach if you try to separate your role of teacher and parent. Homeschooling is an entirely new category!
Give Time To Adjust And De-School.
Give yourself room to breathe! Realise it might take some time to find your groove when switching from public school to homeschool.
Some families take a few weeks (or a couple of months!) to enjoy being together again and work slowly into new routines.
You might start just a couple of subjects at a time and ramp into a full workload.
Consider planning some memory-making fun the first week to celebrate the change to homeschooling and share with your kids a positive vibe. For example, go to the zoo in the middle of the day, or eat doughnuts in your pyjamas. Let it sink in that you can do that now!
Engage Your Child In The Process
Your child is the most important part of this process because it fundamentally affects every aspect of their life. As a result, you'll want your child to feel invested in being homeschooled. Ask them to help you figure out how they learn best. Involve them in curriculum decisions. Let them come to you with suggestions about how they want to be taught, what they'd like to learn, and things they want to incorporate into school.
Have An Adjustment Period
You should take the time to let your child disconnect from school for a little bit, even if it does feel a bit strange. After that, you will both need to start the process of "de-schooling," which is letting go of the idea that your child has to do school the way that public school does. It doesn't mean that your child won't be learning. It just means that you give them some time to readjust.
You can use this time to encourage your child to learn things they are interested in. Let them get used to learning is fun and is not a strict activity. Take them to museums, community events, and the library where they can learn just by the nature of being there.
Once your child has experienced the process of learning without bells and strict schedules, then ease them into their new curriculum. Be willing to change how things work in your homeschool if your child struggles. Consider Tutoring or a different curriculum if the one you're using doesn't work for you.
Engage With Other Homeschool Families
Try to engage with other homeschoolers and their parents. Your child will need social activity, while you may want the additional support of other homeschooling families. You may even learn something new from them!
Parenting is hard enough, but homeschooling is a different level of difficulty. Creating a support system with other homeschool families will ensure that you don't feel lost and hopeless on your homeschool journey. It will allow you to learn from and grow with other like-minded people. This support system can be a lifeline for your child, as well.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Research your state's homeschool laws.
- Check with your statewide homeschooling association.
- Contact your local homeschool support group.
- Consider your homeschool curriculum options.
- Discuss the decision with your child.
Homeschooling allows parents to choose the curriculum and how they teach it. Non-traditional learning has been proven to be a better education system for children.
As a homeschooler, you have the flexibility to start at any time of the year. Most families choose to switch from public to homeschool at the semester break, but you can make the change anytime you feel necessary for your family.
The answer is yes; it is possible to succeed and thrive in your homeschool without ever purchasing an out-of-the-box curriculum of any sort. What is this? Parents feel drawn to the curriculum, and when something stops working, they often jump from one option to another.
Research suggests homeschooled children tend to do better on standardised tests, stick around longer in college, and do better once they're enrolled. For example, a 2009 study showed that the proportion of homeschoolers who graduated from college was about 67%, while among public school students, it was 59%.
Considerations To Make Before Removing Your Child From Public School
Before taking your child out of school, you need to have a game plan. Having a plan will ensure that you eliminate the stress of figuring out your state laws on the fly, what curriculum you might use, and how you'll homeschool your child.
Research Your State Laws
The first step to homeschooling your child is doing research. Take the time to figure out your state's laws and requirements before you take the plunge. You can access this information anytime from the Home School Legal Defence Association, which has a lot of legal homeschool resources.
Once you've discovered what your state laws are, you can begin planning your child's education. Some states have specific qualification criteria for becoming a homeschool teacher. For example, suppose you must take classes to be eligible to homeschool. In that case, you should start by enrolling in those classes, where you'll receive a plethora of information about homeschooling in your state.
Choosing A Homeschool Style
Beyond eligibility criteria and state laws, there are many different ways to homeschool your child. Some parents prefer to have an academic setup at home similar to their child's previous setup at public school. Other parents prefer to throw traditional schooling out the window. It's up to you to decide what you think will work best for your child.
Your homeschooling style will depend on your child's learning style, needs, and interests. For example, some children learn well by reading books and sitting in a quiet environment, while others learn best by doing hands-on things. You'll need to consider your child's strengths and weaknesses when considering what will work best for them.
Take some time to peruse blogs and books from other homeschool parents and discover what types of homeschool methods are there. Get a feel for what you want your homeschooling journey to look like before you jump in. Then, whatever method you choose is up to you. Homeschooling style is a very personal decision for each family. No two families homeschool in the same way.
Choosing A Curriculum
Curriculums can be just as varied as homeschooling styles. There are a variety of pre-made curriculums available for you to choose from, should you want to go that route. However, curriculums don't have to be that cut and dry. If you want to make a tailor-made curriculum or do online schooling, those may be options to consider, as well.
Some curriculum options include:
- Pre-made curriculum that covers all classes/courses
- Online curriculum designed for online schooling
- Patchwork curriculum made up of multiple programs
- Student-led curriculum
- Unit Study curriculum
- Home designed curriculum from a broad set of resources
Each of these curriculum options has its benefits and drawbacks. First, you'll need to decide which option will work best for you. What curriculum you choose may, in part, be decided by your homeschool style. For example, you may not need a formal curriculum if you choose to do unschooling as your homeschool style.
Whatever curriculum you decide to choose should be one that will work for both your child's learning style and your teaching style. For example, a curriculum involving a twice-weekly co-op will not work if you can't take your child to the co-op. On the other hand, a home designed curriculum will take a lot of time and effort to put together. Keep these factors in mind when you decide how to teach your child.
Beyond state laws, homeschool style, and curriculum, there are some smaller factors you should consider. These factors will need to be thought about before you transition from public school to homeschool.
Other considerations include:
Budget - Homeschool is rarely ever a free endeavour. While you can homeschool relatively inexpensively, there are some things that you'll likely have to spend money on. For example, you will probably have to consider purchasing school supplies, curriculum or books, and a computer or tablet. While these aren't strictly necessary to educate your child, they can make the process easier.
Availability - Consider whether or not you'll be available to your child if they have questions or need help with their schoolwork. If you can't set aside time to engage in your child's schoolwork, homeschooling may not be a good fit for you.
Grades And Testing - You'll need to decide how you want to approach these facets of schooling. Some homeschool parents decide not to grade their children's work, while still others wait until middle or high school to give them grades. Some parents test their children, while others don't. Some of this will depend on your state laws, but otherwise, it depends on your preference.
Tutoring - If your child struggles with their homeschool curriculum, you may need outside help. One thing to consider is getting your child a tutor like Remind. Remind Tutoring is a tutoring service for maths that can help your child one-on-one. Here is a guide to what online Tutoring could look like.
Support Systems - Consider how you'll build support systems for you and your child. For example, you won't automatically have built-in babysitting during the day, so you may need to enlist the help of support systems to allow you to get your housework, errands, and other things are done. Your child won't have built-in social interactions either, so you'll have to work harder at getting those needs met.
Implementing Your Homeschool Plan
You may think that you are done once you implement your homeschool plan. On the contrary, your homeschool plan is just the beginning of what will become a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. You may need to reflect on your ideas from time to time to see what's working and what's not. Then you can adjust your plan again to be sure it meets you and your child's needs.
You may discover that the curriculum you purchased was too difficult or too easy for your child and then need to go back to the drawing board. Or perhaps you felt that your child would have more fun learning from unit studies than they did, and so you'd like to try something new. No matter the reason for the change, that's the beauty of homeschooling. You can adapt no matter the challenges it throws at you.
The Cons Of Homeschooling
Yes, you can homeschool while maintaining a full- or part-time job, but you may feel like a juggling clown in a three-ring circus.
"If you don't have a flexible schedule or supportive work environment, homeschooling could be difficult," says Abari, noting that even in the current pandemic climate, some employers are not offering accommodations for parents who work inside or outside the home.
While homeschooling can take on an infinite number of shapes and styles, you still have to be able to do it (and if your kids aren't enrolled in school, they'll be home all day instead). So it would be best to be sure that's possible with your work schedule.
You don't need a master's degree in education to teach your second grader, but you do have to be able to work with them toward a common goal. If your child can't learn to accept you as their teacher—or if you can't stop slipping into "parent mode" during math—then homeschooling might be a year-long exercise in frustration and resentment for you both.
Additionally, some parents and kids have personalities not well-suited for homeschooling. For example, a child who thrives on lots of activity, conversation, and attention might find the quieter social setting of home lonely. Likewise, a parent who struggles to stay organised or manage normal household tasks might become discouraged by the additional responsibilities homeschooling adds to daily life.
If you are considering homeschooling your child or are in the process of transitioning from public school to homeschooling, we hope this article has been helpful. It can be a big change for both parents and children, but it can be an immensely rewarding experience for all involved with careful planning and preparation.