Advice for New Homeschoolers Just Taking Their Kids Out of Public School

advice for new homeschoolers

We haven’t always been homeschoolers.  As a matter of fact, when my kids were very small, I thought the idea of homeschooling was ridiculous.  I hated the thought of sending my kids off to school, but as an education major in college, I just thought it was crazy to think of parents teaching their own kids.  That’s why I was paying all that money to a college, right?

When the time came to send my kids off to school, I did.  I felt sad to send them, but it seemed like the nature progression.  Because my boys went to a developmental preschool through our school corporation, they actually both started school at three years old.

As time went on, however, I thought about homeschooling.  Still, I didn’t plan to do it.  But, when a number of things happened that felt like specific calls from God to give it a try, we answered with a, “we’ll commit to one year, Lord.”

This meant that we pulled our boys out of public school after they finished 1st and 2nd grades.  (Molly had not yet started preschool, though she did go for a year during our first year of homeschooling.)

Here are some little pieces of advice for parents who find themselves beginning to homeschool after their children have already been in the public (or private) schools.

Important Note: When I’m talking about the advice, I in no way think that public or private schools are bad.  I have two degrees in education, for goodness sakes.  I sent my kids to school.  I went to school and turned out just fine.  My kids just needed more individual attention to thrive that I couldn’t have expected from a teacher charged with teaching a whole class.  So, if you send your kids to school, please know that our choice to homeschool is no judgement that your choice to send your kids to school is wrong.

What I Would Tell a New Homeschooler Taking Their Children Out of Public School

Take Time to Deschool

Deschooling is a period of time in which children are given the opportunity to get out of the mentality of public (or private) schooling.  Advice is to spend a month doing this for every year that your child was in school.  (It is likely that since you probably went to school for at least 13 years, if you didn’t go to college, that you also have that public school mentality.)  During this time, you’re supposed to let kids do whatever they want, very much in a very unstructured unschooling type of set up.

Did I do this?

No, I did not.  We probably needed it, but we just didn’t do it.  (I figure I’m the worst offender though, and I don’t have 20 months to try to get rid of my twenty years of K – 12 and two college degrees.)

Prepare Yourself for Changing Your Mind

The summer that we prepared to begin homeschooling, I often regretted our decision.  I had a need to go to their school for something and saw the class lists posted.  I couldn’t help but look for their names (since we had not officially removed them from the school).  My heart sank when I saw that they both had the teachers that I wanted them to have.

I lamented online, “They both got amazing teachers for next year.”

Someone said to me, “You know what?  I heard that they already have an amazing teacher lined up for next year.”

I needed that.  I needed to be reminded not to give up before I had even started.

Prepare Yourself for Your Kids Changing Their Minds

It’s probably not personal if your kids get upset, even if they were 100% on board, and say they want to go back to school as the school year nears (or first starts).  Don’t beat yourself up.

Tell the kids that you are asking them to stick it out for a certain period of time.  A month?  A semester?  A year?  Whatever.  Let them know that this is just a transitional time, and it will get better.

(Like wise, even if they are enjoying homeschool, don’t be offended if they make comparisons between it and public school.  Or, when they say, “This isn’t the way that Mrs. Smith did it.” Just remind yourself,  “This too shall pass.”)

One Child May Not Like Homeschooling

This goes along with the above.  It was probably just the twist that kept us homeschooling instead of me giving up and putting the kids back in during just the first few weeks of school.

While one child wanted to go back, another was already in love with homeschooling.  I didn’t want to have some in school and some not, so it toughened my resolve.  But, it was hard when one wanted to go back.

If this happens, however, talk to that child about what you can do to make it better.  I found that that child (Jack) really just wanted to be involved with other kids, he didn’t miss the actual schooling.  When I assured him that our school year activities just hadn’t started up yet, that helped a lot.

You Will Have a Transitional Time

Even if you jump right into homeschooling, this is a transitional time for everyone.

If your children are old enough, you can also explain to them that this new journey is beginning with a lot of transitions.  Everyone will need to be patient (with themselves and with others), and everyone is going to need to show a lot of compassion.

You May Want to Change Your Curriculum

Without having the experience of how your children learn (at least not in the way you will come to understand it) or what your preferences are, you may find that you invest money into a curriculum that doesn’t work for you.

I bought an all-inclusive curriculum and couldn’t stand it.  I wish I would have been more understanding with myself that it was okay to switch.  Instead, we trudged through it for months before I finally gave up with it.  It made those first few months longer than they should have been.

You Should Have Something in Place for Downtime

If you don’t, it might just happen that one day early on, you will get so stressed that as soon as your husband walks in the door, you will stomp out saying that you’re done with this.  You may take a long walk around your neighborhood, only to come home to find your children in tears and your husband saying that the kids have agreed to go back to school, if Mom really wants them to do so.

You might feel like a big jerk.  You know, theoretically, if all that happened to you.

Plan with your spouse how you will get some downtime.  In particular, you will need this while you transition to this new lifestyle.

Find a Support System of Other Homeschoolers

This made all the difference to us, and it still does.  My kids have friends that are in public school, private school, and that are homeschooled.  While they like them all, they take comfort in knowing other kids that understand what it’s like to be homeschooled.

As a Mom, I definitely take comfort in having friends that homeschool their children.  They understand the joys, the challenges, and the general mentality in ways that people who haven’t homeschooled their kids don’t understand.  My homeschooling friends have been a lifeline.

Research Homeschooling Methods Ahead of Time

I just jumped right in with it, but I wish I had taken the time to read about various homeschooling methods.  For me, I went with a school-at-home approach because that’s all I knew.  If I had read more, I might have tried something new.

Be Gentle with Yourself

Be gentle with yourself – you’ll need it. 

Top Ten Tuesday at Many Little Blessings

This post is not only today’s link up for Top Ten Tuesday, but it’s also part of iHomeschool Network’s 10 week series “10 in 10.”

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Comments

  1. says

    I homeschooled from the beginning, but I have a friend who is going to take her daughter out of school to homeschool and I am going to forward this list to her as it’s really got some great, great advice.

    • Lynn Lowery says

      Thanks for this…embarking on have 4 kids at home, after one semester with 2. I am excited now just reading about giving time to get public school out of the system first. I had summer curriculum set to start next week…just trying to prove something to doubters I guess. I can’t wait now!

  2. says

    Mine was supposed to read 10 Tips for Homeschooling WITH Toddlers. I had to laugh out loud about leaving the With out. Yes, technically, we do homeschool our toddlers by teaching them their colors, shapes, etc…..but….I meant homeschooling the older kids when you have toddlers. :D Mommy brain at work again!

  3. says

    Wonderful advice. Like you, we weren’t always homeschoolers. As a matter of fact we didn’t start homeschooling until my oldest was in his last semester of his senior year. It was a huge transition but worth the effort for sure. Now, with 8 years of homeschooling with his younger siblings, I know it was the right decision for us. Lots of folks will definitely benefit from your post.

  4. says

    We pulled our daughter out of ps the first week of school, our oldest out after 7 weeks of 2nd grade and our little guy attended 4 months of pre-k (as a two year old)…and he never went back. I see the differences in my older children and my younger guy. He never experienced the ps requirements and he is so full of a love of learning…we’re still de-schooling…even 3 yrs later, undoing heart damage…but, we’re getting there. It’s hard to explain to a Mom the changes that will take place in a home and a heart, love your post and how you wrapped it up so well!

  5. says

    I love the list. We pulled our oldest out of school in 3rd grade. We did much on your list and it helped so much.
    Blessings, Dawn

  6. April says

    I can’t thank you enough for this….I am everything in this list and living it right now. I just pulled my kindergarten and second grade daughters out of the public school I had enough of. I was tired of fighting for my children’s rights and felt like I was literally being pushed into homeschooling by divine intervention. Well, we just started in September……and we had days of loving it, and days of wanting to change our minds. I hated the set of books I bought and have been ordering bits and pieces of others trying to create a well rounded curriculum myself. I’m overwhelmed, clueless, and hoping and praying that I can do this! I am confident public school is not for my girls, but so worried about being enough myself. I am so glad to stumble upon this blog today and learn I’m not alone…and to not give up so soon. Thank you!

  7. says

    I love this post! I’m definitely going to re-pin it on Pinterest. :) We get questions now and then about how to go about taking children out of school to begin homeschooling, so it will be great to be able to refer them to this post!

  8. says

    Angie — I really like this post. I think all of them (looking back 4 years ago now) would have been nice to know at that point in time! ha! My oldest was pulled out in third grade, and my youngest never went to school. I’m so glad I wised up!

  9. Bonnie says

    Thank you so much for this post. It helped when I read about taking time to “Deschool”, it’s been a year and a half since we started homeschooling my then seventh grader. He still says he hates ‘school’ sometimes. I am having a hard time getting him to love learning again, he use to be so interested in the world around him, but during his ps years he had become so defeated by school that we finally pulled him out.

    I am trying different things with him as far as curriculum is concerned in order to get his spark started again and it has been a challenge to say the least, but we are learning what works and what doesn’t.
    Again,
    Thank you!

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