How to Transition from Public School to Homeschool: 10 Do’s and Don’ts is a post from Kris of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.
Right now many of you are where I once was – you’re at the beginning of your family’s homeschool journey, preparing to homeschool, rather than return to public school in the fall. It’s a scary, exhilarating time, filled with hopes, doubts, and endless possibilities. Let me offer you ten tips I wish someone had offered me back when we were doing our transition from public school to homeschool.
How to Transition from Public School to Homeschool: 10 Do’s and Don’ts
1. Do take a little extra summer break.
My daughter was excited about homeschooling when we started, but she (along with her mother!) was also a bit apprehensive. I decided to offset those doubts and fears with some positive excitement in the form of an extra week or two of summer break.
I am now a huge fan of year round homeschooling, but this extra time served both to allow us a little extra time for deschooling (What is Deschooling and Is It Important?) and to immediately demonstrate one of the big benefits of homeschooling – flexibility.
Learn More: 6 Reasons We Homeschool Year Round
2. Do give yourself time to adjust.
Homeschooling is about much more than where your child is educated – it’s a lifestyle. As such, it does take some time to adjust and find your groove.
Don’t expect everything to go perfectly right out of the gate. Realize that you and your child are adjusting to a different lifestyle and different roles. She is adjusting to you as her teacher and you are adjusting to her as your student.
3. Do maintain friendships.
Your child is most likely going to miss his public school friends. Make an effort to maintain those friendships by arranging play dates and staying in contact with parents. Those first few months can be a bit lonely for both of you, so be sure that you also make an effort to get involved in your local homeschool community so that you and your child have an opportunity to make homeschooled friends.
Learn More: How to Cultivate Friendships as a Homeschool Mom
4. Do take your child’s input on your curriculum and your schedule.
Two of the biggest benefits to homeschooling are a customized education and flexibility. Listen to what your child has to say about the curriculum you’re using, your learning environment, and the order in which you tackle his daily school subjects. Allow him to take ownership of his education rediscover his natural curiosity and love of learning.
5. Do tweak your schedule to fit your family’s schedule and rhythms.
Nothing says that learning only happens Monday through Friday between the hours of 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. If your kids are morning people, by all means, start school early. However, if you have night owls like I do, it’s okay to let them sleep in a bit and start your school day later.
If you or your spouse have an atypical work schedule, it’s okay to do school on the weekend and take days off during the week. Tweak your homeschool schedule to fit your family’s needs, rather than trying to force your family into a traditional school mold.
6. Don’t feel like you have to replicate a public school classroom.
Along the same lines at #5, don’t feel that your homeschool has to look like a public school classroom. You don’t need desks and textbooks and a scheduled time for recess.
Learning can happen curled up on the couch with a great book or sprawled across the bed with pencils and paper. You most likely pulled your child out of public school because it wasn’t working for her. Don’t bring a broken model home.
7. Don’t take it personally when you child compares homeschooling to public school – even if it’s negative.
Chances are you’re going to hear, “But that’s not how Mrs. So-and-So did it.”
Don’t take offense. Just as you may be inclined to model your homeschool after the familiar – a public school classroom – your child is comparing the learning experience to the familiar.
Hear the comparisons for what they are. Take them into consideration and if something needs to change to teach your child more effectively, make adjustments. If not, move on.
8. Don’t expect homeschooling to look like it did in your daydreams.
Does anything in life every look like your fairy tale daydreams? Surely when you envisioned being a parent, your daydreams didn’t involve cleaning up after a kid with the stomach bug at 3 a.m.
Guess what? Homeschooling rarely looks like that mental image of your children all gathered around, cheerfully waiting for you to impart knowledge. Homeschool, like life, can be messy. That’s okay.
9. Don’t feel like you have to start every subject on the first day.
Just like most anything else, homeschooling takes longer until you adjust and find your rhythm. There is no sense stressing yourself and your kids out with an eight hour school day trying to cram everything in at once. I like to ease into the school year, starting with two or three core subjects and adding one or two more each week until we’re at a full course load.
10. Don’t freak out if your child wants to go back to public school.
Again, homeschooling is a big change for everyone. If your homeschooled child wants to go back to public school, get her talking. Find out what she’s really missing. Discuss the pros and cons – or cons and cons – of both homeschool and public school.
Remember that you, as the parent, ultimately have to make the decision you feel is best for your child, but take his concerns and input into consideration. There may be adjustments when you transition from public school to homeschool that you can consider doing to make homeschooling a better fit for both of you.
I know that beginning to homeschool can feel a bit like preparing to jump off a cliff. However, if you take these suggestions into account, it can all be a little less daunting.
If you have a homeschooled child who was previously in public school, what tips would you add?
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How to Transition from Public School to Homeschool: 10 Do’s and Don’ts was originally published on August 5, 2015. It was last updated in July 2017.
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