12 Tips to Ease the Transition from Public School to Homeschool
If you’re considering homeschooling, you may feel a bit nervous about the transition from public school to homeschool. This is normal, especially since public school is the only type of education many of us have experience with. Here are twelve tips that will help ease the transition from public school to homeschool.
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1. Make it Legal
When you decide to homeschool, the first thing you need to do is familiarize yourself with the homeschool laws in your state. You can usually find the homeschool laws on your state’s board of education website. If you need additional clarification, HSLDA’s website provides summaries of each state’s laws. Make sure you officially withdraw your child and complete any paperwork required by your state. Beginning homeschooling without knowing what, if anything, your state requires can cause unnecessary problems and stress during this time of transition.
2. Take a Break
You may be excited about homeschooling and ready to start immediately, but it’s a good idea to take a break before diving in. Most children and teens need some downtime after leaving public school. This is especially true if public school was a stressful or negative environment for them. If you withdraw your child from school at the end of a semester, summer break or an extended Christmas break might be enough time for them. If you begin homeschooling in the middle of a semester, I recommend taking at least a few weeks off before starting.
3. Ease into Homeschooling
After your break, ease into homeschooling. Plan something fun for the first day of school, like a field trip or other family activity. Don’t try to do all the subjects in the first few days. Start with just a couple. Then add more as your child adjusts and you learn what works best for your family.
4. Don’t Recreate Public School
Don’t recreate public school in your home. You’ll find that homeschooling takes much less time than a public school day. If you try to do school work seven hours a day, both you and your child will burn out quickly. Homeschoolers don’t have to use textbooks, have a classroom, or follow the public school’s calendar. Don’t use the one size fits all approach of the public schools. The ability to customize your child’s education is one of the most significant benefits of homeschooling.
5. Don’t Replicate Another Family’s Homeschool
Every family and every homeschool is different. If you try to homeschool the same way as your friend, a favorite blogger, or that mom on Instagram, you will likely find yourself frustrated and disappointed. What works for one family may not be a good fit for yours, and that’s ok. There’s no one right way to homeschool.
6. Have a Plan, but Be Flexible
Making a plan and setting goals is essential and can help your homeschool run more smoothly. But, remember your plan isn’t set in stone. You made the plan, and you can change it as needed. If you spend months researching curriculum options or planning your homeschool routine only to discover it’s not a fit for your family, it’s disappointing. Fortunately, as a homeschooler, you have the flexibility to make changes as needed. You don’t have to stick with something that’s not working.
7. Maintain Friendships
If your child misses school, it’s likely their friends that they miss, not the schoolwork. Help your child maintain their friendships with former classmates. Teenagers can probably handle this on their own, but younger children will need more help. Exchange contact information with their friends’ parents, so that you can regularly invite them over or plan meetups at parks or other locations. Knowing that they will still be able to see their friends will make the transition to homeschooling much easier for your child.
8. Social Interaction
Make sure your child has opportunities for social interaction so that they can make new friends. This could include playing with kids in the neighborhood, homeschool groups or co-ops, church, sports, scouts, or other extracurricular activities. The possibilities are endless. Children can make friends anywhere. Continuing to get regular social interaction will help your child adjust to homeschooling.
9. Find Support
Having people in your life who support your family’s decision to homeschool will be invaluable as you transition into homeschooling. If you don’t already have friends who homeschool, seek people out that do. You could consider joining a homeschool group or co-op. The library is also an excellent place to meet other homeschooling parents. There are even online communities like Homeschool Speak, where homeschooling parents can encourage one another and seek advice.
10. Ignore the Naysayers
Expect that there will be people in your life, including close friends and immediate family, who won’t be happy about your decision to homeschool. It can be hurtful, but try not to take it personally. Many people won’t understand why your family has chosen to do something outside of the norm. Don’t let their opinions cause you to reconsider homeschooling or doubt your ability to homeschool. As they see the positive results of homeschooling in your family, some of the naysayers will eventually change their minds about homeschooling. Unfortunately, others may never change their mind. Just keep on doing what’s best for your family, and don’t feel obligated to justify homeschooling.
11. Give it Time
The transition from public school to homeschool is a significant change. Many families say that it took about six months for them to adjust. So if you get off to a bumpy start, don’t throw in the towel after just a few weeks. Give it more time. If something, like your curriculum or schedule, isn’t working well, change it. Reevaluate your goals and expectations. When you have challenging days, it can help to remind yourself of why you decided to homeschool and why it’s important to your family.
12. Embrace the Freedom
When you homeschool, you choose the curriculum, what & how to teach, the schedule, literally everything! Transitioning from the public school system making all the decisions to complete freedom, can be overwhelming at first. However, before long, this freedom will likely become one of your favorite things about homeschooling.
I hope these tips help with your transition from public school to homeschooling!
These posts address many of the concerns and questions you may have as you begin (or consider) homeschooling.
- I don’t have the patience to homeschool!
- I’m not smart enough to homeschool.
- What should I be teaching?
- What curriculum should I use?
- Where can I buy used homeschool curriculum?
- Can I really homeschool for free?
- Homeschooling Special Needs: Resources & Support