Are you trying to decide if homeschooling is the right educational journey for your children? Are you feeling stressed about your children transitioning from public school to homeschool and making such a drastic change? I don’t blame you. This is a scary, uncertain time. It is also a time full of excitement and hope in how your child’s educational life will begin to change.
It may seem impossible to not stress about it, but you can rest assured that many children have dealt with this transition and have come out stronger for it. If you want to further prepare yourself and your child for transitioning from public school to homeschool, here are some of the tips that I have found to be most helpful:
Don’t Over Think It
I recently had a conversation with a friend who told me that her biggest problem when transitioning her children from public school to homeschool was that she was over-thinking it. She spent almost an entire school year worried that she wouldn’t be able to teach them properly, or that the children would hate it, or they would suffer socially for it. She put so much stress into thinking about the what-ifs that she almost changed her mind completely and because of this, her kids spent an extra year in public school.
Allow for Homeschool Adjustment Period
I can tell you, going into my 23rd year of homeschooling, that you’ll need time to adjust to this new life. You are not going to be a homeschool pro right out of the gate, so don’t give up when things don’t go right instantly. Just like with every other change in life, there is an adjustment period, just be sure to keep that in mind.
Don’t Tackle Everything at Once
Do not start your first day of homeschooling with all of the subjects. This is an adjustment period for a reason. Start small and go from there. You and your child have to learn how to work together in a teacher/student relationship in addition to a parent/child relationship so allow time for that without adding in an overwhelming amount of work.
Do Not Try to Recreate School in Your Home
One of the biggest mistakes I made in the beginning was trying to make a school in my house. I set up a room to try to look like a school with desks, chalkboard, teacher’s desk, etc. This didn’t work for me or the kids. I found we all worked best sitting around the dining room table or scattered around the house as they got older and more independent. You might find your family homeschools best sitting in the grass outside. It is your school – make it work for you!
Make it Fit Your Family’s Schedule
Homeschooling is not a one-size-fits-all like traditional schools. I know families that are done with school be lunch and others than school in the late afternoon because mom works in the morning. One of the greatest things about homeschooling is that you can do it on your own schedule. Your kids learn better in the afternoon? Great! Set up learning times in the afternoon! You want afternoons free for family time? Great! Set up learning times in the morning!
Also you don’t have to do a Monday – Friday schedule either. We have almost exclusively schooled 4 day per week with one day for extra curricular activities and outings. I have also given the kids Saturday school from time to time. The point is you can make your week work for your schedule and family.
Let Your Child Help to Set Your Curriculum and Schedule
Give your kid/s some input into your curriculum and school time. Giving them some ownership may help the transition from public school to homeschool a bit easier; it won’t feel as forced.
In addition to making your homeschooling curriculum work with your family’s schedule, you might consider letting your child have a say in setting your schedule and curriculum will help them feel more in control of their learning environment, which for many kids is a huge motivator.
Look for Programs that Have Teachers Available
One thing that can make the public school to homeschool transition easier to getting some help! Don’t feel bad about using programs that do some or all of the teaching for you. For example, we’ve used Teaching Textbooks for years! I am not a great math teacher but this program does all the teaching for you! It is ok to get help with subjects you feel less confident in teaching.
There are also FREE programs you can employ. Homeschooling can get really expensive, but it doesn’t have to. Don’t think that you have to buy every single program out there, instead, do a little bit of research into the free programs that may be offered. You can make these free programs work just as well as the programs that you buy toward your homeschooling goals. There are even free home-based public schools like K12.
Allow for school breaks. We school year round at our house and take shorter breaks throughout the year instead of a huge summer break.
You and your kids will need time to just be a family. Enjoy your time off of school. It is good to look at your year and have planned breaks but I always allow for some “flex” time just in case of illness or other unexpected time off.
Homeschooling year round has been a great fit for us and we spend a lot less time re-learning things because of long breaks. But if your family loves a long summer break, then take it! There is no magic to year round or traditional calendar schooling; just choose the best fit for your lifestyle.
Don’t Worry About Socialization
One of the craziest things people worry about when transitioning from public school to homeschool is “socialization”. Well unless you live in a very remote area, with little to no contact with the outside world, your child will get time to be social. But should it look like school? I say NO! Where in your life, after school, will you be only around people your age? I think homeschooling actually teachers BETTER social skills as children will learn to speak and interact with people of all ages.
Sure, extra curricular activities are great too. Things like PE, coops, drama, speech & debate, etc are great ways to meet other homeschoolers, make friends and get support; but you don’t need them for socialization alone.
Your kids will be fine.
Join a Homeschool Co-Op
We have done co-ops on and off through the years and they have been a huge blessing to our family. Now that I am only homeschooling the youngest (older 3 have graduated), we are starting a new co-op with a few families with youngest or only kiddos. I am the history and geography teacher, which is my passion!
If you feel like you need a little bit of extra help or support, you might consider joining a homeschool co-op. A homeschool co-op is an organized group of homeschooling families. These families meet up regularly and work together toward their homeschooling goals. Co-ops often set up times for the kids to do school work together, field trips, activities and more.
Take a Deep Breath
I know that this time of transitioning from public school to homeschool can feel a bit overwhelming; but I promise, it is going to be ok! Trust your gut, talk to veteran moms and allow time to make this new life work for you and your kids.
Have you ever dealt with transitioning your children from public school to homeschool? What would you do differently if you had the chance?