4 Tips to Easily Transition from Public School to Homeschool

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If your child has been in public school any length of time, transitioning from public school to homeschool can be a stressful time. It doesn’t matter if you’re starting to homeschool in the middle of the year, after summer break, or anytime during the year. The first few weeks (or months) of beginning to homeschool involve the stress of complying with state homeschooling laws, withdrawing kids from school, choosing curriculum, and adjusting to your new roles as teacher and student.

These four tips can make the transition a bit easier.

1. Don’t feel that you have to make every decision right away.

You don’t have to make every decision immediately. If you’re transitioning from public (or private) school to homeschool, prioritize your to-do list. Your most important priority is probably ensuring that you’re following the law. Make sure that you understand what you need to do to begin homeschooling according to your state’s laws. 

You probably need to file a letter of intent with your state or county school superintendent and you may need to file a letter of withdrawal with your child’s school.

You will want to choose homeschool curriculum. You'll want to  figure out how and where you’re going to do school and what your daily routine is going to look like – but you don’t have to figure all of that out now. Much of that will be a process of trial and error that will fall into place as you begin homeschooling.

2. Allow time for everyone to adjust.

The older your child is, the more time you may need to allow for adjusting to the changes in your daily routine and your family dynamics. Don’t feel as though you have to be ready to hit the ground running in all subjects on Day 1. It’s okay to spend lots of time reading, visiting the library, watching documentaries, baking, exploring hobbies, and adjusting to being home.

Some kids will thrive on getting back to a familiar routine as soon as possible. Others will benefit from a break from the structure of a regular school routine. Depending on your child’s age, how long she’s been in a traditional school setting, and your reasons for homeschooling, you may be unsure into which category she fits. It’s okay to watch and observe, making adjustments as you go along.

If you have an active child who had difficulty sitting still and paying attention to schoolwork, he may benefit from a break from a school-like routine. If you’re homeschooling because your child wasn’t being challenged academically, he may be ready to get back to a familiar schedule. Take some time to talk to your student. Observe his behavior as you begin to work out the logistics of your daily homeschool routine.

3. Create a homeschool, not a homeschool.

One of the most important things for new homeschooling parents to understand is that your homeschool doesn’t have to look like a traditional school setting. Most of us begin homeschooling due, at least in part, to some dissatisfaction with our child’s traditional school experience, so why would we try to replicate that at home?

You don’t need a schoolroom, though it can be nice to have one. You don’t need desks or bells or 50-minute schedule blocks. It’s okay to snuggle up on the couch or in the bed to read. It’s okay for your wiggly child to bounce on the trampoline while practicing spelling words or multiplication tables. It’s okay to do math sprawled out in the living room floor or do science in the backyard.

Some of the best learning moments happen when school becomes a natural part of your daily life, rather than a set-aside time at the kitchen table.

4. Take time choosing your homeschool curriculum.

Don’t stress about having all of your homeschool curriculum laid out and ready to go on the first day of school. You may not even need curriculum right away. Take some time to research your options. Get your child’s input on her curriculum choices, especially if you have an older student.

Ask other homeschooling families what they like and why. Read reviews. Check your local library. You may even decide to postpone purchasing curriculum for a few months.

Homeschool convention season usually runs from March to August, but you can order curriculum online anytime. If you’re able, travelling to a convention is an excellent opportunity to look at lots of curriculum choices in person. You can also ask the vendors and publishers about their products.

Transitioning from public school to homeschool can seem overwhelming and stressful. Try these four tips to make it exciting and rewarding instead.