Top Tips for a Smooth Transition to Homeschool
You Decided To Do It! Congrats!
If your child was in a brick and mortar and you decided to homeschool them this next year, be ready for some stress and growing pains. It’s not you, it happens whether you’re starting to homeschool in the middle of the year, after summer break, or anytime during the year. The transition period is inevitable. Expect the first few weeks, or even months, to involve some stress with complying with state homeschool laws, withdrawing your kids from their school, choosing and purchasing curriculum, and adjusting to your new role as teacher on top of mother, maid, cook, and everything else!
I could go on and on with tips to keep your sanity and make the transition a bit smoother but for now I want to just give you 4 top tips that I found most valuable when I transitioned.
Allow Time For Adjustment
As a rule of thumb, the older the child, the more time you may need to allow for adjusting to a new daily routine and a fresh family dynamic. I know you’ll want to hit the ground running but don’t do it to yourself! Unless you’re Wonder Woman, you’re just setting yourself, and your child, up for disappointment.
I was told by a very experienced homeschool mom & friend to take a couple weeks to “unschool”. Spend some time exploring hobbies, visiting the library, spend time reading for enjoyment, field trips, and just adjusting to being at home. That’s the best advice I could have gotten.
Yes, it’s true that every child is different. Some may be anxious to getting back to a routine or making a new routine as soon as possible while others will benefit from a break from the regular brick and mortar structure to find their own unique homeschool schedule. Be observant and follow your child’s cues. This leads me to my next tip …
Create A Learning Environment, Not A School
While your schedule and routine can be unique to your needs, so too can be your school setting. One of the most important things to understand is that it’s ok to do your learning where it’s comfortable and works for your family.
Although it’d be nice to have a schoolroom, you definitely don’t need one. More and more progressive schools these days are adopting comfortable seating and there’s a reason for it. Studies have shown that when your child is comfortable, the mind can be more open to learning. It’s okay to snuggle on a couch for reading time, practice your spelling words or multiplication tables while taking the dog for a walk. It’s okay to move your science outside or do math on a bean bag chair. Some of the best learning moments happen when school becomes a natural part of your daily life so embrace the gift you have in homeschooling.
Make Decisions In Your Own Time
You don’t have to make every decision immediately. As you transition, prioritize your to-do list and wish list. The first priority should be to make sure you are following the law within your state. Understand what steps you need to take to begin homeschooling according to your state’s laws.
Legalities To Consider
You probably need to file a letter/notice of intent with a local school district or your state or county school superintendent. You also may need to file a letter of withdrawal with your child’s school. Some states require portfolios and testing at specific times. If you aren’t familiar with your state’s laws, be sure to head over to HSLDA to learn about them.
The Curriculum Bear
Curriculum will be a big decision. However, take some time to figure out how and when you will be doing school and what will be your new daily routine. Don’t stress about having all your curriculum ready to go on the first day of your homeschool journey. This will fall into place as you begin homeschooling. And remember, it’s ok to change and adjust your curriculum as you go. As you research curriculum, let your child have an input. Ask other homeschool families, read reviews, and check your local library. Also know that you don’t have to pick one curriculum and use it for all your subjects. You will find what type of learning system works best for your child. You may even decide to postpone purchasing curriculum for a few months.
Maintain Your Children’s Friendships
Understand that depending on your child’s age, it can be a huge stress for them to feel like they’ve lost those friendships. Help your child maintain their public-school friendships. Understandably, the thing they may miss the most is seeing their friends regularly. Another great idea is to make a concentrated effort to find opportunities to form new friendships as well with homeschooled kids.
Have a Party!
Besides just missing seeing their friends during class and recess, they also may miss their classroom parties. Remember that kids love parties and fun. Feel free to host a Valentines or Halloween party at your home on a weekend with their friends. Also, make sure to incorporate some fun holiday learning on the day as well.
Transitioning from public school to homeschooling will be confusing and stressful, there’s no doubt about it. Just remember, everything doesn’t have to be resolved on Day 1, give your child, and yourself, time to find a routine that works well for you, and most importantly, remember that YOU GOT THIS MOMMA!