How to Transition from Public School to Homeschooling
Today more parents than ever are homeschooling their children. Children are leaving public schools at an impressive rate, and the number of homeschooled children has grown. Nearly 3.7 million children were homeschooled in the 2020-2021 school year. That's about 6 or 7 percent of all school-age children.
If you are one of the many parents that have considered homeschooling your child, you might be wondering how to transition them from public school to homeschool. The process doesn’t have to be frustrating. Start by researching, considering your options, and making the transition as smoothly as possible by planning ahead.
Considerations to Make Before Removing Your Child From Public School
Before you take your child out of school, you need to have a game plan. Having a plan will ensure that you eliminate the stress of figuring out your state laws on the fly, what curriculum you might use, and how you’ll homeschool your child.
Research Your State Laws
The first step to homeschooling your child is doing research. Take the time to figure out your state's laws and requirements before you take the plunge. You can access this information anytime from the Home School Legal Defense Association, which has a lot of legal homeschool resources.
Once you’ve discovered what your state laws are, you can begin planning your child’s education. Some states have specific qualification criteria for becoming a homeschool teacher. If you are required to take classes to be eligible to homeschool, you should start by enrolling in those classes, where you’ll receive a plethora of information about homeschooling in your state.
Choosing a Homeschool Style
Beyond eligibility criteria and state laws, there are many different ways to homeschool your child. Some parents prefer to have an academic setup at home that's similar to their child’s previous setup at public school. Other parents prefer to throw traditional schooling out the window. It’s up to you to decide what you think will work best for your child.
Your homeschooling style will depend on your child’s learning style, needs, and interests. Some children learn well by reading books and sitting in a quiet environment, while others learn best by doing things in a more hands-on way. You’ll need to consider your child’s strengths and weaknesses when considering what will work best for them.
Take some time to peruse blogs and books from other homeschool parents and discover what types of homeschool methods are out there. Get a feel for what you want your homeschooling journey to look like before you jump in. Whatever method you choose is up to you. Homeschooling style is a very personal decision for each individual family. No two families homeschool in the same way.
Choosing a Curriculum
Curriculums can be just as varied as homeschooling styles. There are a variety of pre-made curriculums available for you to choose from, should you want to go that route. However, curriculums don’t have to be that cut and dry. If you want to make a tailor-made curriculum or do online schooling, those may be options to consider, as well.
Some curriculum options include:
- Pre-made curriculum that covers all classes/courses
- Online curriculum designed for online schooling
- Patchwork curriculum made up of multiple programs
- Student-led curriculum
- Unit Study curriculum
- Home designed curriculum from a broad set of resources
Each of these curriculum options has its benefits and drawbacks. You’ll need to decide which option will work best for you. What curriculum you choose may in part be decided by your homeschool style. As an example, if you choose to do unschooling as your homeschool style, you may not need a formal curriculum.
Whatever curriculum you decide to choose should be one that will work for both your child’s learning style and your teaching style. For example, a curriculum that involves doing a twice-weekly co-op will not work if you can’t take your child to the co-op. A home designed curriculum will take a lot of time and effort to put together. Keep these factors in mind when you decide how you want to teach your child.
Beyond state laws, homeschool style, and curriculum, there are some smaller factors you should consider. Each of these factors will need to be thought about before you transition from public school to homeschool.
Other considerations include:
- Budget - Homeschool is rarely ever a free endeavor. While you can homeschool relatively inexpensively, there are some things that you’ll likely have to spend money on. You will probably have to consider purchasing school supplies, curriculum or books, and a computer or tablet. While these aren’t strictly necessary to educate your child, they can make the process easier.
- Availability - Consider whether or not you’ll be available to your child if they have questions or need help with their schoolwork. If you can’t set aside time to engage in your child’s schoolwork, homeschool may not be a good fit for you.
- Grades and Testing - You’ll need to decide how you want to approach these facets of schooling. Some homeschool parents decide not to grade their children’s work, while still others wait until middle or high school to give them grades. Some parents test their children, while others don’t. Some of this will depend on your state laws, but otherwise, it depends on your preference.
- Tutoring - If your child struggles with their homeschool curriculum, you may need outside help. One thing to consider is getting your child a tutor like Remind. Remind Tutoring is a tutoring service for math that can help your child one-on-one. Here is a guide to how online tutoring could look like.
- Support Systems - Consider how you’ll build support systems for you and your child. You won’t automatically have built-in babysitting during the day and so you may need to enlist the help of support systems to allow you to get your housework, errands, and other things done. Your child won’t have built-in social interactions either, so you’ll have to work harder at getting those needs met.
Ways to Ease the Transition
Transitioning from public school to homeschool can feel daunting. To make sure that you and your child are ready to transition as seamlessly as possible you can take the following steps.
Engage Your Child in the Process
Your child is the most important part of this process because it fundamentally affects every aspect of their life. As a result, you’ll want your child to feel invested in being homeschooled. Ask them to help you figure out how they learn best. Involve them in curriculum decisions. Let them come to you with suggestions about how they want to be taught, what they’d like to learn, and things they want to incorporate into school.
Have an Adjustment Period
You should take the time to let your child disconnect from school for a little bit, even if it does feel a bit strange. You will both need to start the process of “deschooling,” which is letting go of the idea that your child has to do school the way that public school does. This doesn’t mean that your child won’t be learning. It just means that you give them some time to readjust.
You can use this time to encourage your child to learn things that they are interested in. Let them get used to the idea that learning is fun and is not a strict activity. Take them to museums, community events, and the library where they can learn just by the nature of being there.
Once your child has experienced the process of learning without bells and strict schedules, then ease them into their new curriculum. Be willing to change how things work in your homeschool if your child is struggling. Consider tutoring or a different curriculum if the one you’re using doesn’t work for you.
Engage With Other Homeschool Families
Try to engage with other homeschoolers and their parents. Your child will need social activity, while you may want the additional support of other homeschooling families. You may even learn something new from them!
Parenting is hard enough, but homeschooling is a different level of difficulty. Creating a support system with other homeschool families will ensure that you don’t feel lost and hopeless on your homeschool journey. It will allow you to learn from and grow with other like-minded people. This support system can be a lifeline for your child, as well.
Implementing Your Homeschool Plan
You may think that once you implement your homeschool plan that you are done. On the contrary, your homeschool plan is just the beginning of what will become a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. You may need to reflect on your ideas from time to time, see what’s working, and what’s not. Then you can adjust your plan again to be sure it meets you and your child’s needs.
You may discover that the curriculum you purchased was too difficult or too easy for your child and then need to go back to the drawing board. Or perhaps you felt that your child would have more fun learning from unit studies than they actually did, and so you’d like to try something new. No matter the reason for the change, that’s the beauty of homeschool. You can adapt no matter the challenges it throws at you.
Switching from public school to homeschool is an exciting, but scary experience. You can make the transition go much more smoothly by planning ahead. Be sure to involve your child in the process and make some new friends along the way. This is just the beginning of your amazing homeschool adventure!