You’d think the transition from public school to homeschool would be sunshine and rainbows, but that’s not always true. The first year out of public school can be the most difficult because both parent and child have to adjust not only to a new schedule and learning environment but also to different expectations. The good news is most families find their way to a rewarding home education experience. Here’s how to make that happen for your child:
The first thing you should do upon beginning your homeschool journey is make a pact to relax. Education is a marathon that should last for a lifetime rather than a sprint to see who can get there first. Give your child time and room to decompress from the public school way of doing things. Resist the urge to jump right into a strict learning schedule, and instead, give your child some time and space to read and explore his interests. This doesn’t mean you should allow him to watch television and play video games all day, but it does mean encouraging a love of learning by letting him help decide what to learn and how to learn it. Remember that novels and picture books, games, videos, songs, hands-on activities, experiments, and field trips are all ways to learn. Textbooks aren’t the only way.
Let Go of School Expectations
So the local school is in session from 8:30 until 2:30? That doesn’t mean your homeschool has to follow the same pattern. Figure out when your child is at his best and ready to learn. Then, plan your homeschool day around the times he is most likely to be interested and engaged. Or toss schedules out the window altogether, starting and stopping when doing so feels right for you and your child. You might even decide to focus on one subject a day or a couple of subjects per week rather than covering everything daily. The point is to tailor your homeschool to your child’s needs rather than trying to do public school at home.
Take Advantage of Flexibility
When you homeschool, you have the ultimate in flexible schedules. Want to go to the park in the middle of the day? Go. Want to stroll around the zoo or check out a local museum? No permission slips needed. Like to swim at the local community center in the mornings? No problem. Think it would be fun to study math outdoors in the shade of a tree? Go for it. Taking advantage of your new flexibility can make homeschooling more fun and help ease the transition.
No matter how well your transition from public school to homeschool goes, you will want to pull your hair out at times. A homeschool support group can help you through those times. The parents you meet will commiserate with you and offer helpful suggestions because they’ve been there and done that. As a bonus, your child may make some new friends too.
Keep in mind that Rome wasn’t built in a day, so you shouldn’t expect your homeschool to start off perfectly. Instead, vow to relax, tune into your child, have fun, and enjoy the ride.