As many traditional schools are approaching the end of the first semester, there are countless parents considering whether or not public or private school is working for their children. Maybe they are struggling with the curriculum or maybe it’s bullying or maybe you just want to spend more time with your children and want a more joyful learning experience.
Regardless of your reasons for considering homeschooling in the middle of the year, know that you are not alone and that, yes, you can do this!
You may think that you can’t start homeschooling in the middle of the school year but here’s the beautiful truth – you can choose to homeschool anytime!
Here’s all you need to do:
How to Starting Homeschooling In the Middle of the School Year
1. Pull your child out of school.
This is the first step. Before you actually do this though, talk to your child about what will be happening. Don’t just “never return” without notice to your children. Give them a chance to have some closure and say goodbye. Pick your child up from school knowing that they will not return the next day. Some people do this on a Friday, some do it after a long school holiday and some people do it after a negative event.
After you pull your child from school you need to know what to do next to avoid truancy charges and legally homeschool. Nearly every state requires you to file a letter of intent to homeschool. Some states require a detailed curriculum be submitted. Some states require nothing. The laws are not hard to find and carry out. Ideally you would have been planning this for months, you would have talked to other parents to see how they carry out the laws and you would be ready to go. Since this isn’t an ideal situation you will have to backtrack a little bit.
Read your state laws and the practical application of those laws. A reliable place to find up-to-date laws is online at A to Z Home’s Cool website (http://homeschooling.gomilpitas.com/directory/Legalities.htm). If you search for your state Department of Education online you can find the laws in their entirety.
If your state requires a curriculum or scope & sequence to be filed, you can find that online too. Worldbook Online (http://www.worldbook.com) features a Typical Course of Study which has been adopted by school systems nationwide. Start there and fill in the holes as you see necessary, changing the list to meet your needs. If necessary you can pick up books or workbooks for each subject very inexpensively at any bookstore, department store, office supply store or teaching store.
Your child will need time to adjust to not going to school and you will need time to adjust to having your child home all day (or find alternate care & devise a schedule if you are working). A general rule of thumb is to allow your child 1 month of “off” time for every year they spent in school. If you are worried about required testing or evaluations, don’t worry. Most states require these annually and you have a whole year to squeeze in any lessons needed. You have 365 days to do what the school has 180 days to do, remember that and relax.
3. Read up and ask questions
Read everything practical. Try to stay away from any “this is how we do it”, “this is how we spend our days” or “this is how my child got into Harvard at 14” themed books. Yes, these people do exist but most likely it’s not your family. These stories will only create a fantasy of impossible standards. No, your child will not joyfully do his or her lessons every day. Sometimes your child will not want to wake up early for a field trip. Sometimes the lesson you think sounds so fun will bore your child to tears. You will have plenty of time to read (and maybe even write!) the “day in the life of a perfect family” books later.
4. Remember your child.
Learn from your child. Learn what makes them tick, discover their passions and determine their learning style. The only way to do this is to quietly observe and engage in real conversations that have nothing to do with school. Remember that your child has been trained by the school to undervalue family life, so engaging in conversation may take some effort on your part, but keep trying and it will happen.
Now is the time to decide if you want to use pre-packaged curriculum, design your own from many sources or unschool. These are not cut and dry options, merely a few of the many stops on the homeschool continuum. Do an internet search for “types of homeschooling” or “homeschool curriculum” and you will find more information than any person can possibly digest, so take it slow and with a grain of salt.
6. Have fun.
Be willing to change. Be ok with trashing what doesn’t work, even if it was expensive. Be confident. Do not live by another’s standards.
In the end it doesn’t matter why you decided to homeschool, only that you did. Your children won’t be perfect, sibling rivalry won’t stop and admission into the Ivy League is iffy. You can relax, however, in knowing that the sacrifices you all have made were worth the outcome, a loved and well-educated child.