We are here to help all families, and that includes those who have chosen to enroll their students in traditional school after first homeschooling. Whether you were only temporarily homeschooling due to circumstances or you began homeschooling with the best intentions…life happens. Sometimes, you just have to make the change. It’s a huge lifestyle change, though, so we want to help you with some pointers and ideas!
You may have planned on enrolling your homeschooler in a traditional school all along, for example; it’s a popular decision for parents to homeschool their kids until high school and then choose the traditional route instead. For certain states, this can be helpful for official reporting, standardized tests, and college applications. Regardless of the reason behind your decision to send your homeschooler to public or private school, we have a few tips to make the transition easier.
Transitioning from Homeschool to Public School
Wondering how to transfer from homeschool to public school? Here are some practical tips and steps to take:
- Study your state’s homeschool law to see if you are required to notify your state or local school district of your decision to cease homeschooling. Knowing what the states require is an important step.
- Contact the school that your child/teen will be enrolling in to find out their policy on grade placement and credit transfer (if your student is in high school).
- When you meet with the school personnel, bring your homeschool portfolio and/or any evaluations or assessments your student has recently received.
- Complete all enrollment paperwork and purchase any school supplies requested by your child’s teacher(s).
Preparing Your Child for the Transition
There are many things you can do to help ease your child into switching from homeschool to public school, but chief among them is preparing them for what to expect. If possible, organize a visit to the school and a tour of the facility prior to your student’s first day. Being able to visualize where they will be spending their day may relieve some of the anxiety they have about the shift.
Of course, checking out the school setting is just one of the things you can do to get your child ready for his or her new adventure. The checklist below can be a helpful reference tool for making the shift.
- Contact your state homeschool association. Many times they will have specific information that can be helpful about school re-entry, or they may be able to put you in contact with other parents who have gone through the process.
- Complete any school system requirements for enrollment such as getting all required immunizations, getting dental or vision check-ups, establishing proof of residence, and producing a valid birth certificate.
- Organize your homeschool portfolio including any standardized test scores you may have on record. This information can help your school administrator determine grade placement for your child.
- Prepare your student for the fact that he/she may be ahead or behind in certain subjects because your homeschool curriculum, even curriculum from corresponding grade levels, won’t exactly match the school’s curriculum.
- Discuss any and all feelings your child/teen may have about school. There are no “wrong” feelings. Validate your homeschooler’s feelings while still encouraging him/her about the upcoming experience.
- Take time to educate your student on some of the new aspects of education he/she will encounter in public school such as school and classroom rules, dealing with a peer group, and school safety.
- Don’t forget to highlight the positive aspects of school, such as making new friends, participating in sports or extracurricular activities, and school events.
- Dispel any negative stereotypes your child/teen may have about going to school. Discuss potential misconceptions such as that all kids are bullies or that teachers don’t have time to help individual students.
Preparing Yourself for the Transition
Many homeschool parents report feelings of “guilt” or “disappointment” when sending their students to public school after a period of homeschooling. This is especially true if the decision is circumstantial rather than the student’s choice. It’s important to recognize that your feelings are just as valid as your child’s and that there are no “wrong” feelings about the change.
It helps to think of your child’s education in terms of a year-to-year decision. While homeschooling is the right option for one year, it may not necessarily be ideal for the next. If you approach your student’s school experience as a series of choices about what’s best from one year to the next, you’ll recognize that there is no single “right” way to educate — it’s all about finding what works best for your unique child.
Don’t feel locked into a decision. If homeschooling doesn’t work for a year and a public or private school does, then that’s what’s right for your family. Similarly, if you place your child in a school setting and it doesn’t work for one reason or another, the option is always there to withdraw your child and start homeschooling again. The most important thing is making sure your child has access to his or her learning style so they can thrive during their school years. Whether you send your child to a traditional school or you choose to school at home, there should be no guilt or shame in doing what is best for your child and your family as a whole.