You may have recently made the monumental decision to homeschool. Kudos! It’s a great time to start your homeschooling adventure.
Many parents make this choice for starting homeschool mid-year, often during the winter break. In fact, in a recent survey conducted at Homeschool.com we found that nearly 40% of all homeschoolers started in the middle of the year! It’s certainly a big decision and one that you’ve probably been mulling over for a while. And now that you’ve started, challenges that you may or may not have anticipated are popping up. After all, homeschool and public school are vastly different.
Almost every parent goes through this experience regardless of when they start homeschooling, so it’s not unique if you are making the transition mid-year. And don’t be surprised if, during this transition period, you wonder if this was a mistake and second-guess your decision. That’s just the anxiety talking. You can do this, and with a little help, you’ll overcome your fears and succeed! Knowing what you’re up against can help you overcome the challenges for how to transfer from public school to homeschool, so here is a list of what you may encounter and some ideas for getting through it.
Understand Your Child’s Learning Pace
Every child learns at a different pace. Some learn faster than others. If your child is moving slowly, it may be a result of them not fully understanding some of the subjects they were studying in public school. Remember, the teacher was instructing a classroom of students and likely couldn’t provide one-on-one instruction.
Homeschooling gives you the flexibility to review previous lessons so your child gets a better grip on the subject matter. Try not to focus on how long it takes to go through lessons. What matters most is that you and your child are focusing on the main concepts and skills required for each subject. Let your child set their own pace.
If your child is breezing through their lessons quickly, don’t rush to push them up a grade. You could add different components to make it more challenging, such as journaling or educational videos. Getting through the textbook is not the goal–learning and understanding the subject matter is.
Determine Your Student’s Grade Level
If you believe your child is below their grade level, you have choices. If you haven’t already reached out to their teacher, set up a meeting. You can discuss your child’s performance in the classroom and use it as a starting point. With your help and guidance, your child will find their way learning in an environment that encourages nurturing and one-on-one communication without the distractions inherent in a public school setting. There are also some homeschooling curriculum options that allow you to start subjects at your student’s current grade level and shift up or down as needed. Grades are a different dynamic entirely between homeschool and public school.
Find A Support Group
Homeschooling does not have to be a lonely process. Millions of other parents homeschool their children, but finding a support group can be tough. Seek out companionship by becoming involved in homeschool groups, co-ops, or church activities if you’re religious. There are even online parent forums for connecting with homeschoolers in your area, participate in discussions, ask questions and swap ideas. Homeschool and public school feel very different, so the support group will help provide answers to the questions and struggles that are inevitably going to arise.
Once you find parents who share your values, make plans for trips to the park, play dates, and other activities. Your children will also meet new friends and then understand that homeschooling is not so unusual — children just like them learn from home, too! That can help ease the anxiety you and your children may feel when beginning to homeschool mid-year.
Choose a Curriculum
If you’ve already looked into your curriculum options, your head is probably spinning. There is no shortage of options. They include online books, workbooks, CD-ROMs, DVDs, audio files, interactive TV, lap-books, standard textbooks and more. There’s also no shortage of type when choosing the types of learning tools you’ll be investing in. The keyword is “types.” Homeschoolers don’t always find one single curriculum that fits entire needs. Many families use a blend of curricula and types.
For example, an online learning system has the ability to combine interactive lessons, multimedia reinforcement activities, printable worksheets, and learning games. Online homeschool curricula encourage student-paced learning, which helps children ramp up as they start this new adventure. And when they finish their lessons, many parents have them write in journals or work through a reading list. Once you’ve become acquainted with various tools, you can pick and choose the ones that best work for your student.
Take a Deep Breath
Once parents start homeschooling, they may feel anxious about keeping up with the public school system. They may also be excited, nervous, and a bit overstimulated. You may feel the same way. Just take a deep breath. Try to remember that it’s not a race. Starting to homeschool mid-year can be overwhelming, but it’s okay. Homeschooling is a journey with its own peaks and valleys. It takes time to establish a routine that works for everyone. So, try to give yourself a break. You’ll get there, and so will your student.
This is the perfect time to experiment with curriculum, find your child’s learning style, and create a homeschooling space that is functional, fun, and inspirational. Talk with other homeschoolers, sit down with your children and find out what’s on their minds. Consider starting your own homeschooling journal so you remember everything you’re learning, too.
Soon, you’ll have your own routine that your child feels comfortable with on a daily basis. Until then, enjoy the journey.