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 The Mid-Year Transition: From Public School to Homeschooling

This post is from our contributing sponsor Time4Learning.

You may have recently decided that your child would benefit from homeschooling. Many parents make this choice mid-school year, often during the winter break. 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.

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 a mid-year transition to homeschooling, so here is a list of what you may encounter and some ideas for getting through it.

 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 school teacher was teaching a whole classroom and may not have been able to provide your child one-on-one instruction. But you can!

Homeschooling gives you the flexibility to review previous lessons so your child gets a better grip on the subject matter. Don’t get caught up in “how long it’s taking 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 too quickly don’t rush to push them up a grade. You could add different components to your homeschooling curricula such as journaling or educational videos. Getting through the subject matter is not the goal, but learning and understanding the subject matter is – so focus on that and don’t let an arbitrary time frame bother you.

Determining grade levels

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.

Don’t forget, your child is coming from a system that sets the standards of learning. They may not be your child’s standards. Therefore, it may be best to set grade levels aside for the moment and start the homeschooling process. The process takes time and, after all, both of you are just beginning.     

Finding support groups

Homeschooling isn’t 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 local church activities. There are even online parent forums where you can connect to homeschoolers in your area, participate in discussions, ask questions and swap ideas.  

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 they’re first pulled out of school.

 Choosing a curriculum

If you’ve already investigated your curriculum options, chances are your head is spinning. There is no shortage of options. They include online books, workbooks, CD-ROMs, DVDs, audio files, interactive TV, lapbooks, standard textbooks and more. There’s also no shortage of time 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 their entire needs. Most use a blend.

For example, an online learning system, has the ability to combine interactive lessons, multimedia reinforcement activities, printable worksheets and learning games. They 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 read books. Once you’ve become acquainted with various tools, you can then pick and choose the ones that best work for your student.    

Take a Deep Breath

Once parents start homeschooling they’re anxious about keeping up with the public school system. They’re also excited, nervous, and a bit overstimulated. You may feel the same way. Just take a deep breath. This isn’t a race. Homeschooling is a journey with its own peaks and valleys. Establishing a routine that works for everyone takes time. Don’t push yourself or your child too hard. You could end up sabotaging the whole program.

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 mind. Consider starting your own homeschooling journal so you remember everything you’re learning too.

Now that you’ve reviewed some of the things you may encounter as you transition from public school to homeschool, remember this: Learn from this transition period and soon you’ll have your own routine that your child feels comfortable with on a daily basis. Until that time, enjoy the journey.    

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