I hesitate to use the word easily when talking about the transition from the classroom to homeschool because I don’t want to give you any false expectations. The truth of the matter is making this switch is a big deal. There’s no cookie cutter way around it and I can’t promise you a field of blossoming flowers even 50% of the time.
What I can confidently share with you are practical and powerful ways to navigate this lifestyle lane change. Upfront I’ll even confess that it takes more patience and perseverance than you think you may have. But trust me when I say that you can do this. And here are some ways to make it happen.
5 Ways to (Easily) Transition From the Classroom to Homeschool
Before diving into the five ways, I first want to divert your attention to one that is looking at this thing from your own perspective. Not from your friend’s point of view who has been homeschooling ten years already. And certainly not from your reluctant extended family member who believes everything negative about homeschooling.
I want you to think about your unique family, your amazing children, and the reasons why you are exchanging the classroom for homeschooling. With that in mind, use the following suggestions to help you make the most of your new journey.
Have a family transition conversation.
One of the best things you could do is involve the entire family in what I call a transition conversation. The fact of the matter is everyone’s life is going to be affected whether you’re choosing to homeschool one, keep another in school, or choose distant learning for another. Everyone in your family will be affected by some degree and this is worth talking about.
Having this conversation also gives your children the opportunity to have a voice. Give them the chance to speak what’s on their minds, ask questions, and voice any concerns. This also opens the door to truly understanding how your child feels about both the classroom and homeschooling. You may find out some things you didn’t know before.
Keep in mind that you may need to have several of these, and talking about homeschooling often could help drastically with the change.
Make the transition legal.
Once you’ve decided to take the leap, you’ll want to check with your state’s homeschooling laws. Chances are there will be some paperwork to fill out and some type of educational authority to touch base with (your local Board of Education). Some states have more rigorous homeschooling laws that require you to register with an umbrella school, while others (like Kentucky) have bare minimum requirements.
Overall, you’ll want to make sure you’re homeschooling legally and taking all proper precautions to do just that. If you need support, HSLDA is a great resource for getting started on the right legal path.
Transition from the classroom to homeschool by deschooling.
Deschooling is a relatively new term in the world of homeschooling, but what it is in a nutshell has been done by hundreds and thousands of families. Deschooling is the transition period between leaving the traditional classroom setting and starting a formal homeschooling routine. This transition is typically equivalent to one month for every year your child has spent in public (or private) schooling.
During this deschooling phase the focus is placed more on giving your child a break from all they’ve ever known education and learning to be and coasting into what will be the new norm. Although every family is different, most would agree that taking this time has monumental benefits for jump starting their homeschooling journey.
Here are a few ideas to consider for what to do during this time:
- Get to know the learning style(s) of your child.
- Understand your teaching style.
- Look for natural interests your child has.
- Make a list of your child’s strengths and weaknesses.
- Develop your unique homeschool style.
- Slowly introduce what homeschooling will look like.
This list could go on and on but the idea is to slowly merge homeschooling into your family dynamic. Do not try to quickly change and mold your family to homeschooling – trust me.
Find a local (or virtual) homeschool group.
I admit that when I started homeschooling many moons ago, I was shocked to see just how much support was available for homeschooling families. Much like everyone else, homeschoolers were pretty silent in my town and if I did see one, I didn’t think to question if they homeschooled or not.
Now, especially with everything going on in the world, there are local and virtual homeschool groups popping up all over the place. One Google or Facebook search and you’ll find a group for just about everything – from learning style specific to nationality association. They’re out there!
Another unique support system is homeschool co-op groups. These are usually local groups who meet in person a set amount of time per week or semester in which the children are grouped together by age/grade and taught different classes by the parents. Homeschool pods are the latest craze, but the method is the same as just mentioned when applied to homeschoolers, and being used primarily with virtual public school students.
Homeschooling families benefit from these greatly because everyone gets interaction and socialization (including you, mom) and the idea of education and learning lives on. Some groups also decide to take field trips together – another win-win!
As you and your child transition, prepare for changes.
One of the biggest hiccups most homeschooling families encounter is forgetting that tweaks and changes are okay, and almost always necessary. We like to get stuck in the frame of thinking that everything has to go according to plan – or else! Allow me to comfort you for a moment and tell you to toss that lie right out the door.
There is no perfect homeschool. Changes are necessary. And, things will not always go according to plan. I like to tell people to think in terms of routine versus a structured schedule. Sure, underneath it all should be some form of structure, but that word tends to take on an entirely new (and false) meaning, driving people to comparison and perfection.
Save yourself, and your family, some stress by anticipating and expecting changes. If a curriculum you’re using doesn’t work, change it. If a certain homeschool style isn’t working, switch it up. If you need time to step back and recalibrate, take it. These are genuine perks of homeschooling.
The number one truth I want to leave you with is that you can homeschool. It may not always be easy and your resolve will be tested, but it is worth it.