Taking the Leap: 8 Tips for Transitioning from Public School to Homeschool

This school year marks our 4th year of homeschooling. . . and 4 years out of public school.
Like many parents, when our oldest daughter turned five, we received paperwork from the county and registered her for kindergarten at our local elementary school. And, off to public school she went. When she was in 2nd grade, her little sister began kindergarten in the same school. But, it was during that year that my husband and I prayerfully made the decision to homeschool. . . and we're so glad we did!

Although our overall experience was generally a good one with our local school, there were quite a few things that we weren't pleased with. I could go down the line, naming each one, but that's not the point here. The point is, the Lord began to deal with our hearts concerning our responsibility in educating our children and we felt the best and most effective way to live that out was to homeschool.

So after completing 3 years of homeschooling, here's my advice to someone else who's looking to transition.


1) Prayer
Do not take this part lightly!! Prayer changes things, it allows us to tune in to our Savior who will prepare our hearts and minds for the most humbling task of homeschooling. Remember, the Holy Spirit works in our homeschools, too! So, pray for wisdom, guidance, strength, and discernment. Pray for God to bless your homeschooling, that He would be found throughout the pages of the school work. Stay connected to God.

2) Plan
My husband and I knew we wanted to homeschool by the fall of our 2nd daughter's kindergarten year. That was just a couple of months into the school year. I was just itching to pull them out the EXACT day we made our decision. But, we felt it best to wait until the entire year was over, and use that time for planning.
I read as much information as I could on homeschooling, I became familiar with my state's laws, and I got in touch with another homeschooling mom and picked her brain for information, etc. I began comparing various methods for homeschooling,did I want to do everything at home or join a co-op? Just try to think some of these things through before you begin and use their last days in public school to do it.

3) Sharing the News
You're excited about homeschooling, your children may be thrilled, too. However, not everyone will be happy for you, and that just may include some family and friends. Not everyone will understand and yes, there will be those who will try to discourage you. Be prepared for it! People will give you unwanted "advice" and will make rude comments. They may tell you horror stories about the mom who got in trouble because she didn't file her paperwork on time, or about the kid who was 15 and still couldn't read, all because of homeschooling.*SIGH* And let's not forget the famous "how will your kids be socialized?" question!

Realize that even the nicest teachers/administrators may not understand your decision and will question your choice. The way they see it, you are taking your child(ren) out of the school they're teaching in, and if they're teaching there, then it must be great, right?!? Some teachers will take your decision personally. The point is, be prepared for the naysayers and DON'T LET IT SHAKE YOU!!! Share the news when you're ready and be confident in what God has called you to do, regardless of what people say.

4) Talk with Your Child
Once you as parents have made your decision, make the child aware so they are prepared ahead of time. Don't wait until the day you begin homeschooling to let your child know that is the plan. Use your discretion about how far in advance to share this information, depending on their age and how long they've been in school. Involve your child in the planning and prepping. Consider his/her ideas and think about practical ways to include some of them. Talk to your child (if age appropriate) about #3 (above) and what the responses from you all as a family should look like.

5) Celebrate
Celebrate the decision to homeschool!! It is a new and exciting time, so make a lasting memory! Go out to lunch, pick a name  for your school together, come up with school colors if you want! Have a game day, select supplies for your school room or decorate it with balloons.

6) Keep Negativity to a Minimum
Your perspective about the public school experience may be different from that of your child's. After all, children and adults think differently. So, just because you may view it as less than favorable, your child may have some very fond memories. Respect those good things, allow your child to express the good times, too. I think a healthy discussion of anything your child(ren) struggled with is definitely appropriate, but bad-mouthing the school to the child isn't helpful. Keep the heated discussions for your spouse or a trusted friend!
Our first day ever of homeschooling. . .

7) Homeschool vs. School at Home
Do not try to recreate the school room environment at home because it will not be the same. Carving out a place to learn and instruct is different from recreating the school room environment.So, while you may want a specific space to do your schooling in, you probably don't want your kids lining up to get there, or raising their hands to ask to go to the bathroom. Some days doing history on the floor makes sense or doing jumping-jacks while going over math facts is the way to go. Don't feel you have to be in "teacher" mode, addressing your children like, "Class, today we will do this or that." You are their mom (or dad) and let learning in your home be a natural extension of parenting and home life. Remember that homeschooling is a way of life and learning can occur in a number of ways.

8) Take Time
Take time to unlearn. Let's face it, public schools and homeschools are different. Period. So relax, unwind. Get used to being together all day, read together, sing together, play together. Get used to not rushing out of the house every morning, see how it goes taking everyone grocery shopping or running an errand. Spend a day at the library. Just be together.

And when you do begin instruction, don't panic and feel like your child has to know everything there is to know in the first year! Don't try to force the learning; it will come. Try a gradual implementing of instruction. For example, in the first week, simply start with Language Arts and Math. Then in the next week add in History, then in a few days, add Science. It's okay to slow down and get used to the way it will work.

These are the things that have worked for our family. What other tips do you have for transitioning from public school to homeschool?If you are considering homeschooling your child(ren), what concerns might you have?

4 comments:

  1. This post was awesome! I think the information you shared will be helpful to most families leaving the public school arena even if they homeschooled beforehand. The thing I longed for the most was a close friend initially. I pretty much had all the other things down, but having someone who can relate in real life is very valuable. I am thankful that I was introduced to the on-line community which was helpful :) Thanks for sharing!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you. I understand what you mean about having that close friend. . .but, the Lord has blessed us both in the online department. I've learned so much from others online.

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