Hello! My name is Amy and I am a homeschool soccer mom to 5 boys who blogs over at Rock Your Homeschool. Thank you for taking the time to learn how we made a positive transition from public school to homeschool-and for tips on how you can do it, too! Also, many thanks to Jen for allowing me to contribute to her awesome site!
Establishing A Positive Transition From Public School To Homeschool
I always felt a tug on my heartstrings to homeschool my kids. When we found out that we were pregnant with our oldest, I immediately began reading all the books and resources that I could to learn the best way to raise my kids. One of the concepts that I found fascinating was homeschooling. Intrigued, I put the idea on the backburner of my brain and carried on with dealing with life with a newborn.
As I grew as a mom through time spent with my oldest and adding to our family, the idea of homeschooling was resurrected. My boys and I have always enjoyed learning fun at home. Crafts, projects, and read alouds topped our lists of great ways to spend time together. I felt like I grew with my boys as they practiced and mastered new concepts and skills.
When my oldest turned three, it was expected that he would attend a local preschool. It was what everyone did with their preschool-aged kids. I jumped on the bandwagon, never considering that my time spent teaching my son at home would be considered “homeschooling”. Preschool was fine. Sure, it had its pros and cons but overall okay.
Kindergarten evaluation and registration popped up before I was ready. My oldest was beyond prepared. Filling out all those forms and watching my son successfully complete Kindergarten orientation, I felt the homeschool tug at my heart once more. There was no single reason for my unease-it just did not feel right sending him to public school.
I voiced my concerns to my husband. His thoughts were that our kids should at least try public school. Overwhelmed with a preschooler and new baby on the way, I conceded.5 ways to make the transition from Public School to Homeschool Positive! #ihsnet @rockyourhs Click To Tweet
Fast forward a few years
My once thriving son who loved all things learning turned into a child who refused to pick up a book to read for pleasure. Negative classroom experiences with fellow students and teachers led to feelings of boredom and poor self-esteem in specific subject areas.
These negative experiences were compounded by frequent migraines due to a congenital eye condition. Captain was born with morning glory disc anomaly, leaving only slight peripheral vision in his right eye. As he advanced in school, textbooks had smaller print. Classroom lighting, seating arrangements, and looking from blackboard to text caused an extreme amount of muscle tension for his “good” eye, resulting in at least two migraines a week.
Long story short, I gave up fighting our public school. I reminded them again and again about Captain’s condition. I was tired of having to pick up my son and helping him recover from being sick numerous times. I started thinking about making the switch to homeschool, not knowing what to do.
After talking with my husband for most of the summer, we decided to start homeschooling our two school-aged boys. At the last minute, we decided to go for it and went with a cyber school. In doing so, they would take care of the paperwork and requirements for homeschooling in our state (areas that we were clueless in).
We found that cyber school, even self-paced, was structured. It felt like the only difference from it to public school was that our boys could complete school lessons at home. I started researching homeschooling approaches, legal requirements, and options as soon as possible.
I often think of our second year of homeschooling as our first. This time, we were doing it on our own, submitting necessary papers and devising our own course of studies. I was all set for a “perfect” homeschool year.
And just as quickly, that dream crashed.
The true transition to homeschool began!
Our year of cyber school did help us prepare for learning at home. We were not prepared, however, for some of these challenges. I would like to share the challenges that we faced with the hope that they help others in establishing a positive transition from public school to homeschool.
Homeschooling offers a lot of freedom. Freedom from schedules, homework, and bus stops. Lack of schedule or structure, however, can be a challenge. At times, there can be a sense of “We have all the time in the world to get our work done!” resulting in little to nothing getting done.
How to overcome that challenge? Set clear goals and expectations. Effective communication is key. A homeschool mission statement and vision board can be helpful in guiding your homeschool day.
2. Institutionalized Thinking
This challenge relates to freedom (or previous lack thereof). One of the hardest things that my boys and I had to deal with is the idea that we had to start or end our homeschool day at certain times. Or that subjects had to last a specific amount of time. Or that we had to do school only on weekdays or during the traditional school year.
We overcame this challenge by creating a homeschool routine that works for our family. My early birds like an early start to their day so they can enjoy the rest of their time in play or sports. We enjoy getting an early start to our year in summer months so we can let our Spring fever loose.
3. Busy Work
Guess what? Not every second or minute of your homeschool needs to be filled with busy work! Mind blown! Toss out all those extra worksheets and fillers-unless your kids like them. (One of my boys loves dot-to-dots and another likes word searches.) The point here is: do not feel compelled to assign multiple worksheets when one will do.
4. Free Time
With a flexible schedule and no busy work, your kids will discover that they have much more time on their hands. My boys had to rediscover the joy of free time. They had time to play, to explore nature, and to just lay on their backs and observe the clouds.
Challenges can arise when your kids have a hard time finding something to do (or not do). The common “I’m bored!” may be heard. My reaction to that phrase: “Good! Go enjoy your free time. Want to chat about what you could do?”
I give you this permission-it is okay to let your kids muddle about and find ways to amuse themselves. All of you may be surprised at what they discover.
5. Missing Out
When your kids go from public school to homeschool, all of you may experience feelings of “missing out”. Perhaps you feel guilty about the break from busy from not running to catch the bus or evenings free from homework? Or your kids may sigh as they talk about class parties or fun events?
Your family does not need to miss out at all! Create and discover your own special events. Investigate activities and groups at local libraries and community centers. Ask around about homeschool co-ops that may provide similar fun. Make your own homeschool memories by having fun days, field trips, and daily outdoor time.
You can establish a positive transition from public school to homeschool. Give your kids and yourself some time and understanding. Focus on the good that is happening around you. In time, you will find ways to cultivate a fulfilling routine that best fits your family.
Amy Milcic, is a mental health therapist turned homeschool soccer mom to 5 boys. She loves to share positive and creative ways to support learning at home. She can be found on Periscope @AmyMilcic weekdays for Rock Your Homeschool! She is also co-owner of Planner Squad, a site dedicated to uniting the planner community.