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I'm a wife to my "Mr. Right". A momma of five. A maker of slow food and simple living. A collector of memories, a keeper of books, and a champion for books that make memories. An addict who likes my half-and-half with a splash of coffee. A fractured pot transformed by the One Who makes broken things beautiful. I heart homeschooling, brake for libraries, and am glad you're here with me on the journey! Be sure to subscribe to my monthly newsletter. Or, follow along with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google +, Youtube, or Pinterest.

From Public School to Homeschool: 5 Tips for the Transition

From Public School to Homeschool: 5 Tips for the Transition #homeschool #crisisschooling #schoolhelp

“This forced entry has convinced me that being with my kids all day every day is actually pretty great. I think when all of this is over, I’m just gonna keep on homeschooling them. But if truth be told, I’m not sure what I’m doing. It all seems hard. Is it hard for everyone else?”

I’ve received several iterations of this message in the last two weeks—musings from moms whose kids are currently enrolled in the public school, but who are planning to homeschool next year instead. These past few weeks of schooling-at-home has given them renewed hope and passion for their kids' education. They are excited to make homeschooling official but are also nervous about this new adventure.


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While on the one hand, joining the ranks at the same time as so many others is great news for them and their kids--they'll have more support and their kids will have more friends who will understand their new lifestyle--on the other hand, homeschooling for the long haul is far different from schooling-at-home for a few brief months.

There will be bumps in the road, to be sure. Homeschooling will, at times, be quite difficult.

It can be made so much better, however, if it launches well.

If this is your current story, might I give you 5 tips to help in your transition from public school to homeschool?

From Public School to Homeschool: 5 Tips for the Transition #homeschool #crisisschooling #schoolhelp

Become an expert of your child

There are no homeschool experts--folks who have figured it all out and who are doing it perfectly. But there are experts of individual children. They're called moms. As a mom, you've earned the title of expert. You've spent your kids' entire lifetime studying them--learning their likes and dislikes, their passion and gifts, their struggles and shortcomings. You know them more than anyone else in the world. So, while you might not be a homeschool expert, you are an expert of your children and that kind of expertise will serve an education far better than any academic expertise ever could.

Homeschooling forces you to know, really know, your kids. It helps you to become their very best teacher. It's a gentle and ever-evolving instructor. You'll get to grow right along with them.

From Public School to Homeschool: 5 Tips for the Transition #homeschool #crisisschooling #schoolhelp

Create a learning atmosphere

Create an environment of learning that is suitable for them. Pack your spaces with the books they're most interested in, the games they most want to play, the tools needed for them to do the things they most want to do. This will be a stark contrast from the classroom that they were used to. I'm quite certain it only contained the items that serve the masses. An intentional and child-specific atmosphere will not only help establish the fact that homeschooling will be different (in a good way), but will also show how much you value their education...that you value them.

In time, you can slowly slip in new things--items that are outside your child's normal scope of ideas or curiosities, items that will introduce new concepts and theories, items that will challenge them. But start with what they know and love first. Make the first few steps of homeschooling easy for you by making it easy for them. 

From Public School to Homeschool: 5 Tips for the Transition #homeschool #crisisschooling #schoolhelp

Deschool

I've heard it said that for every year your kids were in a traditional school, you need to give them one month to deschool--to slough off the rigidity and the routines of an education that's been driven by a clock. To be clear, de-schooling is not unschooling, a method of education that eschews any formal instruction.

Deschooling is a setting aside. That doesn't mean that no learning happens or that you let them sit around in their jammies, watching cartoons all day. It just means that formal learning--things like grammar and math--get put on the backburner for a brief time and that the education takes more of an organic approach. 

Watch documentaries, play board games, do STEM projects, complete a MadLib, learn new handcrafts, practice life skills. These sneaky learning activities will still provide forward motion on their overall education, but in the same way that creating a learning atmosphere will help them see home as a place where they want to learn, an intentional setting-aside of traditional subjects will recalibrate their attitude towards school and will give you enough time to establish some good home learning habits. They'll be less apt to say things like, "That's not the way we did it in school," because school, as they knew it to be, will be unlearned. You'll create a clean slate. 

From Public School to Homeschool: 5 Tips for the Transition #homeschool #crisisschooling #schoolhelp

Establish home learning habits

Most classroom teachers spend several days at the beginning of the school year simply establishing routines and schedules because clarity is kindness. There's a feeling of safety in knowing expectations. In establishing good routines and a solid but very flexible schedule, you are not only giving your kids a sturdy foundation with which to hold up their day, but you're also giving yourself the gift of a frustration-free routine. Good routines put a day on autopilot and leave you with far fewer minute-by-minute decisions to make and fires to tackle. So during that period of deschooling, begin brainstorming what you want a typical school day to look like.

Ask yourself questions like:
Where do I want the learning to take place? Will we sit at the dining room table or lounge on the couch? Will the kitchen island be best or the living room floor?

What self-care, home care, or spiritual care needs to happen before the school day begins? For me? For the kids?

What do I want my kids to do in between learning chunks when I need to do a home task? Will they have a break? Play outside? Read a book?

Where should they put their work when they are finished with it? When it needs my once-over?

What will I do with their completed work? Their completed projects? What gets saved? Displayed? Thrown out?

Where will they store all their learning tools and books? Where will I store mine? What about the curriculum and books that we are not currently using but will eventually use? Where should all of that go?

What will be the end-of-the-school-day routine?

Once you determine answers to these and other questions, begin training your kids in good habits. Walk through the school day without actually doing any learning. Think of this as a fire drill. Have everyone practice actions and reactions. Then all you'll need to do is piece the habits together with your learning plan. In this way, you'll be pre-framing your homeschool before it even begins!

From Public School to Homeschool: 5 Tips for the Transition #homeschool #crisisschooling #schoolhelp

Soft-open

Once you're ready to actually start homeschooling, ease in. Give yourself a long runway to get up to full speed. Soft launch by beginning with only one or two subjects. Once you feel comfortable with those, add in one or two more until you can tackle the entire load. I've been homeschooling for over a decade, and I still soft-open every school year.

A Final thought


At first, homeschooling will seem hard…maybe even too hard. Anything you haven’t yet mastered seems hard. But, I’d venture to guess that parenting looked pretty near impossible before the doctor handed you a little pink or blue bundle. But somehow, you learned to parent because you had to. That baby was counting on you. So, you figured it out.

You might not be a perfect parent. Who among us is? But you parent just the same. Homeschooling is much like that. It seems hard, but once you start, you figure out how to do because necessity truly is the mother of invention. You find ways to do it well because you have to.

You can do it! It might be hard. But hard things often reap the best harvests!


4 comments:

  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I have read your book and it honestly has given me the gumption to start a homeschool journey with my three young kids! This post was right on time for me!

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    1. I'm soooooo very glad, Miranda! Praise the Lord! I wish you the very best launch. Take it slow and give you and your kids lots of grace. It's gonna be great!

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  2. I think I have read most of your blog and your book in the last 3 days. Contemplating homeschooling my 3 littles (we are UK based and they are 5, 3 and 2). The information you provide has been a great help to me and just wanted to say thank you.

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