Transitioning from School to Homeschooling
Taking your child out of public school or a private school in order to homeschool is a major life decision for the family. In my experience as a consultant, this decision can often occur in early elementary, middle school, or the beginning of high school. Regardless of when the decision to transition to homeschooling is made, everyone in the family will have to adapt and create a new rhythm to integrate their new lifestyle. Often parents feel quite anxious about homeschooling even though they realize that the decision is the best one for the family. Below are a few general guidelines that I hope will be helpful during this transition phase, regardless of the age of your child:
Take Time to Decompress:
This is probably the most important advice I can give to a family. Your child is going through a major change. The routine of school is very different from homeschooling and your child will need time simply to decompress, as will the rest of the family. Give yourselves at least a month to adjust to the very different rhythm of homeschooling. It is really OK if not much academic work happens during this first month adjustment period. A high school student may need to swing into action a bit sooner, but please do give yourselves the gift of time to create a rhythm and schedule that really works for everyone.
Listen to your Child:
This point seems obvious but it does need repeating. You and your child need especially good communication during this transition period. This is particularly true for an older child whose opinions need to be expressed. What topics (whether they are part of this year’s curriculum or not) is your child interested in exploring? What concerns does your child have about social issues and perhaps missing friends? What are your child’s expectations for homeschooling?
Think Outside the Box:
Homeschooling will open up new opportunities based on more flexible time management. What does this shift to homeschooling allow your family to experience that wasn’t possible before? Are there adventures or trips that you can now schedule that you couldn’t before? Are there ways your family can serve the community through volunteering that you couldn’t do before? How can you fulfill your schooling requirements in more creative ways? Give yourself the time to really reflect on these things so that you all can enjoy a more inspired rhythm to your homeschooling.
Take a Year at a Time:
Don’t plan too far ahead. Commit to an academic year and tweak the rhythm as necessary in the first few months. Let everyone adjust and see if homeschooling is really right for the family. At the end of the academic year, re-evaluate and see what works and what needs to be changed, including even the decision to remain homeschoolers.
Connect with other Homeschoolers:
As much as possible, connect with other homeschooling families for co-ops, field trips and general social support. Do consider joining the Christopherus Facebook support group and ask questions and feel supported by our large online community as well.
I wish you much success in your homeschooling adventure!