Maybe you decided at the end of a school year that next fall, you were homeschooling. Or maybe one day you just had enough, called it quits on public school, and brought your children home. But navigating the transition to homeschooling is puzzling.
No matter the circumstances, children who have attended school hold some firm beliefs and feelings about what “school” looks like, and they may not all be good. How can you help your child make the transition to homeschooling after their time in institutional school?
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1 | Start with De-Schooling
Deschooling in first on my list because I think it is the most important and valuable thing you will do for your homeschool. This applies to both you and your children. We’ve been indoctrinated to believe children aren’t learning unless it looks like school.
There must be tests, book reports, and 8-9 subjects a day. Grades, desks, and Number 2 pencils are standard. How can you help shift away from this thinking?
The first thing to do is step away from Google and forget about finding the “perfect” curriculum. Take time just to live and have fun without due dates and grades. Put school out of your mind, which will help them to relax and learn.
What should you do during this time?
- Board and card games
- Movies, TV, and Documentaries
- Travel or visit places close to home such as museums, the zoo, or festivals
- Linger in the bookstore with no expectation of choosing a book
- Listen to music, audiobooks, or podcasts
- Create! Paint, build or bake something
- Hike, go to the park, or just sit in the backyard
Ideally, you’re going to live an interesting life and forget school exists. It will be hard, especially for you, but your child probably needs a break. They also need to remember that learning isn’t a hoop to jump through to please someone else. It’s what makes life satisfying.
2 | Discuss and Plan with Your Child
What would your child like to do? Ask them. It’s perfectly acceptable to spend as much time as they desire on a subject. You aren’t under the demands of a school scope and sequence.
Once they’ve relaxed a little, they may remember enjoying science experiments and would like to try some more. Maybe they’ll embrace all the time they now have to pursue their artistic gifts.
Most importantly, consider curiosity and interests. Don’t force them to learn about American Revolution because that’s what 5th graders in your state are expected to study.
Another post on the importance of deschooling for children Deschooling: The Best Advice I Didn’t Take Before Homeschooling
3 | Careful Curriculum Choices
Here’s a little secret, you don’t HAVE to buy a curriculum to homeschool. We’re taking the school out and bringing the learning home, right?
A curriculum is needed in big institutional schools to make sure they are delivering a standard product and not repeating instruction. You don’t have this problem; your child will quickly tell you if they already know something. Trust me!
So don’t feel the need to make a curriculum decision immediately. What can you use instead?
- The library is full of books much more interesting than a textbook. Also, check out their programs, we’ve attended many free events and classes at the library.
- You can learn anything on YouTube.
- Khan Academy is a great, free resource.
- TV (most of our elementary science was Wild Kratts and Magic School Bus)
Your children don’t automatically learn because you purchased a full curriculum. Take the time to learn your children and discover what would work best for them.
If you need to deschool yourself in order to partner best with your child, check out Fearless Homeschool’s Deschooling Essentialscourse.
4 | Set Your Own Pace
Would your child rather stay up late and sleep in? Do you eat breakfast early and need lunch earlier than other families. Does daddy work weekends and so you want to take his days off during the week? It’s completely okay; you can do it whatever way works for your family.
You can also set your own pace with subjects. No homeschooling rule says you must do science and history every day. Maybe your child would rather devote an entire week to each topic. Many families find it more enjoyable to dive deeply into a subject and not alternative so quickly.
5 | Take One Day at a Time
This is a big transition for you both, so give it time. Don’t expect to pick up with a full-blown school schedule on the first day. That isn’t realistic, nor necessary.
You’re embarking on a new adventure, and it will take time to find your new normal. It’s okay for it to feel strange and uncomfortable at first. Don’t let a bad day, or several, cause you to give up.
Give your child the space to decompress from the pressures of school. When they have those doubts, and negative thoughts creep in, remind them why you made this choice.
On the particularly rough days, my advice would be to drop it all, grab a treat, and head to the park. Fresh air makes everything better.
For more on deschooling yourself, check out my post: 3 Reasons Deschooling is an Ambitious Life-Long Journey
Homeschooling is a Lifestyle
Homeschooling is not merely recreating school in your home. It can be so much more if you allow it to be. Once your child embraces homeschooling, and you shed your school-mindset, it can become intertwined with life, and the line between home and school will cease to exist.
Take the time needed to ease your child’s transition to homeschooling; it will be worth the investment and the benefits will be long-lasting.