From Classic School to Homeschool:
8 Tips for New Homeschoolers
My son spent two years at a lovely Montessori School for Preschool and Kindergarten. Despite a spot-on Montessori curriculum, beautiful Montessori materials and absolutely loving his teachers, it never felt quite *right* for us. It was a combination of a lot of small things. My family tends to be bad at sticking to a schedule. Even though he just went for afternoons, we were always rushing out the door to get there on time. He was late at least once a week (sorry teachers)! Plus, we missed the time together, the lazy afternoons in the sun together, and I dreaded the carpool line.
Our plan had always been to homeschool, we did a Montessori-based homeschool Preschool for a bit. Then I got sick, we moved to a new town, and decided to try school. We hoped it would help us get to know some people and help my health recover. It never felt like a place we really belonged, despite my background as a teacher and with almost a decade in a Montessori classroom. Other families seemed at home there, I missed my son all afternoon and he was often teary eyed as he headed off to school.
Making the decision to homeschool was an easy choice for us. The transition ended up being much different than I imagined. I figured we’d fall into an easy rhythm, he’d be so pleased to have more time with us and more time at home, and it would be a smooth transition. It ended up being a bit rockier than I anticipated. Fortunately, I had several school-turned-homeschool Mama friends that offered me guidance, advice and support. Hopefully, these tips can help you too.
Tips for Transitioning To Homeschooling:
1. Your child is used to routine.
While your family may not be big on routine, you may imagine flexible & free homeschool days, schools thrive on routine. With that many kids in one space, state standards that need met, specials classes, etc. A schedule is necessary for a school. Your child is used to this and has come to expect a “schedule” for schooling. Younger children and children with special needs are more likely to struggle transitioning away from a structured, scheduled day. Some kids will gobble it up and make the transition just fine. However, don’t be surprised if your student seems to struggle with a lack of structure or even asks for a daily schedule.
2. Kids take direction much differently from Mom than from Teacher.
Most parents have, frustratingly, experienced the phenomenon of their child listening to someone else but not Mom. Using respectful verbiage with your student such as “You may…”, “Come join me…”, and “Let’s work on this together…” can all help this transition.
3. A transition party can help.
Giving a small transition party, perhaps a simple playdate at a park, with some of your child’s school friends can help. Some families even hold a mini graduation with a certificate signed by the school teacher and parenting signifying the transition.
4. Notify the school early.
This is just a logistical note. Especially if your student is in a school with a waitlist, it’s helpful for them to know as soon as possible that another spot will be opening for next year.
5. Be willing to be flexible!
This is one of the greatest joys of homeschooling. If something isn’t working out for your family, you can change it! If your child misses having lots of kids around, investigate coops. If you’re struggling with a curriculum give something else a try.
6. Communicate throughout the transition.
Check in with your student towards the end of their time in school to see what would help them with their transition. As you begin homeschooling, talk about what’s working, the differences between homeschool and their previous experience, and keep an open dialogue about the transition.
Be prepared for some unexpected emotions- We were surprised by some of the emotions we experienced. It’s a huge transition, which can come with huge feelings from everyone.
Talk about favorite elements from school. - If your child had things at school they really loved, it can be fun to incorporate some of those ideas into your homeschool.
7. Don’t forget your school friends!
Friends your student made can still be lifelong friends. Set up weekend get togethers, offr to help pick up buddies from carpool on occasion. Many children’s sports programs will allow homeschoolers to request to be pared with students they know from school-days on teams.
8. Enjoy it!!!!
Homeschooling is a fun experience. Enjoy the ride, tackle the bumps as they come and remember that it’s OK if it’s not the best fit for you. Schools will be there if you decide that’s what is best for you family!
An easy way to get started with homeschooling is by easing in over the summer and having fun. Make sure to subscribe to our newsletter to be the first to get our free monthly printable packs. These are a perfect resource to help you ease in this summer!
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Amanda is a former Montessori teacher, now homeschooling her dear son - an only child. Amanda and her family reside in an Airstream parked in Washington State. She loves Washington's outdoor opportunities. When not homeschooling, she also blogs, works as a virtual assistant, and loves creating hand-lettering pieces.