How to Transition From Public Schooling to Homeschooling

Transitioning from regular school (be it public or private), to homeschooling is quite an adjustment for not just the children but the entire family.

Ideally, transitioning from one type of educational experience to another should occur over the summer months to give everyone time to adjust, but such a perfect scenario is not always possible.

dry erase board and posters on homeschool classroom wall
dry erase board and posters on homeschool classroom wall

Transitioning from a typical school environment to homeschooling can successfully be accomplished during any time of the year, even at a moment’s notice to the child.

But, adapting to the massive school routine change as well as viewing a parent as both a parent and a teacher, cannot be accomplished in a day.

Adjusting your expectations of what both the teaching and learning experience will be like during the first few weeks should be number one on your agenda.

What to Expect In the First Two

Schooling at home and homeschooling are two entirely different things – at least they should be.

When learning at home, children do not have to sit silently in their seats for an hour or more at a time, and only have 10 minutes to get up and run around and, generally, be kids before settling back into a silent and seated position again for another long stretch of time.

Talking and interacting should be an essential part of the homeschooling experience.

Children will be far more likely to actively engage in a subject if they can ask questions, share what they know, participate in hands-on activities, do experiments, use their knowledge constructively or creatively, and have the freedom to explore the topic more indepthly on their own using technology, the outdoors, or a living book as their guide.

This type of learning curriculum does not jive with what goes on in the vast majority of public schools.

Although the children will both get a lot more out of this type of educational environment and ultimately love and cherish it, expect them to hold back initially while they transition from a rigid public school routine to an open, flowing, and flexible academic plan.

The Two Major Obstacles

Mom is now Mrs. Mom

As noted above, the dynamic between parent and child will change when mom, dad, grandma, or grandma takes on a new title.

If you do not want getting the homeschooling day rolling to mirror that same battles you fight to get your children to clean their room, you have to create a solid daily routine centered around the learning activities.

Teaching one or a small group of children allows you to move as slow or as quickly as is needed to cover a specific topic, or to complete necessary work. Most homeschooling parents end their day after lunch of by 2 P. M.

Some families leave Fridays for field trips, outdoor recreation, music lessons, and other types of elective and non-traditional types of learning.

Letting the children know right off the bat that their school day just got shorter, and that there will no longer be any homework will surely brighten their spirits.

Better yet, the children can have snacks while doing their work, and no longer have to raise their hand to go to the bathroom.

Pointing out the most common public school drudgery that the children will no longer be subjected to can help put a little levity into the transition period, and create a positive mindset within a child who may be resistant or hesitant about the change in their educational environment.

2. Missing Friends and Feelings of Isolation

The most common misconception about homeschooling is that children are not socialized enough, and otherwise isolated.

If you think about the public school day both honestly and critically, the answer to how often the children actually get to mingle with friends is darn little.

In a traditional school setting, children are told to sit silently in their seats except for a few moments at the beginning or end of a class when they are permitted to “talk quietly with their neighbor.”

Assigned seats are also common in many classrooms, preventing a child from choosing to be with friends, and to socialize with others that they have forged friendships with.

Walking in the hallways in-between classes for older children provides a whole three minutes of being able to talk and laugh with a friend who is headed in the same direction before an annoying loud bell dings, and everyone must once again sit quietly and still in a seat for an hour.

Talking while being led to gym or another special is almost always strictly prohibited so as not to disturb the learning of others in the classrooms passed along the way.

Unless a test is being taken, learning should be an exciting exchange of information, ideas, and learning activities that never require absolute quiet.

Lunch and recess are the only times that public school children are allowed to really socialize. Most lunch periods are 30 to 40 minutes long, and recess takes up about 20 to 25 minutes of the school day – and not in one block of time.

There are numerous ways homeschooled children receive socialization in any given day or week. Joining a homeschool group or simply working together less formally with other homeschooled children in your community offers the opportunity to work on educational projects together, go on field trips together, and have afternoon play dates.

Taking karate or music lessons, joining 4-H, a scouting organization, or even a public school sport (which homeschooled children are allowed to do in most states) allow children to embrace friendships with an even more broad selection of children around their age.

If you do not have any other homeschooling families that live close enough to work jointly on a daily or weekly basis or are temporarily homeschooling due to an illness, injury, or disaster, using technology to connect with friends from school and elsewhere can help prevent any feelings of isolation or stress.

There is a lot to be said about the bonding that goes on when siblings are learning at home together. It really is alright to have a brother or a sister for a best friend.

Getting rid of all the distractions that a formerly rushed and overly stimulated public school life caused

Redirect attention inward for each child not only to discover their own particular sets of strengths and interests, but also to develop a deeper relationship with siblings, and with multi-generational members of the family.

How to Develop a Homeschooling Plan

Incorporate your children into the homeschooling plan.

If your have purchased a single or multiple types of curriculum plans, are using a computerized academic plan, or printed packet materials to teach the children at home, allowing them to make choices, and actively engage in what and how they will be learning will foster a great sense of involvement, responsibility, and control of themselves, their environment, and what they are doing.

Start by asking what each child liked both most and least about the traditional school day. This can actually be a language arts lessons and charting learning activity.

Perhaps “grades cards” might be at the top of the least liked list. Thankfully, issuing letter grades does not need to be a part of homeschool.

While work must be reviewed for accuracy and to determine if the topic matter has been mastered, the goal of teaching is to learn.

In a homeschool environment you have the ability to work on a subject, math equation, or scientific formula until the child understands the concept. Receiving grade cards and classifying children into grade levels is not necessary, and up to the homeschooling ideals of the parent.

Creating a portfolio of each child’s work for a state review of academic standards covered and achievement throughout the year is highly recommended.

Even if your state does not require such a collection of work, it may be needed for any post-secondary college program of advanced higher education.

colt's first day of school
Celebrate the first day of homeschooling with all of those fun “first day” photos of the kids that traditional students pose for each year to launch the start of the new learning season officially, and with a bit of flare and excitement.

How to Avoid Start of the Day Pitfalls

Children may feel a little anxious during the first few weeks or even months of homeschooling while transitioning out of a public school environment. The freedom and flexibility of their new learning schedule, will seem quite foreign to them.

Some homeschoolers love learning while still in their pajamas, but doing so during the transitional stage can cause children to feel like they are not really starting their day and remain in lounge at home mode instead of getting into a learning mindset first thing in the morning.

I highly recommend having the children keep to their getting up and getting ready for school routine at least during the transitional weeks or first two months of learning at home.

They can put on their actual “school clothes” or adorn themselves in play clothes since they will hopefully be spending a lot of time outdoors, and doing messy art projects and science experiments.

Talk about the differences in how their schooling day is starting now, and how it used to start before transitioning to homeschooling.

The children may not even realize why they are feeling anxious, stressed, lethargic, or find themselves being unable to focus when it is time to start learning after breakfast.

Discussing their feelings can help them come to grips with why they are experiencing them to help alleviate the distractions that they cause.

Allowing the children to check in with friends via the phone, texts, or messaging can help them feel connected to their old friends, and keep a small part of the old school day meet and greet in their morning routine so they will perhaps be better settled down to work.

For the first several days or so during the transitional period, consider using journal topics that relate to the change in circumstances, both positive and negative, to give the children a place to vent their thoughts and feelings before moving along with the rest of their homeschooling day.

Introducing some new traditions into the start of the day can bring more fun and levity into the homeschool morning routine. Maybe the children want to have a morning jam fest and play their music as loud as they want for five minutes to get their bodies and minds alert and moving.

You could launch a morning contest of some type, be it leap frog, an obstacle course, or a board game challenge with a prize for the winner that permits them to pick the educational movie to watch on Friday morning, or the snack that goes with it, the next book that will be read, or the field trip destination to journey to this month.

Tending to the animals on the homestead or domestic pets first thing in the morning before breakfast will also get the children up and moving, while instilling more independence and responsibility into their daily lives.

How to Plan the Homeschool Day

It is not necessary to spend an hour a day on each subject – or to teach subjects separately in their own little block of time.

Homeschooling should be interest led as much as possible. If a child has an interest in dinosaurs, learning about them will not only be a fun discovery journey, but also serve as a writing, reading comprehension, spelling, science, and math lesson when a parent uses a theme unit approach to teaching.

Because the children will be learning not only seated but engaging in projects, making videos to demonstrate how something is assembled or to act out a scene from a book, going outdoors to explore and learn, and completing STEM (science, engineering, and technology) or better yet STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) projects, they will be melding multiple subject matter together on a regular basis.

childrens busy in the homeschool classroom

Creating a specific time to learn just one thing as a line item on a schedule is not only unnecessary, it can completely derail the excitement and inspiration of the learning experience by forcing a stop to an activity or lesson simply because a schedule written on a piece of paper says it is time to do so.

If the children are learning about gardening and want to spend extra time digging in the dirt to plant just a few more seeds or want to take photos or draw pictures of the bugs they found in the soil and learn which ones are beneficial and which are harmful, let them.

Neither your nor they are any longer constrained by a government school bell schedule.

Sample Homeschool Daily Schedule

8-8:30 Morning Basket 8-8:30 Morning Basket 8-8:30 Morning Basket 8-8:30 Morning Basket 8-8:30 Morning Basket
8:30-9 Morning Hike, Walk, or Physical Activity 8:30-9 Morning Hike, Walk, or Physical Activity 8:30-9 Morning Hike, Walk, or Physical Activity 8:30-9 Morning Hike, Walk, or Physical Activity 8:30 – 9 Morning Hike, Walk, or Physical Activity
9-9:30 Writing 9-9:30 Writing 9-9:30 Writing 9-9:30 Writing 9 -Noon Field Trip, Homeschool group activity, educational movie, volunteering, or special project
9:30-10 Physical Activity, Music, or Art Learning Extension Project 9:30-10 Activity, Music, or Art Learning Extension Project 9:30-10 Activity, Music, or Art Learning Extension Project 9:30-10 Activity, Music, or Art Learning Extension Project
10-11:30 Reading and extension activities 10-11:30 Social Studies and extension activities 10-11:30 Reading and extension activities 10-11:30 Social Studies and extension activities
11:30-12:15 Lunch 11:30-12:15 Lunch 11:30-12:15 Lunch 11:30-12:15 Lunch 12 – 12:45 Lunch
12:15-12:30 Outdoor or Physical Activity 12:15-12:30 Outdoor or Physical Activity 12:15-12:30 Outdoor or Physical Activity 12:15-12:30 Outdoor or Physical Activity 12:45 – 2 or Beyond Continued Field Trip, Homeschool group activity, educational movie, volunteering, or special project
12:30 – 2 Science and extension activities 12:30-2 Math and extension activities 12:30 – 2 Science and extension activities 12:30-2 Math and extension activities

How to Set Up a Morning Basket

While homeschooling should be a flexible experience geared towards a child’s particular needs as well as to allow for the teaching of multiple children at different ages at once, routine still has an important place in how the family constructs the day.

Posting the daily or weekly schedule and making the children themselves responsible for their own actions teaches independence, and puts them in charge of accomplishing specific tasks.

Writing the schedule on a whiteboard or on a piece of poster board works well for older children, but using graphics or photos of each stage of the planned day can help teach younger children how to manage their time, as well.

littel girls drawing

Children will not need to get up as early as they would to catch a bus or make a drive to school, but should start their homeschooling day in the morning after (or even during) breakfast. Starting the day does not mean they have to sit and start completing worksheets.

Creating a “morning basket” for each child gives them an independent activity or activities to work on while you take care of other daily chores.

The basket could have a clip it board for young children, a bag of blocks and sequencing cards to complete with them, fact cards to match on any given subject or person, a daily journal prompt, and art supplies to draw a scene from a book they read the day prior, for example.

Low key activities to help the mind get moving as the body gets awake are perfect for the morning basket for a child of any age.

Homeschooling Transition Fears

Many parents who are new to homeschooling wonder if their children are really learning anything if they step away from the seated at a desk or table with a ditto sheet or textbook in front of them regimen.

It is not just the children who must transition from a public school mindset, but the teaching parent as well.

Whether you chose to homeschool out of a deeply held belief that traditional public or private school was not the best environment for your child to learn and flourish, or were forced to suddenly homeschool due to a change in circumstances beyond your control – like a move to a remote homestead or an emergency of some type, being suddenly solely responsible for the education of your children can be a daunting task.

Know going in that you will make mistakes, learn from them, and adapt the homeschooling day, curriculum or both, accordingly. It would be incredibly rare for any parent to use the exact same homeschooling formula from the beginning to the end of the kindergarten through senior year journey.

Not only will you learn more about homeschooling as the years roll by and change how you teach, you may also need to embrace different learning approaches with each child.

Not all children learn the same way or at the same speed. This is one of the primary reasons why traditional school environments fail so many students.

Take advantage of all the free homeschooling organizations and associations that are available both in communities and online.

Networking with other parents who are facing the same newbie fears and the ones who have been there and successfully lived through it can provide comfort, useful tips, links to free learning resources, as well as both a shoulder to cry on and someone to laugh with about the messy experiences and well planned epic lesson failures that accompany homeschool life.

homeschool classroom

Should I Set Up a Classroom?

You do not need little desks, a chalkboard, and a dedicated room to run an engaging and successful homeschool. All the children need is a place to sit at a table to do whatever seat work you’ve deemed necessary, and tabletop place of learning activities and projects.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with curling up on the couch, a lounge chair on the porch, or sitting under a tree to read either a living book or a textbook – if you choose to use them in your homeschool.

Some homeschooling parents have found it useful to have a dedicated space or room for schoolwork or to use part of a play room for learning.

Often it is the parent who needs the concrete separation from the typical home life to get into the schooling mindset, but sometimes it may be the children, themselves who find clinging to their traditional learning environment a comfort.

The physical set up of the homeschooling area can vary greatly by family. Whatever works for you and your children is just fine.

There are no written in stone rules about where and how children must learn at home – that type of one size fits all nonsense may be the law of the land at public schools, but you are now the parent, principal, and teacher, and can make up your own rules for the benefit of your own particular child or children.

Whatever type of area you choose to use for homeschooling when learning indoors, allow the children to be a part of the organizing and decorating the space to help them feel a sense of ownership in their own education.

Being a part of the homeschooling team can be especially important during the transitional phase when a child can feel as if he or she have lost their bearings after leaving the familiar classroom setting and losing the sense of home no longer being just home, but school as well.

Choosing How to Homeschool

If you have had extensive time to prepare for the transition to homeschooling, many hours have likely been spend attempting to decipher which type of homeschooling method is right for your family.

Browsing not just all of the different homeschooling styles that exist but the plethora of no-tech, low-tech, or high-tech curriculum packages can be massively overwhelming. As noted above, most homeschooling philosophies and curriculum plans evolve overtime.

While some parents may opt to strictly follow one discipline, many more infuse the parts of various homeschooling styles that best suit the personalities, learning styles, beliefs, and budget of their families.

Do not feel pressured into picking just one type of homeschooling method and stress yourself out beyond belief to adhere to it 100% even doing so feels like drudgery.

Homeschooling should be a flexible learning environment that is full of wonder, excitement, and discovery, and not one that has both you and the children gritting your teeth “getting through” a book, lesson, or activity that does not appeal or seem to add value to your learning goals.

Popular Homeschooling Styles To Explore

Nearly all homeschoooling methods overlap in one way or another, which makes blending different disciplines and learning styles together far more seamless – even for newbie homeschooling parents.

If you have not already researched or decided upon specific homeschooling methods to use with your children, consider using one or a blending of several, of those noted below.

If you have a nature lover, avid reader, artist, or explorer in your family, the Charlotte Mason model would probably be a perfect fit – it also blends quite well with a Bible based, Waldorf, and unit studies style of teaching.

  • Charlotte Mason
  • Classical
  • Waldorf
  • Montessori
  • Religious – Bible Based
  • School At Homeschooling
  • Unschooling
  • Unit Studies
  • Online – Virtual Schooling

Finding Learning Lessons Everywhere

Learning how much work a child can get through in a day is part of the homeschooling equation that can become a stumbling block for newbie homeschool parents.

Because you will be working one on one or with a small group of children, you will get through a standard classroom type lesson far more quickly that a traditional school teacher dealing with 20 or more students, can ever dream to accomplish.

This is why the homeschool day is typically shorter than a school day, as noted above.

Keeping some hands-on learning activities in your pocket to use when you have simply run out of planned things to do, have children of multiple ages to teach, have one child who works more quickly than others, can be a lifesaver – and a truly rewarding educational experience for the children.

Some homeschooling parents use ideas like the ones presented below for afternoon work once more conventional learning experiences have been completed.

Other parents add these type of activities to their detailed weekly lesson plans as part of the child’s vocational and self-reliance training.

If you have embraced some part of a Charlotte Mason, Waldorf, unschooling, or unit studies homeschooling method, use what is around you as a classroom both indoors and out, as well as being guided by your child’s own interests when planning the homeschooling day or Friday special projects.

Turning hobbies into a learning experience or teaching children skills they will need to learn as they grow into adults can become a vital and highly anticipated part of the homeschooling day or week.

Meal Preparation

Teaching children at home means breakfast can once again be what it should be, the most important meal of the day filled with healthy and hearty foods and not just a chow it down ASAP or you will miss the bus again cereal bar.

Breakfast, like lunch and snacks during a homeschool day, can be used to teach children about nutrition, and where their food comes from, as well as math and science.

Going out to the chick coop to fetch the eggs that will be eaten that day is learning about agricultural science, health, exercise, and helps foster a sense of responsibility, independence, and self-reliance.

While some homeschooling families turn on an educational video or movie related to what they children are studying to watch during breakfast, others keep this time technology free to encourage conversations between the children or a child and adult – or simply to have a quiet time to get away and charge up for the day’s activities.

From Hobby To Homeschool “Course”

Embracing a child’s natural curiosity about how things work or further an interest in a hobby or potential career choice is “real” learning.

Enrolling the child into a community course in the subject outside the home as part of their homeschool education or setting up a job shadowing, volunteering, or mentoring experience can also prove worthwhile as vocational, character, and responsibility training tool.

Your child may have ideas all of his or her own about what type of vocational activity or career exploration course they are interested in learning more about.

Giving this type of input from the child credence and exploring how and when such learning could occur can be especially beneficial to aiding in a child’s embracing and acceptance of a transition from public school to homeschooling.

Not only will the child begin to better understand how much their own opinion is respected and taken into consideration in their new learning environment, but also start to ponder the nearly limitless possibilities regarding not only what they can study, but how they can learn about the topic, as well.

Reading about how something is done flat-out fails in comparison to seeing, hearing, touching, and engaging with the subject.

20 Popular Hobbies, and Vocations Often Turned Into Homeschool Learning Experiences

MechanicsSewing – Quilting
CookingFood Preservation
Animal Care and GroomingFarming – Ranching
Movie – Video ProductionCarpentry
Herbal RemediesGardening
Stained GlassForestry – Natural Resources
Watercraft – BoatingWelding

If you have a resistant homeschooler who is not yet on board with the transition away from a traditional school environment, consider helping the child become inspired to explore an existing hobby or interest or find a new one, to focus on as a learning project.

While going outside of the home to work with other professionals in the fields or their peers in a community course would be ideal, you can also start small and duplicate the vocational experience as much as possible inside your home due to distance, budgetary, or age constraints.

Learning occurs in many ways, it should be a full sensory experience that is connected to the real lives of the children both now and in the future.

Making the transition from public school to homeschooling as smooth as possible will prevent stress for both parents and children, as well as reduce the amount of learning time loss when making the switch to home based learning.

If you find the children, you, or all involved as becoming overly tense, approaching the day with a senses of trepidation or dread, take a mental health day.

Head out to a local park, grab an ice cream cone, or do anything fun together but homeschooling to disconnect from the strain for a few hours or a day.

This type of momentary escape from the new reality might have to occur a few times during the first month of transition – and that fact should not make you feel like a failure as a homeschooling mom, dad, or grandparent.

The “break day” might seem like wasted time at first, but being able to come back to learning refreshed with a more positive point of view can reinvigorate the adult and the child, fostering far more learning time than was lost while enjoying a double chocolate chip cone and watching the ducks play on the pond at the park.

As long as you are willing to cut both yourself and the children some slack during the transitional period from public school to homeschooling, adapting this new learning adventure to suit the family’s needs as you go, everything will be just fine in the end.

homeschooling transition pinterest

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