With all the uneasiness and concern over health situations happening in our world, it can be hard to know what to do.
And as a momma with school age children, it can be especially difficult because you know that your decisions don’t just effect you, but your entire family.
Let’s be real: That’s a lot of pressure!
And while I’m not going to pretend to sit here and tell you what you should or should not do when it comes to health precautions or even where your kids go to school, there is one thing I can help you with.
You see, so many people think that starting to homeschool is this big, complicated beast that can never be tamed. And the truth of the matter is, that’s not right!
Yes, there are a few details that you need to make sure you have in place when you start homeschooling, but when you break it down, it’s really very simple.
So how do you do it? How do you move from the ‘travel to a building and go to school’ mentality to a homeschooling mentality?
How do you transition to homeschooling without feeling like you’re fighting a losing battle with an ogre?
Well, let’s break it down into some simple building blocks, shall we?
The Legal Stuff
Now, don’t let this scare you! Whenever you start talking about legal stuff, it sounds a lot more intimidating than it actually is.
Here’s the big idea behind it: Each county keeps a record of all the school age children living in that county and what school they’re attending. When you start homeschooling, you need to let your county school board know that your child is no longer attending a public school and is, instead, being homeschooled.
Now, the process for communicating this change in schools is a bit different in every state in the nation, so I’m not going to attempt to give you a list! Instead, go check out HSLDA’s website. HSLDA, or the Home School Legal Defense Association, is a group of lawyers dedicated to helping homeschooling families understand the homeschooling laws and making sure that everyone from parents to administrators to state representatives abides by the homeschooling laws that are written for each state. This link will take you to their web page where you can click on your state and find out exactly what you need to do in your state.
Just as a side note: As you walk through the legal side of notifying your county’s school board that you are homeschooling, keep records of your conversations. Keep a copy of any written communication and keep notes on any phone conversations. This way if any questions arise, you have a quick and easy way to know what was said, when it was said, and who said it…and it doesn’t turn into a game of ‘he said/she said.’
The Physical Stuff
Do you want to know a secret? You can homeschool even if you’ve never set foot in a teacher’s store! In fact, you can homeschool even if you had no idea that there was such a thing as a teacher’s store! And you can homeschool if the local teacher’s store is your happy place!
The truth is, you don’t need a lot of charts, maps, globes, bulletin board stuff and more to homeschool your children. You don’t need to transform your living room into a classroom. And you don’t need to go buy a bulletin board with the wavy edge boarders to make this work! (Remember those?)
Now, I do recommend having some very basic things to get started. Things like, a table to work on (the kitchen table works great!), some pencils, and some loose-leaf paper. But the truth of the matter is that you don’t need a lot of supplies to get started!
In fact, you can get started with a handful of pencils and paper and figure out what things you need as you go.
The Mindset Stuff
Now, this one might seem odd. How does your mindset play into transitioning to homeschooling from a brick-and-mortar school?
Well, think about it like this: When you’re at a brick and mortar school, you have a certain amount of time for each subject. You go to math class and talk about math for the full 49 minutes of that class time. Then you get up and move to the science lab and talk about science for the next 49 minutes and so on.
Homeschooling doesn’t always work that way. There is no set amount of time that you are required to spend on any one subject. You child might fully understand one lesson after only 5 minutes and you can keep going from there. Other lessons might take longer.
The big idea to focus on here is not to clock in a certain amount of minutes for each subject, but to make sure your child fully understands the lesson material. It’s a different mindset to get into!
Oh, don’t get me wrong, it makes sense why brick and mortar schools set up their schedules with a set amount of time for each class, but you also have to consider that these school are working with a large number of students simultaneously.
Homeschooling, on the other hand, is very individualized. You can focus in more on what your child needs to learn and switch the focus from spending this set amount of time on a specific subject to working through the lesson until they understand or master it.
The Timing Stuff
Did you know that a homeschooling day doesn’t have to last from 8:30am until 3pm with a 30 minute break for lunch? It’s true!
One of the pieces that can be so challenging when you transition from a brick and mortar school into homeschooling is the realization that a homeschooling day takes less time than a traditional school day.
Now, on one hand this can feel very frustrating and almost like you’re not doing your job when you get through all the material before lunch, right?
But think about it this way: Is it more important that your children understand the material or that they sit at the kitchen table for a set amount of time? Learning and understanding the material is more important, right? And if your child is learning and understanding the material faster, why would you make them sit at the kitchen table just to make it feel like you “clocked in a school day”? It just doesn’t seem to add up when you look at it like that.
One big thing about homeschooling is that your child is now getting individualized attention on each and every one of their subjects. You don’t have to spend time on helping others understand an area that your child grasps. You can focus your entire lesson on helping your child master the material. And that, by definition, takes less time.
So don’t feel like your school day has to stretch from a certain time until a certain time. Focus on helping your child make progress and master each lesson and you’ll do fantastic!
The Worrying Stuff
As you make the transition to homeschooling, one of the big factors is wondering and worrying if your child is learning enough. If you’re teaching them enough. Honestly, you start to worry if you are enough, right?
In these moments, it’s easy to look for a checklist. It’s easy to find some sort of standard list to hold your child up against and measure whether or not they have learned enough.
But here’s the thing: Each child learns at a different pace from every other child. For that matter, every child learns at a different pace in every subject! You may have a child who excels at math, but struggles a little when it comes to reading. Or perhaps your child excels in reading, but science is their sticking point.
The question isn’t: Did I get through enough to check the box on this?
Instead, the question should be: Is my child making progress? Are they moving forward in this subject? Are they learning?
You see, if your child is learning and making progress, mastering each lesson before moving on to the next, you are doing a fabulous job as their teacher and your child is doing a fantastic job in their learning!
The Transition Stuff
One very important thing you need to remember is that just as starting to homeschool is a transition for you, it is also a transition for your child! You have both gotten used to the pattern of your child heading off to another, physical building and being taught by teachers who are not related to you.
All that changes when you transition to homeschooling.
Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad change. It’s not wrong. But it is a change. It is different. And like any change or transition in life, it’s going to take some getting used to.
You will have an adjustment time while you figure out your homeschooling pattern. You might not feel like this whole homeschooling thing is working on the first day or even in the first week!
But just like breaking in a new pair of shoes, you have to live with it for a while before you find your groove. Before it feels completely natural.
And in the meantime, give yourself grace. Remember, you don’t have to have everything perfect on the first try! The progress is in the process, not in perfection!
The Curriculum Stuff
Ah, yes, the dreaded curriculum discussion, right? It seems like this idea of choosing curriculum is the most intimidating factor when it comes to transitioning to homeschooling, doesn’t it?
But here’s the thing: Curriculum isn’t this big, scary beast! Curriculum is simply a road map to help you teach your child.
And, yes, there are a LOT of different curriculums out there! And there are some really good ones to choose from! And, let’s face it, sometimes that’s what makes choosing curriculum so hard!
So when it comes to the curriculum stuff, what do you do?
First of all, you start with the basics. Start with choosing those foundational subjects like reading, reading comprehension, handwriting, and math.
Secondly, remember that this is your homeschool! You can start with what you have and build onto it from there. You don’t have to have your entire 10 year plan mapped out before you even start!
And third, remember that you are not locked in for life to a specific curriculum! Now, you should do your best to choose a curriculum that will resonate with your teaching style and your child’s learning style (more on that in this blog post), but if you try something and find that it’s just not working for you, change it! Don’t continue to live in complete and total frustration when it comes to your curriculum!
The most important piece here is to get started. Don’t let the thought of curriculum or the fear of choosing the wrong curriculum stop you from starting your homeschooling journey.
The Ending Stuff
Now, I’m not going to sit here and tell you that you absolutely must homeschool your children. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of homeschooling! I wouldn’t be pushing nearly a dozen years homeschooling my own children if I wasn’t a fan!
But here’s the thing: You have to make the decision for your family. And if homeschooling is right for you (and I highly encourage you to check it out!), fantastic! I’m here to help!
And if homeschooling isn’t the right choice for your family, I’m still here to help in any way I can!
More than anything, remember that transitioning from a brick-and-mortar school to homeschooling is just that: A transition! And just like any major transition in life, it will take a bit of time to find your groove. It will take some time to feel normal. And that’s okay!
But here’s the great news: You can do this! You are fully capable of teaching your child and guiding them along their learning journey. It’s not about seeking perfection, but it’s all about the progress you make every day along this incredible journey called homeschooling.
- How to Get Started Homeschooling: 10 Important Tips
- 3 Paralyzing Myths and How To Overcome Them
- How to Measure Your Child’s Homeschooling Progress…without using a checklist
- What Style of Homeschooling Curriculum is Right for You?
Elizabeth Tatham, founder of Inspiration in the Everyday, is a homeschooling momma of 5 who loves helping other homeschooling mommas create a unique homeschooling adventure your kids will love…without the overwhelm! Join in on the journey with 7 simple steps to make your homeschooling day go faster, easier, and with less tears here.