Transitioning from Public School to Homeschool

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 Transitioning from Public School to Homeschool

Listen to Michelle’s Interview on Vintage Homeschool Moms

Our homeschooling journey began three years ago. My oldest daughter was starting fourth grade, my middle daughter was entering kindergarten, and my baby was going to do preschool(ish) stuff. I was not planning to homeschool. No, not me, I enjoyed my job as an Advocate for Domestic and Sexual Violence Victims. The idea of homeschooling was foreign. I knew a few homeschool families, well, the extreme type.  I could not relate to their lifestyle. Not one bit.

That all changed, suddenly, during the spring of 2012. I set aside a time to pray and fast about the next step in my career. Instead, my heart was suddenly overwhelmed to homeschool. I knew following this strong conviction would require an about-face; quit my job and pull my kids out to school. I wasn’t sure if I could commit to that.  I wondered, “How would I teach two kids to read?” Not to mention, algebra.

After the initial shock simmered down, my husband and I discussed many reasons to adjust our lives for the purpose of making our children and their education a high priority. There were two main reasons that topped our list. One, our family faith and values were being drowned in a sea of adult subject matter that my daughter was being introduced to in school. The second, the quality of education was not up to par with our expectations. So, we decided to take homeschooling a year at a time, and still do.

You would think the biggest obstacle we faced during our first year of homeschooling would be related to education. However, great curriculum and diligence makes the teaching side of things manageable. To my surprise, my challenges were rebuilding my relationships with my kids and learning to keep myself calm.

Homeschooling offers families the opportunity to combat our culture and to teach morals, ethics, and values. Each family home is a ministry, an important one, and teaching our children certainly adds to that responsibility. Although the days of home educating are not perfect, the long term investment is eternal. Being together gives families the opportunity to work through challenges with solidarity and to serve one another. As a result the family unit becomes stronger. I didn’t realize how severed my relationship was with my daughter until I brought her home and intentionally poured into her life. Now, she and her sisters are flourishing with confidence.

Mom’s tone sets the tone in the home.

Prior to homeschooling, our lives were rushed as we zipped from here to there. This fast paced lifestyle was filled with brash communication. After becoming my kids’ main influence, I needed to be sure they felt safe. This meant keeping my “momster” tendencies to a minimum. Requiring me to take a step back and reflect on my character and attitude.  After all, I am still a work in progress.

Homeschool moms are consumed with curriculum and her children’s activities. I mean, we have to be. However, we need time out too. A time to recharge and care for ourselves or we will be no good to our families. Also, we need to be in tune with our stress level and know when to decompress. More importantly, we need know how to relax.

I have found simple ways to reduce stress and take care of myself which are: daily care, Quiet Time, walking, drinking tea, asking for help, and laughing. I believe these tips will work for you as well. I explain more here on how I use techniques.

On the other hand, if I may be brutally honest, the first year of homeschooling is hard. No amount of relaxation can prepare you for the challenge ahead. You just have to go for it with diligence and a willingness to be flexible. During the first year of home educating, the natural focus is curriculum and keeping the kids on task. Children who have been in school know the school routine. The real challenge for families is establishing a new lifestyle, building trust from the child as their teacher, drawing boundaries, and navigating new curriculum. The most important thing you will work on during the first year of homeschooling is building good character in yourself and your children. It is overwhelming at times and may seem impossible but, I promise, it will get better.  Through every challenge keep in mind, the return of your investment will be priceless.

Mom vs. Teacher

The whole first year homeschooling is a transition.  The routine gets smoother as each quarter progresses. In the beginning your kids may compare you to their teachers. The problem is we have given our power over to the school and teacher for so long.  It takes a while to regain our footing and start our momentum in this area of parenting. As you build trust with your child, the comparisons fades away. Not overnight but within a several months.

Just like in business or ministry, when new management or leadership is coming into play, new trust must be built. Do your homework and plan ahead. Your child will see you have the answers and when you don’t you will learn them together. It is a process with many unknowns.  Give yourself and your kids ample grace. In the meantime, here are seven things to check when dealing with bad attitudes while homeschooling.

Dealing with Perfection

Parents with a traditional mind-set towards education tend to struggle more in finding the balance between daily expectations and reality. I fall into this category and here is the deal: What you want to accomplish in a day and the amount work that is possible are not always the same thing. This leads families to compare their daily accomplishments to other families, and often leads to the feeling of inadequacy.

Each homeschool may do the same things but we all do them differently and have varying priorities. Every time you compare another family’s best day to your worst day, it will seem like you are failing. On your good days write down general notes of accomplishments to reflect upon on the bad days. There is much more progress happening than you realize.

What to Know Before Homeschooling

  1. Go Slow: Homeschooling is not for the faint at heart, so don’t start on a whim. Take your time to let your emotions settle before you make the decision. For married couples, make sure you and your spouse are on the same page.
  2. Do Your Homework: Take time to research your curriculum while talking to other homeschool moms.
  3. Peaceful Departure: Unless you child is in grave danger. Hold off on pulling him/her out of school until winter break or summer break. Then spend ample time getting to know one another again. Do the fun side of school for several weeks before starting your formal lessons.
  4. Talk to Your Child: The choice to homeschool is a parent’s decision, not the child’s. That said, talk to your child about the upcoming changes so they can mentally prepare. Get them involved in small ways for example, as them what topics they might want to study in science or include their interests in their required reading.
  5. Schedule Breaks: You will hear people say, “You should be finished with school by noon.” Personally, I don’t know how that is possible. You will want to rush through the daily checklist but your kids’ brains cannot handle it. Schedule lots of breaks during the day and time off throughout the year.

When my daughter was in school our day was rushed and she was being introduced to issues beyond her maturity. The time apart drove a wedge between us that I couldn’t break through. Now that she is in middle school we are much closer and enjoy a deep relationship. I know the challenges she faces and can facilitate her choices. Instead of folding under presser we, as a family, have worked hard to create an unbreakable bond. I have become a softer mom and learned what my child’s needs so I can parent accordingly. If I can transition from public school to homeschool successfully so can you.

Taking the plunge seems scary, I admit. I just know you will conquer your first year of homeschool and as a result your family will be stronger!

By Michelle Pohl

Michelle loves telling stories to encourage her audience to grow in joy despite the chaos of life. She enjoys helping others by speaking, planning beautiful events, creating graphics and lovely websites. She knows the daily chaos of mothering homeschooling, and life in general. Yet through it all, God’s peace has allowed me to become stronger in faith, growing in joy despite the chaos. You, too, can begin Blooming With Joy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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