Three years ago our family took a huge leap of faith. We switched from a double income family to a single income family and we started homeschooling our son who had completed pre-k through 1st grade in a public school. I want to share a little bit about our transition from public school to homeschool, curriculum choices, and the dreaded question of socialization as well as give you valuable tips that can help you make the switch for your family.
Why We Began to Consider a Move From Public School to Homeschool
Homeschooling had never felt like an option to me in the past because I didn’t think that I was qualified, I didn’t know any other homeschooling families, and I was so busy. It wasn’t until after having my second child in 2014 that I really started to consider it as a possibility.
I dreaded going back to work from maternity leave so badly because I knew that my calling and my purpose was to raise our children and take care of our home…I am not saying that every woman has this same calling so please don’t misunderstand.
My husband and I ran the numbers and prayed like crazy about what step we should take and we were led to the decision that I should resign from my position to become a stay at home mom.
Fast forward to May 2015—>
Our oldest child (referred to as Q1 from here on) was finishing up first grade at the tiny school that I graduated from. The teachers were great, but Q1 wasn’t thriving. He needed a lot of one-on-one work in reading and he wasn’t able to get that in public school. He was falling behind, but he was being passed to the next grade to fall behind even more. At the end of 1st grade he was reading at about a pre-k level. I had worked with him at home, but it just wasn’t enough.
I started looking into the idea of homeschooling for a year just to see if the daily one-on-one interaction would benefit him. (pssst…After a year he is reading on a 2nd-3rd grade level…whoop whoop!)
Making the Transition From Public School to Homeschool
During the first four years of my son’s life I missed a lot. I was a full-time college student working two part time jobs so his day care workers and grandparents were able to witness his growth and his spirit in a much deeper way than I was able to.
I felt like it would be such a blessing to be the primary influence on my kids and to be able to see their struggles, their accomplishments, and the “ah-ha!” moments first hand.
I was very excited, but my husband was on the fence about it. Luckily for me, we were planning to move about an hour away from the home we were in at the time and our son would have been switching schools mid-year. We didn’t want that so we decided that trying this out wouldn’t hurt anything.
My husband was still concerned about it a little bit, but I was extremely excited. I had always wanted to be a teacher & a more involved mother and now I had the opportunity to teach my own children full-time! Let the public school to homeschool journey commence!
Our Homeschool Curriculum Choice
I was that kid in elementary and middle school who just couldn’t wait for the Scholastic book fairs. My excitement about books and curriculum was over-the-top. Thankfully, I have held onto this quirky little trait of mine or I would be totally overwhelmed by the curriculum choices that are offered to homeschooling families.
If you are thinking about homeschooling, I definitely encourage you to reach out to other homeschooling mamas for advice because the curriculum world can be daunting at the beginning. I am blessed to live in an area with an amazing group of homeschooling families. They gave me tips on good boxed sets to start out with and I ran with that.
Boxed curriculum is great if you are just starting out because everything is laid out for you. You don’t have to plan lessons or activities…all of that is already completed. My Father’s World is the set that we chose for 2nd grade. This set included Bible, History, Science, Music, Art, and some Reading. We added in Math-U-See , All About Spelling, All About Reading, Apologia Science, and First Language Lessons . You can read about the changes that we made in 3rd & 4th grade by following the links. 🙂
We have just completed home school year one and we have discovered that we are eclectic homeschoolers. This means that we like to pick and choose what works best for us in each subject instead of strictly using one method or brand; however, we do lean more toward the Charlotte Mason & Classical methods
The Deschooling Process
This was a big learning curve for me. Deschooling is taking your mindset from the formal school room idea to the idea of cultivating a lifestyle of learning. This is a critical step when switching from a public school to a homeschool setting.
When we started this journey, I wanted a school room set up (lots of parents do that and it is fine), a set schedule of when work would be completed, 8 hours of work each day, and I pretty much tried to turn our home into a school. I quickly learned that this defeats the purpose of homeschooling.
Our purpose with our kids isn’t to drill them until they can properly complete a test or stand in a single file line, it is to teach them to LOVE learning!
The overused phrase, “the world is our oyster”, couldn’t be more relevant to the path we have chosen.
After the deschooling process, we discovered that learning happens in so many places other than a desk. Q1 does book work at a little school desk in our dining room and then we read on the couch or outside on the porch or patio. He searches for new things to explore in our backyard and he makes his imagination come to life when he builds with Legos or in Minecraft.
We might replace our constellation lesson with a trip to the planetarium. Our Biology lessons might just take place in a field or by our pond as we fish, hunt, and process livestock and wild game. Anything and everything can be turned into a learning opportunity. I am so glad that we are out of the 8-hours-a-day-at-a-desk grind.
How We Socialize
This is the number one question that I hear about home-schooled children and it baffles me. Sitting in a room with 20 kids of the same age not being allowed to move or talk to others doesn’t sound like socialization to me.
Since moving my son from public school to homeschool, I have seen amazing improvements in his behavior and social skills. He is able to interact with people of all ages and we have no lack of time with kids his own age. We are involved in multiple clubs, classes, activities, and a co-op. Check out these photos if you don’t believe me.
7 Tips for Making The Transition From Public School to Homeschool
1. Know Your Why
Why are you choosing to homeschool? Do you want more time with your children? Is the public school system just not working for you? Are you wanting to be the primary influence for your kids? Do you want to be able to focus on each of your children’s individual interests in their education? Decide what homeschooling means for you and your family. Write it down to pull out on tough days that make your question your decision.
- Why We Homeschool Despite How Crazy It Can Be- Homeschool On
- 11 Reasons Why We Homeschool- Courageous Mom
- This is Why We Homeschool- Homegrown Learners
2. Find Support
Find local homeschool families by searching Facebook, asking your librarian about homeschool groups, and doing Google searches. Having a like-minded community is so important to making a smooth transition from public school to homeschool. Contact HSLDA to help you find a local group and for information on the homeschooling laws in your state. You can also join homeschool mom Facebook groups for large non-local support communities.
3. Choose Curriculum
Don’t overwhelm yourself with this step. Do a little bit of research and choose a curriculum that sounds good to you. You will be discovering your teaching style, your child’s learning style, and finding your groove over the first couple years so don’t stress.
- Our 3rd Grade Curriculum- Faithful Farmwife
- Our 4th Grade Curriculum- Faithful Farmwife
- My Father’s World Curriculum
- Acellus Online (Power Homeschool)- Up to 6 online courses for $10/month
- The Good and the Beautiful
- Math Resources for Right Brained Mamas- Faithful Farmwife
Take couple of months to decompress and “deschool” after removing your child from the public school system. You both need some time to shift your mindset from a public school to homeschool learning setting. Treat this time just a like summer break. Hang out with your kids, get to know their interests, and observe how much they learn through play alone
- From School to Homeschool: What is Deschooling? -The Homeschool Mom
- What is Deschooling?- Well Planned Gal
- What is Deschooling and is it Important?- Real Life at Home
- Deschooling: What is and why would you want to deschool your kids?- The Relaxed Homeschool
5. Be Flexible & Simplify
There will be curriculum changes as your move through your homeschool journey. You will probably switch up where you teach lessons in your home. You might even switch to an online curriculum. Be flexible to make changes when changes are needed. Also, don’t try to adhere to a rigid schedule. I need some structure in my home so I do have a daily routine written out, but it is a very loose guideline that doesn’t make me feel trapped.
- Flexibility: A Key to Homeschool Success- Calvert Education
- 20 Ways to Be Flexible in Your Homeschool- There’s No Place Like Home
- Balance and Flexibility for Homeschooling Parents- Simple Homeschool
- Simplify Your Homeschool Planning Process- Faithful Farmwife
6. Give Yourself Grace in Your School & Home
Not every day will live up to your homeschooling day dreams. You will have some really tough days where you really consider changing your mind about this homeschooling thing. Give yourself and your children grace on these days. Review your “why” for homeschooling. Take a day off from school if you need it. Breathe and start again tomorrow, mama.
- Finding Grace in Motherhood- Faithful Farmwife
- Grace-Filled Homeschooling- Finding Hope in the Mess
- The Need for Grace- Classically Homeschooling
- 5 Tips for Creating a Functional Home with Kids- Faithful Farmwife
7. Take Care of Yourself in the Process
Homeschooling takes a lot of time and energy. It is easy to lose yourself in the mix of mommy/teacher/cook/cleaner activities so it is very important that you take time to care for yourself each and every day.
- Self-Care Ideas for Moms Who Are Stretched Thin- Faithful Farmwife
- Morning self-Care Routine for Busy Mamas- Faithful Farmwife
- Why Self-Care Really Matters for Homeschooling Moms-iHomeschool Network
- 15 Self-Care Tips for the Homeschool Mom- Proverbial Homemaker
- Self-Care for Homeschool Moms- 17 Ways to Thrive!- Homeschool Your Boys