One of the busiest times for me as far as consulting goes is right after Christmas. Many parents who start school years, for one reason or another decide that it is time to pull their kids and start homeschool mid-year. Some, it is a calling that has been pulling at them for a while. Others, it is a bullying situation. Still others, it is a middle of the year move to another town or state.
Starting your homeschooling journey in the middle of the year can be scary, intimidating, overwhelming. Many parents kind of freak out when they really think about all the need to prepare before they start their home education.
It doesn’t have to be a scary time.
Here are 5 simple ways you can calm your fears and start out your homeschool journey on a successful foot.
Starting homeschool mid-year
Tip 1 – Be Aware of Homeschool Law
The first step to any homeschool journey (especially those who start homeschool mid-year) is to know the laws. If you live in the United States, homeschool was made legal starting in 1956 with Nevada and became legal in all fifty states by 1998. In Canada, homeschooling was made legal in all provinces. You still need to follow rules and regulations, but you can successfully homeschool in our neighbors to the north.
Click here for useful information and where to start learning about homeschooling if you are living in Canada.
I’ll specifically to address the US, as I live in Florida and this is where I am more familiar. The States vary in what is needed to homeschool; many require a formal letter of intention, some require just a simple form and still others require a bit more. Understanding your laws in your state is crucial. I have known parents who have pulled kids mid-year and dealt with headaches because they were uninformed on the process. A great website to check out and gather the exact specifications for each state is HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Association). This is by far the best place to get all the information for your state or province such as how to withdraw your child from public school, what is required teaching, if you need umbrella schools, and so much more.
I am a member of HSLDA and while I have never had to use them, should I need a lawyer or legal advice, I like knowing I have a team of knowledgeable people in my back pocket just waiting to help me continue homeschooling as is best for my children. I would bookmark the HSLDA website or sign up for their email list if you are just starting out.
Tip 2 – Relax when it comes to “time spent” on educating
For the last several months or the last several years, your child has been in a school system that is worlds apart from how homeschooling will look. Many parents believe to successfully homeschool, you need to mimic the student’s previous school experience. However, home education does not look like public or private education when it is executed. For starters, most of us do not have 25-30 kids all the same age. A homeschool day is typically faster than it’s public school counterpart simply because you are not being interrupted or transitioning from one thing to another as you are in education outside the home.
Many parents assume because a child has been in school for six hours a day, that education at home needs to be just as long. This leads to overwhelmed parents and kids who are bored.
Average Daily Homeschool Time Commitments:
Kindergarten-1st Grade = 1-2 hours
Third-Fifth Grade = 2-3 hours
Sixth-Eight Grade = 3-4 hours
Ninth-Twelth Grade = 4-6 hours
I currently have a seventh grader and a first grader. My seventh grader takes approximately three to three and a half hours and my first grader is usually done in about two hours.
Many parents begin to second guess themselves because they feel they aren’t spending enough time on school work. The fact is, your child is learning in an environment that is tailor made for him. He will get through lessons faster simply because he will have you sitting there helping him. So, relax and let your child lead in learning.
Tip 3 – Take time to deschool
To go along with relaxing, many children will need time to do what we more experienced homeschoolers call “deschool”.
Deschool is more an umbrella word that defines transitioning from public or private school to homeschool. Many mid-year homeschoolers will be pulled out of school around Christmas break. It seems like a good place to break up the year, what with a long break ahead of them. What I encourage mid-year homeschoolers to do is to then just get to know one another instead of jumping right into homeschooling.
If a parent pulls their child at or before Christmas break, they need to spend the rest of December and some of January just being together. Take field trips and do crafts or do board games or play video games together. It can be hard for many kids to transition from school and teacher to mom (in many cases, but also dad) and mom as the teacher. It is better to take a little break from education and concentrate on each other first then add in school in a few weeks.
Deschool is a process and some families move through it in several weeks but some families need a longer time to transition. Those that may need a longer time include a parent who has had to quit a job to stay home and homeschool or a move from one side of the country to the other or even the birth of another child. If you choose to pull your child and some major life event happens, do not be afraid to take a longer time to get acclimated. It may seem counter-intuitive, especially if we come from an education background, but deschooling helps the transition from out of home education to home education go so much smoother. I have one client currently that is pulling their child from public school and they are all going on a 3-week “baby-moon” before the birth of baby number three.
Tip 4 – Choose your curriculum wisely
In the US, it is currently estimated that 3% of all school-aged children (around 1.7-2.6 million) are homeschooled. I am pretty sure there are that many curriculum choices as well. Ask any Facebook group, google search or IG chat about homeschool curriculum and you will find out very quickly that everyone has an opinion on which one is the best.
I always tell clients the best homeschool curriculum is the one you actually use and that your child enjoys. We have tried and researched many curriculums in my eight years of homeschooling. While homeschool conventions are enjoyable for me to attend (I love them), they can be a place where indecision comes to take up house. Many parents feel overwhelmed when they begin to choose what is best for their child’s education. It can make you feel crazy and, not understanding how you teach or your child learns can actually cause you to spend money on curriculums that just won’t work. This can get expensive and very frustrating.
I always tell clients that the best homeschool curriculum is the one you actually use and that your child enjoys.
My favorite all-time favorite website to refer clients to is Cathy Duffy Reviews. The woman who owns the website, Cathy Duffy, has been reviewing homeschool curriculum since 1984. She knows it all and, thankfully, offers her reviews unbiasedly. She does not accept payment for a review, so all of her reviews come from a place of honesty.
Duffy does have a few books if you want a printed version of her reviews. I opted to purchase her book off of Amazon because I know I would highlight and scribble in the margins. Inside the book, she had two quizzes, one to determine the type of teacher you are and one to determine the type of student you have. Knowing this helps to narrow down the selection into more manageable chunks. Say you have an auditory learner (someone who learns best by listening) and you have bought a curriculum that has a ton of manipulatives.While your student will learn, they would learn more easily if they could, say, listen to an Audible book first. Knowing the type of teaching style you have also leads into the paths of curriculums you may not have heard of before. Knowing the two will save you from purchasing curriculums that do nothing but collect dust until you finally sell them for a third of what they cost.
Tip 5 – Just Start
Just like with all things, you just need to start. To begin to homeschool your child, you do not need to know calculus or speak three foreign languages or even be well read. You just need to be determined, loving and know that you will not have all the answers. In higher grades, you can hire tutors to teach the subjects you didn’t master in school and you can fill in the rest. Your children benefit from homeschool just by you sitting down each day and making it a priority.
You can look on Pinterest at all the beautifully decorated homeschool rooms but in the end, many parents successfully homeschool with a few binders of material and a cart full of supplies around the kitchen table. You do not need an elaborate room or high priced curriculum to give your child the education they need.
Just start…Once you find your groove, homeschooling will just click.
Once you have determined your start date and you get in your supplies, just start. It will be awkward at first. It will feel odd. You will have more days where you honestly have no idea what you are doing, then days where you have it all together… trust me. Once you find your groove, homeschooling will just click. It doesn’t mean there won’t be days where you or your child or both won’t want to throw in the towel and call the yellow school bus. There will be days where you question if you made the right decision, but if you stick with it, homeschooling will show you a world of education you never imagined. It will help you understand your own education better as well.
Signing off with a note of encouragement…
Homeschooling my two has been hard and rewarding all at once. I don’t have all the answers and I don’t know everything. I just try, day in and day out to put my children’s education first. Some days are amazing and filled with wonder. Other days are hard and one or all three of us end up crying. I just regroup and start again afresh the next morning. The freedom that homeschooling gives us, the education my children and I are getting far outweigh the bad days. That is what I strive for.
If you are looking for homeschool help or need a specific advice for your homeschool situation, email me at email@example.com to schedule a homeschool consult with me.
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