Have you recently made the switch from schooling to homeschooling—or are seriously considering it? It can take some time for your child (and you!) to adjust to this new way of learning and being in the world. Some students adapt quickly, but others need a longer transition period.
Sometimes, even if a previous situation was intolerable and changing gears was essential to your child’s health or well-being, it can take awhile to heal from any trauma that may have occurred. Some students come to associate education with discomfort and need to start from scratch in developing new enthusiasm for learning.
12 Ways to Adapt to Homeschooling
If your child is struggling or needs help navigating the transition, here are some suggestions that may help:
- Take it slow. Things may need to slow down for a while as you switch gears, but you’ll build up momentum in time. It takes time to settle into a new way of doing things, especially when the change is a big one. Follow your child’s lead for a while.
- Celebrate every day! Each day moves you to new possibilities, greater health and healing, and a stronger sense of togetherness as a family. Be thankful together for these wonderful opportunities.
- Be flexible in your expectations. Home learning almost never looks the way you might have imagined. Each day might be very different from the one before. In trying out new things, you can eliminate what doesn’t work while finding what does. Roll with the unexpected and see where it takes you.
- Ask your child what matters most to them. Honor the differences and similarities that feel most important to your child as you define a new approach to learning. Ask them what they disliked about their previous situation, and create a more comfortable way of doing things as you move forward.
- Remember the reasons you opted for home learning. Together with your child, make a list of all of the things that led you to take this journey. On days when you feel at odds with your decision, look at this list to remember and affirm why you made this choice. Some days will undoubtedly be challenging; consider how they compare to the challenges you left behind. Give yourselves tremendous credit for moving in this new direction.
- Allow your child to help drive the change. Give them as much ownership as possible. Invite your child to list the things that are most important to them to have as a part of their homeschooling experience. Maybe they want to be allowed to sleep as late as they need to each day, or study on the floor instead of at a desk, or choose the order of their subjects each day. Let them help in differentiating this new adventure from their previous experiences.
- Make comfort a priority. Change is hard! Help buffer that stress with comfort measures. Make room for plenty of rest and relaxation. Comfort may mean something different for each family member, so talk openly about what you need and how you can support each other in getting it.
- Offer safe space for your child’s feelings. Allow your child to talk frankly about their fears/worries/frustrations. They may be grieving the things they liked about school even as they are relieved to leave behind the things they didn’t like. Listen supportively as they process their feelings.
- Get support for yourself. Find someone to lean on and process your own feelings with, preferably someone who is open-minded about educational choices and who is not in your household. If you need help finding like-minded support, look on social media for homeschooling groups and lists.
- Keep your sense of humor! Laugh together as a family. Laugh at your mistakes and misunderstandings. Acknowledge limitations with a wink and a smile. Keep your attitude light and positive, and chances are good that your child will follow your example.
- Acknowledge all kinds of progress. Celebrate your child’s good effort and positive attitude just as much as a correct answer or a passing test score. Even a more open curiosity about the world and a greater willingness to ask questions is worth celebrating! As your family adjusts and embraces a new rhythm, give yourselves a pat on the back for making it happen.
- You are the expert on your own child! Even if you’ve never done this sort of thing before, you can trust your instincts about what your child needs. You might consult with others who are experienced and encouraging, and you might seek support in areas where you have more to learn. But you know your child better than anyone else, so let your heart guide you!
Amanda Witman is a lifelong learner and an enthusiastic homeschooling mother of four. She enjoys writing, playing fiddle, tending her garden, organizing community events, learning new things, having family adventures, and connecting with other homeschoolers. She manages social media at Oak Meadow.