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Adjusting to Homeschooling Mid-Year


TheHomeSchoolMom Blog: Adjusting to Homeschooling Mid-YearThis post is contributed by Oak Meadow, the sponsor of our Living Education series.

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Making the decision to switch gears and begin homeschooling partway through the school year takes courage and faith. Whatever you were doing before wasn’t working, and whatever you are beginning hasn’t had time to feel routine yet. Here are ten suggestions to ease the way, whether you’re homeschooling independently or enrolling in Oak Meadow’s distance-learning program:

  1. Different philosophy; different approach. Students who have been in school have likely become accustomed to an institutional approach where work is prescribed to the class as a whole and the teacher’s attention is divided among many students. Shifting to a creative thinking approach can be challenging for a student who just spent last semester trying very hard to figure out how to succeed in an institutional setting. In contrast, Oak Meadow’s approach is flexible and creative, and homeschooling can often allow for one-on-one support between parent and child. Switching gears to this degree is quite an adjustment and might bring stress or frustration. Be understanding and acknowledge those differences as needed.
  1. Commit to riding out the transition. There is a progression in learning as your child adjusts, but it may take a few weeks or more to be able to look back and clearly see the progression. Don’t expect to see results right away. Trust the process and really commit fully to seeing it through for six weeks or so before you assess whether it is working for your child. Learning really does take place, even if it might not feel that way in the moment, and a few weeks’ perspective can make all the difference in understanding.
  1. Go easy on yourself and your child. You’ve just left behind an educational environment that wasn’t working for some reason, and now you’ve switched to an entirely different approach. During this adjustment phase, don’t get too caught up in whether every single item was done properly in each lesson. What’s the main concept or what are the key skills being addressed? What is most important for your child to grasp before moving on to the next lesson? Make that your focus, and give everyone points for effort as you navigate this new way of learning. Students beginning mid-year may need to go back to previous lessons if they aren’t understanding something in the current lesson.
  1. Consider downshifting or deschooling. Your child might need to ease into the new model slowly, and some children, particularly those who experienced trauma in their previous school experience, will benefit from a period of “deschooling.” This can be like an extended vacation from school, with plenty of nourishing rest, time to daydream, healthy activities of the child’s choosing, and supported emotional processing. It can be very helpful for some students to have a buffer like this between leaving their old school and beginning homeschooling. Often they will let you know when they are ready to jump back in again.
  1. Keep good boundaries with those in your life who resist the idea of homeschooling. Even well-meaning loved ones can undermine confidence by demanding evidence or reassurance that your new educational plan is “working.” It is fine to say things are going well without elaborating. Let your child know that you will be keeping his or her educational details private. This allows your child to relax and focus on learning without worrying about what the relatives or neighbors might be thinking.
  1. Structure and support are key. Set up a solid daily and weekly routine as a starting point. You may need to adjust it many times, but begin with a strong plan. It is easy to get sidetracked, so do your best to stick to the plan. Set aside focused time each day for academic work. Find a good place to work with your child where you can both be comfortable. If you are feeling overwhelmed, consider consulting with one of Oak Meadow’s experienced teachers, enrolling in our distance-learning program, using a tutor, or asking an experienced friend for help.
  1. Be resourceful and independent. Reach out to others. Make friends with your local librarian; it’s a great way to find out what resources are available and connect with other homeschooling families or groups in the area. Explore online resources. Oak Meadow’s social media offerings are a good place to start. Our Pinterest boards offer many inspiring hands-on ideas, and Facebook is a great place to connect with other homeschooling parents and find validation for this journey. There are many online groups for homeschooling parents. Seek support from like-minded people wherever you find it.
  1. Go outside! Oak Meadow’s organic approach to learning encourages families to learn out in the world. This means spending plenty of time outside in nature and interacting with others in your local neighborhood or community. Fresh air and the soothing sights and sounds of nature are a good antidote for stress of any kind, including the positive stress of the important transition from school to homeschool. Schools tend to be very social places, and you will want to be mindful of how your child’s needs for social interaction are met while homeschooling. You might find this benefits you as well as your child.
  1. Be patient. It takes a few weeks or more to settle in. It will be a little while before you get your bearings and find a good rhythm for your homeschooling days and weeks. Don’t panic! It’s okay if things aren’t perfect. There is a lot to be learned from trial and error. Have fun with the process!
  1. Trust yourself. Remember that you are the expert on your own child. The decision to begin homeschooling was made in response to something your child or family needed enough to warrant such a significant change. Why did you choose homeschooling? Remind yourself of these reasons often. Continue to nurture your connection with your child, especially during this vulnerable time when he or she is weathering such a big transition. And remember to take good care of yourself as you adapt to your role as home teacher.

Do you have experience with switching to homeschooling mid-year? What was your experience like? What insights and suggestions would have been most helpful to hear during that time? If you’re going through it right now, what do you most want to know? Please comment with your thoughts so that others might benefit!

Living Education Contributor

Enjoy these posts from the pages of Living Education, the seasonal journal from Oak Meadow. Visit the online archives of Living Education to celebrate, explore, and get inspired with more in-depth articles, stories, and crafts brought to you by Oak Meadow faculty and families.

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  1. Carissa

    I would love to homeschool my daughter. She has had to switch schools many times over her few years in school. She’s in 4th grade. She has always wanted me to home school her (even though she likes the social aspect of school) but I am afraid to transition as I have no idea what I myself am even doing. And I wonder if she thinks that she will just get to stay home and play on her electronics all day every day. I wish I had some advice or a mentor to help guide me through this….

    • Mary Ann Kelley

      Hi Carissa – Good for you for looking into your daughter’s request – many parents would have dismissed it out of hand. I highly suggest looking for support online and locally. Facebook has many homeschooling groups (some are online only, while others are online communication for groups that meet locally), and googling “(your location) homeschooling” can often point you to local groups. We also have a local resources database that might be helpful.

      For more individual support, you might find BraveWriter’s Homeschool Alliance to be helpful – I’m not entirely familiar with it, but I believe they offer coaching to homeschool parents (one of our contributors works with them, as does a friend of mine). Also, I highly recommend reading through the 6 steps to beginning homeschooling on our Homeschooling 101 page, particularly the Deschooling information. Oak Meadow, the sponsor of this post, offers a wonderful curriculum that you might want to look into. They have both boxed curriculum and distance learning options. Sponsorship aside, I’m a fan of their “living education” approach.

      Best wishes to you and your daughter on your educational journey!

  2. Reema Akbari

    I am considering starting my kids in homeschooling mid-year. I am worried where to start…I don’t want them to get behind…any tips? Thank you!

    • Mary Ann Kelley

      The best thing to do is start where they are and do the next thing. 🙂 Moving faster than they are ready to move will backfire, and with homeschooling it is okay to be further ahead in one area and further behind in another if it is developmentally appropriate. Check out our Homeschooling 101 resources for information about getting started, and be sure to read through the deschooling information for students AND parents.

  3. Mary Ann Kelley

    Hi Savanah – You aren’t alone! It’s easy to make decisions about styles, curriculum, etc., but until you actually start homeschooling it’s hard to know what will work for you. If you haven’t done so, check out our deschooling resources. Parental deschooling is just as important as student deschooling!

  4. Savanah

    I began homeschooling my 2nd grader the last week of February, so this is all new to me. I thought I had leanings towards unschooling, but I realized it’s not for me. So, right now I’m struggling with deciding on an approach and a routine and how much accountability I want him to have, etc. I know these are all things I should have addressed before pulling him out of school, but things didn’t happen that way. Ultimately, I’m really excited about finding a groove with it…. but am nowhere near that yet. (Having a 6 month old and a 26 month old doesn’t really help matters.) There are a lot of wonderful online resources for which I’m thankful, though!

  5. Genna

    My daughter is 6 years old and is in Kindergarten (We live in Washington State). She loves the staff at her school and seems to have friends, but she fights to stay home from school every single day. She has said that a couple of kids bother her, but it doesn’t seem serious and her teachers and principal keep an eye out and report she seems fine during the day. I cannot figure out why she is so resistant to go to school all of a sudden. She went to montessori preschool for a year and a half then public school preschool last year and we never had these problems. At this point I struggle with either forcing her to go or letting her stay home “for no reason.” I would really like to start homeschooling her at least until she feels like she’s ready to go back, but I’m so overwhelmed with where to begin. Any help from someone who has been through the same thing or similar would be great. Thanks

    • Mary Ann Kelley

      Hi Genna – Have you looked through our Homeschooling 101 resources yet? There is a lot of info there, and we recommend joining a local or online support group for ongoing support and information. It’s good that you are listening to your daughter’s resistance so you can respond appropriately, whatever that may look like. You might enjoy the post I mentioned in my comment to Lori above about the best curriculum for 4-6 year olds.

  6. Lori Gurinsky Owens

    Hello, I am in desperate need of assistance. My family lives in Atlanta, and I have a kindergartner and a 2nd grader. My husband just got a job in TX and has unfortunately already moved, so our family is apart. We have been unable to find a house but are probably going to move to TX and live with family. So, we are likely going to have to finish the school year (6 remaining weeks homeschooling). I have no idea what to do or how to figure out what I need to do to finish our the school year.

    • Mary Ann Kelley

      Hi Lori – With the ages of your children, you should be fine no matter what you do. You might want to take a look at my article about the best curriculum for a 4yo (or 5yo, or 6yo) to get an idea of how much your kids are learning all the time. I would take the time to do some outside the box learning – learn about your new home state, visit museums, visit historical sites, read age-appropriate stories based in Texas, and immerse yourselves in all the new and fun things to do and learn in your new location.

      If you are worried that they will miss something specific that they need for next year, you could speak to your child’s current teachers and ask what they will be covering for the rest of the year and try to hit the basics. There will be gaps, whether your child is moving from one teacher to another, one school to another, one state to another, or homeschooling to school. It’s a little easier to breathe once you realize that it is an inevitability. Public schools typically step things up dramatically in 3rd grade in my state, so don’t think that it was those 6 weeks of homeschooling if it seems like there is a big adjustment next year – that is true for all the kids and it’s not based on what they learned in 2nd grade.

      You might find that the lack of “school stress” and being with your kids entices you to consider homeschooling for next year (and Texas is a great state for homeschooling). 🙂

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