This post may contain affiliate links.
Some parents know they want to homeschool their children before their babies are even born. Others find themselves unexpectedly needing to begin homeschooling in the middle of the year.
I fall into that second category. Don’t get me wrong – I am so thankful that we ultimately decided to homeschool. It was never part of our plan though.
You see, I was a teacher before my kids were born. I loved it. I loved being at home with my little ones, but I was also looking forward to one day returning to the classroom. Teaching my kids at home never even crossed my mind.
Until my daughter was in first grade.
I had serious problems with her teacher and the principal refused to even speak with me or return my emails. My daughter was beginning to hate going to her class every day. She begged to homeschool, but my husband and I were on the fence. It didn’t fit into our plan.
One horrible teacher conference pushed me over the edge. The teacher flat out told me that if I didn’t like the way she was running her class, then I should homeschool. I stood up, said “Fine. I will.”, and walked out of the school.
Less than two weeks later all of the paperwork was recorded and my daughter came home.
Beginning to homeschool in the middle of the year can be nerve wracking. I remember wondering if it was even legal (it is).
My daughter is now in 9th grade and still homeschooled. It isn’t always easy. Some days are downright hard. I am grateful for this extra time with my children though, and that makes it all worth it.
People begin homeschooling in the middle of the year for many different reasons:
- Negative experience in a traditional school
- Medical issue
- Moving and don’t want to start in a new classroom midyear
- Safety issues – currently many families are considering pulling their children from traditional schools due to the coronavirus
6 Tips to Begin Homeschooling in the Middle of the Year
Make it legal
The very first thing that needs to happen if you want to begin homeschooling in the middle of the year is to make it legal.
Every state has different homeschooling laws, but know that YOU CAN begin homeschooling at any time in the school year. These are your children we are talking about. You are informing the school system of your decision. You are not asking for permission.
Generally to make your homeschool legal you will need to file some paperwork with your school district. The paperwork can usually be found on the state’s Department of Education website or a state specific homeschool organization website.
Your child needs to follow your local attendance laws until this step is completed.
Once you have submitted your paperwork to your school district, you can let your school know that you will be pulling your child. This step is not always legally required, but is helpful. In my experience, the school district office is not very quick to alert the school that your child will no longer be attending.
I just sent an email to my daughter’s teacher and principal letting them know my daughter’s last day would be xx/xx/xxxx. Super simple.
This step can feel intimidating, but really is pretty painless.
Plan a little down time
Once your kid is home, entire routines get flipped upside down. Some kids miss the familiarity of a school setting. Some kids need to take a bit of a break and get some good rest.
This is called deschooling. Deschooling helps children make the adjustment from being in a classroom environment all day to being at home. It can feel really weird at first! There is an entire mental adjustment that has to happen in order for homeschool to feel like the new ‘normal’.
This is the chance to take a breath and think about what you want your homeschool experience to look like.
Many people suggest that deschooling should take one month for every year your child was in a traditional school.
I think that is just right for some kids, not long enough for others, and too long for other children. It is kind of a goldilocks situation.
Take a relaxed approach the first bit of your homeschool journey. Deschool as long as is necessary for your family.
My daughter was very excited to begin homeschool midyear, so we only took a short break. I didn’t want to lose that excitement! If your child is not particularly excited about homeschooling, you might want to use the transition period to ramp up the excitement.
Embrace the flexibility
There is a TON of flexibility that comes along with the homeschool lifestyle!
Want to go visit out of town grandparents for a few weeks? Go for it. The books will be waiting for you when you get back.
Is a leisurely brunch more enjoyable than a family dinner for your family’s work schedule? School does not have to begin at a certain time.
Hate crowds and want to check out the museums or parks on a weekday? Sounds like a great field trip opportunity!
You are now in charge of how to spend the days. That really is an incredible gift. Kids can sleep when they are tired and eat when they are hungry.
Decide what to teach
Part of the incredible flexibility of homeschooling is that you get to decide what to teach.
Some people to choose to:
- Continue following the scope and sequence of traditional schools
- Follow a certain educational methodology
- Repeat subjects or lessons that were difficult
- Choose subjects based on the student’s interests
- Decide on courses based on what homeschool co-op classes still have room
- Focus on teaching life skills in favor of academic classes for a while
If you are beginning to homeschool an elementary or middle school student you have pretty much free rein to teach what you think is important.
However, if you are homeschooling a high school student who might want to go to college one day, it is a good idea to be familiar with the admission requirements. Thankfully many colleges and universities list their requirements right on their websites.
Choose teaching tools
Teaching tools include curriculum of course, but can also include educational toys, magazine subscriptions, museum memberships, educational toys, and classes.
The teaching tools you choose will be determined by what you plan to teach, the child’s learning style, your teaching preferences, and your budget.
It can be really tempting to order a ton of homeschool curriculum as soon as you decide to homeschool. I encourage you to pause and really consider all of the options. You don’t need to rush.
Plan for social time
When kids are in a traditional school setting, they are automatically around their peers. That isn’t the case for homeschooling. We need to be intentional about our children having time with children their age.
Thankfully, that is generally pretty easy. (Although during the coronavirus, outbreak social distancing is important, so in person social time will be pretty sparse.)
Social time can happen in a variety of ways:
- Playing with neighborhood kids
- Hanging out with friends from their previous school
- Going to field trip or park days with other homeschoolers (check Meetup and Facebook)
- Attending classes intended for homeschoolers
One caveat – the rules are a little different for high school
In most grades you can return to a traditional school setting with little difficulty. The school might require placement tests, but for K – 8, usually you just re-enroll your child.
However, that changes in 9th grade.
Public high schools technically have to allow a student to return to school. They do NOT have to accept any of your homeschool classes.
That means your child might have to spend time retaking classes they already studied at home. Obviously, kids are not a big fan of this arrangement.
Occasionally a principal will accept credits earned at home, but be very cautious if you plan to homeschool older children short term. Returning to school might be a challenging and frustrating experience.
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.