Emily recently left a career in local government to be a full-time stay at home mum. Her husband is a high school teacher.
Signs It Might Be Time to Stop Homeschooling
When my 4 year old came to me and asked why he didn't have any friends I realized that homeschooling was missing one crucial element for us: meaningful social interaction. As I have interacted with more homeschool families I've come to realize that most struggle with the question of whether enrolling in school could be a better option.
It is not unusual for homeschooling parents to have doubts about their own abilities, and to wonder if their kids would do better in school. Here are some things to think about as you consider whether to send your child to school.
1. The Struggle
If every day just seems like an ongoing battle to get work done, meet goals, and reach learning objectives then it is at least time to reevaluate. Solutions may include getting more support, using a different curriculum, or enrolling in school.
A common struggle with homeschooling can be carving out time to sit down and get some serious work done. The pressure to write an essay or complete a math book can lead to conflict between parent and child. The role of parent-teacher is not an easy one. If this struggle is resulting in your child falling behind, school may be the best option.
2. The Curriculum
If your child is struggling in a certain area (or areas) and is falling behind you may need the resources offered by a school and classroom environment. Being a homeschooling parent is a lot of work and if you are finding that you are unable to teach the curriculum that your child needs to cover then it may be time to look elsewhere for support. Especially at the higher grade levels, your child may need the specialized background of a professional teacher.
There's no doubt about it, school offers a social experience like no other - with both good and bad elements. The good includes socialization with anywhere from 30 to 300 other students every day, as well as with teachers, administrators, and support staff. The bad can include bullying and ostracization. Unfortunately, dealing with both sides of this can lead to important skills that will benefit your child as they become an adult and join the workforce. This is a factor to consider very carefully; no parent wants to put their child into a situation where they will be bullied, but the chance to improve social skills and make lifelong friends could be important.
4. Future Goals
More universities than ever before are accepting homeschool education for admissions, but for students wanting to apply to competitive programs going to school may be an important option to consider. Standardized testing, letter grades, and access to specific classes (such as AP and IB) may make the difference between admission and rejection. For students who are starting to think about higher education should carefully research admissions requirements and determine whether they can fulfill them through homeschooling.
Resources and Tips for Making the Decision
Reach out to local (or distant) homeschooling parents to see if any of them have been through a similar situation and decision process. Start by checking Facebook for homeschooling groups.
Your local school board is likely to have a lot of resources that could help. Consider meeting with the Principal or school counselor at your local, or preferred, school. If you are homeschooling in conjunction with a school board they may also offer counseling and resources.
Check out your local library for books on homeschooling. Reading may give you the confidence you need to keep going, or the reassurance that enrolling your child in school is the right move.
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Deciding Which School
Depending on your location, situation, and preferences you may have a choice of schools. You may want to consider special programs, extracurriculars, existing friends, school rankings, and even whether the school has supports in place to help your child transition. Some schools may be reluctant to take a homeschooler part-way through the year, so be sure to discuss your plans with each school before trying to make a decision.
We had the choice between our catchment school (the school he would attend based on our address) and a Spanish immersion school a little further away, which is more difficult as we only have one car. In the end, we went for the language program, and have adjusted our schedules to make that happen.
An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.
— Benjamin Franklin
Transitioning to School: How to Help Your Child
The transition to school might be a difficult one, but there is a lot you can do to prepare and support your child.
Before their first day, especially if they are starting mid-way through the school year, ask the teacher about the basic daily schedule for the class, as well as classroom expectations. Start to include some of those own routines at home.
Ask the teacher to assign another student to be a "buddy" for your child for the first week. This child can help with the schedule and expectations, and provide at least one friend from the first day. In many elementary classrooms the kids get to learn each other's names in the first few weeks with games and nametags, but starting later your child may find it difficult to learn names.
Listen "between the lines" to figure out problems and find solutions. When my son started school he kept telling me he didn't like going outside to play. I knew this definitely wasn't the case, as he loves playing, and with some further questioning, I discovered he had difficulty putting on his winter coat and snow pants and was frustrated because he was slower than the other kids. It took some practice at home to help him catch up.
Help them get lots of rest. If you've ever started a new job you know that the first week can be completely exhausting. Your child is likely putting in a lot of extra effort to keep up at school and needs to compensate with extra rest. This can be particularly obvious if they start getting cranky at the end of each day. Quiet evenings, going easy on extracurricular activities, and early bedtimes can help immensely with this transition.
Help Yourself With The Transition Too!
You might feel that you've failed as a homeschool parent, or worry that your decision isn't the right one. You might see them struggle in those first few weeks and second guess everything that has led you to this point. This is totally normal! Try making friends with another parent from your child's class. Many classes even have Facebook groups. Most, if not all, teachers are also super responsive via email with any questions or concerns you may have.
Quiz: Is It Time to Stop Homeschooling?
For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.
- Is every day a struggle or fight to get work done?
- Is your child falling behind in one or more subjects?
- Is your child lonely, or struggling with social skills?
- Does your child have future goals that can't be met through homeschooling?
Interpreting Your Score
If you got between 0 and 1 correct answer: If you answered Yes to one or more of these questions then it may be time to consider enrolling your child in school. Read below for more information and tips regarding your decision.
If you got 2 correct answers: If you answered Yes to one or more of these questions then it may be time to consider enrolling your child in school. Read below for more information and tips regarding your decision.
If you got 3 correct answers: If you answered Yes to one or more of these questions then it may be time to consider enrolling your child in school. Read below for more information and tips regarding your decision.
If you got 4 correct answers: If you answered Yes to one or more of these questions then it may be time to consider enrolling your child in school. Read below for more information and tips regarding your decision.