Has your child been struggling all Fall and you’re thinking about pulling him out of school to start homeschooling after the Christmas break? Before you make any drastic decisions, there are some definite things to consider.
In fact, I suggest that you read this article first about why you shouldn’t homeschool and then, if you’re still convicted that homeschooling is best for your family, come back here to learn more about starting mid-year.
How to Start Homeschooling Mid-Year
There are a lot of things that need to happen in a few short weeks, so it’s time focus. You can absolutely do this, but it’s going to be stressful, so take a deep breath and know that you can reach out if you have questions or concerns. You’re not alone.
First Things First: The Law
The first thing you need to do before looking at curriculum or planning out where in your house your homeschool space is going to be, is to research the homeschool law in your state. You’re going to need to find out what your state requires when you file and, more importantly, who you file with. It varies in each state, so check your state’s Department of Education page and search for homeschool laws. Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) also has a state law page that can be a big time saver.
In Pennsylvania, you need to submit a signed and notarized affidavit, a list of educational objectives, and proof of medical, dental, and immunization care to your local school district prior to the start of any home education program. You must also submit a withdrawal form to your child’s school prior to the start of homeschooling. Many districts have these forms linked for download on their websites. They’re usually a bit hidden since they don’t want you to withdrawal, but a search should pull up the process and necessary forms. If you can’t find them, call the school to find out about withdrawing your child.
So, if you intend to start homeschooling on January 2nd, but the school district is not officially open until January 3rd, you need to get your paperwork together and in before the holiday break. Likewise, if you intend to start homeschooling on January 3rd, but school is open on January 2nd, your child will be marked truant if he does not attend school that day. You must file before you start. Once you hand over your paperwork, you’re good to go.
Remember, you must check with your state’s homeschooling laws. Some are much more lenient than others. Don’t forget to find out about end of the year reporting, as well. As with all things in homeschooling, it varies from state to state what you need to keep track of during the school year and who, if anyone, needs to see and approve it at the end of the year.
PREPARING YOUR CHILD
Now that you’ve decided you’re going to pull your child and you know the law, sit down and talk with your child about what’s going to happen. Let him have a say. Ask him about his concerns, talk with him about how you envision homeschooling, and then remind him that it’s going to be a learning process for all of you.
It’s going to be a huge transition and a massive change to the daily schedule and routine your family has. If you already have children at home that you’re homeschooling, you can still expect that the addition of another child in the “homeschool” classroom is going to shake things up. Communication and clear expectations are key.
DECIDING ON CURRICULUM
I won’t lie, there are a ton of curriculums and schools of thought to choose from when you start your curriculum research. You need to find what’s going to work best for you and your child. For us, some of the things that we did when we pulled our two youngest from an online charter school in December were:
No matter what you decide to use for curriculum, the most important thing to do is to give your child time to decompress. Whatever issues they were having in school that led you to feel that homeschooling was going to be best are still on their hearts.
Let them watch streaming videos on the history of the country and read books. Take trips to the library and let them explore. Your most important job right now is to help your child understand that learning is supposed to be fun and exciting and even in the most work-filled moments it’s a positive experience. Don’t underestimate the power of decompressing.
THE HOMESCHOOLING SPACE
Despite what it looks like on Pinterest, you absolutely do not need a separate room in your house to homeschool. In fact, despite having a designated homeschool room, we often end up reading on the sofa or doing math on the living room floor.
While a computer isn’t mandatory for homeschooling, I’d encourage you to think about adding one for your homeschool lessons and space. Research, videos, online classes, and educational websites are a huge part of our homeschool experience and we’d be lost without online access. Have a safe, highly-visible spot to place the school computer so that you can monitor what’s being seen. Online safety precautions are a must!
Being new to anything is daunting, but when you’re new to homeschooling and you’re tackling it mid-school year, it’s a whole different kind of worry. Not only is it important to make sure your child gets to interact with others, it’s also important that you have someone to reach out to and bounce ideas off of, share your concerns with, and who will support you when you’re so very worried you made the wrong decision.
Because, you will…you’ll second guess yourself and you’ll ache with self-doubt. I know, because we all do when we’re starting out and it’s entirely normal. If you can’t find any homeschool groups that are local to you, find some online.
YOU CAN DO THIS.
Starting to homeschool at any time of the year is challenging and scary, but starting mid-year tends to be especially so. Through the doubt and worry that you’ll inevitably feel, just know that you can do this.
You can forever change your child’s future and his outlook on learning. You can do this.
Start with finding out about the law, reassure your child, find a curriculum that works for him, and then ask questions and get support. This is the start of a brand new adventure and I promise you, it will be one that you never forget.