3 Things You Must Do if You’ve Just Pulled Your Child Out of School

how to homeschool

Three years ago last April I withdrew my five-year old son from school. Although I knew I’d done the right thing, I was as terrified as I was excited about the prospect of homeschooling.

I remember waiting in the playground one day, collecting my daughter who was then still at school. My friend Kathy asked where J(5) was. I had to repeat my mumbled words four times before Kathy could hear me say, “I’ve decided to home-educate him,” I was so reluctant to declare what I was doing out loud!

These days I sing from rooftops about our joyful homeschooling life.  If I could go back and give my younger self – the terrified me in the school playground that day – three pieces of advice, this is what they’d be.

1. Zoom out and take a long-term view

J(5) was in the top sets at a very academic private school, so as soon as I pulled him out I began worrying that I needed to keep up with the exact same phonics, handwriting and maths programmes he’d been following at school – otherwise, surely I’d be failing him?

But you just can’t compare school with the education a child gets at home. Finding the right homeschooling approach for your family takes time.

Don’t stress about your child getting behind. Give yourselves time to find your homeschooling feet.

God willing, your child has eighty or so productive years ahead of him. Isn’t it worth investing a few months to create the optimal learning environment for him?

2. Educate yourself

To distract you from worrying about what your child is or isn’t learning while you’re finding your homeschool groove, focus for a while on educating yourself.

There are many different ways of homeschooling and it will take time and experience to find the style that suits your family best. You can make a good start by reading about the different approaches.

Books about homeschooling

My original homeschooling philosophy was unschooling, a style we’ve now come back to.  But that doesn’t mean I regret any of the time I spent researching classical homeschooling, Charlotte Mason,  project-based homeschooling or any of the other wonderful homeschooling methods available.

Successful homeschoolers take the best bits of lots of different styles and adapt them to suit their own families’ needs.

Some books to get you started:

Project-Based Homeschooling: Mentoring Self-Directed Learners

The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home

A Charlotte Mason Education: A How-to Manual

Teach Your Own: The John Holt Book of Homeschooling

homeschooling books

Homeschoolers’ blogs

I’ve picked up more practical homeschooling tips from reading other homeschoolers’ blogs than from everywhere else put together. From experienced veterans to mums who are just starting out, everyone has something to offer.

A few places to find homeschooling blogs:

iHomeschool Network

Hip Homeschool Moms

Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

Homegrown Learners

Homeschool Help

Other homeschoolers

If at all possible, meet a few real life homeschoolers in your area.

When we started out we tried several local homeschool groups where both I and the children made lasting friends. The support these women provided in the early days – especially before my husband and extended family were fully on board with homeschooling – was a lifeline.

You might also want to join online forums to connect with specialist groups, whether that’s people in your part of the world or homeschoolers dealing with special needs like dyslexia, giftedness or Aspergers.

3. Prioritise your relationship with your child

The success of your homeschool will depend, more than anything, on your relationship with your child.

Whatever style of homeschooling you end up following, you will be your child’s learning mentor, and successful mentoring requires mutual trust and respect.

Use the months after your child leaves school to connect with him, doing things you both enjoy. Play games. Walk in the woods.  Read stories or paint together. Quietly observe what he does for fun. You’ll be gathering valuable information about his interests and learning style which will set you up for years of happy and successful homeschooling.

Don’t overplan. If you’re an extrovert and your child an introvert, or vice versa, try and find a balance between being out and about and quiet time at home. (If it’s you that’s the extrovert, consider topping up your social needs in the evenings or at weekends when someone else can look after your child.)

When the time feels right, share with your child a little of what you’ve been learning about homeschooling and chat about how homeschooling might look for you. {Tip – if he starts telling you what he’s just built on Minecraft every time you raise the subject of maths, he’s not ready for the conversation.}

Finally… 

Be kind to yourself. You will forget all your good intentions several times a week/day/hour. Auntie Joan will ask how homeschooling’s going and you will panic and give your kids a spelling test.

You’ll hear that your son’s old school friends are learning long multiplication and you will cancel the nature documentary you were going to watch together and pull out a maths workbook. You may yell. And cry. And threaten to send him back to school.

Don’t worry – kids are resilient. Your child survived school; she will survive your first few months as a homeschooling mum. {Mine did.}

Give yourself some space. Make a homeschooling toolbox to remind yourself of the positive reasons you took your child out of school. Begin afresh next day.

Before you know it your kids will be showing their school friends what fun long division is and you’ll be writing opinionated blog posts telling new homeschoolers what to do. 😉

Homeschool help  1

 For more tips on making the transition from school to home education, see:

Highhill Education – Finding Resources

Barefoot Hippie Girl – Switching Midstream

One Magnificent Obsession – Transitioning to Homeschooling

Every Bed of Roses – From School to Homeschool

3 things you must do if youve just pulled your child our of school - tips for new homeschoolers

I’m appreciatively linking up with Collage Friday at Homegrown Learners,  Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers’ Weekly Wrap-Up, and the Hip Homeschool Hop.

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10 thoughts on “3 Things You Must Do if You’ve Just Pulled Your Child Out of School

  1. Great advice here Lucinda! Prioritizing relationship is so critical…and often takes the back burner to task oriented parents like me. I need to remind myself of it hourly!!! 🙂

    1. Hi Lisa! Thank you so much for reading and your kind words. Yes I agree, The Unschooling Unmanual is fab, isn’t it? Now you’ve reminded me, I’m going to get it off the shelf and have a browse right now! 🙂

  2. I love this post! So many moms are afraid to homeschool their children and simply need some sound advice and encouragement to get started. Your suggestions are great! Thank you for linking up with us. 🙂

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