Life changes and what worked for your family yesterday may not work today or tomorrow. Due to financial hardship, homeschool burnout, or your child’s desire for a school experience, you’ve made a decision to enroll your child(ren) in public or private school.
Depending on your homeschooling method, the transition from learning at home to learning at school may be easy or difficult. If you use the school-at-home method of homeschooling, the major adjustment for your child will be going from one class to another, if he is in middle or high school, along with disciplinary distractions and pressure from peers to be and think like everyone else. Younger children must adapt to working at school in a class of 20 or more children.
Most homeschoolers don’t use a school-at-home method and are much more individualized and creative in their approach to education. If you’re an eclectic homeschooler who switches curriculum often based on whether the curriculum is working for your child, you may discover that your child has learning gaps that were created by changing curriculum, in a specific subject area, from year to year, i.e., science, language arts, etc. This should not be a major concern, because schooled children have learning gaps too.
Professional educators sometimes decide a specific curriculum isn’t working and may decide an alternate curriculum is better. U.S. schools are just beginning to use a standard curriculum. The “What Your ___ Grader Needs to Know” books, by Ed Hirsch, can help you determine what your pre-K through 6th grade child should learn in school. You can also review learning standards for all grade levels via your state’s Board of Education website.
My son, who had a brief stint in public school during his 3rd grade year, began his school year with benchmark assessment scores of well above average in language arts and slightly above average in math. I was an eclectic homeschooler who used various curricula while searching for the best fit.
Unschooled children may have the hardest time transitioning, because schools do not promote child-led learning; your formerly unschooled child may find it difficult to follow a teacher’s agenda as opposed to following her passions. However, for older (high school) unschooled children, schools that offer independent study classes may be appealing, because of opportunities to learn and study subjects of interest in depth. Another option is a virtual public school where older students can perform all coursework online. Your child will have some flexibility in setting the pace for her school work.
Ultimately, most children transition well, but for those who don’t, adjusting your family’s situation, so your child can remain homeschooled is worth trying. You can homeschool during non-traditional school hours, work a different shift from your spouse, employ child care providers (for young children), and engage family members as helpers in your homeschooling efforts.