How to Start Homeschooling Mid-Year
Or: Starting Early in the Primary Grades
“Commit your way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.” (Psalm 37:5 KJV)
• A Day in Our Homeschool: Read the accounts of more than 100 homeschool families—ideas and inspiration (and encouragement that you are not alone).
• “Dad to Dad”—Messages to homeschool dads from homeschool dads!
By Vicki Bentley
Are you considering homeschooling for the first time mid-year, or know someone else thinking of starting after the holidays. What does homeschooling look like? Do you have to buy desks? Or set up learning stations? Maybe you areexcited about just reading books with your child and exploring the worlds they open up … so how important is it to have a really formal school program if you start homeschooling in the middle of the school year?
Start With a Plan—Even if It is Very Basic
Regardless of your kids’ ages or your homeschooling “style,” it’s important to have a plan—set some goals, determine what you want to accomplish the rest of the year, and then select materials or activities to help meet those goals.
From the practical perspective, think of homeschooling as a journey, and your curriculum—your course of study—is the road map, or the directions. If I called you and asked for directions, you’d probably want to know where I am and where I wanted to go. Same with homeschooling!
Need help figuring out where your child is? Our site has information on placement tests, skills checklists, and other evaluative tools.
Not sure where you’re headed? Need help with age-appropriate and developmentally appropriate expectations? Check out our article, “What Should I Be Teaching?”
Freedom or Formality?
Some children coming out of a conventional school, mid-year or not, may feel more secure in the familiar, structured class setting—especially at first—so you can do “the desk thing,” or you can relax a bit and sit at the kitchen table or the coffee table. The organization section at our website has more tips, including how to incorporate learning stations into your home decor!
With primary students, our main goals are to give them lots of physical and creative play, experiences and discovery learning—think of these as “hooks” on which to hang their future learning. Remember, what looks like play to us is work to them!
As our children get older, our expectations increase with their maturity. We want to continue to nurture academic excellence (along with faith and character) to encourage self-motivated learners!
Besides curriculum, establishing a workable routine will give your children security. You can be somewhat flexible, but don’t compromise on basic skill subjects and Bible/character. When we start out, sometimes we only know to do what we experienced, so we tend to re-create school at home. But home education is more than just school at home—it’s a lifestyle choice, a relationship of mentoring and discipling our children—a lifestyle of learning.
How Will Your Child Handle the Mid-Year Change?
The transition is not only academic, but also emotional and spiritual. His familiar routine—his security—has changed. Be patient with your child, and remember that this is new for him, too. He may miss his friends or activities—or even his teachers. Be prepared to hear, “That’s not how my teacher did it!”
Invest some time to become reacquainted with your child. While the temptation is to delve heavily into academics—especially if one of your goals is to catch up a child who has lagged a bit scholastically—pay attention to his passions, gifts, interests, areas of strength and areas of need. Have a plan, but hold it loosely and make adjustments along the way.
By the way, not all kids are thrilled to be homeschooled—whether a mid-year decision or not.
One of our girls, at age 14, became unhappy with our decision. We told her we were sorry she wasn’t happy, but as parents, it is not our job to make our children happy—it is our job to do what God has called us to do with them. Her dad and I will stand before God and answer for how we raised our girls.
She graduated as a homeschooler and sent us a thank-you note for sticking with homeschooling even through the tumultuous times. She now writes curriculum and homeschool blogs, and they homeschool their three little girls. What would she say was the greatest benefit? That her heart was drawn to God and to her family.
Her advice to you today: