Homeschooling has a lot of benefits for parents and children. Not only does homeschooling allow parents greater control over the academics of children, but it also gives children a chance to learn in a more supportive environment with flexible scheduling. One of the potential challenges for homeschool families is separating “home” time and “school” time. Whether it is back-to-school time at the end of summer or even returning from vacations and holiday breaks, this switch in focus from relaxation to learning in the same environment can be difficult. Parental reviews of homeschooling showcase the many benefits of this academic approach, and here are a few tips you can follow to ensure transition periods back to school are smoother.
Plan in Advance for the School Year
Getting your homeschoolers ready for the new school year means getting yourself ready as well. As the guide for your student’s school year, the best way to prepare them to go back to school is to ensure that you are ready. First and foremost, make sure you have all of the curriculum and learning materials ready to go before summer comes to an end. When you are comfortable and set with the materials you need, your student will feel at ease as you confidently guide them into a new school year.
Develop Separate Learning and Relaxation Spaces
One of the biggest challenges for homeschool families is making school and home feel like different places. As such, it is important to establish spaces in the home that are dedicated to school and learning only, while maintaining family spaces in which everyone feels at ease and learning is not the focus of time spent together. For your student’s learning space, make sure their books and supplies are kept here at all times. More importantly, select a room or space in the home that is free of distractions. It is also a good idea to select a place where you don’t feel hesitant to explore art, conduct science experiments, and other messy projects. For older children, have them assist in selecting and developing a learning space, so they are sure to be comfortable in this learning area as well.
Ease into Teaching and Learning Routines
Although it seems like parents should jumpstart their student’s learning when summer ends or the holidays have passed, it is important to remember that public schools and other learning institutions typically ease children back into school after breaks of any length. When you’re putting together a curriculum plan for the year, particularly after a summer break, make sure to ease into the school year. Give your children time to adjust from a schedule dominated by relaxation and activities so they can settle into one that has a better balance between “work and play.” Once you get into your routine, it is important to remain consistent. A consistent routine promotes confidence in your student and keeps them focused.
Set an Official Start Date and Long Weekends
As part of your routine, it is important to set both an official start date for the school year and build long weekends or other breaks into the calendar for the year. Public schools provide children with a set start date each fall and have built-in time off for semester breaks, holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas, and also provide for a spring break. You can select whatever calendar you like for the school year, but it might be a good idea to try and keep your student’s schedule in line with that of local public schools. This ensures that your student gets regular breaks from learning and, if timed alongside local public school breaks, your child can still engage with friends and other students the same age.
Put Expectations in Place for the School Year
If your child were still in a public or private school, a teacher would have expectations and rules set for the classroom. The teacher would go over these expectations and rules on the very first day and stick to them throughout the entire school year. This plays into the focus of consistency and routine to help build confidence in students. With homeschooling, it is up to you to set a schedule, expectations, and rules, and then stick to it. If you tell your child that school starts at 8:00 a.m. every day, then make sure you stick to it. The beauty of homeschooling is the freedom to select the time that works best for everyone.
Connect with Support Groups
When you find yourself struggling to figure out what works best for your family and student, it can be helpful to reach out to other homeschooling families. There are support groups available online and within many local communities that can lead you to relationships with other homeschool families. Not only will this prove useful to your child, allowing them to meet other homeschooled students, but it can also help you learn tips from other parents in the same position.
Keep Home and School Separate
At the end of the day, the most important thing you can do to help your kids adjust back to school is to ensure home and school remain separate. This applies to both physical locations within the home, as well as mental and emotional attitudes. When the school day is over, make sure that you aren’t discussing the lesson plans from the day or bugging them too much about homework. Just because you know it was assigned doesn’t mean you have to remind them about it constantly. You have to be able to fill the role of parent and teacher separately, but effectively.