From homeschool to public school – Part 1

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How to Help Your Teen Adjust...

Families make the decision to homeschool for a number of reasons.

Some make this choice as a result of an immediate need or life situation; others look at it as a lifestyle, and anticipate homeschooling "through the long haul".

And yet, at some point, EVERYone stops homeschooling - at the very least, when the last one graduates.

There are times, however, when a family may unexpectedly have to stop homeschooling...faced with a decision that results in a visit to the Principle's or counselor's office to register their child in a traditional school. This is what I'm talking about today, and offering "part one" about how to deal with it.

Transitioning to Public School

That's where we found ourselves recently: pulling our records together to enroll our kiddo #5 in the local high school as a rising freshman. Over the past few weeks, I've found myself having to prepare my "baby" to boldly go where none of our older kiddos have gone before... and grace the doors that my husband and I hadn't for over 40 years!

So how do you prepare a homeschooled teen for public school?

It's not that we have isolated our kids: they've been super active in Key Club, and Student Council, and Scouts, and music lessons, and karate, and... They've been busy arranging co-op social events and the Prom, and participating in service projects, and merit badge requirements, and sports, and...

But up until now, our daughter's education has been largely delight-led. Yes, we've had curricula to follow, and she's had assignments and due dates, appointments, and meetings to keep track of.

With pretty much nothing more than a 5 subject general requirement from the State, we've been able to tailor all of our teens' studies and materials in ways that were relevant not only to their learning styles but to their interests, as well.

And as a rising freshman, we'll get to see how far "delight-directed learning" will be handled in a school setting. Stay tuned 😉

What we are doing at home

At this point, I'm focusing on 2 concepts: habits and character. It seems to me that with these two in place, our kiddo will be prepared to handle whatever she'll need to manage.

There are some habits that we haven't really had to focus on over the years that will serve her well:

  • Getting up at a certain time every. single. day.
  • learning how to change her focus and move to a new class/subject when "time's up" (as opposed to a more-natural segue)

Character-wise, I'm not really worried, but these are some good ones we've been reviewing:

  • standing firm in her faith,
  • choosing right over wrong under pressure,
  • showing respect...even when it's hard,
  • turning the other cheek (short of allowing herself to be bullied),
  • learning how to deal with said bullies, and
  • reinforcing the interpersonal skills she's learned and used over the years as she's interacted with people both younger and older than herself.

Dealing with and responding to situations that she may not have dealt with up to now, is all-important. That issue alone is one that all parents - homeschooling or not - have to wrestle and trust God with as their teens grow.

Do you homeschool high school?

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What she'll "get" once she's there...

  • learning to productively use the inevitable free time she'll have in class,
  • having to sit quietly until everyone is done testing,
  • checking in at her locker mid-day (IF they still use them - we'll find out!),
  • following the flow of human traffic in between classes,
  • establishing healthy boundaries,
  • dealing equally well with a variety of teachers

But most importantly, what I'll need to do is keep those doors of communication open between us. Let her know that there is no topic, no event, no activity that she can't bring to me to discuss, to evaluate, to process as she continues to grow up.

Quite frankly, I know that I'll need those open doors of communication just as much as she will...

It's much more than preparing transcripts or taking a placement test

The particulars of transferring from homeschool to public school vary from State to State and even from school district to school district. This transition is so much more than taking a public school placement test, or even preparing documentation and high school transcripts.

Preparing her to succeed in this new environment may not mean she'll know exactly what to expect, but that she'll know who she can turn to when she needs assistance, have an understanding of how to process new experiences, and be confident in her own abilities to meet new challenges.

In short: how to begin to navigate life on her own.

Now if I can just avoid feeling like I've failed her when she runs into a glitch...

Which brings me to Part Two of this process: mommy guilt. Follow along as I talk about dealing with the inevitable guilt that follows when you send your teen out from under your wings...no matter the reason, no matter the season.

Do you have a teen in a traditional high school setting? Have you had a similar experience that you'd be willing to share? It's so helpful to learn from each other - we'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

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