The Middle School Transition
From Public School to Homeschool
By Dinah Whitton
Making the decision to homeschool can be quite the involved process. Making that decision while your child is already in middle school adds another layer to this important thought process.
The reasons to switch to homeschooling are unique to every family. Whether there are academic or social challenges, it is possible to have a successful transition.
During grade 7 the Daley* family noticed that their only child was excelling in school, but she was often bored and frustrated. The quality and level of education seemed lower than what they received at her age. “There was a lot of busy work, and projects geared towards the social cause of the day.” Mrs Daley recalled. And, with the added interruption of classroom drama, they concluded that the school system was not doing a very good job of educating their daughter. In addition, they felt there was a “good deal of effort expended in indoctrinating her.”
The Daley family admits their transition was difficult in the beginning. From getting household chores done, to dealing with resentment and the isolation that both mother and daughter initially experienced. Fortunately, through time and patience they enjoyed getting to know each other better and building a closer bond. With their eclectic homeschool style, they have designed their daughter’s curriculum based on her interests and their ability (and inability) to teach. This includes online courses and community resources for specialized areas. If a particular curriculum does not work with her learning style, they simply find or develop one that does.
The Daley family encourages parents making the transition to be patient. Don’t be afraid of having some structure and rules, for example, no devices while completing school work and consequences for work handed in late. They also recommend that parents discuss the benefits and challenges with their children. “Older children should also have some input into deciding what they want to learn, so that the children feel more vested in their own education.”
Now at age 15, Kayla*, appreciates her home education experience. Although, she admits that it can be difficult to maintain a structured schedule. However, she recommends that students her age research what homeschooling is like. As an only child she discovered that connecting with other homeschooled children is helpful. “Find a homeschool group with children your age; preferably with a co-op program.” Finally, Kayla provides some sound advice that every parent educator can appreciate, “Don’t slack off on your work just because you don’t have to go to a regular school.”
*Names have been changed upon request to maintain anonymity.