For our family, we take it year by year when it comes to whether we homeschool our kids or send them to public school. And I get asked a lot about how we handle the transitions. It is such an adjustment for everyone. Sometimes the adjustment is easy + other times it is a little more challenging. In this episode I want to share my experiences with the transitions but also want to give you some tips on how to make public school or homeschool easier on you + your family. And remember that no matters what decisions you make about schooling for your kids, you are an amazing mother!
In This Episode, Allie Discusses:
Tips for transitioning between homeschool + public school and vice versa.
Her experience with transitioning kids in the middle of the school year.
Different ways to make the most out of your schooling experience, whether it is public school or homeschool.
Mentioned in this Episode:
Bento Boxes for kids’ lunches
Robin Long’s website: A Balanced Life
Book: Minimalist Homeschooling
Allie’s Blog Post: How to Bring Minimalism into your Homeschool
Allie’s Blog Post: Why We Chose to “Soft Start’ Our Homeschool + How It Works
Mom life. We are surrounded with the message that it’s the tired life. The no-time-for-myself life. The hard life. And while it is hard and full of lots of servitude, the idea that motherhood means a joyless life is something I am passionate about putting a stop to. I’m on a mission to help you stop counting down the minutes till bedtime, at least most days. I want you to stop cleaning up after your kid’s childhood and start being present for it. Start enjoying it. I believe in John 10:10 “that we are called to abundant life” and i know mothers are not excluded from that promise. Join me in conversations about simplicity, minimalism and lots of other good stuff that leads to a life of less for the sake of enjoying more in your motherhood. I’m Allie Casazza and this is the The Purpose Show.
Hello ladies! Welcome to another Bonus Episode of The Purpose Show! This is Bonus Episode 2 and I am really excited to dive into this one. I am going to be talking about transitioning between homeschool and public school.
Whether that’s from public to homeschool or from homeschool to public. We are going to cover all the things that I think are most important about that. We have done both. I get asked about it all of the time and I want to lend a hand.
In case you are not sure (maybe you haven’t listened to one yet), Bonus Episodes are really neat. They are episodes that are so exciting for me, and so full of good stuff for you, that I can’t wait to release the content. As you probably know, the podcast is planned out pretty far in advance. Sometimes I get a good idea and I don’t want to wait until three months from now to release that episode, so I will make a bonus episode. Or if I get asked about something so often I will make it a bonus episode.
This one is the latter. You guys have asked about this so much because I have been somewhat open about sharing our journey between home and public school and back again over the last year or so. I am going to talk about that.
First, let’s discuss going from homeschool to public school. I first want to say to those of you who have been homeschooling and have decided to put your kids in public school that I am not here to help you make that decision. I am not going to be addressing that.
For me and my husband, we have followed the peace of God each year. We take it year by year. We never say, “O, we are always going to homeschool”, or “this is how we are going to do things in our family when it comes to the kid’s school.”
It’s a lot to homeschool. It’s a lot to have the kids in public school for different reasons. There is a lot that goes into it. There have been a lot of different things that have led to us homeschooling, putting a pause on that, putting the kids in public school. We always knew that it would be temporary, but we weren’t really sure. We thought it would be for a whole school year, but it ended up being much shorter, and was just for one semester.
We do our best to be spirit-led parents. We prayerfully make our decisions. I will not be addressing that – that’s all your decision. But I will be talking about if you have already made the decision to switch from one to the other. I will help in all the ways that I can think of.
So, going from homeschool to public school: The first thing I want to say is the whole point of homeschooling is to go slow and lean towards child-led learning in order to give your kids a passion for knowledge and learning. This is not the way the public school system in most states is set up.
Nothing negative about them. Nothing against the public school system. I am definitely not one of those homeschool moms who has terribly hard feelings about the public school system. I really think that it is a lot to handle over there. And I think they do a great job on a lot of things. I think teachers are some of the most amazing human beings on the planet. I am very grateful for them. I don’t homeschool because I am trying to keep my kids from something.
Having said that, giving your kids a passion for learning, going really slow, leaning into each kids individual needs and what they want to learn about, and doing that child-led learning is not the way the public school system is set up. Homeschooling generally is.
You are probably going to encounter some push back from the way you did things as a homeschooling mom as you transition your child or children into public school, and that’s OK. You were doing what you believed was best for your child during that homeschooling time. That’s the best thing you could have done.
Now here you are with life happening and things changing, shifting, and again you are doing what you believe to be the best thing for your child and your family in a different school year, or half way through the school year. It is just an adjustment for everyone, and it’s OK if it is a little hard. It is OK if people let out a sigh, or make a passive aggressive comment, or make a face. Maybe they aren’t rude, but they don’t seem like they really get it when it comes to you homeschooling, where you are at, what they learned and how you taught them.
I think it is important to remember that it is your teacher’s job to help your child. She works for you and for your child, so don’t let anyone put you down or make you feel badly. You are an excellent mother.
I feel like some of you need to hear me say that to you. I feel that with my whole heart. If you’ve even listened to this podcast. If you have even attempted to homeschool your kids. If you’ve even taken your kids to public school, kissed them on the cheek and bid them goodbye, you are an excellent mother. Don’t let anyone make you feel otherwise.
I think it is really important to be as available as possible for your kids after school, especially if you are worrying about how this is going to go. Maybe you are used to spending all of your day with your kids, but now this (afternoon’s) is now your time together. I know it is near the end of the day and you are all exhausted, but this is a crucial time for creating a safe space for your kids to talk with you and for them to connect with you after a day spent apart.
Set up a system for all the things that come with going to public school. There is going to be more paperwork than you could ever imagine. Set up a system for that. For me, I had a wooden paper sorter, that I got at Target, right by the door. When the kids walked in the door, they had a job. They had to hang their backpacks on the hooks and get out any paperwork that the teacher put in their backpacks and put it in their file.
You will have a lot of paperwork; come up with a system that works for that. You will have backpacks, shoes, jackets, and just stuff. When the kids get home, the first thing they are going to want to do is strip it all off and dump it. That will be their habit unless you set up a system beforehand. Get a system for paperwork. I highly recommend that you keep it by the door where the kids come in, even if it is not super pretty.
Have a system for the paperwork. Hooks for backpacks. A bin for shoes. Where do you want your kids to put their things when they come home? What system do you want to set in place so that your house isn’t overwhelmed with the things that the teacher sends home?
The other thing I would say is set alarms for pick up times. I know it might seem silly and obvious to pick up your kids from school, but when they are gone and you get into your own quiet-time headspace, or you get caught up in a younger child, it is amazing how easily you can get busy and almost miss leaving in time for pick up. Or totally miss it like I did once for Hudson. Poor little guy was sitting in the office with his little feet dangling from the chair because I was ten minutes late to get him.
Set up alarms for pick up times. Set a really annoying ringtone. Make it a repeat alarm every day, if even it gets annoying. There will come a day you will be thankful you set that alarm.
Speaking of pick up times, make use of them if you can. These were some of my favorite moments when my kids were in public school. I would leave early so I could get a great parking spot. I would use that time waiting for my kids to read a book, or listen to a podcast, and have some amazing self-care and personal growth time. It was a great in-between-the-day time for me.
It would have been easy to work and leave at the last minute to get the kids. Or send my husband and keep doing the housework. But it was a really great anchor for me in the day for self-care. It was a great time to hit the reset button for the rest of my day.
Establish open communication with your kid’s teacher. Be pleasant and friendly, not harsh and judgmental. Not every teacher, but some teachers have reservations about homeschooled kids. It has become a kind of “war zone”.
I think being really sweet, kind, and establishing a good relationship with your child’s teacher from the beginning is incredibly helpful. It will serve you and your child well throughout the year for your teacher to like you, and to have open communication.
With each of the kid’s teachers, I sent an email after the first day to thank them for being there, ask if they had any questions. I included a little note about each child that I thought would be helpful for the teacher. I made myself available and that really helped to establish a good relationship for us.
Also, establish a set time every day that you help your kid with their homework, especially in the beginning of this transition from homeschooling. Maybe your child will be further ahead than the school, or maybe the school will be further ahead than your child. This is a transition. You are used to doing school together.
One mistake that I made was thinking all the school stuff would be off of me, and I wouldn’t have to do anything. Maybe that sounds self-centered but that’s what I thought.
Being available to help your kids with this transition during the time that you are with them, is really important because they are going to have questions. They may not be used to the different curriculum, especially if it is common core and you haven’t been using that. They may feel really dumb and feel like the school is way ahead of them. They may feel incredibly bored and unchallenged because you were further ahead than the public school system is.
I wish that I had scheduled time in my afternoon. I wish I had done more crockpot meals so I had nothing else to do when the kids got home from school but just sit with them. Be with them. Help them with their homework. Everyone was in a different level. Each child, in different ways, struggled with this transition.
Block out some time and don’t schedule any other things. Create a couple hours of space to be available to help with their homework.
Also, figure out what you want to do with your weekends. Homeschoolers are used to being together more than public schoolers are. You might find that during the weekend you are excited for some awesome, much-needed family time. You might find that your kids are bogged down with a giant load of homework that the teacher has sent home for the weekend. Set up a system for doing homework on Friday nights so that your weekends are free. Or you can have a fun family night on Friday and dedication a portion of your weekend to homework, like maybe Sunday evening.
Either way, plan ahead. Realize what you are dealing with. Maybe there will be a weekend where they won’t have any homework and that would be great. But more often than not, they will have homework. Decide and plan ahead of time so you are not feeling disappointed. That negativity and negative emotions about your kid’s school, teachers, and their homework will rub off on your kids.
Also, Bento Boxes for your kids lunches. I am going to share my affiliate link in the show notes for these because they are AMAZING. I cannot say enough about them. I shared them on my Instagram story when my kids were in school. I still have them and we use them a lot for park days.
They are basically metal boxes that have dividers in them. There’s a sandwich area, fruit area, crackers, etc. They are just awesome. They slip right inside basically any lunch box that you can get at Target, or anywhere.
They are a little pricey but we really love them. I found them from Robin Long of A Balanced Life. I saw her making her kids’ lunches in them and thought, “that’s super handy!” They are worth the money and are so helpful. I love that my kids aren’t eating out of plastic every day. I love that they are divided. My son, Leland, hates when his food touches. I am like, so I totally get it. They keep his food separated. They are just really, really handy.
When you buy something, you buy it with your time. With minutes from your life. Not just with your money. Studies show us that less clutter equals less stress and more time. It is really as simple as that.
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To learn more about the course, go to alliecasazza.com/allcourses.
This really is the short-cut version. The exact journey that I took as a mom, 5-6 years ago, that got me to this point of an uncluttered, minimalistic motherhood where I am spending the least amount of time on my house every day.
Motherhood is just way too sweet a time to be spent struggling so hard and living in survival mode day in and day out. Our stuff is really the cause of that.
If you want to start this lifestyle, if you want to simplify your life… I believe that it all starts at home.
Simplify your life. alliecasazza.com/allcourses.
Enjoy your new-found time without your kids. I just want to give you permission. It is OK to enjoy it. It is OK to be sad that they are gone. Trust me. I balled my eyes out for the first day the kids went to school. I didn’t know for sure if there was an end in sight. I didn’t really have a strong desire to send my kids to public school. I have always had homeschooling on my heart.
But I couldn’t do everything and the business was very overwhelming. Brian and I had both made that decision that we needed something to give so we could focus and not be stretched so thin. It was very sad. It is OK to be sad. It is also OK to be happier. To enjoy the quiet time. To love it. To have some time for yourself. Time to be caught up on the housework and other things in your life. It’s OK to have a job. It’s OK to have something other than your children and enjoy this time away from them.
So now, let’s talk about going from public school to homeschooling. The first thing that I always say is to encourage you before you make the switch to research the different types of homeschooling. There are so many different styles. Find the one or two that really appeals to you. The one you feel would go with your personality and your family style.
What do I mean by that? There’s Charlotte Mason homeschool. There’s unschooling. There’s traditional homeschooling where you are basically bringing the classroom into your home. Find what works for you.
I would say you naturally gravitate towards things. For example, at first, I shied away from the traditional homeschool of bringing the school into the home. I really felt a pull towards Charlotte Mason, and unschooling. That really appealed to me.
My next point is to keep in mind that your homeschool style may change as you evolve as a homeschool mom and you get more comfortable. This happened to me. I was so drawn to the idea of unschooling. We did that for a couple of years and struggled through it.
That may sound funny, especially if you research what unschooling is. But what I ended up finding is that it just didn’t work for us. I love it. I think it is a great idea. I know a lot of people what it works well for. It just wasn’t working for us at all. I wasn’t happy. The kids weren’t happy. It just wasn’t working.
We moved away from unschooling. We kind of kept the Charlotte Mason style and I threw myself more into that. It is OK for you to change, shift, evolve. You don’t have to know it all right now.
Also, do not get sucked into the lie that you have to spend a billion dollars and have everything in the world right now. You don’t have to have everything figured out right now. I encourage you to have minimal school supplies. A minimal curriculum.
Stay away from homeschool conventions for now. I know they may seem really helpful. When we decided to pull the kids, there was a very popular homeschool convention really close to my house. I was so tempted to go. You know what? I just got this feeling in my gut not to go.
I already knew what I was doing. I was simplifying this process for myself. If I went, I was afraid I would get falsely inspired by the wrong things. I was afraid I would be pulled to buy all this curriculum and spend money on things that are just going to overcomplicate this for me. That was my problem in the past – that I tended to overcomplicate things, which made me overwhelmed.
I will link to a book that has been integral in shaping my homeschooling experience and philosophy since we pulled the kids out of public school and brought them back home. It is called Minimalist Homeschooling. It is by a doctor who is amazing. It is such a good book. I encourage you to read it.
The curriculum that I found had a couple of things that drew me to it. A friend, whom I really admire and I respect the way she homeschools her two boys, recommended The Good and The Beautiful by Jenny Phillips. If you go to their website you will see how homeschooling moms went from these massive piles of curriculum down to this one stack of books. It was basically a minimalist homeschool curriculum.
Of course, that drew me to it. When I researched it, I saw that, yes, it was a minimalist curriculum. They are getting a rich curriculum with amazing photos, beautiful stories and pictures. It is very Charlotte Mason inspired.
You can get digital products or paper products. I do well with paper so I ordered the physical curriculum, actual books. When I got it in the mail, it truly is as minimal as I think you can get. I definitely have the least amount of books and stuff that I have ever had with homeschooling my kids. Bella is in third grade and we are getting to the levels where there tends to be more stuff, and there just isn’t. I have been extremely pleased with this curriculum.
Don’t get sucked into the lie that you need to spend all this money and have this “stuff.” (Check out my blog post How to Bring Minimalism into your Homeschool).
I want to talk about pulling your kids out mid-year. Perhaps you are feeling led, feeling that something just isn’t right. “I want my kids at home, but I feel like they should just finish out the school year.” Weigh that out.
It was really hard for me. It was in December. Winter break was coming. We had put our kids into public school so we could take a year off. We didn’t want to try to be like Jesus and do it all perfectly. We were both stretched really thin with work and schooling the kids. Tensions were really high at our house and it wasn’t working. We knew we needed to make a choice.
We took a year off of homeschooling to grow the business, delegate, and hire a bunch of new people to lessen our workload. We thought it would take us all school year but it ended up only taking us a few months. By December we were pretty much done. We had hired 6-7 new people. We were both working just a few hours a week and it was great.
We really wanted our kids home. We were torn between finishing out the school year or not. We prayerfully decided to let them get to winter break and then pull them out. They wouldn’t go back after winter break. That’s what we did and it has been the best decision that we had made so far. I was so nervous about it. I didn’t want to damage the kids or hurt them. I didn’t want to hurt their teacher’s feelings. It was really hard.
Follow that peace. What’s going to work for you? Does it feel better to finish the year? To give yourself time and space to plan things out? Does it feel better to get them home and then figure it out? You have to prayerfully make that call.
I do want to say that I have pulled my kids out mid-year. If that is what is feeling best for you, I want to give you that empowerment/permission. You’re their mom. You know what’s best.
I would encourage you to talk to your kids openly about this transition and encourage them to be open with you in return. I think being really easy to talk to about the hard parts and not taking things personally is huge.
For example, if your kids say something like, “I miss my friends from school” or “I don’t like this homeschooling day” in the middle of a frustrating math class session, don’t take that personally. Don’t snap back at them. Don’t make them regret being open with you.
Encourage openness. Be easy to talk to. Take it as constructive criticism. Take a deep breath. Make appropriate changes. You guys are in this together. You are not perfect. You are not going to be perfect ever. You are going to make mistakes.
Everything is “figureoutable” as Marie Forleo says. This is “figureoutable” too. Take a break. Stop teaching if it gets tense. Listen to your child. Look them in the eye. Get down to their level. Talk to them. You can make changes as necessary together. You are not going to be perfect and have it all figured out right off the bat.
Also, let the kids’ previous teachers know that you are thankful for them. Whether you are pulling them out mid-year or not, I think it is important to keep that peace. Let them know that your decision to homeschool them doesn’t have anything to do with them failing or not taking care of your kids. Let them know that you are thankful for what they did for your child.
Allow time for “de-schooling” if your kids were in public school for a year or longer. Your kids get into rhythms. Kids respond really well to rhythms for homeschooling.
The schools are set up in a way that really does a good job of highlighting the fact that kids thrive under routine. It is very routine – you start school at a certain time of day, then circle time, language arts, break, then math, science, lunch, playtime. It is very regimented and scheduled and never changes.
Also group learning is totally different learning than homeschooling, even if you have a lot of siblings. It is a lot more one-on-one than a classroom setting is. You have to allow some time for your kids to adjust. That’s called “de-schooling” in the homeschooling community.
Let them get un-used to public school. Research. Look up the word “de-schooling” and find different ways you can do that. For us, it was an extended period of winter break. My kids were only in school for one semester, but I did feel like they needed a period of de-schooling, especially my son, Leland.
We had a 3 ½ winter break. It was great. We slowly eased in to homeschooling. I also have a blog post about “Why We Chose to “Soft Start’ Our Homeschool + How It Works which I will link to. It talks about how you don’t have to hid it hard. Ease into this.
Find ways to bring those routines that worked well for your kids in public school into homeschooling without it being too regimented to where everyone is miserable.
On that note, I encourage you guys to come up with a flexible school schedule. We do a 5-day schedule. We school 5 days a week. If we skip a day here or there, it doesn’t make us fall behind in where we are supposed to be with the curriculum. It gives us some cushion.
We do homeschool through a charter school because I do really well with accountability. I like the idea that somebody is keeping records for me. That someone is watching me, making sure I do what I am supposed to do.
One of the problems with homeschooling was that I tend to get a little bit too lax, a little too focused on other things. I need that accountability. I need that checklist. “You guys need to be here by this date.” That is how I thrive in anything, but especially with homeschooling my kids. We have guidelines and deadlines. “You should be at this lesson and this subject by this date.”
We have a 5-day schedule but we don’t always do 5 days of school. Most weeks we do, but there are plenty of weeks where we do 3 or 4 days. That’s fine. It ends up all working out to where we are supposed to be when we are supposed to be there.
Decide if you want to do a 4-day school week every week. Or do you want to do a 5-day school week and be able to have some cushion. Look up different types of homeschool schedules. There are a lot of ideas. Six weeks on and one week off. Ten months on and two months off. Year-round or traditional schedule.
We do 5-days a week and year- round because we have seen our kids get completely out of the loop with a summer break. Also, we believe that learning should be happening all of the time and be child-led. It feels weird to us, as parents and teachers, to teach during the school year and then just stop during the summer.
We do a lot of unit studies, beach-themed studies during the summer, but technically we are doing school year-round, although our charter school is not.
To wrap up, let’s talk about rhythms. Rhythms will help you tremendously no matter where your kids go to school, but things can get chaotic in a difficult way when you homeschool. You need rhythms set up for basically everything. Your housework. Your work schedule, whether you work at home or outside of the home. Your laundry. Your schooling. Everything that has to do with you and your role.
Rhythms are going to cut your to-do list more than in half. Because it is no longer a to-do list. You have rhythms set up for things that just need to happen for your life to flow smoothly. It is no longer a to-do list; it is just habit. That is mentally freeing.
I want you to get my free Developing Rhythms Workbook. It is one of my Fan Favorite free downloads from me. It is a workbook that will help you figure out what rhythms are. How they are going to help you. What yours should be. When you should do them. The whole shebang. If you go through this Free Rhythms Workbook, you will end up with an amazing set of rhythms that will help you in your life and in your role.
Go get that!
I am excited for you guys! No matter why you are listening to this. If there is a transition possibly coming. If you are in a transition. If you just did a transition and it went terribly or it went amazing. I am praying for you guys. I know how hard this can be.
Remember, no matter what’s going on, what decisions you have made so far, or what decisions you are thinking about making, YOU ARE AN AMAZING MOTHER!!
This was an episode of The Purpose Show. Thank you so much for tuning in. If you are ready to uplevel and really take action on the things I talk about on my show, head to alliecasazza.com for free downloads, courses, classes and to learn more about what the next step might look like for you. I am always rooting for you. See ya next time!