My child is being bullied. My daughter cries before school each day. His confidence is gone. She doesn’t laugh anymore. He’s not eating. They’re not sleeping. They aren’t themselves. These are the statements of parents who are deciding to homeschool mid-school year. Something has gone wrong. It may have been a sudden occurrence or it may have built over the days, weeks, years of going to school but it’s time for a change, a new approach, but when? Is now the time? 

but

…there’s only 2 months left or 6 weeks or 2 weeks…

…school just started, we’re only 3 weeks in, it may get better…

…holiday break is coming up, we should wait until then, shouldn’t we?…

When is it time?

Now. Now is the time.

I know. You have a lot of questions about how to homeschool. You haven’t figured it out. You don’t know how to start, what the laws are, what curriculum to use, what they’re going to do all day. It’s a leap. But you can do it. 

You know your child and if your instinct is telling you this is what they need, then there’s no reason to wait. The most important piece of this equation is your child’s health and wellbeing. A child who is mentally or physically affected because of their daily circumstances needs you to take that leap. 

To help, I have a few answers for you. 

First, the legal stuff. The process for beginning homeschooling in Rhode Island is very simple in most cases. You submit a withdrawal letter to your school principal and the district superintendent.  At the same time you submit a letter of intent (LOI) to homeschool to the district superintendent. Once you have sent those letters via email you are a homeschooler! Your child can stay home the very next day! You can find samples of these letters and details of the legalities on the ENRICHri Resource page.

The next question that usually comes to mind is what curriculum do I use?

The answer is nothing. Not at first. We recommend that you take some time off from formal academics. Switching to homeschooling is a significant transition and if any of the situations above apply it’s likely that your child has suffered trauma and needs time to readjust and recover. This period is called “deschooling”. Your child isn’t the only one, parents need time to recover because you have been through a lot also!

Deschooling can last anywhere from a few weeks to months. The length depends on the child and family and your needs. This time allows your child (and you) to de-associate the negative impact that education in a public or private school setting has had on their natural love of learning and zest for life. It’s a time for them to become reacquainted with their passions and for you to observe and discover what interests them, their learning preferences, and their strengths and weaknesses. This is done by simply living life without a curriculum or agenda. Follow your child’s lead, let them choose their activities and pay attention to what they’re reading, playing, and watching. Some kids and/or families may need a structure to the day to be comfortable. A loose routine (for example, plenty of sleep, breakfast, game time, outdoor time, lunch, quiet time/reading, craft time, screen time, dinner) can lend enough structure to help the kids feel secure and you not always feel at loose-ends while still providing freedom of choice. 

Again, most importantly, pay close attention to what they’re choosing – this will provide insights into how they naturally learn. Do they like building things and experimenting? An approach that uses manipulatives or hands-on learning might be a good fit. Do they love listening to stories and imagining worlds and experiences? A literature-focused program may work well. Do they thrive on numbers and love logic? You may choose to center their learning around science or math. Do they dive deep into a topic for a few hours or days or weeks and then toss it aside and move onto something new? You’ll know you need to keep the lessons interesting and non repetitive or maybe they are unschoolers at heart. Are they obsessed with a particular topic and won’t let it go? You could unite all their academics around a theme they are passionate about. There are so many options! Familiarity with your child and what is lighting them up right now helps you narrow down the vast options and increases the success of your homeschooling experience. 

Finally, a lot of parents are worried about friendships and social activities. It will be different going from seeing their friends every day in a setting naturally surrounded by others to being home. But it’s not the end of those friendships. There is still after-school and weekends. If the friendships are important they’ll remain. And of course, there will be space for new friends. The homeschool community in Rhode Island and the surrounding states is thriving! There are a myriad of opportunities for classes, activities, field trips, clubs, cooperatives, dances, and good old-fashioned playdates and meet-ups. Don’t forget YOU, homeschooling adults need friends too, other homeschoolers who understand your lifestyle!

As you get comfortable at home and find your footing on this adventure you’ll discover what works for you. It doesn’t need to happen all at once. It’s a journey. Trust yourself. Trust your child. Take the leap. 

Written by Alyssa Crowder

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