Traditional classroom teachers often have strong opinions when it comes to accepting homeschool students into their classrooms.  The experience can be new and difficult for the student, parent, and teacher.  Here are some tips that can help.

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One of the biggest fears that parents of homeschoolers have is that their child will get “lost” in a traditional school.  They worry that their unique abilities, learning styles, and personality will not be recognized.  Meet with the parent as soon as possible once you find out you are receiving a homeschooled child into your class.  Ask the parent questions about why they chose homeschool in the first place, and why they are now turning (or returning) to traditional school.  Ask about the student – how he/she learns best, the student’s abilities and difficulties, and about the student’s attitudes towards being in a regular school environment.  Here is a great survey to use.

Don’t Assume that a Child Knows, or Doesn’t Know, How to Do Something

For students who have been homeschooled their entire lives, the traditional school environment may be extremely foreign.  Classroom procedures and routines, such as raising hands, taking turns, keeping their own materials organized, may be new or strange.  On the other hand, many homeschooled students have attended classes or co-op groups and may be well aware of classroom norms.

Observe the student and don’t be shy about explicitly teaching these skills.  Be patient – if your other students have been in a traditional classroom for years, these skills will be second-nature to them.  Homeschool students may take a while to adjust.

Identify Academic Strengths

Homeschooled students are oftentimes taught material outside of their own grade level, so your new student may be working significantly above the other students in your class.  It will be important to quickly identify the student’s approximate levels in reading, writing, and math.  Keep in mind that parent’s whose child is reading on a middle school level will be extremely concerned if a second grade reading passage is sent home for homework.  Parents will also be concerned if their child gets stuck in the role of tutor for their peers, so be sure to make sure that the homeschool child is consistently challenged.

Even students who are working far above grade level deserve to learn from their traditional school experience.  Allow the student to share his/her expertise in the lessons that you teach – it will provide a great model for the other students and give your newbie a chance to shine.

Identify Academic Gaps

Since homeschool students are not always required to follow prescribed state standards, they may have significant gaps in their learning.  It will be important to identify these gaps and work with the student (and parent) to fill in these gaps as soon as possible.  You may be surprised that the student has vast knowledge of historical time periods or events, such as Ancient Egypt or World War II, but knows very little about early elementary social studies standards.  Remember that the sequence of homeschool curricula varies widely.  The more information you can obtain from the student and parent, the better prepared you will be to fill in these gaps.  Focus on the important concepts and those that are pre-requisites for other areas.  There are some areas that you may need to just “let go” of if they aren’t essential.

Provide Choice

Homeschooled students and their parents may have had a very relaxed homeschool environment with a focus on flexibility.  The student may be used to showing their learning in ways other than formal assessment, such as through verbal conversations or projects.  Whenever possible, provide choice in the way work is assigned.  Recognize that you are asking the student (and parent) to work in a more structured setting and be willing to accommodate when you can.

Keep in Close Contact With the Parent/s

Homeschooled parents may be extremely hesitant about the 4-wall experience.  Use your judgement to determine how often to check in with them about their child’s progress.  The more proactive you are, the less reactive they will be.  The parent has homeschooled in the past and thus is likely to be extremely involved in their child’s class and school.  Use this as an opportunity – you may gain a very-able classroom volunteer or field trip chaperone!

how to help homeschool students adjust to traditional classroom Remember that Homeschooled Kids are Just Kids!

Homeschooled kids are not aren’t all academic geniuses.  Nor are they socially-awkward.  Their parents aren’t all religious fanatics.  They are kids!  They have different strengths and areas to work on, just like all of the students in your class.  The opportunity for homeschoolers to join a classroom community is a great one, and YOU have a huge role in creating an excellent school experience for them.

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Help Homeschoolers Adjust to a Traditional Classroom
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2 thoughts on “Help Homeschoolers Adjust to a Traditional Classroom

  • August 8, 2016 at 11:29 am

    This looks like a well thought program. Congratulations!

  • August 8, 2016 at 2:31 pm

    Something for homeschooling parents to entertain is the fact that a transition to a “traditional” bricks-and-mortar transition might not work out – at least at the first attempt. We gave it a shot – for almost an entire semester – but it did not work out. The reasons for that are varied. A private school was probably not the best choice. My son’s physical method of learning might have been an issue, the fact that he might be on the autism spectrum, too, and how the classroom was academically so far behind what my son was capable – and used to learning. Also, a decision making faculty member was not flexible.

    We went back to homeschooling, and quite happily so. Gone was the stress of having to hear a teacher read a laundry list of what my son could improve upon, gone was the stress of having to keep a schedule, gone was the stress of having to pay all sorts of money to the school – on top of tuition, as well as so many volunteer hours. However, great things were learned from the experience. We enrolled our son into all sorts of extra-curricular programs. We went on long vacations and exciting road trips. We got the advice of an educational psychologist, too.

    Educating a child is a journey. There are bumps in the road, detours, and even some u-turns. But if we can learn lessons in what goes right and what goes wrong, we can definitely move forward.


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