27 answers

Advice Needed for Transitioning from Homeschool Back to Public School

I have been homeschooling my 8 year old son for the past two years.
After kindergarden, I brought him home for 1st and 2nd grade. I feel
that it is time to have him transition back to the public school this
coming fall, however, he does not want to. I am looking for suggestions
or advice from anyone who has had a child return to public school after
homeschooling. Personally, I feel that he only wants to stay at home
because he knows he's got a good thing going here. I on the other hand
am feeling that our relationship has become strained from
homeschooling, and that I am left not really feeling like I have the
energy left to do the things that I want to be doing with him. I feel
that since I have taken over the school's job of teaching him reading,
writing, and arithmetic, that I have little interst or time left to
teach the things I really want to like values, morals, service, etc. I
hope that doesn't sound like a cop-out to those of you who manage to
homeschool and balance being a great mom as well. Any way, any
suggestions and advice would be greatly apprectiated!


What can I do next?

More Answers

Hi D.,

My story mirrors yours - My daughter did public school for K-3. I then pulled her out for 4-6. First I will say I believe "fear of the unknown" was a big part of Morgan's statements of not wanting to go back to public school...that and feeling she had a great thing going being at home! In my opinion, there are pros and cons to both public and homeschooling. If it were a perfect world...but, since it is not, I had to decide what was best for our situation at the time. The best thing I did for the both of us was to admit to myself and be okay with feeling EXACTLY as you are!! I felt too I had nothing left at the end of the day to do the things I truly felt suited for or wanted to do. Owning how I felt and being okay with who I am and what I am capable of was the best thing I could have done for our family. I don't believe not being able to do what others are capable of makes us any less of a good person, mother or wife - God did not design us all the same!
I never respond to forums like this, but I read your letter and felt I was reading my own story. I hope you find that inner peace once again that we have when we are on the "right path" ;-) Good luck and I would love to hear what you decide to do whatever that may be.

2 moms found this helpful

Don't do it!!!!! First off it isn't the school's job to teach him, that is what we are taught to believe. As you teach him all the ABC's of school you are teaching him morals. Just being out of the public school system you are teaching him morals! Now he will go to public school and learn their morals and you will get a couple hours in the evening to undo what he has been taught. I don't mean to come down hard on you but you are doing what is best for him. Giving him over to someone else all day won't accomplish your goal instilling values, it flies in the face of it. Take a break from schooling and work on your relationship. That's the beauty of being the teacher, you know what he needs. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Do you have a YMCA in your area? If so, I'd recommend that you sign him up for lessons (swimming, tumbling, art, etc.) and the summer camps (half day, short term camps like sports, ponies, etc. - not the all day, five day per week day care camps). I think this would be a good way to get him used to learning from other adults and learning with other children without him even realizing what you're doing. (Hey. All you're doing is signing him up for fun things to do over the summer! No ulterior motives going on here!) When he starts school, he'll probably know a bunch of the kids through the Y activities and it won't be quite as much of a shock to the system!

1 mom found this helpful

You are teaching him better values,morals, and service by keeping him out of public school! The examples that I could site could go on and on. I took my daughter out in first grade becuase I couldn't stand the sex education she was getting from other children.

I homeschool. I know I could do a better job at it. I don't feel that I am the greatest Mom. The ideal I hold onto is letting my kids be kids for as long as possible, because they have plenty of time to learn about the adult things in life.
I would rather have them learn from my example than from someone I do not know.

My two cents. I am glad there are some public school that are better than others. I just do not live near any of them.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi D., I have not homeschooled my children but was both homeschooled and in public and private schools. I applaud you for realizing that you are not cut out to homeschool. I already know I am not cut out for the job and my children are not school aged.

My mother was not cut out for it either. She was working part-time and honestly was not very organized with the whole process. I am not syaing this is your situation! I finally begged her to go back to school.

Since you son is really enjoying it maybe you could call some local public and private schools and see if there are some classes he could take there as well as continue homescholling through the duration of this school year. That may ease him back into school and hopefully he would make some friends that by next year he would want to see everyday!

Good luck to you and your son!

1 mom found this helpful


I am in your exact situation, only a few month further down the line! I homeschooled my son until November of this year (he is 10). We tried unschooling, scrap together curriculum, purchased curriculum and an online school. All methods were a bust for us. He was (is)a diffucult student. Too smart for his own good, and a little lacking in the try hard department. We fought all the time and then I never wanted to do anything fun or cuddly together. His personality and mine are not a good fit for homeschooling and I am sad about that. But as it was we fought a lot, I cried alot, he cried a lot, and it took a toll on my self-esteem not being able to pull it off. I was depressed and exhausted.
He initially was reluctant to go to school, but after a particulary hellish day, I suggested he should really give it a try and he said yes. We actually started him right before Thanksgiving of this year. I had to put him in 3rd grade even though he was of 4th grade age because he was pretty behind in spelling and math and I didn't want him to fail miserably. That turned out to be a good move.

My advice, if you are going to put him in school do it at the beginning of the year. Visit the school in the summer and play on the playground once a week. Visit the school now and sit in on the class he may be in. Hang out in the school library. Be honest with him about how you see your relationship with him and how you both might be better served to try something different.

My son liked school more than either of us imagined. He is bored at times and would rather be home some days, and that saddens me. But we get along great now. We cuddle, read, talk, and relate way more than we did before.

Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

I feel for you because homeschooling is a very energy intensive undertaking and can really take over your homelife. Why did you start homeschooling in the first place? Has it been successful with your son? What needs of yours are not being filled now and are there other alternatives to quitting the homeschooling to meet those needs? As for managing time, you can use a more structured program tha does not require that you come up with all the material each and every day from scratch. You could use a program like WAVA, Washington Virtual Academy to make sure that you get all the academic bases covered in 3-4 hours and you will have plenty of day left to have fun, teach those other values, etc. Your son may want to continue homeschooling because he values that time with YOU, the most important person in his world, much more than being stuck as a number in a 30+ kid classroom. What is the quality of your neighborhood school or the place you would be sending him? I ask because it is best to be informed BEFORE you end up trying to solve a minor problem only to get into major ones.

Finally, public schooling could actually take up MORE of your time and add to your stress immeasurably. The time to wake him up, make sure he gets ready for school at a certain time, track the progress of his homework, counsel him on getting along in that group setting, keep in touch with the teacher, volunteer for PTA, classroom projects, etc. would be the tip of the iceberg for an IDEAL situation. That time would pale in comparison to the effort you would have to spend if and when your son had academic difficulties, suffered bullying, abuse, or other behavioral problems, or even had a less than stellar teacher that year and ended up with academic, or emotional deficits.

I homeschool an 8 almost 9 year old girl and a 3.5 year old girl. To lessen my own stress, I set aside an hour for ME to exercise, we share household chores with my daughters doing some of them, my husband helps when he can with academic and parenting work, and we use WAVA, a structured program that we get for free and can tailor to our needs which provides all the materials, directions, lessons, etc. in an easy to follow format that has really kept my daughters interest and encouraged her to become a more self motivated and guided learner.

If your relationship has become strained because of discipline issues, like not doing the work, etc. then public school may not solve the issue. Instead of straining to have him do your homeschooling work, you will be struggling with him to do his homework and succeed at school.

I don't mean to say that your situation is a cop out in any way but am trying to give you other alternatives that may work and give BOTH you and your son what you want.

Good Luck,


1 mom found this helpful

Hey There D.,

Your post resonated with me SO deeply! We are in our third year of homeschooling both our kids, and our daughter is also eight. If there's ONE thing I've picked up in the whole journey (and what a ride it's been!) is that my NUMBER ONE job is to teach morals, values and character development. That's it. Parenting is the most important discipleship relationship I'll ever have. I was most of the way through our first year before I BEGAN to understand that.

Everyday I learn more about HOW to teach those things. And my daughter's not an "easy" child. She has autism and she is wired very differently from neuro-typical kids, but she's also VERY, VERY smart so I very much want to pour all the math, science, grammar and spelling into her that I can. I just try to do it within the parameters of character development.

I hope this helps and doesn't offend! I'd love to talk with you more anytime!

All The Best,


Don't feel bad about needing your sanity back; it is more important for you to teach him values and responsibility, because he's sure not going to learn those much in school, whereas they can certainly teach him academics. You are to be commended for doing it as much as you did. My husband wanted me to home school, but I just don't have the personality for it.

I'm a teacher and I've seen something done in a second grade classroom that worked well with the transition. They started with having the student go during Pe/Music at first. The little boy was so excited to play with his friends that they then slowly transitioned him into other subjects till he was fully emersed in the classroom. You do need a willing teacher and I'm sure the teacher will want to make sure that your son is being taught the same academics as the rest of the class.

i would love to talk with you off-line about this. we may be able to help each other. i too, am researching this situation and gathering advice.
____@____.com or ###-###-####

Hi D.
I know several familas that have home schooled and around JR high or high school children want to BE WITH MY FRIENDS. I suggest that you work with the school and set up a co schooling where the child goes to school say 2 days a week and home school 3. Most schools will work with you. If not weigh out the near turm and far turm affects of both home schooling and not. What are your sons reasons for wanting to not go to public school? There are a lot of socal isues around school and it might just be to SCARRIE to want to be with all those children. Children can be mean and if your son is a sensitive it can be tramatic.
At 8 moms can become an adversary insted of teacher and MOM it is a normal thing. Get DAD involved Mom can only teach a boy so much so it is important to have DAD man up and do his part in the prosess of rearing a YOUNG MAN.

Dear D.,
I homeschool my three sons ages 13, 9, and 7. All three started out in public school. I began homeschooling when my oldest was in the first grade until fourth grade. In the fourth grade we opened a new business and I too just didn't have the energy or time to both run a business and homeschool. I had no choice but to put the boys in public school.
I chose to put them in a school that was much smaller and had more experience in taking on previously homeschooled children. You can usually find these types of schools further out in farming communities. If you have to drive a little ways its worth it. They really helped the boys to make the transition easy. They were also able to help the boys one on one to get them caught up where they may have been behind the class and help them continue on in areas that they were ahead.
They were only in public school for three years then I started homeschooling again. I have no intentions of ever putting them back in public school. I personally feel that they get more out of homeschooling both academically and morally.
My advice to you is to find a small school that understands the needs of a homeschool child making the transition to public school. The school we found was wonderful. It was an old two room school house and the kids loved it. It worked out well for the time being.
My second peice of advice is that homeschooling can be a wonderful thing. Don't give up on it so fast. I understand that is isn't for everyone, but make sure it's not for you before giving it up. It can be a very stressful job and very exhausting. My experience has been that time and routine changes things. I have had my fair share of stressful days with the boys. I too contenplated giving it up many times. However I have chosen to stick it out and with that I have found that the longer I do it, the more the kids become familier with the routine and what is expected of them. As time goes by the easier it gets and the more relaxed I am about it.
Best of luck to you. I'm sure you'll make the right choice for your family and the kids will all be just fine.

J. L.

One option that exists for home schooling mom's that need a break, (believe me we all do, no matter how saintly we come across!) is to put them into the elective classes like music, p.e. and art. This would probably be a good way to transition your son back to school full time, or just give you the break that you need to continue to home school your son.

You could also look into putting him into private lessons or enrolling him in a home school cooperative for a couple days a week.

In Walla Walla there is a public school program for home schoolers called home link that offers core classes as well as electives, which if it is an option in your home town would free you up to teach those values, morals, and service areas more. This is a free program.

Good luck,

I personally have not been thru this since my son is only 7 months old, but his father was home schooled for years and when his parents split up he was thrown into the public school system. Both him and his little brother had never attended public school and it was a very difficult transition. They were both older, one a freshman in high school and one in 7th grade. Having grown up with them and watch them go thru this transition I'm able to say it wasn't an easy one. Neither of them graduated, but soon went on to get their GED's. My little bit of advice for you is make sure and be the best support system for your son that you can. REally try to stay involved with his schooling, rather then just turning it over to the teachers. Maybe you can go and volunteer frequently, stay in close contact with his teacher and mentors. I feel that if my husband's parents had been more involved in his schooling when he started public school that it may have been better. Stay positive and encouraging, help your son to see the good side of going back to school, the friends and social aspect, the specials like music, PE, and library. Maybe you can take him to school to meet his new teacher and just hang out for a while and see what it's like. Good luck to you and your son I hope everything goes well. And don't beat yourself up over not being able to balance everything, it's hard and just not for everyone. We do the best we can with what we have, and you seem to be doing whats best for you and your family. :-) Good luck!

I come at this topic on the other end. I am taking the year off to be with my baby, but I was an elementary school teacher and I had a child come in from being homeschooled and then after a month she went back to homeschooling. It was tough on the classroom community, tough on me as the teacher and I think in the end a bit confusing for the child. I say it was tough because we loved her a lot and I don't think the mom realized what kinds of bonds can take place with children and even with the teacher in such a short amount of time. I think homeschooling is awesome (especially, actually during middle school years, when the peer pressure is overwhelming...I am now currently a middle school art/Spanish teacher). But I also think that being in school can create relationships and experiences that only make the child's homelife more interesting/fulfilling/rewarding...and sometimes challenging...but that is always the case in any situation I think. I think in order to transition your child, you could start by doing activities with the kids that will be in his grade. Perhaps they have somekind of sports or afterschool activity or? I think it would be great for him to know some of the kids and create some bonds early on, so that he will feel way more comfortable and excited to go to school. Maybe you could meet with his teacher and ask about any afterschool activities that you could join now...like scouts, 4-H, sports, etc. I think your mind seems to be made up to put him back in school, so please, when he starts school, keep him there, even if he complains at first (of course there will be an adjustment period). Be consistent and fair to all by keeping him in school when you do get him there. If it doesn't work out for both of you, then please, let the teacher know way in advance to let the children know about the change. If you do take him out, do it at a break, like winter break, or spring break, or summer. Good luck to you and way to go about thinking about teaching him morals, values, service! Teachers aren't allowed (too much) to do this...and it is greatly needed for all children. You seem to be an awesome mama! Keep it up! :)

I think it's great that you are being open and honest about needing your balance back. I am a public school teacher and I have seen many students attending public school for the first time. I teach 7th grade, so imagine what a shock that is for some kids who have never even been to a homeschool center to be thrust into the hormonal world of middle school!

I am fortunate enough to teach in one of the most respected and academically challenging school districts in my area, so our community is one that values education greatly. I would have to disagree that the public schools will "teach" your children values. I can literally tell what kind of values are taught at home by a child's demeanor and attitude in my classroom by the second month of school. What the kids learn at home is far more important than what they will learn in one year of English class. However, combine all the skills they learn in all their years of English class, and then the academic value becomes apparent.

If it's the company your child may keep through being in public school that worries you, be firm and fair. It is our nature to want to protect our children from what we find to go against our values, but we also need to find balance in what examples we set. If we want to teach our children tolerance, yet we simply cannot tolerate it when others don't do things "our way" and therefore don't expose our children to it--we are living a poor example.

Research the public schools in your home district. There may be some alternative programs that cater to some of the values you feel strongly about. Interview the principal of a school and find out which teacher's classroom might be a better fit for your son. I really like the idea someone suggested about going half-days, or a couple days a week until he is ready to be there full time.

If you are dedicated to the idea of him going back to public school, you are wise to do it sooner than later. I have had many, many students who were formerly homeschooled that had a real challenge with meeting due dates and staying organized. As harsh as it seems, getting things done on time for a due date that may seem "arbitrary" is a critical skill for anyone who may be planning on going to college or having a job one day. Being accountable to someone who is not "mom" is also something I have seen kids struggle with. It was amazing to me how many kids who were previously homeschooled that had little respect for their moms; especially after how hard their moms had worked to give them a valuable homeschooling experience! Perhaps they were the families who struggled like you are feeling you may be headed?

As for teaching the things like values, morals, service, you are absolutely your child's best teacher! Take him into the community to show how you put those values to use. Talk to him daily once he returns to school about his school day. Keep the communication with him valid and open and you will see him blossom into a young person who does hold dear the same values as you and your family.

Best of luck to you and your son!

Hi D.!

I really feel for you in all aspects. Home schooling can be the most rewarding job in the world and yet at the same time be the most draining.

I home schooled my two boys for 10 years and loved it. However I can relate to the feeling of inadequacy in other areas relating to parenting. Especially when you are with them all day long.

One way that I transitioned my kids into school, ( they had never been until their 7th grade year ) was to let them go half days. They took 3 classes a day in the areas that I felt we were struggling both academically as well as in the parent and son relationship. They did this for the first full year and then went into school full time the following year.

Both love school and had an easier transition into it than just throwing them into it.

On a side note: I want to tell you that I commend you for not only home schooling but for knowing that your son needs the outside interaction with other programs and children.

Good luck!

D. F

Hi D.,
Call your neighborhood school and ask if there is a councilor and see if you can get an appointment with him/her. Talk about your fears. Your son will probably do well once he gets into the swing of things. I've worked in public schools for years and we have had a lot of children come from the home school environment. Some are fine, others have a little tougher time...NOT any different from anyone else, I might add. Your child might find school a refreshing change if the home school situation has become strained. It is a hard job home schooling and I want to add my admiration for your efforts. You might give public school a try and give it a good chance before making your judgment call. It will take time for your guy to adjust. Look at this as a positive change for you both. It sounds like you could use a break from each other and this might be the solution. Your relationship might thrive under new conditions.
Good Luck,
J. S

Hey D.! Congratulations on homeschooling as long as you did :) It's not always easy, is it!? I also homeschool. The values and morals are the biggest reason I homeschool. I dislike what I see at public schools in that regard.
If values and morals are high on your priority list for your son, I'll bet you are modeling those aspects of yourself already. Our kids are going to learn these behaviors from our example, not so much from us "TEACHING" them. If you send your son to public school - you MAY have a harder time instilling your higher expectations when he will be exposed to many other ways of thinking from his peers. There's no guarantee that the new kids he'll be around will have parents of your caliber and morals. Actually it's doubtful. (Depending on which school, of course) Is it possible to send him to a private school? Or at least, can you be involved by volunteering at his school on a regular basis?
Good Luck!

I noticed that someone suggested part-time enrollment, which I immediately thought of. Another solution might be to use an easier curriculum. I use "Switched on Schoolhouse" with my daughters, which saves my sanity. It requires minimal work from me, which is necessary with our lifestyle. Another suggestion is to talk to your son to try to pinpoint exactly why he is so resistant. My oldest daughter went to public kindergarten, then has been homeschooled (she is in 9th grade,) and my youngest is in 7th grade and has never been in public school. My oldest daughter once asked to return to public school, and I agonized over it, until I asked her why and discovered that there was a toy in her Kindergarten class that she missed. When my youngest daughter asked to go to Kindergarten, I asked why and found out that she wanted to carry a lunchbox. :) God bless you and your family, whatever you decide to do.

This isn't the advice you want to hear, but I just wanted to let you know that if your son is really resisting the public school idea you might consider homeschooling one more year. In my opinion, 1st and 2nd grade are the most time consuming to teach. We transitioned to Switched On Schoolhouse computer curriculum at 3rd grade, and it has given me tons of freedom with my older kids. Feel free to e-mail me privately if you want to talk more.


Hi D.,

I would be curious as to why you pulled him out and what has been going on during the years that you homeschooled.

We homeschooled 3 of our 4 children. The one we didn't homeschool is a special needs child and needed the program in the school. My kids had never been to school so when we put them in school is was a new experience so it is a little different than going back.

My two oldesst started school in 9th and 10th grade at Roosevelt. They actually did really well at first then had some problems. They were frustrated with the bad teaching and had problems getting assignments done on time.

Our youngest started school in 4th grade at a small Catholic school. He loves it. He, too, is having trouble handing in assignments. They have all done well socially - the problems have been more academic and organiztional issues.

I totally understand about needing time. It was such a relief for me to not have to worry about every lesson and planning and getting them to do things. It was also hard giving that up but after years of homeschooling, I was really ready to have some time to pursue other things. My energy was drained by this. We weren't having dinners together and everything was falling apaprt. My life was totally consumed with their schooling and other commitments. My health was suffering and I was having less and less time to do any schooling with them. Now that I have time to think about other things and planning things for the family, we are having dinner every night together and it has been much better around here.

When my son started school in 4th grade, it was the middle of the year and the school was very accomodating. They would have let him go half days for awhile or whatever he needed. He went one day half day and was so excited that he then attended full time.

So, again, I would look at why he was pulled out, what school he will be going to and work with that school on issues.

My two oldest are very thankful for their homeschooling. My oldest is graduated and says that he really stopped learning once he got to school. He had gotten so ahead with the schooling at home and the lessons that he learned regarding life. My youngest probably didn't have the best experience as he got hauled around to therapies for his older brother so much there wasn't alot of time to do actual schooling. We couldn't put him into a public school as he would sink. We are very happy with the placement that we chose. It is a very small Catholic school - there were only 19 kids in his class and he knew most of them through sports prior to enrolling in school.

Also there are the homeschool rescource centers in the school districts that might be an option.

Good luck,


I was in public school from K-3rd grade, homeschooled 4-5, private schooled 6-8, and finished with public high school 9-12. I went on to OSU to get my 4-year degree. I actually really love that I had the chance to experience all different kinds of schooling. My mom elected to stop homeschooling for similiar reasons as you. We've never held it against her. It met many needs that me and my little sister had at that time. For us, going to a small private school for a while, where we got lots of personal attention, I feel made a huge difference in easing us into public school. We got used to a group learning environment again. The class sizes were smaller. Even just a year in a small private school of some sort can be good. It might be hard for your kid to make friends and then make new friends again, but that is a process he'll be doing all his life :) Best of luck!

You are a braver woman than I am. I could never have home schooled. However, you might try putting him in classes that interest him like computers or foreign language and sports camps away from home transitioning the social, team and accademics. I have found for my daughter anyway that social plays a large part in her leaving her comfort zone. She chose basketball as her sport at an early age and the only way she would (and did) make the high school team was select ball and camps where she knew no one. She didn't want to go because she had no friends there but she couldn't play only for fun so we forced her to go fighting all the way. She made life long friends, played for her high school and coached other grade school teams. Sometimes I think that somewhere in the parent handbook is a section on how this is supposed to work but I have never found it so I fly by the seat of my pants. My son is a freshman in college and my daughter is a junior in high school and I am still struggling to move forward in the things they need to do.

Good Luck

Have you heard about www.connectionsacademy.com ?
It's actually a public school program that allows you to "homeschool" but with the help of a teacher. your child is assigned a teacher that you keep in contact with by phone and email and they design all of the assignments specifically for your child and email them to you. They also grade everything for you and you can connect with them if you need help teaching certain things. As the parent, you're actually considered the "coach" and not the teacher...you just guide your child's teaching but the assigned teacher does most of the work.
The best part? It's free because it's a public school program!!!
I'm planning on using it when my oldest turns kindergarten age.

It might really help you out.
Good luck!

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Hi D.,

Let me tell you about my own experience. My three children were in public school, 1st grade, 3rd grade, and 5th grade when I brought them home to homeschool. Before homeschooling my children wouldn't pick up a book if I bribed them, now I often tease them about grounding them from the library. It has been 2 years now and I love how happy they are. Believe me, we have our days. Just last December I started looking into homeschool groups. This really opened up a new door as far as giving me new ideas on things to do, activities and such.

Have you looked into part-time enrollment? Maybe having your child go to public school for a couple classes a day would help him ease back into school life. You could also spend some time volunteering at the school so he feels better about being there. Volunteering in the school is what actually prompted me to take my children out... Who knows, after that you may change your mind (you may want to keep your options open).

I agree with the other advise as well. If your final decision is to send your child back to school, it doesn't change the fact that you are still a great mom!

I hope it all works out for you both.


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