How does a homeschooler go to public school if he or she needs to? The details may vary based on your school district and your state’s homeschooling laws, but these guidelines can help.
How do you enroll a homeschooled student in public school? I never know what to say when someone asks this question because I’ve never done it.
When we started homeschooling, my daughter wanted to go back to public school for a while. After talking about it, we decided to continue homeschooling and have never looked back.
Since I can’t answer the question based on my experience, I asked some friends whose homeschooled kids did go to public or private school.
When writing this article, I asked families I know to share their experiences. If it’s likely that you’ll enroll your kids in public or private school or having the option is crucial to you, investigate for yourself to see what your situation requires.
Why would a homeschool family send their kids to public or private school?
There are many reasons a family might decide that homeschooling is no longer working for them. The families I know who enrolled their children in public or private school did so for reasons such as:
- Giving their kids the opportunity to compete for sports or academic scholarships
- The parents no longer felt that they could fully commit to homeschooling
- Financial needs
- The children gave sound reasons for wanting to attend a traditional school
I also know families who didn’t choose to put their kids in public or private school. They had no alternatives due to the death of the primary teaching parent or the primary income earner or divorce.
Many potential homeschooling families are afraid to try homeschooling. They worry that their kids couldn’t go back to school if it isn’t a good fit for their family. These families need to know their options.
Will I have trouble putting my homeschooled kids in public school?
I’m sure that some parents experience difficulty enrolling their homeschooled kids in public (or private) school. But none of the parents I talked to had trouble. I interviewed parents who enrolled kids in 1st grade all the way through 10th about their experience.
All the parents said that it’s easier to register kids before high school. While enrolling a student in a traditional school after 9th grade proves more complicated, it’s not impossible. Waiting doesn’t necessarily mean that your student will be behind or have to repeat classes. Although a common fear, it wasn’t a problem for the teens I know who went to public high school after 9th grade.
How do you put a homeschooled child in public school?
Only one parent stated that she didn’t have to supply the school with anything. All of the others indicated they had to provide records such as:
- standardized test scores
- umbrella school records
- placement test scores
A few parents said guidance counselors worked with them on placing their students in the appropriate grade levels and classes. Some allowed credit for high school level courses the kids took in 8th grade. Others were allowed to skip typical grade level classes already completed.
The biggest takeaway I got from talking to former homeschool parents is that if public or private school might be in your child’s future, make sure they’re taking standardized tests yearly. (Or as often as required by your state’s homeschool laws.)
Without standardized test scores, it’s likely that your student will have to take placement tests to determine his or her grade level, but this depends on the school. The parent who didn’t have to provide test scores said the schools (elementary and high school) placed her kids in the grades levels she said they were in.
Are homeschooled kids academically prepared for public school?
Education gaps or worries that our homeschooled kids will struggle are two concerns for parents considering a traditional school. One friend I talked to worried that her student would struggle with math. A high school freshman signed up for all honors classes except English. He worried that his writing skills were weak.
Without fail, every parent discovered that their formerly-homeschooled kids were not only prepared but often excelled academically. (The high school freshman regretted not taking the honors English course.)
One parent told me about a friend whose unschooled teen went to public school. The mom worried about how he would adjust since they hadn’t done much formal learning. He made straight A’s
Another formerly-homeschooled elementary student soon found herself in the position of classroom helper. She helped (at the teacher’s request) other students complete their work when she finished hers.
All the parents I spoke with assured me that most homeschooling parents don’t need to worry about academically unprepared students.
Are homeschooled kids socially prepared for public school?
The other big fear about going from homeschool to public school (or private) is the social aspect. All of the parents that I talked to said their kids adjusted well socially. They made friends quickly and jumped into sports and other activities without any trouble.
Some parents of teens said their kids lost a bit of their naivety simply from leaving a more controlled environment for one less so. However, all adjusted without incident.
Will my homeschooled kid regret homeschooling?
That’s impossible to answer because it depends on the child and the situation. None of the parents I spoke to said that their kids regretted homeschooling. Some students thrived in a traditional school setting. Others chose to return to homeschool.
Those who returned to homeschool did so primarily for the academic freedom. They wanted to pursue their interests without so much wasted time during the day. The classroom helper wanted to homeschool again. She liked the freedom to move on when she finished instead of waiting for the rest of the class.
Another formerly-homeschooled teen graduated from public high school. He fared well both academically and socially but cautioned his parents against sending his younger siblings. He told them it had changed (negatively) so much in just the four years he attended.
A traditional school setting was the right choice for several of the families that I interviewed. However, one mom emphatically stated that if fear that your kid isn’t getting a quality education at home is the only reason you’re considering public school, don’t do it. She said your kids are probably doing much better than you think.
I know this can be a controversial topic among homeschoolers, but it shouldn’t be. We all – public, private, and homeschool parents – need to have the freedom and support to do what is best for our kids.
If you’re considering homeschooling, in most cases your child should be able to return to a traditional school setting without too much hassle. You may want to talk to someone in your local school or homeschool support group (or umbrella school) before withdrawing your student if it’s a big concern. Generally speaking, your local support group will probably be more knowledgeable on the subject.
If your kids have gone to public or private school, what was your experience? What advice would you offer?
(All respectful comments are welcome.)