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 began homeschooling, my daughter wanted to go back to public school for awhile. After talking about it, we decided to continue homeschooling and have never looked back. With a homeschool graduate, an 11th grader, and a 9th grader, it doesn’t look like I’ll ever be able to answer the question based on my own experience.
Since I don’t know, I decided to ask some friends whose kids did choose to go to public or private school after being homeschooled.
This article is, in no way, based on a precise, scientific survey. I just asked families I know to share their experiences. If the possibility of enrolling your kids in public or private school is likely or having the option is crucial to you, I’d advise you to investigate for yourself and see what would be required for doing so.
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’ve known who’ve chosen to enroll their children in public or private school have done so for reasons such as:
- To give their kids the opportunity to compete for sports or academic scholarships
- Parents who no longer felt that they could fully commit to homeschooling
- Financial needs
- Their children had sound reasons for wanting to attend a traditional school
I have also known families who didn’t choose to put their kids in public or private school, but who were left without options due to the death of the primary teaching parent or the primary income earner or divorce.
I also think it’s important to discuss options for returning homeschooled kids to a traditional school setting for the simple fact that many would-be homeschooling families are afraid to give homeschooling a try due to fear of not being able to return their kids to school if it isn’t a good fit for their family.
Whatever the reason you may be asking this question (and seriously, no bashing in the comments – we’re all trying to do what’s best for our kids here), you probably have the same questions and nagging fears.
Will I have trouble putting my homeschooled kids in public school?
I am certain that there are parents who have had difficulty enrolling their homeschooled kids in public (or private) school, but that was not the case with any of the parents to whom I spoke. I interviewed parents who had enrolled kids in 1st grade all the way through 10th about their experience.
All the parents stated that enrolling a student in a traditional school can be (or would have been) more complicated after 9th grade than doing so by their freshman year. However, it’s not impossible, and waiting doesn’t necessarily mean that your student will be behind or have to repeat classes. That’s a common fear, but was not the case with the teens I know who entered a traditional high school past 9th grade.
How do you put a homeschooled child in public school?
Only one parent stated that she did not have to supply the school with anything. All of the others indicated that they did need to provide the school with their students’ standardized test scores and/or records from their umbrella school, and a couple of kids did need to take placement tests to determine their grade level.
A few parents stated that the guidance counselors worked with them on placing their students in the appropriate grade levels and classes, including giving credit for high school level courses taken in 8th grade and skipping already completed classes even if they were typically taken at the student’s current grade level.
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 was not asked to provide test scores stated that the schools (elementary and high school) placed her children in the grades levels at which she indicated that they were working.
Are homeschooled kids academically prepared for public school?
The fear that there will be education gaps or that our homeschooled kids will be behind is probably one of the biggest worries for parents considering placing their children in a traditional school setting. One friend I talked to was worried that her student would struggle with math. Another friend’s high school freshman signed up for honors classes in everything except English, fearing that his writing skills weren’t up to par.
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 of the parents I spoke to told me about a friend of hers whose unschooled teen wound up attending a traditional school. The mom was worried about how he would do since they hadn’t done much formal learning. He, too, adjusted well to a traditional school setting and was an A student.
Another formerly-homeschooled elementary student wound up being the classroom helper, assisting (at the teacher’s request) other students in completing their work when she finished hers.
The bottom line is that all the parents I spoke with assured me that most homeschooling parents’ fears of their children being unprepared academically are likely unfounded.
Are homeschooled kids socially prepared for public school?
The other big fear for both parents and their children going from homeschool to public school (or private) tends to be the social aspect. All of the parents that I spoke to reported that their kids adjusted well socially. They made friends quickly and had no trouble getting involved in sports and other activities.
The parents of some of the teens stated that their kids did lose a bit of their naivety simply from going from a more controlled environment to one that was less so, but they adjusted and dealt with it.
Will my homeschooled kid regret being homeschooled?
That’s impossible to answer as it ultimately depends on the child and the situation. None of the parents I spoke to said that their kids regretted being homeschooled. Some students have thrived in a traditional school setting and have or will graduate from public or private school. Others chose to return to a homeschool setting.
Those who returned to homeschool did so primarily for the academic freedom. Those students said that they could pursue their interests without so much wasted time during the day. The child who became the classroom helper wanted to go back to a setting where she could move on to the next thing once she completed her work, rather than waiting for the rest of the class to finish.
Another formerly-homeschooled teen graduated from public high school, fared well both academically and socially, but cautioned his parents against sending his younger siblings to public high school because it had changed 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 the reason a parent might consider sending his or her homeschooled students to a traditional school setting was due only to fear that they’re not getting a quality education at home, don’t do it. She stated that they’re 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 wish 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 give to parents considering it or those who are afraid to try homeschooling for fear that their kids won’t be able to return to public or private school if homeschooling isn’t a good fit?
(All respectful comments are welcome.)
This post is linked to the Hip Homeschool Hop.