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It’s a big deal: stores have special displays, children dawn new outfits and shoes, they get their precious locks cut, and they meet a gaggle of new friends. But what about your homeschooler? How will he/she respond to all of the excited talk of new friends and “favorite” new teachers who give out candy? We have some solid ideas that will make all of these homeschool back to school conversations easier to navigate for your kid.
One of the easiest and most logical strategies is to be blunt with your child. Tell them that “back to school” is a big deal to kids who attend brick and mortar schools. Teachers give out special lists of supplies that must be purchased, and parents want their kids to be comfortable and look their best when they first set foot in a brand new classroom. These just aren’t concerns that a homeschool child has, nor should they.
When Johnny next door comes knocking with a fresh pair of pumped up kicks, your child may be a little jealous. And when they say something like “I have to get new clothes and shoes because I goto ‘real’ school,” your child will benefit from understanding why.
Here are just a few strategies to consider:
Make Back To School A Big Deal
We have found that it helps to make back to school a big deal for your homeschoolers, but in a different way. We love to hit the discount supply shelves right after the rush is over. We buy them new pencil cases, new folders and notebooks, and then make a big display to commemorate their first day in each new grade. Check out how to make your own in our post DIY First Day Of School Chalkboard.
This will give your child something to be proud of and to show their “regular school” friends. We even take advantage of the back to school clothing sales, and simply wait until the first few weeks of the traditional school pass before buying them a few new shirts and shorts. These strategies also help them to transition out of summer, because they are being conditioned to associate all of the excitement with a fresh start at home.
With your own back to school homeschool traditions, your child will have something to be excited about which will help them to relate to their B&M friends.
Lean On Your Homeschool Group
Being a part of a local homeschool group REALLY helps. Our group usually has something special going on in the month of August, just to get the kids geared up and ready. We have gatherings at local parks, eat special snacks, and communicate with other parents about the curriculum and materials we plan to use. If your homeschooled child can proudly tell their “regular” school friends that they had a “back to school” party, complete with school supplies given out as prizes, it will be a good conversation starter, and will keep them from feeling left out.
You can even have your child invite a “traditional school” friend to a homeschool group event. This helps them to see that the group is full of perfectly normal kids, who work hard in school and socialize just the same. After all, people usually fear what they don’t understand, so the experience will benefit everyone.
Dare To Be Different
Before we chose to make our own homeschool back to school traditions, we went with the very simple strategy of just not caring what the other kids were saying or doing. We do this up to this day, but have started to make things a little more special in August–but mostly to help remind our kids that it’s time to get serious. Following this “live and let live” concept made our kids aware that other children may be excited about the new year, but they never grew jealous of missing out because we chose a different path.
Part of the amazing adventure of homeschooling is enriching your child’s life in ways that simply aren’t possible in regular school. Week-long campouts with our homeschool group, beach trips, and holiday parties at the park carry more value than any fancy new binder or pencil case. Memories can’t be given a dollar value, and the principle behind them is that we are teaching them to cherish friendship and experiences over material things. Learning as we travel, planning educational field trips and planning lessons that include all-day adventures are something that only homeschoolers can do.
If anything, we have to remind them not to boast to their B&M friends, who may have spent the entire day under fluorescent lights being told to “sit still,” while ours collected shells on the beach, and learned about erosion.
How Your Kids Can Respond To Back To School Talk
The one element that is the most complicated is helping your children learn how to respond respectfully, and without getting hurt feelings. I’ve personally overheard other kids telling my children they go to “real school,” implying that homeschooling is not ACTUAL school. The best thing you can do is to teach your child that other kids simply don’t understand, or may have never known another homeschooler. We tell our children that they can make things easier by taking an educational approach, and try to enlighten their friends.
Our kids explain that we have daily routines: the pledge, calendar math, counting aloud, and reviewing our daily objectives. They are able to tell their friends what they have learned that day, and usually have something interesting to share about what they learned. Usually, a light bulb can go off inside the B&M kid’s head when they realize that we are rigorous, and serious about educating our little crazies.
Not all of these homeschool back to school strategies will be a good fit for your family, but a little bit of each idea can go a long way. To be clear, we aren’t very concerned with what other people think about our lifestyle, but there isn’t a child in the world who doesn’t care what their peers think of them. A combination of teaching them that we are different and proud, while keeping them humble and open-minded goes a long way.
We would love to hear about your homeschool back to school strategies in the comment section below!
See more related articles in our How To Homeschool category.