Beginning to Homeschool Mid-Year

Tis the season when some families are ready to throw up their hands with public school and start homeschooling. Even with the best of classroom teachers, some kids just do not thrive in today’s schools. By December, parents begin to wonder if they can really let another year go by without their child actually learning something new at school.

Some parents will wake up one morning and say, “That’s it. We’re done. I’m pulling Johnny out today! We’ll figure things out as we go along.” Others fret for months, thinking they need to plan out an academic program from 2nd grade till high school graduation.

Deciding to homeschool is a pretty big commitment. More than just an educational choice, homeschooling becomes a lifestyle choice for many families. Here are 6 things you’ll need to do, if you plan to begin homeschooling mid-year.

Get Your Spouse on Board

Not all spouses are as gung-ho about homeschooling as the stay-at-home parent considering the decision. If you get push-back from your spouse, schedule a time to go for a walk to talk about homeschooling and see where you can find common ground. At the very least, try to agree for a 6-month trial period. Establish at least 2 measurable markers – like 50% fewer learning-related meltdowns by your child. If homeschooling isn’t working by the end of your trial period, you agree that you won’t push to continue.

If you happen to be divorced, you will still want to check in with your co-parent. Unless you have an existing clause in your Divorce Order about who gets the tie breaking decision for educational matters, you may find yourself back in court if the co-parent doesn’t like homeschooling.

Get Your Kid on Board

Regardless of your child’s age, they need to buy-in to the idea of homeschooling. No matter how miserable you may be with the school situation, your kiddo may actually like it. Find out what – if anything – they’ll miss and then start looking for comparable options in the homeschool community.

Pick a Leave Date

You might have wanted to start homeschooling yesterday, but your kid could be really, really looking forward to that holiday party next week. Find out if any special events are coming up that your child wants to be part of, before leaving school. Having a solid end date in place allows kids to be able to have proper closure to their brick and mortar school experience.

Get Your Paperwork in Order

Each state requires different paperwork to be submitted by parents before you can begin homeschooling. Google “Maryland homeschool association” (or substitute the name of your state) and you should get top hits taking you to the legal requirements for where you live. Download the paperwork, if any exists, and make sure you submit it in time to coincide with your intended homeschool start date.

Also, be sure to have copies of your child’s school record before you withdraw. While public schools are legally required to maintain student files for a certain number of years, it’s easier to get copies before records are archived. Specific documents you’ll want to get copies of include:

  • Report cards
  • Annual test results
  • Psycho-educational evaluation reports
  • IEP documents
  • Do NOT Buy Any Curriculum – Yet

Tempting as it may be – even if it’s required by state law – it’s not always a good idea to buy curriculum before you start homeschooling mid-year. Unless your goal is to replicate school-at-home, taking some time to figure how you want homeschooling to be different is a process. Not all learning requires textbooks and worksheets – and for some kids they actually need some serious down-time before they try to re-engage with formal learning. Taking 2-8 weeks to rediscover personal passions and what motivates learning will lead you to better curriculum choices that will help make homeschooling a long-term success.

Don’t Burn School Bridges

I understand that not all families have warm, fuzzy relationships with their child’s school. Still, you might want to keep those cleverly disguised snide remarks to yourself as you walk out the door one last time – because you never know if or when you might need to return. All it takes is one unfortunate car accident or economic disaster and – BAM! – the kids are re-enrolled in school.



Alessa Giampaolo Keener, M.Ed. homeschooled her children from kindergarten into college. Over the last 15+ years, she has also worked with families in creating individualized learning plans. As a professional curriculum developer, Alessa has created afterschool youth development programs for a Baltimore-based nonprofit, as well as teaching materials for homeschool parents and brick and mortar school teachers.