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What Is The Transition From Home School To Public School Like?

From Our Forum a Reader Asks:

I'm writing a story, and one of my characters has been home schooled all her life and, due to her mother's career change, has to start public high school as a freshman. Does the curriculum differ? How does one adapt to the social structure of public school? Do home schooled kids ever feel "sheltered" compared to their public school counterparts? I would appreciate help from anyone who has gone through a similar transition.

4 comments to What Is The Transition From Home School To Public School Like?

  • Dina Felice

    I have recently made friends with a homeschooling family, and also judged a debate competition for homeschoolers and got to know some of the kids. Here is what they told me about dealing with the large groups necessitated by the competition (which is similar to school) and how they felt socially in other circumstances when with non-homeschooled kids.
    One girl told me that it was startling to have to deal with lines (e.g. for food at lunchtime). She wasn’t used to being in such a large group that they were treated as a group, not as individuals. I found all of them to be quite social and socially adept. I asked about how they felt when dealing with public school kids. Several commented to me that they found it strange that public school kids based so much on chronological age, eschewing contact with kids even a year or two different: most of them came from large families and, even those who didn’t, were just as comfortable talking to adults and children far older or younger as they were with those of the same age. When pressed, they confessed that they found public school students to be rather rude and judgemental: they had, for the most part, been raised such that they were not permitted to exclude people (something schools claim to do, but don’t really follow through on) and were never permitted to say rude or unkind things to others, even when others are rude to them (which, apparently, is quite often as being from a large family and being homeschooled is often ridiculed).
    The ones I spoke to did feel that they were quite unknowledgeable about pop culture (not being permitted much TV or pop music), but they didn’t see it as being sheltered. They knew they were missing it, but they viewed it more along the lines of the way I would view someone with a bizarre hobby, i.e. “Why do they spend all of their time doing that?” rather than “Boy, I wish I could do that” or “It’s not fair that I can’t do that”. On the other hand, they were much more knowledgable than their public school counterparts when it comes to academic subjects. Even the ones where their levels were similar, the subject matter was quite different: they focused on different parts of history, they may have done math and/or science in a non-traditional order…they would have a hard time if suddenly switching to a public school (in a similar way that someone who moves from one state to another and has to attend a new school system would have a difficult time).

  • Ruby Red

    I home schooled my daughter until 6th grade then she went to public school. She was always shy, when she went to school she fit right in. Maybe not as many social skills as other kids, but she came out of her shell just fine. The curriculum was a little different because she was ahead of everyone. That’s what happens when they have one on one teaching. She did feel a little sheltered but says she don’t regret it at all. If you need her point of view just let me know by e-mailing me and I will get it for you.

  • Karen

    The curriculum is different, particularly if the reason for homeschooling was a religious education. Yes, some can feel sheltered, but that is why homeschoolers get together for activities and events. I would recommend you talk to someone from a homeschooling program about what it’s like before you write your book.
    Where I live they are Family Partnership Charter School and IDEA.https://www.fpcs.net/fpcsweb2/http://www.ideafamilies.org/


    I went to various schools till I was about 9 and was home schooled for about 2 years then I went back to school for almost a year then I left for another 2 years then went back and finished the last 2 years of school… few. So I’ve actually ‘made the transition’ twice.
    The first time I went back was very scary and I felt very nervous the children take a lot of interest in you because your new but I hated it. I wanted to have friends but Ididn’t want to speak to everyone about being home schooled.
    People thought I was weird so I behaved strange. I wasn’t sure what to do at lunchtimes and sat by mself a lot, it took me a few months to become settled and before I’d been at school for a year I begged my mum to let me come home.
    Then after two years of homeschooling I went back again. This time it wasn’t as scary, and being older (15) i was much more excited about speaking to people (girls) my own age and I could remember a few people from before.
    curriculum does differ but I coped with it ok. I’ve never realy lost the shyness that you get from being home schooled and not speaking to people your own age, most of them seem very immature and although most dont admit it home schooled children tend to be a little snobbish.
    Interacting in groups was something I’ve never found easy before and since school and the way people talk to each other at school (slang, giggling, foul language etc…) seems strange.
    I hope I’ve helped but i wasnt home schooled from birth so if someone was the situation would be different but thats about all i can tell you.

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