Any time a student is new to any high school it can be a time of anxiety and stress for the new student. The transition can be even more uncomfortable when the student is a homeschooled student. As teachers it is important to assist these students with this important transition. If the homeschooled student feels comfortable from the beginning, he or she is more likely to come back for another day. There are many areas of concern that can be difficult for the homeschooled student, but with some assistance from the teaching staff it can ease the transition.
Encourage attending orientation or open house days
The administrative office should encourage the students to attend open house times or orientation at the school. This can be very helpful because this is the time when students can walk around the school, discover the location of classes, be introduced to teachers and learn where their lockers are located. It makes familiarity on the first day of school much easier.
Have a mentor student
It is very helpful to pair the student with another student who may have similar interests or classes. This mentor student can be there to show the student around, introduce people and explain rules. Having someone that the homeschooled student is comfortable with from the first day can really ease the transition in an effective way.
Be clear about established classroom rules
Because the homeschooled student has not been in the large group setting before, it is essential that the teacher be clear to the student about classroom rules. Usually if the homeschooled student knows the expectations up front, it makes the student more confident in the new situation.
For group activities it may be essential for the teacher to divide the students into groups. This way the homeschooled student is less likely to be left out when groups are formed. This allows the student to become familiar with others in the class.
Plan a creative assignment
Often times homeschooled students have had more opportunities for creative assignments such as art or have experience more travel experiences than the other students. Consider assigning a creative project for the class early on that the student may find a comfort zone and early success. Talk with the student and discover some background about favorite projects completed while being homeschooled. Build on those experiences.
Facilitate student relations
While every student is different, sometimes homeschooled students do not have the socialization background that allows them to relate to the others in the class. This can come out in arguments or even sensitivity to comments or criticisms. It is important in class to try to facilitate experiences that teach these students to relate to others effectively.
Encourage joining a club
An excellent way for the homeschooled student to become a part of the school is to encourage participation in a school activity. Something that is commonly seen is that perhaps the student has not participated in organized athletics and has had more opportunities with private lessons. Encourage participation in band, choir, or debate as a few examples of activities that they may excel. Those that struggle with identifying with the student body, usually need to use their skills in a positive way that makes them part of the educational experience.
Be aware of academic differences
There can be wide difference in skills that are brought in by the homeschooled student. Some students haven’t really had the most formal of academic experiences and can struggle with some subjects, while other students have had strong academic experiences and may be actually ahead skill wise from the students in the classroom. An example is the homeschooled student who has previously read Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. The classroom teacher may have to come up with different materials or will need to encourage the home schooled student to share expertise with the class.
The most important thing a teacher can do to help the transition from homeschooling to high school is to be friendly, supportive and encouraging. The student should feel that the teacher is there to help them and encourage their academic progress. The teacher should monitor progress and be available for the student to talk before or after class or school if needed.
Joining the ranks of high school students from the homeschooled experience should be regarded as a time of opportunity and not one of trepidation. Educators can ease this transition to make high school as successful happy experience.