What About the Special Days?
It might sound lame, but it's a legitimate concern!
If we homeschool...what about our first day of school pics?
...what about class parties?
...what about assemblies?
...what about the class play?
...what about book character day?
...what about band/choir/shop/speech class/drama?
...what about the 100th Day of School?
...what about new backpacks and lunchboxes?
...what about their friends?
...what about music/art/library time?
Especially if you have had a pretty positive experience with public school in the past, there may already be little traditions and fun things that you and your children always look forward to. That's a lot to lose all at once. I get that. My oldest daughter really liked school. She was excited, but a bit unsure about homeschooling at first. (Side note: It's the parent's decision at our house. I do not think young children are equipped to make a decision on their education. Your teens might be included in the decision. But ultimately, you are the parents. We take on the burden of that decision for our children.)
So let me tell you that we have made our own traditions and kept some old ones. We ALWAYS dress in new clothes (at least a new "back to school" shirt) and have a very special first day of school back. We take pictures, we have a special breakfast, and they always have some treat waiting for them when they wake up. The first day of school around here is fun! And I throw my back to school pics up there on Facebook just like my public school friends.
Class parties were actually one of the things I worried about missing out on as a new homeschooler. We found a great homeschool group (different from a co-op) where we got together purely for the fun things--field trips, holiday parties, park days, back to school parties, monthly birthday celebrations, gym days, and the like. We have enjoyed years of Valentine's Day skate parties complete with too many sweets and a Valentine exchange. We had years of Thanksgiving feasts with all our homeschool friends. We had Christmas parties with a book exchange and crafts. We had end-of-year parties, a beach trip on public school's first day back (our NOT Back to School Party!) where we got the beach to ourselves. We have been all over on field trips together (with group rates), visited the fire station, the police station, had talent shows...the list goes on and on. We have not missed out on a thing. If your area does not have a good homeschool group, you can always start one.
Our homeschool group about 11 years ago at our Thanksgiving party. The "Pilgrim Lady" always came by to do a fun presentation while the Moms and big kids set up for the feast.
Special days like the 100th Day of School and book character day can still go on. In fact, they are a lot of fun! There are enough homeschoolers out there to make friends with and you can still keep your old friends, you may just have to wait until they get out of school to see them. But remember, you have a flexible schedule, so you can do that!
Our local library has story time for preschoolers that my children all attended. The big sisters would simply bring some school work and work at a table at the library during those events. In fact, we really like going to the library to work. It's nice to have a change of scenery. We've also worked at the park when it's pretty. And Chick-Fil-A. That was especially nice when my youngest was a 3 or 4 year old toot. She got to go play and we got school done, with great food and drinks at our side.
Have you ever heard of Toastmaster's International? There are chapters all over where people get together and improve their public speaking skills. There are chapters for homeschoolers too. Speech class? Done. We met at a nearby YMCA once a week. Fine arts are handled through our co-op. We have a special sort of co-op where the classes are all focused on drama, band, music theory, art, dance, etc. We're just like the school in Fame, except we only meet once a week.
Other ways to handle special things is through apprenticeships and just utilizing knowledgeable adults around you.. Many older folks are more than happy to share their skills with young people. You might find a man at church who could teach woodworking to some young folks from your homeschool group. A lady might teach sewing or crochet. A college student might do art classes. All it takes is putting a request out there and setting it up.
In short, there is nearly nothing you can't do as a homeschooler. Your days can be full of special times and fun events with just a bit of planning and willingness to work with others.
And then, go ahead and throw those pics up on Facebook and show the world how much fun homeschoolers can have!