We're homeschooling but my 3 year old is already so excited to get on the bus and to go to school. She sees the buildings and playgrounds and is already excited to "go" to school. What can I say/do to help prepare her for the fun and wonderful home-schooling that will be happening instead?
Excited to get on the big yellow school bus. : (
In my area, there is an opportunity for little kids (preschoolers and kindergartners) to ride the school bus before school starts, just to introduce them to it. I bet they'd let a homeschooled kid take part in the fun. Obviously it may not happen in your area, but it wouldn't hurt to maybe call up your local school system and ask. You don't even have to launch into an explanation of your homeschool status, just call up and say "I've heard some districts do a practice run for little kids on the school bus, does that happen here?" and go from there if the answer is yes.
My Ds ia 4 and I think he used to feel this way (and maybe still does a tiny bit) but I have spent the last year very gently and randomly mentioning all the great things about homeschooling (like today we went to a minor legue baseball game intended for school groups---the school buses were there and school groups but they were chaotic groups of 30-100 and it did not impress my son, AND the school kids had to leave in the 8th inning and did not get to run the bases at the end like our homeschool group did! So I gently pointed that out). When we go out on an all day biking excursion with picnic lunch, etc I might point out that school kids can't do that. I have to be careful so he doesn't say anything rude to some school kids or their families. I also have to be careful in case (highly unlikely in our home, but you never know) we HAVE to send him to school! But it has worked! He's so psyched about being a homeschooler (though we don't actually do lessons yet).
Aw, that was the hardest part of "starting" homeschooling with my kindergartener this year. The school bus stops in front of our house 4 times a day, and she was so bummed not to get to go on it. We did end up explaining that there was no way she'd be on the bus even if she were going to public school... which eventually was expanded to: "because the bus driver has to watch the road and can't make sure that kids are being nice to each other or help if there is a problem." We live in a rural area with few buses and none that go anywhere interesting, but we'll take her on a bus ride when we visit the city this summer. She did get over it in the end. We started censoring library books that idealized school stuff, which helped a bit.
DD1 was very interested in and excited about buses. We live 8 blocks from the school she would be attending, and pointed out to her that she would NOT be riding the bus, because she would have to ride it for 45 minutes to get to school (!) whereas we could walk her to school in 15 minutes on a bad day and less when the sidewalks are cleared of snow. That helped quite a bit (she's a night owl and wasn't keen on getting up extra-early for the bus).
We keep things open-ended. Who knows, maybe one year for some reason she will be in school. But right now we homeschool and it works for us -- and she has several friends who go to school, and gets to hear from them about all the things they dislike (one of her friends attends a local school which doesn't allow kids to talk or laugh during lunch hour, and has been in trouble for doing both).... most of her friends are actually jealous that she's homeschooled, and several have asked their moms whether she'd homeschool them like I do dd1 (one asked her mom if she could just homeschool WITH us! ) - it's actually kind of sad, I think, since most of these kiddos are 3rd grade and under --- that they already are unhappy with school.
Dd always asks when she will get to go to school and on the bus like dsd (my stepdaughter) since she has spent her whole life taking her to and from the bus stop. She still says she wants to go to school when she is bigger, but for now is happy with the idea of staying home with me. Who knows what hte future will bring, but for now we just keep talking about the fine side of homeschooling and we'll deal with the rest as it comes.
At that age I started pointing out all of the different places and ways people "do school". I would show the kids the public schools, private schools, charter schools, universities, computers of virtual schoolers, homes of other homeschooling families, etc. Once the kids realized not all people "do school" the same, it normalized homeschooling for them.
I've been dealing with this too with my 3 & 5 yr olds - i didn't decide to homeschool until a few months ago though i didn't raelly talk-up school either.. i just wasn't sure yet. anyway, once i made the decision i started takling with the kids about it and they are getting better.. my DD has always kind of known that lots of kids go to daycare and she doesn't and an extension of that explanation (some parents have to work, some stay home with their kids etc) helped her to not feel like not going to 'big school' was ok too .. in addition to talking about all the fun stuff we'll do, how she will get to be with her siblings etc.
My kiddo was excited about it too, until I explained to him that his cousin doesn't ride a school bus (she started Kinder in a public school this year) AND that we would make a cardboard "bus" we could "ride" when we started "school." I showed him some costumes online that looked fun for him & he's completely excited about our homemade version of school bus fun. It'll be cheesy, but fun! :)
Edited to add: And there's also a really fun activity every year in a nearby community called, "Touch a Truck." The city brings out all sorts of vehicles like fire trucks, moving vans, even a Care Flight helicopter - and it includes a school bus. Our kids really enjoy it and it seems pretty popular, so check out your area to see if there's something similar offered near you!