It’s Christmas time for homeschoolers.
The catalogs are rolling in and convention season is in full swing.
Homeschool moms all across the land are reassessing the school year and beginning to plan for the following year. Us homeschool moms tend to dwell on our failures and gloss over our triumphs.
Not all families are looking at just curriculum changes, some families are considering school changes.
Maybe you are thinking school is the best course of action for one of your children?
or, perhaps your teen is asking to go to school? (That was our situation)
Our oldest son asked to go to school for several years before we made the decision to let him go.
Deciding on Public School for Your Child
Some parents may flat out make the decision that homeschool is the path for their family, it’s just not up for discussion. I respect that and it works for some families. This post is for the families that are discerning the decision. This was our quandary a few years ago. While a big part of me wanted to just shut down my sons request for school, for the sake of our relationship we needed to give it a try. Not only for him, but for our whole family. It’s no secret that bad attitudes and sour moods can trickle down and affect the whole family. I, we, couldn’t spend 4 years of high school butting heads while the other kids felt the ripple effects.
Points to Ponder
We spent a good year or more weighing our options, trying new things with our son, and praying about making a good decision. It was not easy. Honestly it was difficult at times to separate my role of mom and role of educator. It was hard not to take it personally and I had to remind myself that he wasn’t rejecting me and our family, he just wanted a different educational experience.
Here are some aspects that we discussed, over and over again!
Personality of your student – This is important. If your child tends to be more of a leader than a follower and more of an independent thinker, and not easily influenced, it is extremely helpful. Our kids go from being around mainly family and friends that are of a similar mindset to being surrounded by children who have been raised with different values, morals and standards.
School choices available – What are the school choices available to your family? Private, charter, public school? Are the public schools “good”? Private schools affordable?
Schedule and/or situation of the family – When we moved to Florida, school wasn’t on our radar, therefore when we bought a house we didn’t give the school system much thought. It turns out that neither Catholic high school that we would consider was within close driving distance. Choosing either of the schools would have meant everyone up and out the door early each morning and then again in the afternoon, totaling close to two hours of drive time out of the day. If all of our kids were going to school it would have been more doable, but we felt it was unfair to make the commitment for one child and have to drag around the rest. This, of course, is going to vary from family to family.
Making Our Schooling Decision
So, we (somewhat reluctantly) decided on the local public school. Freshman year our son did part-time at home and part-time at school. It was a nice transition year for both of us. For Sophomore year and Junior he has been full time. Since he is finishing up his third year of high school, I feel like I can speak about having a public school student and being a public school parent.
In some ways school has been exactly as we predicted. In other ways it has exceeded our expectation. He has had some excellent and very dedicated teachers. Teachers and classes that have pushed him and challenged him more than I might have. He has challenged himself by taking AP and Honors classes. He has a nice group of friends – we specifically prayed for good friends.
If kids could go to school and just learn without all of the extra “stuff” that bogs down the day it would be amazing. The kid drama, the bad behavior, the agenda pushed by the school system in its entirety (openly gay couples promoted in the year book for example), the fights, the arrests, (yes, arrests!), and just the overall lack of students committed to learning is frustrating for both my son and for us. All I can say is it has given us much to discuss with him. Trying to keep the lines of communication open has been imperative, he is not an over-sharer by any stretch of the imagination so it’s a challenge.
Cons of Traditional School
One child (or more) gone for the school day – I really missed my son when he was gone at school. I still do! It may seem silly, but after 14 years together day in and day out it was a big change.
Long days – My son leaves for school around 7:00am and gets home at 2:30pm. He generally has 3-4 hours of homework each night as well as on the weekends. When he was riding the bus his bus came at 6:30am and he got home at 3:30pm. When kids are sick it’s challenging to take a day off because then they are behind on their work. The good news is my other kids have seen this first hand and want no part of it!
Mom has one foot in each world – I’m a die hard homeschool mom and a reluctant public school mom. Sometimes it is hard to be a “family divided”. Honestly our son knows that we are not public education fans but we try to temper our displeasure because he likes going to school. I’m still always going to root for Team Homeschool 🙂
Public School – I know first hand that there are a ton of very dedicated teachers at his school and all across our country. The public school system as a whole is broken. More kids than not are falling through the cracks or kids are getting pushed through because no one knows what to do with them. Although school has worked well for him, I’m even more committed than ever that homeschooling is the best choice for most kids.
Lots of Pressure – There is a ton of pressure for kids to get good grades. There is a ton of pressure for kids to take the “right” classes and to load their schedule with Honors and AP classes, often because there are less disciplinary issues in the Honors/AP classes than in the general education classes. Just about everyone gets a tutor before ACT/SAT time because those scores are imperative to get into the “right” school. There is not a big enough eye-roll emoji for me on this one.
Pros of Traditional School
Relationship improved – For us the best part about him being in school is that our relationship improved.
Relationship was/is most important – Our relationship, his character, his faith are always going to trump everything. Me digging in my heels to demand homeschooling was only going to hurt all of us and cause resentment. It was not an easy decision!
Worked harder for his teachers – He is very black and white and for some reason he didn’t feel like he was really “doing school” unless he was going to school. This is him and his personality. He takes school, his grades and his studies very seriously. We have never had to worry about him working hard or making good choices. I think that is why we could confidently send him to school, even though it wasn’t our first choice for him.
Then and Now
I cried the first day he left for school. My husband joked that this was my “first day of Kindergarten”, it just happened when our son was 14. Ha! Now he is wrapping up his Junior year and we are researching colleges and taking visits. Talk about making me cry!
All and all school has been a very good fit for him. I’m glad that we let him make the leap to attending school. No educational path is perfect, not even homeschooling!, but this was definitely the right path for him.