It’s crunch time for moms wrestling with that crucial decision that autumn and the new school year brings. Every family must decide whether homeschool, private school, or public school is the right route. Following is a question from the loving heart of a mother that I know and the answer that I gave her.
Q. Back in the spring, my husband and I decided to seriously consider homeschooling for our 7 yr. old son starting this year. I love everything homeschooling “stands for.” I have approached most activities over the last couple of months on the premise that we would be homeschooling. I have been getting my “ducks in a row” to homeschool for the coming year.
Well, so far so good… But now we are down to the wire, and I find myself at a cross-road. We have had a few more trials that we were not anticipating. As a result, I am not sure if this is the right avenue for us. I don’t know, I may just be second guessing myself, I may just be scared… I just do not want to make the wrong decision either way. We have lost a lot of the support system I felt we would have in place. Also, my son is not sure this is what he wants to do… He is even asking if we can do both, public school and home school. He wants to please me, but is a little frightened of the unknown.
I apologize for my rambling, but I suppose the bottom line is I am asking for some advice. How did you know this was the right decision for you and your family? Would I be a horrible mom if I do change my mind?
A. Most of us have been exactly where you are, sometimes more than once. I had a season of serious second-guessing back in the spring, thinking about my oldest starting high school. I even visited a public school and took a tour. After careful consideration, research, and talking to parents (public and home school moms), we’ve decided we’re in this Homeschool journey all the way through.
What turned me onto homeschooling in the first place was meeting a bright, happy little kindergartener who was being taught at home. Taught by my sister actually. I was blown away by what she was doing and by how much she loved
learning. I knew my sister to be a real person…not supernaturally organized; smart, but not “trained” in education; a loving mom, but distracted by twin toddlers. I thought well if she can do it, I can, too.
What sold me on homeschooling was the scientific research. I read study after study after study. I am a research-a-holic. The evidence was overwhelming, and the benefits were abundant in every area of life.academic, spiritual, character, family life, citizenship, leadership…the list goes on. (If you’re a researcher/studier like me, I’ll be happy to mail you some studies that I have on hand. They’re very revealing.) I knew there were no guarantees, but I also knew that statistically I was giving my children the very best opportunity by keeping them together as a family. Although I’ve had bad days and self-doubts, I’ve never really regretted my decision. The older they get, the more I can see differences in them and most of their public school peers. Not to put those kids down, but there is a difference. If there weren’t, I’d be wasting my time. I see my kids so much more inclined to pursue interests on their own, to know themselves and their talents and to be willing/able to put their best efforts into those inclinations, to hold high standards. They have unique ambitions and unusual opportunities. I see tenderness in them, a softness untouched by years of institutionalized living and the rush to be older and cooler. I have the highest hopes that they’ll be competent, loving, happy adults with solid family relationships.
For 8 years, we homeschooled successfuly, and mostly on our own. This month, I celebrate exactly one year of stepping outside my comfort zone and joining the homeschooling support group here in my city. Now I’m blessed watching my children (and myself, too) blossom in new ways and exhibit social skills and even leadership that I did not have at their ages. The community here is not perfect, but it is kind and it is active. I know that I have like-minded friends to turn to.
I’ve heard the decision of how to school your child compared to the story of Moses’ mother putting him in his little ark as a child. She was looking for something better for her child who she loved so dearly. She must’ve worked hard building the ark, making sure it was water-proof, instructing her older daughter how to watch out for him. But there came a moment for her when she had to put her son in the water and let him go. What must’ve gone through her mind? What unknowns was she committing herself to? What guarantees did she have that this was the right choice? What if she’d made a horrible mistake, and her son had to pay for it by drowning or being eaten by wild animals?
The unknown is so unnerving.
Every loving mother wants what is best for her children. When it comes time put the ark in the water, our stomachs clinch in anxiety for them. Is this the right choice? Unlike Moses’ mother, this is not a “no turning back” situation. You can switch plans midstream. By deciding to homeschool your 7 yo (or to put him in public school), you are not making a commitment to stay with this plan through 12th grade.
Whichever you decide, you will still have moments when you wonder if it was the right choice. Whichever way you go, your child will have some frustrations and you will have some bad days. It is my opinion that the homeschooling route holds much more joy and rewards, but I recognize that the majority does not agree with me, even among my friends. I’m sorry about the new challenges that you’re facing in your life. Best wishes for peace as you and your husband make this decision.