Letter 14 – Send Homeschooler To School?

After over 19 years of homeschooling I have reflected on a few things … and this is what I would write to the new homeschooling me.  Here’s the next letter my series  ~

Dear Nadene,

While you may begin with every intention of homeschooling to the end, you will often think about sending your homeschoolers to school instead! Although others may think that you had it all figured out …  you will “get real” and confess that you often wanted to give up.

When you start homeschooling, your eldest child will have enjoyed 3 happy years in a lovely, private, Christian primary school, and now is suddenly at home with you and her sisters trying to figure out the new approach.  She is strong-willed with you, but compliant with others, and her sulks, moods, and bad attitude, as well as your stress, fear and anxiety make the whole thing difficult … impossible … just “wrong”. 

It seems better to send her back to school instead of facing daily battles of will and endless discipline issues.   And your high expectations, naive ideals and narrow, purist approach makes things very unpleasant.  But let me assure you that these rough beginnings are normal when you take a child out of school and start homeschooling.  They need a period of “de-schooling” … about 1 month for every year of school  … and you need to take it really slowly, and gradually ease her into your full homeschool curriculum.

Thinking about sending your homeschooled child to school  will be a regular pit-stop for each child during their turbulent teen years, when your teens need more interaction than you can readily give them because you live so far away from town.  You will not feel guilty for considering this because you can blame several things for this shift ~ geography and sociology. 

You think that it will help them to go to boarding school, as so many farmers in your district do, rather than homeschool through these tough years.  As you consider this option, your heart will ache at the idea of missing being with them and you will fear the peer influences and peer pressure.  In end, you and your hubby will calculate that you will not be able to afford the 4 trips per week to fetch and take her to school so far away, as well as paying for the  double costs of school and boarding fees.  Homeschooling is cheaper by far, but it is also much richer in the subjects, approach and methods used than those in school. 

More importantly, your homeschooling is not so much about the content as it is about developing character.  These are the vital years of discipleship, relationship and mentorship.  Homeschooling allows you the full liberty to focus on this.

Homeschooling teens requires more trips for social and entrepreneur opportunities.   Pray to find like-valued families for your teens to visit and stay over during school breaks.  These visits will breathe fresh life in your teen’s life and they will come home more positive and creative.

Your youngest child is a very social little person who may seem terribly lonely at home when her older sisters are busy and away.  You may consider sending her to boarding school, but she is simply unhappy at the thought of living far from home, and she will rather find things to do at home than “be sent away”. 

Sending any child to school at any point is not “wrong” unless it is due to fear and failure.  Parenting is ‘infected’ with guilt, so it is very important that this choice be made for the right reasons … for growth and for opportunities.  Countless homeschooled children have transitioned back into school.  Most have done so because the child (often a teen) requested it and it has been good

We have kept this option open for our children.  And as I have often declared, our homeschooling is “not cast in stone“.

With hindsight blessings,

Nadene

I’d love to hear your views and thoughts on this topic!  Please would you share yours in the comments.

In case you missed any of my previous “Letters To Me” in this series:

6 thoughts on “Letter 14 – Send Homeschooler To School?

  1. Thank you, Nadene. You could have addressed this to me today.

    I am in a different situation – I have had an unexpected, chronic medical condition wipe me out this year. As progress is slow, I am constantly debating whether I “should” return my little ones to school. Amongst my mix, I have a special needs child with ADHD. I feel I cannot adequately meet his physical needs at this time and it is a real burden on my heart. This letter is so uplifting.

    We have taken the time this year to focus on relationship. When nothing else is left, it is easy to focus on what is most important. Thank you for giving me strength to face another day and help me to make my decisions from a place of love not a place of fear.

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    • @Nashie, I am sorry to hear about your struggles this year. While your challenges must be really difficult, your perspective and resolve is such an encouragement for me and others. God will make a way. With much Grace in Faith, Nadene

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  2. I’ve wanted to send my kids back to school several times. In the early years it was because of discipline issues, sibling conflict and all-out exhaustion. Now that they’re teenagers, it’s been more because they miss out on the social interaction and the “fun” things and experiences they can get at school whereas our home and home town activities are pretty limited. Plus teenagers need interaction and they can feel isolated. One of the biggest things that stopped me was that my kids haven’t kept up with Afrikaans and would flounder in that regard. Also, I look at the pressure their friends have in school with the homework and extra-curricular activities and how they struggle to find time to relax or just find themselves and realise, no, we’ll stick to what we’re doing. But there have been several days when I’ve wondered if I chose the right path for my kids. Then days when I think I did. Like the way my daughter said she wouldn’t have liked to be left out or bullied at school – one of the reasons I chose to homeschool because I had lots of social rejection at school. And seeing my son’s writing issues, I’ve wondered how much he would’ve struggled with self-esteem at school even though he’s struggled a bit with it at home. But it would have been worse at school. And how my other son wouldn’t have found his passion for computer programming while at school as he wouldn’t have had the time to learn so much on his own. Those are little reminders that I’ve given my children something safe and special. Maybe not glamorous or exciting, but at least they’ve learned a balanced life and not become addicted to stress and constant activity. No matter what path we choose, it will never be perfect but we just have to be grateful for the good things we do have.

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    • @kathleenbee, Thank you for sharing your thoughts and perspectives your family faced regarding this topic. We all need to spend time with the Lord to find His wisdom and balance for our own families. Your testimony is such an encouragement for others who are considering their options regarding sending a son or daughter to school. In Grace, Nadene

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  3. Beautifully written again Nadene – thank you. I am going through the early teen years now, some mother guilt, some fears and anxieties but I plough on through for all the reasons you write below. As someone said, “I didn’t say it would be easy, I said it would be worth it” – I’m sticking to that. We are so very blessed Kym x

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    • @Kym Fullerton, it is always so encouraging to hear how others are working through similar difficulties and challenges because it keeps things in a more balanced perspective. Thank you for sharing! Blessings, Nadene

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