From Homeschool to Public School

Posted by  | Wednesday, May 27, 2009  at 7:00 AM  
The following post was written by Leah's friend, Brenda. Read on to find out more about her experience homeschooling!

Deuteromony 6:5-7 says “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

These commands were given to the Israelites. But as a follower of Christ, I believe that it is my responsibility as a mother to train and teach my children as much as I can about God and His Word. As my oldest child, Sydney, was reaching school-age I realized how quickly my time with her at home had gone by. I wondered if she was really grounded enough to go into a public school setting. We didn’t think we could afford Christian education and although I’d never given much thought to home-schooling her, a friend helped me see the benefits and possibilities of teaching her at home. She helped me find a curriculum (there are sooo many different ones!) and was a huge encourager to at least give it a try.

When and if you decide to home-school your children you’ll get many different reactions from others. I remember feeling uncertain about it at first. I didn’t make a long-term commitment at first because I wanted to see how it would work out. That was ten years ago. I have four children and have taught all of them with the exception of my daughter’s second grade year. Our plan has been to teach at home up to the sixth grade and then put them in public school. We wanted them to have opportunities that only a school setting can offer. My oldest , Sydney, is finishing her freshman year, my son, Isaac, his seventh grade year and my two youngest boys, Ethan and Micah, their fourth and second grade years. We have actually talked recently about home-schooling all of them again but I really need to think and pray more about it this summer. My daughter’s transition to public school was much smoother than my son’s. Her personality made it easier for her to make new friends and not worry as much about what others think. They have both done well academically however.

Home-schooling has so many positive aspects but there are struggles along the way as well. I will try to give you glimpses of some of these. If you’re at all considering it, I would encourage you to try it because I think the benefits definitely outweigh the negative aspects. At times it has felt overwhelming but if you keep your ultimate goal of training your children in God’s ways and giving them a foundation to stand on, then with God’s grace it is possible.

Plain and simple, one of the benefits of homeschooling is the amount of time you can spend with your children. Unfortunately, I think a lot of moms look forward to the start of school in the fall because it means they’ll have more free time or they just won’t have to worry about disciplining all day long. I am one of those moms who feels bittersweet about their children growing up. I realize how fast time has gone and I’m truly thankful for the many days I’ve had with them. I’ve enjoyed seeing them grasp new concepts and learn new skills. I like hearing their thoughts and ideas when we’re reading together. A lot of those things just don’t happen when they’re away at school. However, I would by lying to say that I never have days that I wish I had more free time or when I just don’t want to deal with bad attitudes. We actually put my daughter in a Christian school for her second grade year because I had just had our fourth child and we were going to be moving soon. I didn’t think I could handle teaching her on top of all that. We learned quickly how little time there was together after driving 20-25 minutes to and from school and doing homework. She actually missed her brothers and felt like she was missing out on things at home. She asked to be homeschooled again that summer.

Another obvious benefit is the ability to teach from a Christian worldview and instill in them your own family values. You don’t have to constantly fight against the humanistic philosophy, evolution, etc. that seems to permeate every subject in public schools. Even in a Christian school you may be fighting against all the different standards that their classmates’ families have. We get to read books that hold truth and that teach moral values. After sending my two oldest to public school I’ve become aware of how hard it is to really know all that they’re learning. It’s hard to have enough time to actually discuss all the things that happen or counteract the lies that they’re being taught.

Many who don’t homeschool think that kids who are home-schooled will not be able to interact socially. This may be true for some but I think for the most part, home-schooled kids know how to interact with different ages of people better. When in a school setting, kids are separated so much by age. I noticed when my kids started attending public school, they became less tolerant of their younger siblings, thinking the things they said or did were “so immature.” They thought themselves superior simply because they were older. I do have to say, our kids were exposed to a lot of other children at our church on a regular basis. And, with four children, they automatically had to learn to share and get along. I think if I only had one child, I would try to get them involved more with other home-schooled kids. By the way, there are many opportunities out there for home-schooled kids. We’ve done soccer for home-schoolers and we were part of a field trip group at one time.

One other big positive for our family has been the flexibility of our schedule. My husband is a youth pastor which sometimes requires him to be gone in the afternoons and evenings when our children would normally see him if they were away at school during the day. For our family, teaching at home has provided much more family time than we would otherwise have had. It’s also really nice to be able to go on trips while most people are in school. It’s less crowded than during the normal vacation times. Now that our two oldest are in school, we are held to that schedule. The challenge of this flexible schedule is that sometimes when dad is at home during the day my boys would much rather “play” than learn. This can be frustrating but I’m thankful that our kids have been able to spend so much time with their dad.

Other pros of home-schooling include knowing the areas your child struggles in- knowing if they’re really learning a concept. You can adapt to their learning style if they do struggle in an area like math or reading. Also, they can work at their own pace and be done with their school day when they’re done instead of waiting on a whole classroom. There’s no homework at night! We’ve all had to grow in our self-discipline. That’s a good thing but it can really be a struggle at times. My kids are sometimes more reluctant to do their work when I tell them than they would be for another teacher. Sometimes I never think I’m doing enough. However, I was so happy that when my kids did go to school, they did well academically. There’s so much good curriculum to choose from as well. I would suggest to talk to others and visit homeschool sales where you can look it over. We’ve chosen a non-textbook style of learning which includes reading lots of chapter books which teach history, science, etc.

I’m truly thankful for all these years of teaching my children at home. I don’t think I’ll ever regret it. Sometimes I may have doubts about it but I’m finding I also have doubts about them going to public school. I don’t think I’d be completely happy with a Christian school either. I’ve realized over the years of watching kids go through our youth group at church that where your child attends school is not always a guarantee of how your child will “turn out.” In fact, there are no guarantees. I’ve also realized that academics are not the most important aspect of our children’s education. Their character is much more important. I just want to be faithful in training them as best I can. My example to them speaks louder than my words. When I am at home with them every day they see my actions and attitudes all the time. This is perhaps the greatest challenge of home-schooling but I still believe it is well worth it!


Courtney said...

I am definitely not a place to make any decisions about schooling yet (I have a 9 month old and one on the way), but I was wondering if anyone was going to write on something besides homeschool? I feel like I have gotten a good view on that, but don't feel that public or private schools have been given any representation yet. Just a thought...

Christina said...

We had definitely planned for this to be a survey of all of the options for schooling. It just happened that all of our homeschool posts came first! We have a few more lined up for some more traditional options including public and private.

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