The Decision

I wrestled endlessly this Spring with our schooling decision. I made lists, I attended open houses, I prayed, I cried, I decided and waffled and changed my mind and stressed and worried and fretted and wished and hoped.

And I finally went to my husband with all of the information, laid it out in front of him and put the decision in his hands. I told him my first choice, a hybrid homeschool program in which the kids would attend three days a week and I would facilitate lessons the other two, but it had a cost involved that concerned us both.

I told him my willingness to homeschool again if he felt like we needed to and I gave him all the information on the public school. And I asked him to decide because I was paralyzed. I had analyzed and dissected every option and was well versed on each Pro and every Con and it left me completely inept to see what would be best.

So I gave it to Lee and waited for him to make the decision. After a few weeks of thought and prayer he pointed me to the public school and, while that had been my last choice, I felt a huge weight lifted off of my shoulders. A decision was made by my husband and I had no doubt that it was the right choice.

He wasn’t plagued by every little detail like I was. He simply knew what would be the best next step and I trust him so Tuesday I marched to the public school and enrolled Sloan and Tia for next year.

I feel peaceful, but I’m nervous. I know it’s right, but there’s the unknown that keeps me prayerful.

I loved homeschooling the kids. I really did. I enjoyed it far more than I thought I would. Something really special happened this past year when I had them home with me.

I fell in love with them.

Of course I always loved my children, but I didn’t always love being with them. I was happy to ship them away whenever the chance presented itself and I hoarded my alone time with no small amount of selfishness. While they were home this past year, though, I really enjoyed just being with them.

We laughed a lot.

We learned a lot.

We enjoyed one another more than we ever have before.

We had freedom to go where we wanted to do what we pleased and learn what was interesting to us. I loved that.

However…

I firmly believe that homeschooling is the best education a child can receive if the parent teaching them is doing it really well. While I was having fun with them, I still did not feel like I was giving them the best educational foundation simply because I don’t know how.

I don’t know how to teach Math or Science. I didn’t love trying to break down grammar and teaching a six year old to read is just short of being stabbed in the eye with a hot poker. It’s hard.

I really believe there are other people more qualified to teach my children core subjects at this stage in our lives, but I also don’t doubt for a second that I will homeschool again someday. I can really see myself enjoying it a little more when they’re older and are a little more independent in their studies and I have more resources for help in the subjects I am not qualified in.

In short, I loved everything about homeschooling but the schooling part. Which…well, it’s kind of a key component.

Now, to be fair to myself, I will say I did a good job teaching them this past year. When we started the year Sloan was reading at a first grade level, could barely spell and had very little exposure to Subtraction. By the end of the year he was reading at a fifth grade level, spelling at a fourth grade, writing beautiful poems and paragraphs and had a working knowledge of Multiplication.

It’s not that I can’t teach them. But I did live under a constant wave of stress all year long and there are areas where I know they would benefit from a teacher who understands how to break things down more than I did. I never doubted my ability to teach them well. But I did fully realize that if I were to homeschool again, I would need a little more help in some key areas.

So next year they will go to school, and Landon will be in preschool five mornings a week, which means for the first time in nine years I will be alone during the day time hours on a consistent basis. I’m not going to lie – that’s an attractive thought.

But it’s also scary. I’m going to miss them. So when they all start back to school, to celebrate my first day home alone, I have vowed to go to Busch Gardens and ride every single roller coaster in the park.

By. My. Self.

How do you make the education decision for your children?

Comments

  1. We made the same decision for our kids. I have always wanted to homeschool, but I too, wondered if I was the best person to teach them-especially the fundamentals. The whole teaching them to read and add and subtract held even less temptation than the hot poker to the eye scenario for me. In the end, we decided to start them in public school and decide later for each child when it would be appropriate for me to attempt homeschooling. Since I still have two that are not old enough for even the local pre-school program, it will still be a while, but I have never regretted the decision. We love our school and they are so great with our kids. I am still looking at at least 2 more years of kids at home all day, so it will be a while. LOL

  2. You know this is the part where all the veterans tell you that the first year is the hardest, right? And that they made tons of mistakes their first year that led to things like tears and eye stabbing, but thankfully they learned to relax in the years that followed. :)

    I’m glad that you have peace with your decision, that’s important – but I want to point out two things that jumped out at me.

    1) You say that other people are more qualified to teach your children but also admit areas that Sloan was weak in, despite having been previously taught by professionals.

    2) Your glowing acknowledgment about how much you loved and grew closer to your kids might be your inner self admitting that you want to keep homeschooling.

    I’m not trying to be your Holy Spirit, I promise! Just wanted to point out the things that I saw as an objective observer.

    (Read this post today, it’s excellent: http://www.thehomeschoolvillage.com/2012/07/ill-read-when-im-good-and-ready-2.html ) ( and this http://www.holyspiritledhomeschooling.net/2012/06/methods-of-holy-spirit-led-homeschooling/ )

    <3!

    • Thanks, Jess. I do understand that if I were to give it another year chancces are I’d find more of a rhythm and feel more comfortable with it, but much of my angst about whether or not I could handle it was also a sign to Lee and I both that maybe this isn’t the best time for us to homeschool. Again, I really would not be surprised if we someday homeschooled again, but at this point in my children’s education I just don’t feel equipped to do it well.

      However, what homeschooling taught me last year has left me feeling more empowered now with how to handle their schooling, homework, teachers and how they’re taught. I feel like a have a much firmer grasp on how to work with their schools now that I know my children better and I feel much more passionate about being a part of their education than I did before. This is a very positive aspect for me and is also why I feel comfortable with sending them back to school. :)

      Thanks for your encouragement.

  3. As much as I would love to homeschool my kids and have that bond with them, time doesn’t allow for it and we are fortunate enough to live in a very highly ranked district in the state and really enjoy the programs offered to the kids.

    I hope everything works out for you and the kids and that they enjoy their new school.

    • Thank you, Annie. It was a great year for us, and probably the best thing we could have done with the big move we made, but I think this year will be another new adventure. Year at a time :)

  4. melcable says:

    Wish we would have been talking more recently. We have been wavering too, well not the homeschool, but the homeschool blend vs. public. We just bought a house we adore but it was on the higher price range which meant no private school. So then I really went mentally bonkers, wondering if I had traded my kids education and well being for a nicer house. But as you said, Ritch had no qualms so there ya go. As my friend told me, it will actually force me to be more involved in their school, class, with friends, and lives so I can keep abreast of the ins and outs. Lets talk soon! Glad your burden is lifted.

  5. How do we make the education decision? That’s a great question. Last year our four kids were respecively, in Christian College; Christian High School; Home Schooled; and Public Elementary. For us, it has been a year-by-year and child-by-child process. This level of consideration and the mostly positive decisions that have resulted are the labor of love of a great mom. There is tremendous value to be found in all of the educational offerings. Congratulations on wrestling with the decision. You have many more wrestling matches ahead.

    • Thanks Kevin. Your wife was a HUGE source of encouragement to me through this decision. She gave me so much peace! :) Love you guys!

  6. Kime Eubanks says:

    We home schooled our children while Tina was still alive. Actually we decided to put Jessica in public school in the 5th grade so she had 2 1/2 years of public school before her mom passed away. As Tina was battling cancer we went ahead and put Parker in public school in the 3rd grade but she convinced me to keep Rileigh home for her kindergarten year even though I knew Tina had chemo and surgery to face. She was able to teach her for half of her kindergarten year before she left us at Christmas. Her time with them in home school was invaluable. Teacher conference days are a pleasure. One by one the teachers tell me my child, each of them, is the bright spot in their day. I know this is because of the early investment Tina made. Many days I wish they were not in public schools. They are exposed to many many things that are counter to our beliefs (by both the students and the faculty) and they often come home disheartened. However, I think they are needed in the school and the world they are about to enter is just as messed up. I don’t know what we would do today if she were still with us. As a single parent with one income I cannot home school or afford another option. There are times I so wish I could take them out of public school though. Jessica starts college this year so now I will just have 2 in public schools. This I know, regardless of your choice you pray without ceasing and trust God. He is faithful.

  7. Kelli, this is off subject, but Sloan looks like a teenager! I can’t believe how he’s grown. Handsome, too :)

  8. Ah Kelli! I’m so proud of you lady! You are a godly wife and mom and I just appreciate you letting us in on these little bits of your life. It’s so encouraging seeing parents who love their kids, each for the unique way God has made them individually. I loved hearing about your journeys this past year with homeschooling and I look forward to learning from you as you navigate public school again. I need to call you though, I have a question about science stuff….love you!

  9. Spring says:

    I’ve been a lurker on your blog, but I just had to say, “Good for you!” You’ve taken such an honest look at yourself and your children and decided what’s best for now. And even if that changes in the future, and you go back to homeschooling, then that will be the best decision for then.
    I’m split between two familes, one that exclusively homeschools (my in-laws) and one that swears by public schools (my family). We’re trying to take it year by year with what is best for our family.
    I applaud you.

    • Thank you, Spring. ( Is that really your name? If so, awesome…) it is a year by year approach for sure. Things can change so quickly in life!

  10. I am really glad you and Lee feel peaceful about your decision! I know it did not come without much prayer and thought! Praying your family has an awesome next year and about the new doors that will open!

    • Thanks Karen. I kept thinking about he you said you homeschooled for a period but you never regretted sending them back to public school. That brought a lot of comfort. ;)

  11. It’s a tension most parents feel that is part of that nagging “Am I being the best parent possible to my children?”. All four of our kids went to public school their entire careers; some thrived, some struggled. Our choice was to live where the public schools were the best even if the housing wasn’t. There was (and still is) a side of me that wanted our kids to be in the world, but not of it, salt and light in every facet of life. That takes more of that at-home parenting to counter the secularism of public school (as well as media and friends) but the goal was realized. It would be interesting to hear what they have to say now as married adults. Tough part of being a parent!

    • I grew up inside the public school system, too and it was just fine for me. My concern lies less in the secularism they will face in school these days than the low academic standards. I actually sought out a secular homeschool co-op last year becaus ei didn’t want us to be stuck in a bubble. I ended up in the only non-religious based co-op in Tampa and it was great!

      My worry with school is that kids like my own (average, neither stand out brilliant nor stand out remedial) will get lost in the cracks. That’s what happened to Sloan in St. Louis. However, after a year of homeschooling I feel like I am so much more equipped to handle that thank I was before. I know my kids strengths so I fell like I can better work with the school to make sure they don’t get brushed aside as good enough to pass. :)

  12. Well, you know how much I struggled with our decision this year and how hard it was. In the end it came down to knowing that God is pointing us in a direction that I cannot facilitate without having complete control over the curriculum, pace and schedule of our days. In your response to Dusty, I noticed your concern over the low academic standard. I can’t really speak to that as we’ve never done public school, but from what I hear it’s kind of the opposite. Kids are being pushed to excel at everything and to specialize too early (computer technology magnet elementary school, anyone?) and once they hit high school it just gets ridiculous. I’m all for excellence and I know college is important, but I felt like God was telling us to pull out of that particular part of the rat race. We need to trust Him and His path and know that will get our kids where HE wants them to go, even if that bears no resemblance to the world’s definition of success.

    I know how hard that decision was for you. I witnessed the beaver cry :-) . And I’ve seen the peace you have now. It’s gonna be an awesome year. I know it.

  13. Rebecca Elam says:

    I struggled a LOT just like you did in making a decision to continue at a Christian school now that we’re in VA or to have the kids attend public school. We had such a fantastic experience at Twin Oaks in MO but the private schools here are twice as much money. I prayed and cried a lot as well but we interviewed some of the school principals here and decided on what we hope will be a great public school. It’s only 2 miles from our house and it goes from K – 2nd grade only. Granted there are 10 first grade classes which terrifies me, and Elisabeth as well, but we’re praying a lot about the transition and I have to leave it in the Lord’s hands. Thanks for sharing your thoughts so honestly!

  14. Wow! Our lives seem to be following very similar paths right now. I haven’t seen you in a while, so you probably don’t know that we also decided to put Andrew into public school for second grade. And Megan’s going to preschool 5 mornings a week. I have wanted to write a post about our decision as well, but maybe I’ll just send everyone to your blog and say – “It was kinda like that.. What SHE said! ” You don’t mind, right? Just kidding. Because I know that while our decisions are really eerily similar right now, there’s also so much that’s different. Because every child, every mom, every dad, every option, every year seems to be different for every family. I had no idea we’d be making these decisions each year, and part of me wants to stomp my feet and pout that I’m even having to. But the other part realizes that this is another area that I have to daily surrender to the Lord and trust Him to guide our paths. So grateful you were able to put it all into words. It has helped me tremendously to read yours today. Maybe we can get together before the summer ends and let the kids play again.
    Jenny Dunlap

  15. Jennifer says:

    I am a total stranger and stumbled upon your blog. I enjoyed this entry as I am completing my fourth day of home schooling my 4th grader. All of my kids have attended public school (my children are in 9th, 6th and 4th) My youngest has struggled: she is a very slow, unpredictable reader, she still uses her fingers for math, she can’t spell and that is just the beginning of the list. So I decided rather than sending her to school for yet another year of moving ahead through the system, I would keep her home. I am going to try to teach her, try to catch her up, try to still like her at the end of the year and try to stay sane (all while my husband is deployed to Afghanistan from September to June) My other two are brilliant, they have been very successful in the public school system, so there they will stay. I truly believe that each child is different and has different needs that can be met differently. The first few days might be hard for you, the house will be so quiet! But I loved my alone time. And once we found out my husband was getting deployed, even after I had received my curriculum, I began to wonder…”How easy would it be to write “return to sender” on the box of books and stick her little body on the bus!” But for her, I know this is right!

    • Wow! Good luck to you and your daughter. I homeschooled for a lot of the same reasons. I just felt like my oldest was struggling and needed a little more focus. I’m glad we did it. It was really hard but also really fun and I think I managed to at least get him up to speed. We will see how it all plays out this year! Good luck and enjoy! :)

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