I am a former homeschool mom. I have been around the block a time or two on both sides of the Homeschool vs Public School debate. Making the choice about how your children receive their education is not an easy one these days. We have tons of options…homeschool, public school, virtual school. So sometimes it’s difficult to feel completely confident in your choices. Here’s our story…
When it came time to start thinking about our oldest child starting school, I had mixed feelings about sending her to public school. I was concerned about the environment she would be in, from the bus ride to the classroom. I was concerned about the quality of her education…at the time our school district we were in ranked close to last in the entire state! I was concerned about losing precious time with my daughter.
I felt somewhat like I was abondoning her by “sending her off” when the rest of the kids got to stay home with me all day.
There were a million and one reasons I chose to homeschool my children and I am so glad that I went with my gut on that decision.
I chose to go with a traditional Catholic program so my children would be getting their religious education along with their core subjects. The school I chose offered lesson plans that were developed by certified teachers, the children were assigned to “classes” and had an actual teacher that oversaw their work, and as the intstructor, I was required to send in specific assignments the children had done for their assigned teacher to review and give feedback on. I love, love, loved this school and felt completely confident in my ability to properly educate my children.
Fast forward 7 years. My oldest was now starting 6th grade and our family had expanded to include 6 other children…all of whom were in school. I was essentially trying to each 7 different grade levels by myself.
When you add in all of my additional mommy responsibilities as well as lesson planning for the next day and all of the grading I was just simply overwhelmed…and the kids knew it.
We had moved to a different state by this time, and the school district we were in had a remarkable reputation…ranked first in the entire state! After much consideration, I decided it was time to send the kids to public school.
I will be the first one to admit, putting the kids on the bus that very first morning was gut-wrenching. I cried as I watched my little people be carted off to spend the day with strangers in that germ-infested public school. I spent the day in the fetal position crying and wondering what I do with my life now that I was not homeschooling. I felt like my entire life just got on a big yellow bus and drove off without looking back. I questioned my decision over and over and even considered going to their schools and bringing them home. If I did it quickly we could still get in math and reading for the day.
When the kids got off of the bus that afternoon I had no idea who they were. Every one of them was bursting at the seams wanting to talk to me and tell me about their day. It was all I could do to simply catch bits and pieces here and there of each of their stories. My one son told me he was most excited about Skyping with a science class in Africa for their International Learning project. My oldest daughter (who was in 7th grade, ouch!) had found a group of geeky art and music freaks that were just like her…she couldn’t be more thrilled. But the one thing that sticks out the most in my mind…the one thing that solidified my decision to send the kids to school was a poem that my Kindergartener brought home. I can’t remember the exact poem (and can’t find it on Pinterest! Imagine that!) but I do remember a line about how the teachers are parents too and promise to love my child as their own.
I completely lost it.
Never did that thought cross my mind…that these people I had deemed “strangers” were also moms and dads!
What an idiot I was! They knew how I felt because they had kids too. And they wouldn’t be there if they didn’t love their jobs! My kids were fine in school after all! And look at all they were learning and how excited they were for their new adventure. I sat down that night and did a head count…my kids now had roughly 35 people educating them. I was trying to do the job of 35 people plus be a mom!
I will never regret homeschooling my children. I have precious memories from those days. I love that I taught every one of my kids how to read, tie their shoes, and memorize their basic math problems. They were given a solid foundation that, I believe, lead to all of them being honors students and excelling in their studies. They have an appreciation for education that their friends don’t have, and I attribute that to our homeschool years. BUT…I also will never regret my decision to send the kids to public school. Yes, there are days when they come home with some new “spicy words” or have questions about things that I would rather they not be asking me about…especially in the 6th grade…but I see these things all as real life experiences. These are teaching moments and, while I may not be their classroom teacher, I am their life teacher and the most important teacher they will ever have.
My kids weren’t the only ones who grew and blossomed when our family dynamic changed. I was forced to step out of my comfort zone and find something else to occupy my time.
I became a volunteer at the kid’s schools and met some of the most wonderful, life-long friends…a lot of whom are teachers! I also pursued my dream of owning my own business, which has brought about it’s own set of fabulous adventures. I am setting an example for my kids…showing them that change isn’t always bad and that you can do anything you set your mind to…even as a mom!
I also realized how much richer the conversations were when the kids actually had things to share. Being at home around each other 24/7, we all knew everything about each other and what everyone had done each day. There was rarely anything new to bring to the conversation. When we all went out and had different experiences in our days there was rarely a quiet moment at the dinner table and everyone was so excited to share! I will also admit, I did learn to enjoy getting to have just a few moments to myself. We all need that from time to time.
Now it’s your turn. I would love to hear about your homeschool or public school experiences. What were the biggest factors behind your choices? How did things work out? Let’s continue the conversation in the comments section. You never know when something you share with others could make a difference in their lives!
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