We have four children and my younger three have been completely homeschooled. My eldest attended day care as a baby and toddler and private Christian 4K before we began homeschooling, then one month of DOD 3rd grade.
We have adapted and evolved as homeschoolers over the years, meeting the needs and desires of our kids with their changing interests as we moved every two to four years with the military. It’s been a lot.
As proactive as I try to be, anticipating issues that may arise, it didn’t really occur to me to have a plan or speech prepared if or when my kids asked to go to school. I mean, don’t lots of kids who attend public or private school ask to stay home all the time for various reasons? And those parents probably just laugh and tell their kids to hurry up or they’ll miss their bus. There isn’t even a discussion because school is mainstream and expected. Most families send their kids to school.
We try to have discussions rather than shut down questions, but sometimes it’s very hard to articulate if I don’t have preparation. I’ve said many things I regret and made egregious mistakes while parenting. I’m so glad we homeschooled and I would do it all again, with more confidence.
What if kids ask to go to school?
Here’s how we responded to our kids when they asked to attend public school.
Our eldest wanted to attend the DOD high school in Germany when she was about fifteen. We had a hard time during those teen years. Everything was a battle. I tried to reason with her. We had different educational values than other families. We had so much freedom and traveled and learned what and how we wanted. The school schedule wouldn’t allow any freedom or absences or tardiness. I reminded her how miserable she was in that month of third grade, how bored she was in preK. She just dug in her heels and did everything to thwart our final homeschooling years.
We were a bit isolated in our small German village, but used our free schedule to travel regularly around Europe and took plenty of day trips. She participated with a small drama theater on base and we did activities with the homeschool group. Her good friend attended the school; they would most likely have been a year apart and rarely seen each other during the school day, but that didn’t matter to my daughter. We had almost completed my homeschool agenda of academics at the time she wanted to attend school. She would have been repeating courses or wasting time. We discussed unfair dress codes and how she would have to remove her piercings and keep her hair natural colored, but she said she was actually ok with that, but she won’t do it at a job now. I also worried she wouldn’t take it seriously and drop back out at the first struggle or get into trouble at the school. We had a horrible experience during a middle school math week in Utah and I really didn’t want to give a public school any power over my child.
To me, it felt like she just needed to fit in and be mainstream. She felt she was missing out. She thought she would get to socialize and make more friends. She wanted to experience the milestones and social aspects of school – dances, clubs, graduation, prom. She did attend some dances in Germany and in Ohio when we moved back to the States. She even flew to Canada to attend prom with friends.
When we moved to Ohio, she started college early and worked part time and complained how ignorant her classmates were. She felt left out and overeducated and more grown up and independent than her peers.
My eldest is now twenty, almost 21, and still regrets she didn’t go to school. She feels like an outcast when her friends reminisce about school and she doesn’t know what their words and phrases mean so she can’t join in their conversations. She doesn’t feel special, but overeducated. She quit college and is working full time and moved out last November. She has said that homeschooling ruined her life. I feel awful. And there’s no way I can make amends or fix this.
While there are many, many things I wish I had done differently as a parent and teacher, homeschooling is still our choice as a family.
It’s hard when school is the expectation of society. People ask my kids, “What grade are you in? Where do you go to school?” and it becomes embarrassing sometimes. It seems more acceptable to homeschool after this last year, but it’s still odd and different. I realize we are in a unique circumstance in our ability for me to stay home to teach our kids. The pandemic certainly highlighted many issues with our society, education being an important one.
Our third child asked to attend school after we had lived in Ohio a few years. It felt like the same issues all over again. I was a little more prepared this time around to field the questions and manage the discussion. We affirmed them about their feelings. We expressed our family and educational values. We explained why we homeschool and why we don’t choose school. I further reiterated our freedoms with our schedule and curriculum. We discussed bullying, teacher control, discriminatory curriculum, gun violence, 20 minute lunch periods, public school timeline, overcrowdedness, lack of funding, unfair dress codes. We expressed concerns about how schools don’t protect or respect LGBTQ+ kids. They would probably have to keep their hair natural colored. I am very concerned about school violence and we really focused on those issues that have increased the last few years. They are more social than my other two kids at home, but school isn’t really conducive to socializing. School looks glamorous and fun on TV and in movies, but that’s certainly not reality.
Then the pandemic hit and I felt like I could breathe a sigh of relief because no one attended school for months. Our lifestyle didn’t change that much. While we couldn’t go out and that felt suffocating at times, we didn’t have to vastly adapt like school families did.
We have a hard time finding like-minded friends for myself and the kids. I refuse to compromise my values or put myself and my kids in a potentially dangerous social situation with families who express gun rights, white supremacy, capitalism, and homophobia.
It’s frustrating that many parents don’t allow their children to be active online. During the pandemic, my kids would have and could have developed some online friendships but many parents refuse their kids access to social media like Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, TikTok, Discord. I understand their hesitancy, but it makes it harder on teens who want friends.
We are now (possibly) over that hump. I think my kids are more on board now about homeschooling. We are striving to give our kids opportunities and experiences that wouldn’t be possible if they attended school. We’ve gotten back into our extra-curricular classes like art, aerial gymnastics, and baseball. Their neighborhood friend is coming back around and they just picked up where they left off. We aren’t so depressed and isolated like we were all last year.
As more people get vaccinated, there will be safer field trips, outings, get-togethers, park days.
My middle two kids attended an art camp for a week this month and were so exhausted getting up early and being out all day every day. I can’t imagine what it would be like if my kids were gone all day every day.
You might also like:
- New to Homeschooling?
- Not Back to School
- 12 Things Homeschoolers Don’t Have to Do
- We Don’t Do Testing
- High School Homeschool
- Homeschool High School Credits
- How to Prepare for After High School
- My Thoughts on Socialization
- Secular Curriculum
- Homeschooling as a Military Family
- How We Learn
- How I Plan Our Homeschool Year
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