I am a former homeschooler that sends my kids to public school.
Ok, before all you homeschool mamas start throwing stones, let me plead my case. And I hope at the end we can still be friends.
I went to public school from kindergarten through sixth grade. I had a wonderful experience for the most part (at least, as wonderful as school can be to a kid.) I was involved, I made good grades and had good friends. During those years, my mom felt the call to homeschool. We attempted it one year for a week or so and [probably because I made her life miserable] she sent me back to public school.
In sixth grade my grades started dropping a bit since I was more concerned with impressing boys, wearing makeup and making my friends laugh in 4th period than I was about school. My parents could see that I was slowly headed down a path that could have led to some unsavory places so towards the end of my sixth grade year, they informed me we would be homeschooling the following year. I wasn’t happy about the decision, since I was somewhat of a social butterfly and the thought of being stuck at home with my mom all day was theworstever. But the decision had been made.
The next year we embarked on a 6-year homeschooling journey that was a learn-as-you-go experience for both my mom and myself. The first year consisted of a moody 7th grader who was not happy about her mom suddenly morphing into her teacher as well. I made every attempt to be absolutely horrid so she would send me back to school. There were numerous days when my pre-teen attitude got to her and she would declare, “Fine, I am calling the school and you’re going back tomorrow!” To which I would silently cheer and do a victory dance as I called my friends on the phone saying, “I’m coming back to school!” We would scheme and plan until my mom would burst my bubble when she would tell me she had thought it over and we were still homeschooling. And then I would weep for the death of my social life as I knew it.
The resolve that woman had was quite impressive.
As the years went on, I grew to enjoy homeschooling. I learned that I could get my schoolwork done much more quickly than if I were in public school and then had the rest of the day to do things I enjoyed. I got involved in choirs and theater groups and took classes with other homeschoolers and developed an active social life. There were days that I contemplated going back to public school, and after we moved in between my 8th and 9th grade years, my mom actually gave me that option. But I chose to continue homeschooling.
I completed my senior year both academically and socially well-rounded. I went on to college (which I didn’t finish…that’s a whole other confession) and acclimated to the work force with no problem. I can proudly say that homeschooling was a wonderful decision for my family to make regarding my education, and I believe that without the sacrifice and determination of my mother, I would have turned out a much different person. I am thankful for my homeschool education, and I don’t regret it for one minute. Thanks mom!
When my husband and I first started our family, we discussed the future of our children’s education, and I always intended to homeschool. I knew what an impact it had on me, and I wanted to provide the same opportunity for my kids. However, as our oldest grew closer to starting kindergarten, the definitive decision to homeschool became a bit blurry, and I started to consider that homeschooling might not be the best option for our family.
Now, hang with me for a minute.
There are a few things that I believe wholeheartedly, regardless of what educational path you choose for your child.
1. Every parent should be involved in their child’s education. Whether you send your kids to public, private or you homeschool, it is our job to be aware of what they are being taught, encourage discovery, read with them, and instill in them a love of learning. Education should always begin at home.
2. The teaching of morals, character and values is ultimately your responsibility. Teachers are not magicians (although they do work miracles sometimes) and you cannot expect to send your child to school and have them magically become a wonderful person. As parents, it is our responsibility to teach them the difference between right and wrong, how to treat others with respect, and the importance of integrity and compassion.
3. Kids have a free will. Regardless of what path you choose for your child’s educational instruction, they are ultimately the ones who decide what to do with what they are taught. Homeschooling isn’t a sure-fire way to keep your kids from straying from the straight-and-narrow. (I’ve known plenty that did anyway.) Private school doesn’t ensure that your child will get a better education or experience less peer pressure. Public school can’t promise that your child will be socially, emotionally and academically ready to take the world by storm. They are all flawed systems because we are flawed people.
I want to make this loud and clear- I honestly don’t care what way you choose to educate your kids. I have dear friends who homeschool and I applaud them and the fact that they stay home each day with little people, teaching and training and loving them and are still sane. I have friends who send their kids to private school and absolutely love it. Cheers! And I, like many of my friends and fellow moms have chosen to send my kids to public school and have been very happy with my daughter’s wonderful teachers and schools thus far.
But guess what? My decision could change at any moment. My husband and I are determined to take things year by year and constantly re-evaluate how we are educating our kids. I’m not afraid to pull them out and homeschool if necessary. I’m not opposed to private school one day if finances allowed. And for all I know, my kids could spend the rest of their educational careers in public school. I believe the key is being flexible and striving to do whatever is necessary so our kids receive the best education possible.
So, if you are a homeschool mama- I can so appreciate you and all that you do to make your children’s education the best it can be by giving them incredible amounts of time and attention. You are heroes. The sacrifices you make to do what you do are astounding. I think you are incredible, and I’m pretty sure your kids do too.
If you are a private school mama- I realize that many of you work super hard so that you can send your kids to private school. I applaud you for making the sacrifices necessary to have your child in a school that is giving them an excellent education and instilling wonderful qualities into them. I know it’s not always easy, but you are doing a great job and your kids are blessed to have a mama who is willing to do whatever it takes to give them the best.
And to all my fellow public school mamas- I know sometimes you might feel like you are barely keeping your head above water with all the homework projects and special events. Those 7ish hours that your kids are in school each day fly by and you’re scrambling to drop-off and pick-up and carpool and make dinner and sign homework folders and give baths and justkeepkeepupwithitall. And guess what? You’re rocking it. You’re doing an amazing job, and those moments spent reading with your kids before bed or pushing them on the swing in the backyard are just as important as what their teachers do each day. Keep it up, mama. You’re doing great.
So friends, let’s drop the stones and the accusations and the assumptions. Let’s stop sizing up what everyone else is doing. Because not all homeschool kids are socially awkward, not all private school kids are snobby and not all public school kids are a menace to society. You know what they are? They are kids. They need us to fight for and love and teach and guide and support them. And we can’t do that if we’re too busy worrying about what everyone else is doing with their kids.
So hip, hip hooray for parents and teachers and parents who are teachers today and every day. Raising kids is a team effort.
And there is only one side on this team.