I suspect that we are not the only homeschoolers who have found themselves in this predicament. We’ve found ourselves there not once, but twice, during our five years of homeschooling.
One of the times that it happened, I met it with great upset. We were just barely a couple of weeks into homeschooling and then second grader Jack was already missing being at his old school. Then came the fateful day when our neighbor (who worked at the school) told the boys that people missed them. There were tears and then the request to return.
I would like to be eloquent about how it went down, but will just admit now that I freaked out. I wasn’t sure what I should do after reasoning with him didn’t get me far. I fretted that I had made the wrong choice, even if we had felt that God had called us to this. At that time, I decided that I didn’t want to have some in school and some at home, so I tried to reconcile Noah’s extreme desire to stay home with Jack’s desire to return.
And then Noah, ever my compliant child, offered up a sacrifice. He would return to school if it was what we really wanted. You can imagine how much worse that actually made it.
Thankfully, two things made all the difference:
- I talked about it to someone who was already homeschooling. I don’t even know if Kris remembers that, but it made all the difference in our lives as homeschoolers. She assured me that it was okay (and normal).
- I had a heart to heart conversation with Jack about it. It didn’t take long into the conversation to find out that he didn’t actually want to go back to school. He just missed his friends there. So, we connected with some old friends but we also worked on building our relationships with the homeschooling friends we were already making. (This helped immensely.)
I can’t stress enough how vital it is to do those things. Find solace and advice in veteran homeschoolers. Talk to your kids about it. Really talk to them. Why do they want to go back? Is it something that you can offer them at home, but you just haven’t been doing it?
Everything went along swimmingly for several years, and then in the middle of our fourth year (the winter of 2011/2012), we started hearing about some of our homeschooling friends who would be enrolling their children in school. My children were heart sick over this, and so was I. It was also the catalyst for a returned interest in going back to school.
This time around, I received the news with more calmness. I think it helped the whole situation. I talked to the kids about it (two of whom were interested in returning). I also made the decision that I would accept the situation of having some in school and some home. This also made a huge difference in everyone’s attitude about it. Nobody’s decisions impacted someone else’s chance to have a decision of their own.
After the requests continued more, I set up a visit to our local school. We were escorted around the 1000+ student school by the children’s former principal (who is also a member of our church). It was a wonderfully no pressure tour where he answered all of Jack and Molly’s questions. (Noah had already decided that he would continue with homeschooling.)
Both of the younger two left with excitement at the prospect of attending the school.
Five minutes later, Molly said, “You know what? I don’t really want to go there. I’m going to stay home.” I think she had just liked knowing that she had a choice, and when she really thought about it and saw it, she knew it wasn’t the choice she wanted.
Jack, on the other hand, was set to go back. But then, days later, he mused aloud about how it might be to be the only one of the kids in our family to leave for school each day. And finally, he realized that, again, he didn’t actually want to go back to school. He had romanticized it. It wasn’t actually what he wanted.
In giving the kids a choice and guiding them through their decision process (as well as sharing the process that we had taken when deciding to homeschool), I think they felt that they had been empowered in knowing that they were homeschoolers by choice.