Help! My Child No Longer Wants to be Homeschooled
That’s the topic assigned to me last week for my Facebook Live Tuesday Talk. I told the host that I actually had a lot to say on the subject because this has happened to me. In fact, we sent our oldest son (age 16) to public school for the first time just this year.
Let me back up a bit and tell you some of our story. My husband and I planned to homeschool even before I became pregnant with our first child. I had been a public school teacher for five years and knew a lot of the “behind the scenes” of the system and believed we could (and should) do better than that.
After I did become pregnant with our first, I checked out lots of books from the library (blogs and even the internet weren’t big yet) and started going to our local homeschool conference (Illinois Christian Home Educators) a year later. We learned as much as we could, and it was exciting. It wasn’t long before we were living the “homeschool lifestyle.” We could no longer imagine not being in it.
By the time my oldest son was 11, we had 8 kids. Homeschooling kept getting harder and more complicated with so many grades and subjects to teach, but we were still doing well.
However, my oldest kept asking to go to school.
Find Out Why
The first thing we had to do was find out why he wanted to go to school. At first, I really believe it was because he wanted to feel more “normal.” Most people out there go to a traditional school, and he didn’t want to feel weird.
We continually talked about the wonderful benefits of homeschooling, and how they outweighed the feelings of weirdness.
Benefits of Homeschooling
- Freedom of Schedule
- Tailor the Curriculum to Fit the Student
- Family Bonding
- Christian Focused
He understood all of these, and we were successfully able to encourage him to stick with homeschooling for quite a while.
I told him, “Let’s wait and talk about it for middle school.” Then, I realized he was so susceptible to peer pressure that that would be a disaster. I let him make more decisions about what he wanted to study and he got involved in musical theater, which would have been much harder for him if he had been in school.
When he started asking again, I said, “Let’s wait and talk about it for high school.” When he was getting close to being finished with 8th grade, I showed him how he had already earned quite a lot of high school credits and he should keep homeschooling so he could graduate early.
He had nearly completed his freshman year of homeschool high school when he started begging to go to school the following year. His main reason was probably still a bit of the original reason (of not being a part of the norm), but now he was saying that he felt he wasn’t doing very well academically.
He was right. He was no longer thriving in our homeschool environment because of his own choices not to do his schoolwork to his fullest potential. One reason I think this might have been happening was because he is a boy and his mom was his teacher. This isn’t a problem for all boys, but seemed to be for him.
Now, let me skip ahead a bit and say that his younger brother, who is a freshman in homeschool high school this year, is thriving at home academically. He is using the exact same curriculum this year, and it’s working well for him.
Do Your Research
So, my oldest son and I started researching the best options for him. Close enough to our house, we had the local public school, a very small Christian school (where he had participated in band from 5th-8th grade), and a large Catholic private school. After touring the Catholic school, we decided that although it was very nice and great academically, it was too expensive. The small Christian school didn’t offer enough choices for him to thrive academically. So, we decided to go with the public school.
So Far, So Good
I’m happy to say that he has done excellently at school this year, earning straight A’s his first semester, even in difficult classes such as Honors English and AP U.S. History. He also took Spanish 1 and Weights and Conditioning. (The school is on a block schedule which finishes an entire course in one semester, similar to college.)
Did We Make the Right Decision?
Only time will tell. I have had friends who warned us against it. They said that sending their kids to public school was the beginning of a slippery slope that led their kids away from God or from their family. We had to weigh the decision based on what we knew about our son. He simply would not thrive any longer being at home with us. We knew that, and we want the best for him. As his parents who love him, we prayed, and we talked to him. We knew he was mature and ready for the peer pressure he would face there.
Make Your Own Best Decision
I encourage you to think and pray very carefully about your own decision about whether to stop homeschooling a student. We did it for this son, but not our second son. I sincerely hope that I’ll be homeschooling all the rest of my kids through high school. But, I also know that we have to do what’s right for the child and not let our philosophy and beliefs about homeschooling make us legalistic about it.
It’s been two years since I first wrote this post. After the first year (his sophomore year) at our local public high school, we moved 10 minutes away to a new town. He had done well academically and socially at the first school, but his junior year was really tough. I think it was due mostly to the fact that he was entering a brand new high school as a junior. At that point, friendships and cliques are strongly settled, and it was really hard for him to find his place. Academically, he switched from a block schedule of only 4 classes at a time to a typical public high school schedule of 7-8 classes. That took some adjusting. He was also working a dishwashing job at a restaurant that kept him out late many nights.
By the end of his junior year, however, he had it figured out. And, his during his senior year he was doing great again. He’ll be graduating in May! I’m happy to be chaperoning his choir trip to Europe this spring break.
The Public School Experience
For the most part, I’ve been satisfied. I didn’t get involved much in the first school, but have done more in the second school. There have been disappointments–not getting on the baseball team and not getting the lead in the school musical that he worked so hard for. But, there have been some great experiences as well, such as this.
My second son took physics, woodworking, and graphic design at the public school last year, and decided NOT to go back for any other classes there this year. He is taking classes at the local community college instead. Both boys will graduate high school May, 2019.
My oldest daughter is a freshman in high school and wants to continue homeschooling. I’m glad. I love homeschooling, and strive to bring the best educational experiences possible to all my children. For my oldest son, that happened to be the public school for his last 3 years of high school.
Update now that he has graduated from high school
It was good for me to see what was happening in the public school system. Just like always, there are good teachers and bad teachers, good counselors and bad counselors, and good administrators and bad administrators. I’ve been happy and not happy with different aspects of the whole pubic high school experience. I feel confident that we made the right decision, though. He learned a lot both academically, but also socially in figuring out how to navigate challenging aspects of relationships of people he met. He learned about consequences for his actions that I hope will carry on with him as he goes to a public state university in the fall. He learned how to study, be an advocate for himself with his teachers, and be responsible for his own schooling.
I’m so glad it’s behind us, though, and have been enjoying unsubscribing from the public school email lists. Homeschooling is such a blessing for our family, and we’ll continue to do it for all the kids who thrive with it.
Emily Endrizzi says
I’m glad you eventually let him go to public school. It will make it easier for him to adapt to the social changes and peer pressure he will encounter in college. Plus, it is good to be exposed to a variety of different cultures, ideas and religions.
Possibly. There are definitely two schools of thought on that. The older and more mature a person is makes them more able to resist negative peer pressure. Students who are homeschooled are often more mature at a younger age. Therefore, not sending them to school helps many of them adapt to college pressures (and deal with the variety of cultures, ideas, and religions) better than those who did go.
Thank you for showing that we can – and should – make the best choice for each of our children. I have children who are schooled at home and others that go to public school. Both systems come with their rewards and their challenges. It ultimately comes down to the parents (not the neighbors or the in-laws or the random internet commenter) to decide what is the best fit for each individual child.
Well said. 🙂
I went to public school for K-7th grades and was homeschooled through 8-12th grades. He will be fine. Everything has challenges. Doing what is best for the individual child is just as important as looking at that the whole family (maybe even more). A thriving, happy family is a good one 🙂 Hang in there mamma!
Thanks for the encouragement!
I enrolled my kiddos in public elementary school this year. One kiddo needed speech that was more easily available through the school, and he wasn’t responding well to me teaching him. He loves his teacher and despite not ever being in prek or K he is almost caught up with 1st grade standards.
My daughter was drowning in homeschool. My homeschool mom peers kept telling me she was simply a late bloomer, it will click, and a bad day homeschooling is better than a good day at public school. What a mistake to listen to them. She is two grade levels behind because I listened to them. Her teachers have done wonders with her. She went from barely being able to read a Bob book to devouring story books (still at a first grade/second grade level). She could hardly write and now she writes with ease (again, not at grade level, but still! I spent 3 years with her on my lap trying everything to get it to click).
My oldest, I enrolled because he was getting really lazy with his homeschooling and giving me attitude. I gave him several chances to shape up and he didn’t. He loves school, but that “laziness” still affects his work. Right now, I am just letting him reap the natural consequences of his actions. He cannot laze through a test and then pretend to be adtonished that he failed. He MUST apply himself. As it stands, because of his refusal to take his education more seriously, he is facing repeating a grade. Otherwise, he is a boy of excellent character and has received awards for his character at school. He prefers working, though. So, he will be returning home for homeschooling come middle school, and I am going to focus his homeschooling more on work, trade, and apprenticeship skills than academics…at least as much as our state will allow. He still has to pass standardized tests, even for homeschooling.
Thank you for sharing your story! Our kids are all so unique, and I’m glad you’re doing what’s best for each. 🙂
Very well written! There are definitely those in the homeschooling community who will let you feel like you have failed. Homeschooling does not fit every child/family/parent every year, and we need to know that it is okay.
Hello, I am a 36 year old mother of two. I was homeschooled from K-11th grade when I finally found the courage to tell my parents that I wanted to go to school. That is wonderful that your son was able to be open with you and tell him his wishes early on, even though you did not respect them. Not every homeschooled child will feel as I do, but my biggest regret of my life is not telling my parents that I wanted to go to school when I first started feeling that way at age 7 or 8. To this day I am still struggling with resentment toward my parents for homeschooling me. The choice to homeschool myself & my siblings was not something they ever discussed with us or asked us about. I could be wrong, but I believe their reasons for doing so were not based on wishes for good things in our life but rather with fears of bad things in our lives. In other words, I believe they put their own fears ahead of our well being. I imagine you were never homeschooled (neither were my parents), so you do not know what it feels like to be “weird” in that way. You do not know the long term consequences of forever feeling that you can’t fit in to any group, can’t relate at all to your own generation, have a hard time with authority figures because the only authority figures you ever had to face were your own parents, and have a hard time navigating interactions with anyone who was raised differently than yourself. I do. I applaud your son’s bravery. For me, finally going to school for the first time at the age of 17 showed me who I was, where my strengths and weaknesses were and gave me some sense of how I might fit into my community. But it was and still is a huge struggle. If your son started high school at 16, I imagine he might have the same struggles that I had and have – even if he is not able to process it until well into his 30’s. I wish him luck.
I thank you for your comment. I’ve been thinking about what you wrote for the past couple of days and took some time to talk to my son about it as well.
Here is my response.
First of all, I’m grateful that my kids have an open relationship with me. They have enough courage to share with their dad and me their feelings and desires. I wouldn’t say I didn’t respect my son’s wishes to go to school sooner than he did. I certainly respected his wishes. But, as his mother who loves him more than anyone else in the world, I knew that going to school in junior high would not have been good for him socially, spiritually, or academically. I might not say that about all my kids, but I do with him.
I truly do feel sad that you resent your parents’ decision to homeschool you. As you are 20 years older than my son, I’m sure that you recognize that things are FAR different now than they were in your day. We know tons of homeschoolers and my kids have many, many friends. They have been in band, community musicals, youth group, dance classes, art classes, homeschool co-ops, science classes, singing classes, etc. They don’t feel as “weird” as you probably did, simply because there are so many more homeschoolers out there nowadays.
I know that my kids feel they fit into groups because they’ve been in numerous different types of groups. They can relate to their generation because we don’t isolate them from their generation. They don’t have a hard time with authority figures because they have had many authority figures other than their parents: Sunday school teachers, youth group leaders, pastors, music teachers, dance teachers, and teachers of other subjects.
Being homeschooled is not the only way to be “raised differently.” I was in a single parent household (because my father died.) That brought unique challenges to me. My husband was in a blended family. That brought unique challenges to him. All people have unique challenges and have to learn to navigate interactions with those who were raised differently.
I also applaud my son’s bravery. God is with him and will help him with his struggles as He has helped my non-homeschooled husband and me with our struggles.
I pray you’ll find a way to let the resentment go so you can feel blessed. Thank you for writing, and I’ll be praying for you.