My name is Deborah and I have been homeschooling my twin daughters for three years now. We started homeschooling because the school environment they were in was awful. Lots of bullying that went unchecked. I was also not too thrilled with the academics either.
My girls didn’t ask to be home schooled but they did ask to be in a different place. Homeschooling was what we went with. I have a few close friends who home school their children and supported me all along the way. Their children collectively range from prek to college and most have been home schooled the entire time. They are delightful, smart, and ambitious children so making the choice to home school was easy.
But three years into it, I my husband and I are having doubts if we made the right choice for our girls. Of course the bullying issue has stopped, but other problems exist. Academically I feel as though they are all over the place because namely I am all over the place. I don’t have a great deal of confidence in what I am doing–teaching wise. I lack consistency–things have been a hit and miss. They aren’t involved in any clubs or sports, which is something I think is so important. Being enrolled in school made it easier to try out and join different things. My girls are both pretty shy. They also no longer spend time with the few friends they did cultivate a relationship because they feel weird being home schooled.
On the other hand I can say we (as a family) are spending so much more time together.
I guess I am unsure, about their future. A lot of people said I should have left them in school because bullies are apart of life and they need to know how to handle it.
They start 10th grade this year and we need to make a decision. Is it time to quit? Advise?
Doubting Deborah, North Carolina
Thanks for sharing your concerns with me and allowing me to share it with so many people. Believe it or not, you are not alone. I think everyone, at least once on this journey, doubts whether or not they have made the right decision.
I believe as parents one of our many duties is to educate our children. How we educate them can vary—there really isn’t one way.
One of my dear home schooling friends is the parent to three very different children. All three children started off in a Christian private school. Around 5th grade (for the oldest) she noticed her daughter wasn’t thriving. After a lot of conversations over way to much coffee, she and her husband decided to try homeschooling. They pulled all of their children out and became a ‘home schooling’ family.
How did it go? Well, the oldest child blossomed academically, worked well independently, found mentors, maintain friendships with her once school friends, graduated and is now in her third year of college.
The last child is very much like her sister. He enjoys being home schooled, has lots of friends, and handles well the unstructured (as compared to traditional schooling) environment.
You can imagine how confusing and frustrating it was when child #2 was drowning. Although his pleasant personality remained intact, he became more withdrawn and less motivated. He did not do well with the loose structure, he needed way more monitoring than she could provide. He didn’t complete work, wasn’t invested in any activities and did not really hang out with friends. He even started to think something was wrong with him because he wasn’t doing as well as his siblings. He describes it as his ‘blah’ years.
Although good stuff did come from the ‘blah’ years (they spent a lot more time together), it wasn’t really working for him. When she talked to me about it I asked her one question, “Is he thriving here?” She said no. “Then find a place where your son can thrive.”
I think it is so easy for home schooling parents to make homeschooling their identities. It is easy and extremely dangerous because when you do this you don’t allow yourself the freedom to make changes when need be.
So Deborah, the honest question you and our husband should ask is, “Are my children thriving here?” If the answer is no, then start looking for a situation they can thrive in. It could be found in a co-op that looks and feels more like a school with activities, classes and clubs. It could be enrolling in a more traditional school (private, charter, or public).
My friend did send her middle child to a private school. If you could ask her what she thinks about that decision she will say, “Best thing for him.” The classes are very small, they do a lot of team building activities, and parents are expected to play an integral role in everything. She is even on the curriculum committee. She still feels very connected with his education. His siblings also enjoy supporting their brother’s basketball games.
Let me close this letter with this, please know in your heart you are not a failure , you haven’t failed you children in any way. Also know you haven’t wasted any time. These three years of them being with you more has been precious. You have been able to sow into your children in ways that would have been very challenging had they not been around you as much. They were in a harmful environment and rescuing them from that was the right choice. Good job mom and dad!
So if you do decide to move into a new season, embrace it with joy, not defeat!
Thanks for sharing!
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