That’s right, this week I sent my 2 youngest back to school, after 4 years of teaching them at home. With backpacks bulging and hair french-braided/slicked with gel, my babies walked through the doors of our local public school on Monday morning, without a backward glance. Aside from Kindergarten, this is the first foray into public school for anyone in our household. My husband and I both went to private school, and our oldest 2 boys (now 15 and 13) went to private school until we decided to homeschool as well.
You may wonder – “Why now? Why November? What made you change your mind?”
For starters, my husband and I took the stance when we began homeschooling that we would remove the words “always” and “never” from our vocabulary. We decided to take a year/month/day at a time, and reevaluate occasionally. As long as homeschooling worked, and was producing the best results, we would continue.
In four years, we never talked about throwing in the towel. It was challenging sometimes, yes, and so much work. But the rewards were great as well, and it never felt like we should switch to a traditional school system. Then, about 3 weeks into this school year, I took a look at my kids and realized they were all beginning to either crave or need more social interaction. I knew I could customize and give them the best academics, but the one things I couldn’t do was give them more interaction with their peers and other adults. One day I turned to my husband and I said, “I’m starting to feel like it might be a good idea to put the kids in school.” He replied that he’d been having exactly the same thoughts, for the same reasons. This felt like divine confirmation that we should follow through on. Remember, this is the first time in 4 years that either of us raised the question!
As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve also struggled with anxiety this fall. That really didn’t play into our decision to switch schooling, but it has helped immensely. I really wanted our choices to be about the kids. As long as they’re thriving, we can find ways to make this work. However, every single day this week, my 15-year-old has said to me, “I love it when you’re happy like this, Mom.” Every time he says it, I feel daggers in my heart but I choose to not dwell in guilt but in gratitude for the opportunity we had – and took – to create a more peaceful, thriving family and home.
Parents. I want you to hear this: No decision is permanent. If something is not working, find a way to fix it. Don’t worry about what your sister/neighbor/plumber thinks. Don’t think you’re a failure if you started something and 2 weeks in you realize it was not such a great move. Don’t get stuck in the rut of “Well, it was the best decision 5 years ago so it must still be the best today.” Maybe you’re thinking of switching to homeschooling, maybe you need to – like me – take a break. Maybe it’s a sport your kid is registered in, or maybe it’s about moving to a new location or a new job. Whatever it is, please check that it’s not fear driving your choices.
Will we homeschool again? I have no idea. Right now I’m enjoying my quiet(er) house (my teenage boys continue to homeschool via online classes), I’m loving the time to work on my professional organizing business, and I’m so grateful for the beautiful teachers who choose to love on my kids every day. I love living in the moment and not stressing about tomorrow. As Matthew 6:34 states: “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”