The one RIGHT way to educate your children

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About Tsh

Tsh is the founder of this blog and lives in Bend, Oregon with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

Last year, Tate went to a (very affordable, wonderfully diverse) private school for kindergarten. I honestly never thought we’d ever do private school. The year before, living overseas, we worked through a simple homeschool curriculum for preschool. If you asked me before we moved, I’d have told you we’d never, ever homeschool.

This year, we’re homeschooling for first grade. Life’s funny that way.

Kyle and I are both public school products, having attended the same local schools from K through 12th. We both had good experiences, and always assumed we’d default to the same public school route for our own children. Quite honestly, we held to a certain stereotype of homeschoolers. You know the stereotype, too: large families wearing matching jumpers and not letting their kids play with other children. Inept social skills.

In my short stint as a parent, I’ve discovered that there IS one right way to educate your child.
And it’s true for every family, every child.


It’s this: whatever works best for your family.

Nothing less. Our family’s goal in educating our children is to foster a lifelong love of learning. From no particular schooling method will our children be able to learn everything, so the next best thing is to nurture the innate love of discovery and growth born in each of us.

We’ve decided that for our family, the method of education will possibly change each year, with each child. Some years, public school will be best. Other years, an online, independent program might be the best thing.

Factors we’ll consider are each of our children, both of us as parents, and our current life situation. Whatever the method, we’ll approach it thoughtfully, prayerfully, and with a plan. No default mode.

I’ve abandoned any homeschooling stereotype, because I’ve learned it just doesn’t exist. There are too many resources, too many approaches, and too many methods to box a homeschooling family into just one mold. If our family’s culture isn’t wearing denim jumpers, reading only the Bible, and traveling the country for spelling bees, then homeschooling isn’t going to magically turn us into that.

Besides, who cares what the stereotype is? No matter what educational path you choose, it’s still your responsibility, as the parent, to educate your children. You may outsource some subjects to your local public school, but the job is still under your jurisdiction. This year, we’re simply choosing to homeschool as our primary method.

If there’s anything I could encourage you in educating your children, it’s this:

1. Don’t have a default mode. Don’t just assume you’ll do public school, or private, or homeschool. Evaluate each child, each year. Thoughtfully consider your family’s needs annually.

2. Never say “We’ll never _____.” 10 years ago, that would have been homeschooling for me. Five years ago, it would have been private school. We’ve already done both.

A few years ago, I met an elderly American woman who lived in Vietnam during the 60s. When her children became teenagers, they went to boarding school in the Philippines. She told me, “Never say you’ll never do boarding school.”

Honestly, I’m not sure I can say that right now. But I’ve never had teenagers, and who knows where we’ll be at that time. If I’m taking my own advice, then I’d need to not say “Never,” even to sending my teens to boarding school. It’ll all depend on our family’s situation.

It’s still true now, when our kids are little. And it’s true for your kids, too. I look forward to starting the next fork in our family’s educational journey next Monday, when we crack open our books and explore.

Why have you chosen your kids’ method of education right now? I’d love to hear.*

*Note: this is a grace-filled place, and I don’t have much room for nonconstructive criticism of others. I’d rather hear the positives of your choices, not your negative opinions of others’ choices. Ad hominem will be deleted.

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Comments

  1. Tsh: I too, assumed we would only do public school. Ha. We too, want to nurture lifelong learners and so far, it seems we are!

    Here is the path for our 15 year old:
    private nursery school/PreK, public school for K and 1 and part of 2, homeschooling, private school for 3 to 7, now public hs.

    For the 12 year old:
    (different) private nursery school, public preK, private school for K to 4, now public ms.

  2. Learning, Appreciating, Experiencing, Creating.

    Those are the four most important things I think every person needs to focus on in life in order to live GREAT.

  3. Our daughter is only 2, so we haven’t quite decided on what we’re doing, we just aren’t at that point. However, I fully believe with the point to never state … my child will never… or we will never… etc. I just think life changes and you never know what you’ll never do and what you will do. Evaluating life each year, in terms of jobs and education and family, makes you do what’s best for your family and keeps your ego out of the mix.

  4. Loved seeing the pics of your books. We’ve been reading/ have/ plan to read almost all of those this year. ;o) Great minds think alike right? M. is looking forward to being pen palls with T. Also, M. really enjoys copying drawings out of the Drawing With Children book. Fun inspiration, even when I’m not trying to “teach.”

    • Yes! We’re excited about doing the pen pal thing, too. Keep me posted on your read-alouds (and what you’re having her read independently), because I’m gathering ideas.

      • Some of the really great independent/ read-alouds we’ve enjoyed are the “Classic Starts” books. So far we’ve read, Heidi, Little Women, Secret Garden, and we’re reading The Swiss Family Robinson. All have been very good for abridged versions.
        We’ve also really enjoyed reading through the Little House series this summer. We’re currently reading “By the Shores of Silver Lake.” The girls have been playing “Mary and Laura” all the time. :o)

        • In addition to those great classics, I recommend The Tale of Despereaux as a read-aloud book. We thoroughly enjoyed it reading it together as a family this month. It was perfect for my girls who are entering first and second grade.

          • make sure you’ve read The Invention of Hugo Cabret, it’s captivating. the author has another, similarly styled book coming out this fall.

  5. Hello,
    Thanks so much for sharing today! I have two delightful little girls and we live in Australia. My husband and I both attended public school for our primary years and Private for Highschool (other then when my husbands family were in the US, where he attended public for middle school) He also experienced boarding school, which he claims was the best time of his life!!

    We currently have our girls at public school and have them enrolled in private for high school! But I can already see that they learn completely differently! My eldest is extremely bright and LOVE books and learning! We have been very blessed that she has an AMAZING kindy teacher who is just incredible! My second daughter, well she is a free spirit and really knows what she wants (at just two!) I have only just managed to start reading to her as she previously showed NO interest (despite my constant efforts) to sit her on my lap and read!!! so I can definately see where u r coming from and it will indeed be interesting to see where we head from here.
    Thanks again

  6. Thank you for your thoughts. I especially appreciate the emphasis on a wide variety of good choices. We’re a nomadic family, so every two years or so we live in a different country altogether. This leads to a more natural regular examining of our education choices. This last year we homeschooled (as a large family–no matching jumpers, though), this year we’ll be sending our children to a private school in the country where we live. As you say, I have to remind myself that it’s not only OK to make different choices as life evolves, but critical that I’m being purposeful in each choice.

  7. This is a very timely post for me. My daughter has gone to a Baptist MDO for the past 4 years but has other wise been home with me. Because I work from home, we are on our own little schedule and we do pretty much whatever we want. I’m about to graduate from college and I had to put her into daycare full time for 6 weeks to take a condensed class. It did not go well at all. Her biggest complaint- the teachers didn’t listen to her. Are we spoiled? Yes very much so.

    In the space of a few weeks, I went from thinking we’d do the local magnet school to seriously considered a local “tutorial” academy that gets the homeschooled kids together one day a week to help them learn and socialize.
    10 years ago, I would have said I would never have kids before I finished college. 5 years ago, I would have said I’d never be able to be a single mother for all almost that long, plus thinking about homeschooling.

  8. I had a wonderful public school experience, and my husband had a wonderful private school experience. Like you, I’ve changed my mind several times about what I want for my children! I homeschooled our daughter through a preschool/kindergarten program last year and this year she will attend a public school. This works best for us as we have moved back to an area with better schools after living in a very rural area with questionable schools and virtually no contact with other children. This is something she needs right now. We will also be evaluating every year to see what’s best for us. Every family is different and every child is different…and sometimes every year is different!

  9. Thank you for an excellent post. We moved around several times when our children were growing up, and depending on the children, the city, the schools, but especially the children, we made a variety of schooling decisions over the years. My children, a son and two daughters, are all adults now. Our son, the oldest, went to public schools the whole way through. He was very musical, and the private schools did not offer a strong enough music program. He is now working on his PhD in Greek and Latin. Our middle child went to public school through 6th grade, private Christian school for 7th and 8th, and back to public school for 9th and 10th. Then we homeschooled her for her last year of high school (she graduated “early”). She is now a CART reporter for the hearing impaired. Our youngest child went to public school through 2nd grade, private Christian for 3-4th grades, and back to public school for 5th and 6th grade. I homeschooled her in 7th grade, and then she went to a Christian school for 8th and the 1st semester of 9th grade when we pulled her out and put her back in public school where she thrived. She is now a certified middle/high school English teacher. I would have preferred not to move around so much and not change their schools so much, but I agree completely that whatever works best for you and your children is the right way.

  10. You are so right on the never say never. We had our two oldest in private school until the financial rug was pulled from beneath us in 2008. But they now walk to public school two blocks from our home and they are flourishing. Our oldest will be transitioning into middle school next year and that will bring a new evaluation, but the pressure of “it has to be this way or else” is gone.

    xoxo michele

  11. It’s funny, I’ve never thought one way or another about home-schooling or public schools or even private schools for that matter. I’m sure I have some misconceptions on each, but the ultimate goal for me is like you said, foster that innate desire to learn, discover, explore. I hope which ever method we end up with, we will be willing as a family to look at all our options and make the best decisions for our son. He’s smart, curious, and loves learning, I truly hope to keep that within his spirit and to grow this quality in him. I’ve seen great success’ with each type of system. I guess it just depends on each child. Great article!

  12. So appreciate this post…

    We’re in a university model school…
    M/W/F the whole school meets in an in-classroom setting.
    T/TH we homeschool (as does the rest of the school) with curriculum from their teachers.
    All I can tell ya is…that’s what we’re doing right now, for this year….or at least until God directs otherwise. Too many variables….too many times of redirection to think we can say “this is our plan forever”.

    But–I’m thankful for it for now….
    We made this decision by answering these 25 questions:

    http://thechuppies.blogspot.com/2011/03/so-where-do-your-kids-go-to-school.html

  13. Great post. First off I am Canadian and we have a French Immersion option in our public education. I was a product of that stream. I thank my parents everyday for putting me in French Immersion. When I was finished school I was bilingual. I always thought I would put my children in French Immersion. I then discovered the Community Schools in the city I now live in. My husband and I discussed it and this seemed like he best option for our family. The community school model, expects parents to take an active role in the school, instead of report cards they do educational narratives (which as an early childhood educator I used a similar practice in my preschool program) the curriculum differs as its project based and play based. My daughter is still years away from going to kindergarten but we walk by her school and I get excited. I was a my child will never……. but now I see the possibilities!

  14. AMEN! Ten years ago, I swore I wouldn’t even stay home with my kids (or have more than one), and now, we’re expecting #4 & we’ve homeschooled for the past three years. Funny how life changes like that. We put our two oldest in a charter school this year (moving and a baby and teaching algebra…not this year! Whew!) But when friends and family ask if I’m excited to have them go, they are really surprised when I answer that I’m not excited but we feel it’s best at the moment & it might change.

    That’s my favorite part about motherhood, I’ve learned to roll with the punches, and that is a skill I adore. (OK, really, my FAVORITE part is the snuggles…and the talks…and the adventures…and the–)

  15. Great post. I particularly appreciate the goal of fostering a lifelong love of learning; I echo that. I spent my first six years of elementary going to a Christian private school that did NOT foster that love of learning, and I didn’t develop my love of learning until later in life – in a public school. I also spent four years being homeschooled.

    My experiences, my husband’s experiences, and the make-up of our family have led us to strongly prefer public schooling for our kids. But that has a lot to do with the fact that we have access to some very good public schools. We’re able to enroll our kids in a language immersion school with very good academics for free, because it’s part of the public school system. We both LOVE the language immersion opportunity and have been very happy with it so far.

    We’ve considered homeschooling, but mostly in the context of being in some far-flung area of the world where we didn’t feel that public/private schools would afford a good education. That “last resort” take on it is mostly due to the fact that I don’t feel at all cut out to homeschool, in personality or gifting or desire. But yeah, never say never.

  16. i SO needed this post tonight. we are 2 weeks away from our little girl starting kindergarten at the local public school, and we are having major reservations- mostly because of how she has fared in preschool, pre-k, and just how she does in a big classroom in general. we are weighing all the options (including the resources available at our public schools)- and we are considering homeschooling, which i never thought we would do. it is tricky though b/c i am 7 months pregnant, have a 2 year old at home, and i already feel in over my head! so we shall see. we are taking it one month at a time, and if we need to homeschool or have a tutor for her- if public or private school does not work out- then so be it. the important thing is finding the best schooling for HER.

    • Erika, not only do we take things a year at a time for each child, I’m also willing to change course mid-year if we need to—so I think it’s a perfectly legitimate thing to do if your daughter needs it. I understand your reservations, and I honestly still have them myself from time to time! My two other kids are 3 and 1, I’m running a business, starting book #2… What am I thinking? ;)

      Also, you’ve got lots of room to breathe and explore since she’s just now in kinder. If it helps, there’s tons of good info about kindergarten and early childhood education over at Simple Homeschool.

    • Erika, I’m in the same boat too. My oldest starts kindergarten in a few weeks. I have a 2 year old and a 8 month old. Life is exhausting and busy. I have a huge pit in my stomach as I prepare to send her. She will be one of the youngest, has never been to school, and it’s all day! We do feel like it is best to send her right now (for her and our family). But I have to keep reminding myself that public school may not be best for her/us next year (or part way through as Tsh said), and we can change course anytime along the way.

  17. My kids currently go to a pretty great public primary school here in Australia. Everyone I know seems to have their kids names down for private secondary school, but that does not currently seem possible for us. In my ideal world they will get into a special (and free) school for academics and arts (similar to the type I attended for 6 years in NYC), but we will see. I always explain to people who have asked what we are doing (at every stage of the game from when they went to preschool) that a school that looks great today may be less great in 5-10 years and our circumstances can change. Also factor in our children’s developing talents and needs and I don’t see how people expect me to have High School locked in from such a young age. For all we know we be in another city or country by then.

  18. Oh what a great post! I have always believed in “whatever works best for your family” not just for schooling but for whatever choices you as a family make. Thank you and good luck!

  19. We’ve always homeschooled (we have a 9, 7, and 4 year old), but we don’t THINK we’ll do it all the way through. We’ve done it for a number of reasons, the chief one being how well it fits our family. It’s given us both great education (can’t beat the student to teacher ratio) and lots of flexibility.

    When we were considering all the options, I met with a number of men who were mentors, who did all different options. I compiled a list of the pros and cons, and list them here: http://differentway4kids.blogspot.com/2011/01/comparison-of-school-options.html.

    Another benefit of homeschooling, which we never considering initially, is that we moved to an impoverished area in the middle of the year, as part of our “mission.” We didn’t have to worry about transferring schools, or waiting until school ended, and it helped with our kids’ transitions. (http://differentway4kids.blogspot.com/2011/04/unexpected-benefit-of-homeschooling.html)

  20. Great post! My kids are in a private preschool/K school that we love. I’m already starting to worry about the following year when my oldest ages out of the school and is ready for first grade. There are no good private options here, the public school is strong but crowded, and I’m on the fence about homeschooling. We too will be taking it year by year.

  21. Fantastic post! I think a lot of parents just don’t consider looking ‘outside the norm’ – if homeschool (or public school) was so great, why are people sending their kid to school/choosing to pay for private school when public is free? Thing is, often it is just the herd mentality.
    The flip side of that is pride – just because we homeschool now, if it looks like boarding school is a good option when our son is older (and it might be in our case) we will have to investigate that rather than think ‘will people judge us? Will they count us as failed homeschoolers’? Sometimes you have to remember it is about your child and what is best for them, not what makes you look best in the eyes of others.

  22. My oldest is just 3 now, although this fall she would qualify for pre-school, we have decided to keep her at home. I don’t feel like she needs to be in a school environment at this point in time. I love having her home, and we love learning together, so my *plan* is to homeschool her, whether or not we will stick to that, I do not know. I do know that she is very busy, and the 30 minutes that people seem to expect preschoolers to do turns into hours of reading for me and my little girl, how can I give that up!?

  23. avatar
    coffeebabs says:

    Thanks so much for this post. We live in a world of such critisism, comparisons, competition and judging. Your post is like a breath of fresh air. I have always said that I homeschool for THIS year. Some people take it that I am not committed, but I don’t know how my life is going to be like. Only God knows and only He can direct. My goal has always been to instill in my kids a love of learning. Also, my relationship with my kids is more important than homeschooling. If that is being affected, then we need to be willing to change. I have 2 friends this year that have decided to quit homeschooling for good reasons. The guilt they are feeling is so sad. We travel quite a bit, so homeschooling has been incredible, but if we didn’t and we lived in a place that had great private OR public schools, we may make a different decision. The older I get, the more I realize I do not have all the answers and continue to be amazed at people who do.:-)

    • “Also, my relationship with my kids is more important than homeschooling.”

      I love what you’ve said here and totally agree. I don’t hold homeschooling up on some altar of sacredness, any more than any other form of education. As always, relationships are more important than things, and in this case, “things” can be ideas and philosophies, too.

  24. I so appreciate how you’ve expressed your point of view on this subject and agree with it wholeheartedly.

    Our two daughters, ages 10 and 8, have attended a Christian school since Kindergarten. However, my husband and I made the decision to homeschool this year. After much prayer and discussion, we just felt that it was the right way to educate our children for this period of time.

    We may continue homeschooling after this year – or not. It has always been our policy to evaluate our options at the end of each school year and decide what we believe best fits our children in that particular season.

    We, too, begin school next Monday and are looking forward to the adventure that lies before us!

  25. I was home schooled off & on throughout my school years. I also said I would never homeschool. Not because I had a bad experience, but because I’ve always been afraid I wouldn’t be able to provide my children with a good education. Well, guess what we are now considering? Yep, homeschool. I’ve heard too many horror stories about the public school system & our first choice for private school is just too expensive to send more than one there. So, that brings us to homeschooling. I have several friends that do or are going to homeschool, which means I’ll have a great support system. I’m actually kind of excited about it! My my, how life changes us :)

  26. I’m a part time permanent teacher and I homeschool my two children, ages 6 and 8. I always said I wouldn’t homeschool but as soon as they were walking, I couldn’t imagine them going to school. At the time my husband was working shift work (he’s a police officer) and if they had been in school, they would have only seen him two weeks out of every month. This was not o.k. for us. Now, the homeschooling lifestyle gives us more family time together and the flexibility to participate in many extracurricular activities that we wouldn’t be able to do if I was working full time and the kids were in school. We’re loving it!

  27. AMEN! I’m so tired of people questioning other’s school choices – out of fear of their own insecurities. You go girl – and thank you for your inspiration!

  28. avatar
    Kate Sanderson says:

    I homeschooled my eldest son for the last 2/3 of grade 8, because he was miserably unhappy at school. My kids are now going to a private Christian school for high school (tuition model is 13% gross family income per family, which is wonderful), and public school for elementary school. I would have liked to send the youngest two to a Christian school as well, but we really can’t afford it, and the school is in the opposite end of town. I am going to pray about homeschooling this year, we’ll see. I have one son who would do well to homeschool, and another who might not, but would want to stay home if his brother is staying home. Not sure I want to deal with that family dynamic.

  29. I really enjoyed your post today! So true that every child is so different. We’ve been “homeschooling” for the preschool years and have decided to continue on to K-5. Many people ask if we’ll do this long term. My response is the same as yours: we’ll evaluate it year-by-year.

    My sister-in-law has chosen to put her kids in public school, but she has reminded me over and over that every family homeschools to some degree. I like how you called some of it “outsourcing” to public or private schools. It is so true that education (and a life-long love of learning) starts in the home.

    It is so exciting to see so many families taking active responsibility for educating their children — whether they homeschool or not. I am so encouraged and excited about this next generation of amazing citizens!!

  30. Great post! This is something that my husband and I have talked about at length. Our daughter is only 2 years old, so we can’t possibly know what her future education looks like. We have agreed to make a prayerful decision each year, making a decision based on what is best for her, for us, and our family as a whole. We don’t want to be “stuck” in one situation (her or us!) because we made a schooling decision when she was 2!

  31. I grew up in a meandering educational path. From K-4 I was at 2 different private schools in two different states. From 5-6 I was homeschooled. In 7 it was back at private school, 8 back in homeschool, and high school was spent in a public magnet school. My brother’s path was similar. Each year the variables would change – could my parents afford private school? Did we want it? What state were we in and what was the public school system like there? And so each year my parents would evaluate and pick the best option. I wouldn’t have had it any other way!

    With an amazing public school system around us and private school costs that are extremely expensive we assume we’ll default to public, but we will prayerfully do whatever’s best for our kids!

  32. This is why I love your blog! You speak your mind and tell of your experience with such gentleness, transparency and humility. Love it.

    The hubs and I don’t have children yet but I love hearing from moms who’ve traveled those roads. I think a few years ago neither of us would’ve given homeschooling a chance, but by now, we have seen families around us do it gladly and well and with such intention…It has opened our eyes to the possibility of it being a great choice for our future family. Thanks for the GREAT post.

  33. Good morning! Thanks for the super post. We’ve been homeschooling our gang since my oldest began and he’s 12 now. It’s been a great adventure. I love that I can tailor learning to the strengths and weaknesses of each child. My biggest challenge is deciding what to learn each year. I’ve enjoyed involving my two older kids in the process of decision this year. I smiled when I read what you’d written about stereotypes. When we first went to a new pediatrician and he asked about school and learned that the kids were homeschooled he said, “but you’re so NORMAL!” It wasn’t the first or last time we’ve heard that type of comment, which gives us a chuckle every time! Best wishes for a super school year! We begin next Monday as well.

  34. Our oldest starts kindergarten this year, and the youngest is at preschool. Both are going to the community schools. That is – the closest public school for kindergarten and the preschool run at the community hall. This is absolutely the right choice for us. It is important that we can walk to school, that we will be attending with other families that live close by. Education is one thing, but we strongly believe in the value of community that grows from attending school here, with others that live nearby. As far as education, we’ll see how it goes. If necessary, we can always do more outside of the school hours.

  35. I was also never going to home-school, but this is what we’re planning for our two girls next year. They’ve been at our local Waldorf school up till Gr 3 and 5, but the school is going through some difficult times and, though we want to support it, we’ve decided that we’ve got to do the best for our kids first. So next year we’re joining with another family with girls the same ages to home-school together. Our son has moved from the Waldorf school to a conventional private high school, which is suiting him.
    Having been to boarding school myself I’ve also said Never to that, but who knows!

  36. May I shout out a resounding, “Amen!”? I too have shuddered at stereotypes…and been intrigued by those who don’t fit the mold. I’ve carefully considered what to do with my children for each of the nine years I’ve had one in school. So far the answer has been a wonderful Catholic school. And my daughter will return there for grade 8 this year–joyfully! With even more joy my grade 5 daughter and grade 3 son are anticipating our first venture in homeschooling. We’re all so excited about it! It’s been tricky explaining to people why we’ve chosen the route we have–they often seem to feel the need to defend and justify. This post is exactly how I’ve tried to explain it! Thanks for saying it so well.

  37. avatar
    Lori Staifer says:

    Thank you for this post. My husband and I are expecting our first child this December. I have taught in public and private schools. I saw pluses and minuses for both. I will say my experience being a teaching assistant in a public elementary school showed more negatives than positives.

    I would really like to know if anyone has any recommendations for a curriculum that I could teach my little baby boy when he comes, not right away but eventually. There are so many options nowadays and I’d really love some feedback. Thanks!

  38. I just recently did a blog about homeschooling outside of the box. http://twisteddomesticgoddess.wordpress.com/2011/08/07/281/ I touched on the two main categories others may think of homeschoolers as falling into and how WE fit into neither.

    We have homeschooled for 6 years starting our 7th. My oldest really wants to go to public highschool and I’ve been mulling over the idea. I know there are somethings he has to learn first and be willing to work hard at before I would totally consider this.

    I love how you say though never say never. It’s true. there have been periods of my children’s lives where yes they’ve had to go to public because of momma’s life changes. In fact up until we moved back to WA 3 of the 4 of them were going to go back to public school because of my work schedule.

    You have hit the nail right on the head though. No matter what type of school path you choose for your children YOU are ultimately responsible for their learning.

  39. What a great post. I’m just curious: did you consider your local public school? What made you decide against it? Or, put another way, what would have needed to be different about it to make you choose it?

    I’m not trying to put you on the defensive, but we’ll be crossing this bridge in a few years and I’d love to read a post on your thought process.

    • We’re in a brand new town (as in, one month), we didn’t know the area at all, so we didn’t want to be cornered in by school district when we found a home, especially when we didn’t even know anything about the schools here.

      Since we’ve been here, we’ve learned about a fabulous charter school that we may look into for next year. But, we may love homeschooling, so… we’ll see. :)

  40. We too said we were NEVER going to homeschool. Hah, the old adage “never say never” became a saying for a good reason. We had our two older kids in private school up until this year (going into grade 3 and 1 respectively). Now we are going to homeschool. Our local public school system is horrible…seriously it ranks as one of the lowest in the country, plus knowing a lot of the families whose children attend, I know I could never allow my children to play at thier houses (think drugs, alcohol, cussing, you name it). Why not continue with the private school? Well we could afford tuition and books, but because we live in the country the gas was killing us…almost 3 times every month that tuition was. So homeschooling it is. Thankfully I already have lots of friends (in a different area) that homeschool and so have a nice support system and group activities that we can join in on.

  41. Great post! I’d intended to homeschool my kids (having been bored to death by public school when I was a kid) but then found that school worked really well for them. This year our 9-year-old was diagnosed with AD/HD and I’m going to use a public online curriculum with him, while our 6-year-old is starting first grade in a full-time gifted and talented program through our public school district. I feel so blessed to have choices and the ability to stay home this year with the older one. I totally agree with the idea of making the choice from year to year — I’m hoping that my older son can transition back to public school but will just wait and see; if he thrives with homeschooling, that will be our path for a while. Good luck to you!

    • I sometimes wonder how my son (9 with ADHD) would do with homeschool. But I *have* to work. My husband doesn’t make anywhere near a living wage, and he would not be a good candidate to homeschool our son. So sometimes the best school for your child is the one you can afford.

      • You can still instill a LOVE of learning, but creating simple, yet fun outings for your family on the weekends that will enrich his educational experience! Even at that age, you can read books together…maybe find some clay in the riverbed at the park and mould it into a snowman (in the summer)…go fly a kite (we have a really awesome kite fest here in Cincinnati each April), making a sand castle at the beach, or go sledding together (in the winter).

  42. Great reminder! It is so easy (myself included) to fall into the trap of thinking your way is right bc it is right for you. But every situation is different, every family dynamic different, every child different. I know wonderful adults who were home schooled, who went to public, and who went to private. More than their school it was their parents who made the difference. I went to private elementary, was homeschooled for middle school, then went to public high school, and each had unique challenges and benefits for me. One of the families we are friends with last year had one child at home, one in private and one in public! Currently I homeschool our 6 and 5 year olds, but we are taking it one child and one year at a time. Having been a first grade teacher, I have wanted to hs each of our kids thru 1st but that was it. However now homeschooling, I think I would really like to school them at home thru 5th, but that vision has been very recent in coming…so we shall see.

  43. My daughter is just 18 months, but I am a planner and have been agonizing about what to do when it comes time for school. I never thought I’d home school and still don’t know that I could. I honestly look forward to my daughter going off to school and me being alone in the house for once! I also don’t think I know enough to be her only teacher. But, I am very leery of sending her off to school when you hear about all the bad things that can happen (teachers that shouldn’t be near kids, bullying etc). I had a wonderful public school education and loved the social aspect of school. So I hate to deny that for my daughter. I really appreciate this post and the fact that you advocate making decisions as you go. I guess I always thought of it as either we home school, private school or public school, and it’s a one time decision. Which of course there’s no reason it has to be a one time decision. I just hadn’t ever thought about the fact that we can change our approach as we go.

  44. We did a mixture, oldest went all through public, younger 3 homeschooled for 8 years. Younger 2 went to public for high school. but youngest ended up spending her last year through an accredited homeschool program and graduated a year early.
    I do remember saying in my naivete that I would homeschool until God wrote it on the wall that we were to change. And He did just that at a tough point in time in my younger 2 children’s life. I would’ve homeschooled forever, but He knew when it was time for a change.
    PS. I used to be one of those denim jumper, keds wearing homeschool moms, lol! ;)
    Bernice
    Resources for managing your home, family and life

  45. Though I love and admire your “no default mode” – and strive to achieve it myself – I find it exhausting. How do you keep the energy up to perform the constant analysis to come up with the right solution in the moment?

  46. I really like this post, and the comments too. As a home school graduate, I always say that we will homeschool our children (they are 1 and 2) but never say never is excellent advice. Who knows what the future will bring? I always need to remember that ignoring our children’s needs is equal to failure-if putting them in public school is better for them, then that’s what I should do. Thanks for the great post.

  47. I love your gracious perspective, Tsh!

    Like everybody else, we made assumptions that then had to be tossed… I illustrate for Peace Hill Press, which publishes homeschooling materials, and so we assumed we would homeschool.

    But then we had three kids in the span of three years, I struggled with a chronic health problem, and we realized homeschooling wasn’t right for our family at this time.

    As we look to the future, though, we daydream about possibly homeschooling during the middle school years, maybe while living and traveling overseas. For now, though, I love having the kids in school.

    It’s exciting to view our kids’ educations as full of options and opportunities, rather than full of “shoulds” or fears or limitations.

  48. Definitely words of wisdom. We have 5 children and all of them have followed a different path based on their needs – everything from public school, to private special ed school, to charter school. And I admit that we have never home schooled, but I have several friends that do.

    Although I like your post, I would add that people need to ALWAYS be an active advocate in their children’s education. No matter what path that takes.

  49. My school age boys go to public school. My reasons in the past are probably somewhat stereotype too: they won’t get a chance to socialize and I’d like them to be exposed to more role models.

    After I became a mom, I must admit, I just crave that kid-free time. Although the idea of homeschooling keeps coming back to me, my kids just won’t learn anything with my current ability in planning and self-discipline (part of the reason I’d like them to have other role models in their lives…)

    From another perspective, perhaps, “kid-free time” isn’t what God has in mind for me. He surprised us with an unplanned pregnancy when my first child went to public school…

  50. This year, after much thought we have decided to remove my kids from public school & homeschool. This is my first year & I am a bit nervous, but excited at the same time. Look forward to all the help & information I get from these websites so thankyou.

  51. Tsh, I loved this post and share your same philosophy. We made educational choices for our children ONE YEAR AT A TIME. I’m another one who said “I would NEVER, EVER homeschool.”

    And now here I am starting my 10th year of homeschool. We made the decision to homeschool for high school in conjunction with our tenth grade son. Because of our particular lifestyle, homeschool means that I’m spending quality time every day with my kids. We serve overseas and often have company at nights or visit people due to ministry commitments, but I know I was with my kids during the day.

    Others in my same position have made a different choice, and I respect them fully!

  52. none of your sponsor’s links work from the email :(

  53. We homeschool (our oldest is going into 3rd grade), I’ve always loved the flexibility and creativity it offers. I have plenty of time to get to know my kids, and find out what they’re interested in and gifted at. Then I can find the books and toys that will fit them and help them learn, grow and have more fun. (I highly recommend checking out snap circuits-especially for boys-for ages 5 and up…..also give them lots of tape and empty cardboard boxes/containers to build and invent things :))
    “Teach your own: The John Holt book of homeschooling” had a big impact on me.
    Since more people are homeschooling, there are more homeschool support groups now that offer lots of field trips, park days, parties and even co-ops.

  54. I agree with you “never say never!” but I sure do hope that whatever happens that we can do the very best for our children.

    When my husband and I got married we agreed that we would homeschool. My husband was home-schooled after 1st grade and probably would have been labeled ADD or something in public school but his parents kept him challenged with lots of reading and doing 4H. He was one of those socially stunted kids but caught up very quickly when he went to Junior College. My parents put me in private school because I was ready for 1st grade when I was five years old, I was already reading in English and Italian and I already knew how to add and subtract. After second grade they couldn’t afford private school any more so I had to repeat second grade because public schools wouldn’t put me where I was academically, they put me in by my age. I was bored to tears in accelerated public school programs so my parents put me in lots of extracurricular activities as incentive to stay focused in school: music lessons, dance lessons, swim team and they kept up my foreign language (my mom is Italian and taught me to speak her native language). I could have graduated early and gone to junior college but public school counselors advised me against it. I think my parents did the best they could, but I do feel like I could have done more with my time, especially during the high school years.

    I have heard parents complain that public schools don’t do enough for kids who are behind but they don’t know what to do with kids who excel either, at least they didn’t know what to do with me. I want to give my daughter the opportunity to love learning and to move forward at her pace, whether it is behind or advanced. We have talked about sending her to some part-time preschools and maybe even to the half-day kindergarden just for some socialization and I won’t say “I’ll never send her to public school”. What I will say is that I hope that I can give her the very best opportunity to do her best and to inspire her to learn.

  55. I’m so glad you ended this fabulous post requesting that we keep it positive. So important to just be open-minded nowadays.

    My daughter will be starting 2nd grade (attended 1st grade there too) in a public school that we love. She is the youngest in the class because we made the decision to do a kindergarten program at a local Montessori classroom because she missed the age deadline for our public school system. I knew she was ready and didn’t want to hold back on the learning to just fit their “rules”. I know we’ll have issues as she gets older because of the maturity level that is needed but for right now it works.

    To be honest, I never even thought I’d consider anything other than public schools because that’s what we grew up with. But now I see we always have options when something doesn’t fit us.

    Tsh – I read this blog EVERY DAY and love it. THANK YOU!!

  56. We’ve homeschooled, unschooled, private schooled and now all my kids are in public. They were all the right choice for us when we chose to do them. I couldn’t imagine going back to HS right now b/c I am not organized enough to schedule a 6, 9 and 11 y/o at an appropriate level for each of them (summer time alone has been a challenge to keep everyone interested at the same time). There are other reasons, but it boils down to that I think. We’re going to enter the lottery to get my oldest into a charter school next year, which runs grades 6 – 12, so maybe we can add that on to our list of school types next year LOL

  57. My eldest is 3 1/2 years old. We have been debating her education for almost a full 2 1/2 years. We are leaning toward home-schooling.

    I had negative experiences in school (I was bullied from grades 4 to 11). In addition, my daughter has anaphylaxis allergy to dairy, she is also allergic to peanuts and eggs (we just don’t know the severity of those allergies). Having her go to school is terrifying to us. Dairy products are everywhere and the smallest slip-up/exposure to dairy could kill her… this is any mother’s worst nightmare. For these reasons, alone I really don’t want to put her in a school setting.

  58. For me, my default would be homeschooling. I grew up in a small community, and my although my parents homeschooled me and my 4 siblings through elementary and highschool, in our minds we were homeschooled, but NOT homeschoolers! We hated whenever our mom would try to bring us to homeschool get-togethers for field trips or whatever! For the most part, I enjoyed being homeschooled because I was a fast learner, so by the time I was 15, I would start in September and finish the years curriculum by Christmas, and spend the rest of the year working and making money while my friends were stuck in school! I am now married with two babies, and the plan has always been to homeschool, but now I live in Quebec, and my husband (who is fluently bilingual) went to a French christian public school since grade 2. (they don’t exist anymore) His Dad speaks almost no french, and his mom is severely limited by her english accent, and since I don’t speak French at all, my decision to homeschool both our children is slowly dissolving as i realize that by handling their entire education myself I may be severely handicaping them for being able to find jobs around here in the future. So I had just decided to take it one child and one year at a time.. your post came at an opportune time for me! With all my siblings deciding to homeschool (they all live in English parts of Canada) I will be quite the black sheep should I decide that Public school would be the most beneficial for my babies! :o)

  59. Before we had kids, I thought we would NEVER homeschool or private school. So far, with 3 kids (18, 11 & 10) we have done private school, homeschool, public school & independent study! We’ve found that the only “right” educational strategy is to be flexible and go with what works for you & your kids at the time.

  60. My son attends public school, at one of the smaller elementary schools in our city (2 classes per grade). I love the school and the teachers. My ministry, a mentoring program for at-risk kids, is also at the school so that has helped me get to know the people of the school much better. My children are both fast learners and need extras (as do I) so I have also been integrating some Charlotte Mason ideas (composer study, etc) into our time at home to supplement what he gets at school. I’ve done read-aloud with both children since they were born. My daughter is 3 and is home with me. She will start 3 days of preschool at my church. We’ll see how that goes.

  61. We have homeschooled from K-10 for our son, and K-7 (and continuing) for our daughter. This year, our son will enter public school. I was struck with fear when our son was ready for Kindergarten. We lived in a bad neighborhood, and I didn’t feel comfortable with the schools. That started our journey. The best advice that I ever received was not to lock yourself into homeschooling with no way out. It was with that in mind that we finally admitted to ourselves that homeschooling wasn’t working so well anymore for our son. He is excited to start public school for his last few years, and my daughter is AS excited to continue homeschooling. You are SO RIGHT. You have to do what works for YOUR family!

  62. I have a list a mile long of things I swore i’d never do but totally changed my mind. I think we may homeschool preschool and maybe kindergarden due to our very slim budget.

  63. After having three kids, I’ve learned that, as parents, we should always do what works for our family and the individuals within it.

    And that applies to feeding, schooling, traveling, working, scheduling, etc.

    Thanks for yet another thought-FULL post. :)

    Heather

  64. I sooo agree with you! Whatever works best for your family IS the best decision. Last year we took both our girls out of public school and to a local Charter/Homeschool. they attend on MOndays from 8:30-11:30, T, W, And Th from 8:30-2:30 and Friday is a homeschool day. The classroom is divided into two rooms, one is for Kinder and First grade, the other is 2nd through 6th. Each class has two teachers with about 24 kids in each classroom! We couldn’t be happier! The girls are learning things that are beyond what I thought they could be learning, and we are taking a more active role in their education. I too, am now a firm believer in never say never. IN million years I would never thing that I could homeschool, but this way I feel I am getting the best of both. Thanks for this article! It’s nice to read what other parent are doing!

  65. Love the post. We have had an interesting path so far with our kids, 10 and 7. I had the amazing opportunity of working in the classroom a few days a week at our local independent school for the first 4 years of our daughter’s schooling. Now we’ve been blessed to be part of a homeschool co-op with our public school. It’s small, flexible, very individualized, multi-age, and best of all, fits our family’s needs.

    I have to say, probably my favorite part of this post is your note at the bottom about positive feedback. The negativity that spawns from some blog comments really turns me off. Thanks for protecting this “grace-filled” place. I sincerely appreciate it.

  66. Never say never — I’ve learned my lesson with that phrase over the last five years. I was never going to live in a small town in the South. Did that and loved it. I was never going to teach in or send my children to a private school. Those few years were some of the sweetest in our school experience so far. The biggie, I was never going to be involved in church planting again: too hard, painful, and unstable. Yet here we are, planting another church.

    There are a lot of rich, wonderful things I would have missed out on if I’d had my way.

  67. Wow! I honestly never thought of being so open about this subject before. I will admit, I’ve had the “I’ll never homeschool” talk with my husband. Not because of stereotypes but because “I’m too busy”. Both my husband and I work. We have a 3 year old son who will be attending Pre-K next fall (2012) so I feel I now have a lot of time to decide. We have been looking into the local Catholic school….now that’s one thing I never thought I’d say….EVER. I’m not even Catholic, but my husband is. I know a few parents who have their children there and they love it. It’s also cheaper per year than the daycare we have him in now. I hate being a mom who can’t stay at home, I absolutely hate it. Since there’s no other option but to work, I want what’s best for my son. Public school terrifies me. Both my husband and I are products of public school. If I could send my son to either of our old schools, I would, but we aren’t in either area. The schools here aren’t really known for their good grades, so that really scares me. Thank you for this post, it came at a great time to help me realize I don’t have to settle or make up my mind just yet =)

  68. YES! I have done private, public, homeschool and now charter Waldorf school (for my 2 youngest) Each year seems to be a time to reflect on what is the best choice for this year. Even last year, I had it ALL figured out and then I found out about the charter school and things changed right as school was starting!

    http://enjoybirth.com/blog/2010/09/24/our-beginning-journey-to-waldorf/

  69. Sometimes I think you’re reading my mind! I just had a long conversation with my husband last night about this very thing. Last year my oldest daughter attended half-day kindergarten at a private Christian school. She had an outstanding experience. However, we have long felt called to public school and have felt much peace about enrolling our daughter there this year. I ended the week feeling so discouraged after two different friends who know that God has called our family to public school made offhand comments that made it sound like it was a fallback or last resort decision. I want to get up on my soapbox and yell “I love Jesus too…and it just so happens that He has led our family to a different conclusion than He has yours!” Thanks for your wise and insightful post. :)

  70. My oldest son has aspergers. Though a public school teacher myself, I know that not all public school classrooms are what I’d want them to be. My son’s kindergarten experience in a public school was AWFUL. However, because of his disability we decided to keep him in public school at a different school that had teachers trained to work with him. MUCH better experience. It’s been up and down the last 5 years! Last year he and I spent the first semester of school in another city away from the rest of our family so he could undergo some extensive therapy and I home schooled him. We were both excited to undertake this option, however, it was a nightmare. He is not a child that can be homeschooled unless there is no TV in the house or legos. Now my younger son. Totally different story. He loves “mama” school which we do in the summer, however back to public school he’ll go this fall. He loves being in school. Back to my older son, the options are still out there. Private school locally is out as they have no way to meet his needs. Boarding school? I’ve been trying to find something–if anyone out there knows of something that meets the needs of kids with aspergers, I’d love to know about it!

  71. My DS is 2 1/2 and will be starting private Montessori pre-school next month. Costs will be difficult, but considering the price of a homeschool curriculum (as well as time and lack of interaction with others at an important time) I think we’ll stick with that plan. But we are serious about homeschooling for K until ??? I would love to see more posts on the topic – such as, how did you find your curriculum? How did you decide on one? What are the difficulties of transferring to public once you’ve don’t homeschooling? Etc!

  72. We have 3 children, my oldest starts 2nd grade, my middle starts Kindergarten and my youngest will have 3 mornings a week of preschool-all are public. We live in a small town and feel the best way for our children to learn to interact with others is in public school. That being said, I have done some homeschooling of various things on my own-my oldest is taking guitar lessons through a homeschool curriculum and also have been teaching a little art, as our school doesn’t have an art program.

    I am finding my children have learned best from others teaching them-with me, they struggle to WANT to pay attention and learn at times. So, right now, public works for my oldest. We will see how my middle one does, but you are all right. You just have to go with what works for your own family and not worry about what others say.

  73. Thank you for this. Over the last year we have prayed and struggled with where to educate our daughter in her first year of school (kindy). We clearly felt the leading of the Lord to put her into public. However, the criticism we’ve faced from homeschooling families has been brutal. From we’re sinning to we’re doing injustice to our child.

    After many months of this, my husband and I finally agreed that what was best for our child was what the Lord was asking us to do. We knew the Holy Spirit was telling us what to do and that was the only voice we had to listen to. We know this is not forever, we know we are taking this year by year and child by child. We feel confident in our decision.

    Concerning the friends, we feel grieved that we support them 100% in their decision to school their children and they do not support us. We see this as a huge break in community and hope that we can all come together to support one another regardless.

    So, thank you for being supportive of all decisions. It speaks loudly.

  74. Tsh what is hilarious about this is I *just* wrote a blog post where in as a gesture of eating crow I photographed myself in a denim jumper!!!

    My oldest did public school for K and 1st grade and now that we are making a 23 hour cross country move with my husband’s job/ministerial calling as an active duty Army Chaplain, we are homeschooling and I for one can’t believe it.

    All stereotypes and preconceived notions aside I’m actually loving it so far. I think I was born to do it :)

  75. Dear Tsh,

    My children are fully-grown and have children of their own, so I can’t speak to the issue at hand, however I hope you won’t mind if I make a brief comment on the note you placed at the end of your blog post, i.e., “*Note: this is a grace-filled place, and I don’t have much room for nonconstructive criticism of others. I’d rather hear the positives of your choices, not your negative opinions of others’ choices. Ad hominem will be deleted.”

    I am so glad you put that there, to remind people of that old adage, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” I love reading about diverse and even controversial issues and current affairs, but I cringe at the negative comments that some people can’t seem to resist making. Love your blog, and I look forward to reading future posts.

    NNTR

  76. Hey. I first of all want to say that I love reading your blog. I find a lot of helpful info here. I just have a question that I wonder if anyone has any thoughts on. In the past couple of days, in all my reading I have several times read about “long denim jumpers” being associated with homeschooling. I personally don’t wear long denim jumpers, but who cares if someone does? Why is this always the “bad” impression that people are scared of becoming as homeschoolers? If we are all so open to learning, why are we so involved in fashion and style? Don’t we realize that we don’t have to let Hollywood or the “American Culture” run our lives? I am not upset with you, Tsh, I just have been puzzling about this so far. I wish that we could all be more open to thinking for ourselves instead of following what the majority of those around us are doing. I think that our goal for our children would be a lifelong desire to learn also, but in more areas than just books. I would like to think that they can apply that to all areas of their lives. I hope that they won’t be pressured into or out of a certain look just because of stereotypes. Sorry for the soapbox. I would just love to hear some thoughts on this.

    • I’m not 100% sure where the jumper idea came from, but I don’t really think it alludes much to fashion specifically, more to just a lifestyle impression in general—the misconception that homeschoolers are behind the times, don’t care how they appear to others, etc. My point is that those who don’t know much personally about homeschooling, or who don’t know a lot of homeschoolers, often default to this idea as what most (or even all) homeschoolers are like.

      You know, sorta like this.

      As a homeschool family, I’m not offended at all—I find it quite hilarious, mostly because that’s so not us.

    • My experience growing up in the south was that the jumper wearing folks were very conservative, deeply religious people who homeschooled because they wanted to limit their children’s exposure to negative/sinful influences.

  77. I was a bit surprised when I read what you wrote…. ” Quite honestly, we held to a certain stereotype of homeschoolers. You know the stereotype, too: large families wearing matching jumpers and not letting their kids play with other children. Inept social skills.”)

    Then you clarified it later in the article. This is not meant as criticism at all so please bear with me. As homeschoolers, we stand tall on giving people room for differing methods of teaching and learning styles. Isn’t that what it’s all about?

    But with the persecution of all types of people going on in our society at this crucial time of history, I think ‘any statement’ that focuses on a group who is peaceful… being negative, is disheartening of homeschoolers themselves as a group.

    Another quote from you, ( “I’ve abandoned any homeschooling stereotype, because I’ve learned it just doesn’t exist. There are too many resources, too many approaches, and too many methods to box a homeschooling family into just one mold. If our family’s culture isn’t wearing denim jumpers, reading only the Bible, and traveling the country for spelling bees, then homeschooling isn’t going to magically turn us into that” )

    For some reason, that brings to mind a ‘type’ of homeschooler and the focus on that ‘type’ to me… sounds degrading of them. I sure don’t want homeschoolers to be presented in that light. To declare ourselves as not stereotyping and yet stereotyping a group that is not something we desire… is indeed stereotyping. Something to think about and again, I say, this is not to be taken as criticism. Just an observation.

    Again, I hope this is taken as “grace filled” as that is the intent. And it is not a “negative opinion of others choices”, as you state at the end of your article… which I appreciate.

    By the way… I am a veteran homeschool mom.

    • My comments you mentioned were all tongue-in-cheek. By that, I mean I purposely stereotyped because I mention specifically in this post that homeschoolers are prone to being stereotyped. I typecasted because it’s all too common, and instead of pretending it doesn’t exist, I wanted to blatantly mention it.

      I stereotyped on purpose, in other words. To prove my point.

  78. My husband and I both were in Christian schools from K-12th and we are pretty much set on Christian education. Our experience was mostly positive. I did struggle in my Christian high school and looked into switching to public, but decided to stick with my Christian high school. We actually started saving for Christian ed. when our oldest was an infant because we know the costs and sacrifices it takes to put all three kids in. It’s worth the money for us. My oldest is starting 1st grade at a small Lutheran school which is quite different from the schools my husband and I grew up in–but still a solid Biblically based education we like.

    I appreciate what you say about “Never say never.” I appreciate homeschooled families (we actually homeschool for preschool only), but I know it is not for me right now and I have strong reservations about it for my family. Yet my heart is open. To public school or charter school as well especially if we move somewhere where Christian education is not available.

  79. Amen! Never say never! . . . and always find what works best for your kids and your family! Just like each of our kids are unique – so are their learning needs, styles, emotional and relational needs, etc.
    With 5 kids (2nd through 11th grade) in 5 different schools this year (4 public and 1 private), we’ve also done University model schooling (like 1/2 homeschooling). We pray each year and ask God where our kids are to be. Do we get it “right” each year? Maybe not . . . but we try. And the great thing is . . . God can redeem ANYTHING – any area we mess up in . . . including educating our kids.
    We live in a high homeschooling area . . and I am one of the few moms amongst my friends that has kids in public school (unlike Kate’s experience above – I’ve been the “odd one out” because my kids are in public school). With 5 kids in 5 schools – I almost want to agree with my homeschool mom friends when they say “it’s easier to homeschool”! I bet it is! I keep telling them that I LOVE the idea of homeschooling – but I just can’t convince anyone to homeschool my kids for me! :) (I’m teasing!)

    For now – our kids are where God has each of them (and me) – and I trust that He knows what He is doing! :) Our kids are learning and are called to be light and salt to this earth . . . and they are doing a great job so far! :) I’m proud of them!

    Thanks for the great post Tsh! :)
    Blessings!

  80. I taught my daughter last school year through an online charter school, a sort of a cross between homeschooling and attending a charter school. We had a teacher we could call if we needed help, they provided all the books and a computer, and once a week there was an optional class to attend in person, plus supplemental, teacher lead classes available online. It was wonderful.

    We signed up for it because the previous school year in public school had been miserable. New school combined with a teacher who couldn’t cope with my daughter’s exuberant personality, and a school too focused on state test scores to bother with little things like science and social studies at her grade level.

    It didn’t surprise me at all to get a notice during the year that she was at home that the public school was closing due to poor performance. This year it’s a charter school through International Baccalaureate, so we’re giving that a try. Still run by the district, and I’m quite antsy about their poor communication, but we’re giving it a try to see how things go.

  81. Love it! I was one who, many years ago said my kids would “NEVER” go to a public school…and after various private schools and a year of homeschooling, here they are..in a great public school and we are all thriving. I can’t say it was a decision made without some trepidation and even a bit of a loss of that self-identity I’d wrapped up in our other choices, especially since we DO have one of those large, fairly crunchy families that apparently is “supposed” to homeschool…but we are all doing very well. I’d change it up in a heartbeat if it wasn’t working, but it is.

    I wrote about this very topic a couple of days ago in a post called “School Choices and the Ideal Mother”: http://thehappiestmom.com/?p=4157

    • “…and even a bit of a loss of that self-identity I’d wrapped up in our other choices, especially since we DO have one of those large, fairly crunchy families that apparently is “supposed” to homeschool…”

      Love this, Meagan. And I know exactly what you mean, a loss of identity. I felt that way at first when we did private school last year. Who, us? Private school? No way.

  82. As you are thoughtful and reflective on your choices, one important point to consider is sticking with a decision on a format for schooling for a period of time. Kids change. Circumstances change. Moving in and out of formats / systems is a challenge for many children to navigate. As a veteran teacher and administrator, I have seen many children who come from home schooling to the public setting or private setting to public who often have major changes to contend with in terms of stamina, structure, and academic expectations. I love how you said the one right way is whatever works for your family. That is the bottom line.

  83. Oh what memories! Our girls were in private school until we just couldn’t afford it any longer (after K and 2nd). We didn’t want to do public b/c of so many things we knew of happening there in our university city (plus seeing such negative socialization there). So we, too, started homeschooling “one year at a time.” That was 15 years ago! We now have graduated two from home education with the last a senior this year! Some days the yellow bus seemed tempting… but I’m so glad we didn’t give up when the going was challenging! What a wonderful journey it has been and I don’t regret a single second. The girls have flourished academically, still love to learn, and our family has been close. Plus they have a ton of friends, yet have side-stepped the negative peer pressure. I admit I did wear denim jumpers a year or two, but that was purely b/c they were so comfortable – didn’t nearly everyone at one point? I don’t wear them now and don’t know of any homeschool moms who do…must be a stereotype that has hung around way past its time – lol! Hope all of you young moms who are choosing homeschooling are blessed by it as our family has been.

    BTW, I visited this blog because I just finished your book – wonderful! Thank you for writing it!

  84. Oh what memories! Our girls were in private school until we just couldn’t afford it any longer (after K and 2nd). We didn’t want to do public b/c of so many things we knew of happening there – perhaps b/c we live in a university city (plus seeing such negative socialization there). So we, too, started homeschooling “one year at a time.” That was 15 years ago! We now have graduated two from home education with the last a senior this year! Some days the yellow bus seemed tempting… but I’m so glad we didn’t give up when the going was challenging! What a wonderful journey it has been and I don’t regret a single second. The girls have flourished academically, still love to learn, and our family has been close. Plus they have a ton of friends, yet have side-stepped the negative peer pressure. I admit I did wear denim jumpers a year or two, but that was purely b/c they were so comfortable – didn’t nearly everyone at one point? I don’t wear them now and don’t know of any homeschool moms who do…must be a stereotype that has hung around way past its time – lol! Hope all of you young moms who are choosing homeschooling are blessed by it as our family has been.

    BTW, I visited this blog because I just finished your book – wonderful! Thank you for writing it!

  85. Thanks for another great post. Our family has done it all: International school, public school, private Christian school, public Catholic school (thanks to Canada), and now a mix of public and homeschool. Each place we have lived has brought its own unique circumstances, our four children have very different needs, and we’ve had a variety of financial circumstances. I think people should pray for wisdom, seek wise counsel from others they trust, and trust their instincts. And try something new the next year if need be. Those of us who live in the US should feel immensely thankful that at least we have options!

    • Yes, most definitely. I know there are many countries where homeschooling is illegal, so thanks for that reminder to be grateful.

  86. You know – 10- years ago I was right there with you – thinking those people that homeschooled were some part of weird religous group who thought the rest of us were unfit… In the past 10 years many things have changed… I graduated college with a degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education. I got married and have since had 3 children. I just began my 9th year of teaching last week and as I teach everyone else children I with I had the energy to go home after the day and do what I do with every one else children and do it with my own children. But truth be told I”m done at the end of the day – I don’t want to teach anymore and my children are getting the short end of me. I hate that most of the days I give my all to other peoples children and can’t give it to my own. I wish I could instill in them what I hope I’m instilling in those darlings that enter my classroom door everyday.
    But on the flip side of that coin – I know that there are many out there that freely hand over their children to me each and every day to teach them the most precious things in life. So therefor I continue to teach because I know that even though I feel my children are getting a much shorter end of me – its still more than a lot of the children I teach get from their parents at home. So I just hope and pray that my childrens teachers take their teaching jobs to heart and give my children the patience and virtues and academics that I’m attempting to give my own students in my classroom. Its takes a whole village to raise a child right?! So I’m trying to help the village even though I wish I could just help my own… but I do think seeing the diversity in my classroom everyday keeps me grounded and thankful for my own wonderful children at home…

  87. This is so true! Even the boarding school bit! One of my best friends chose and convinced her parents to send her to a boarding school for the arts for her last two years of high school. She loved it! I convinced my parents to let me leave home and be an exchange student for a year — my sophomore year. It was one of the defining experiences of my life. There are so many opportunities out there.

  88. Seek God’s direction; lay it before Him, then obey joyfully! We homeschooled through high school though the original ‘goal’ was just to age 8 or ten. God had other plans and I would not trade my 20 year investment–to God be the glory!
    in one year: child #1 MBA from Liberty Univ
    child #2 registered dental hygiensist and may apply to dental school
    child #3 high school at home
    Again, to God be the glory–seek Him and He will show you what school choice is best for you for right now.

    P.S. Haven’t worn a jumper since they were in style in the 80′s ;)

  89. This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. I have no current plans to send my kids to school but this is part of why I insist that we make an effort to keep our kids at grade level and feel pressure. What if we do have to put them in a public or private school one day? What if something happens and we just can’t homeschool any more?

  90. Our oldest went to public school for 2 years, and now we’re entering our 19th year as homeschoolers. This will be our 3rd year of Classical Conversations, which has saved me from a bad case of burn-out and help us accomplish so much considering the age spread of the kids we’re educating.

  91. This is a great post. We’ve also spent alot of time talking about what kind of schooling we want for our family. Our oldest is 4, so there’s still time to figure it out! My husband and I have very different schooling experiences. I went to public school and hated it, my husband went to a public kindergarten (which he loved) then private school and hated it. When he was 14 he went to boarding school in his home country, as his parents lived in Africa, which he absolutely loved, and he still has close friends from the three years he went there. Our different experiences have helped us avoid saying, “We’ll never…”. Right now we live in Denmark, where formal education starts at 6 years old. We do some preschool activities at home, and planned to send our son to the local public school when he’s 6. However, we have recently decided to move our family to a remote location in Africa in 18 months time, so I guess we’ll end up homeschooling! Either way, we’re not afraid of evaluating and changing along the way. Thanks for your encouraging post and good luck with homeschooling this year!

  92. I’m sending my oldest off to public school (in a couple of weeks) with great trepidation. I, actually, really wanted to homeschool my kids. But after much prayer, meditation, and research we feel it is best for her and our family that she attend kindergarten at public school right now. Most of the time I forget that we can change course at any point, and I feel like I am sending her off into the world and will never see her again. (A bit dramatic, I know. But I do feel that way! :)) I’m sad, nervous, and excited about how this big jump will change her and us as a family.

    And, boarding school, is so much different in the Northeast. I grew up out west and thought boarding school was only for bad kids who needed discipline. But I have friends here in NYC who grew up knowing they would leave home for high school and live at school. And they all loved it! They didn’t go because they were bad, but because that’s what people out here do.

  93. avatar
    Shannon Moorman says:

    I needed this post. My daughters attend a public Catholic school (we are Missionary Alliance), but in a school out of our zone so I have to drive them to and from school every day. We don’t live in a very good neighbourhood and after touring the two schools in our area, I decided to keep them in their current school. My oldest is starting grade 3, and my youngest is starting all day SK, after finishing all day JK last year. My youngest ASKS me to homeschool her, and she is only 5. But I attend university full time (I’m going into my second year of an honours bach of education Aboriginal), my husband works full time afternoon shifts, and I have two step daughters that we have every weekend. We can’t afford daycare because I have no income and he pays a lot of child support. So I feel helpless when it comes to our schooling options.

  94. i don’t even have children yet, but the idea of not having a ‘default’ really impacted me; it can apply to so many areas of life! thank you for this!

  95. avatar
    Sarah in GA says:

    I am a product of boarding school (MKs in Africa 30 years ago didn’t really have much other choice, but I LOVED it), private Christian school, home tutored, public school in western Europe.
    I had always thought I would “never” homeschool. But when my oldest was Pre-K age I just didn’t think he was ready to be gone all day, which is what Pre-K is in our State. We also couldn’t really afford private school rates. We sought lots of advice and met lots of really neat families who home schooled their kids and I started thinking that I did want to try schooling at home. He is now 6 and we are doing our second official year of home school – 1st grade. We really enjoy it and for right now it works for our family. We evaluate our decisions every year, taking lots of different factors into consideration.
    My husband is a middle school teacher in public school so we get a lot of negative comments about choosing to home school.
    I think it is important for every family to define its purpose or mission, and then make decisions (like schooling) based on how they help the family accomplish its mission.

  96. First time visitor to this site as I followed a link to this article. Wow, the perspective in this article is profound, thank you so much for taking the time to write and share this. Gotta go, I need to peruse this website, it looks like a new favorite for me! ;)

    A New Fan,
    Julia

  97. We have an awful school system here and my husband and I are products of that. College was more difficult because we didn’t have basic skills of learning, things going back as far as 3rd grade including basic studying skills. We have our son in a private preschool & daughter in their entry program preparing for preschool next year. It is costly but until they are out of kindergarten it is what we chose. I think about homeschool everyday mainly beause after kindergarten I am not sure there is a school I trust which wouldn’t cost more than we could possibly afford. Our Catholic school system is not even as good as they were when I was growing up. In High School I actually had a class where if you sat there and wrote notes to your friends for an hour and didn’t make a sound you got an A. I want my kids to learn, not be subjected to lazy unmotivated teachers. This is all so frustrating…I am so stressed over it and my kids are 2 & 4 haha.

  98. Our oldest child turns 3 next month, but my husband and I have been talking about this a lot since she was a few months old. I’m reluctant to homeschool, especially with a baby/toddler underfoot, and also because my husband and I both LOVED school as kids and were bumped up to higher grades (I started early, he skipped a grade). I am trying to remain open to the possibility that public school may not the best choice. We are planning to do some sort of formal out-of-house preschool for next year (age 4), and then we’ll see where it goes from there!

  99. Good Luck w/ homeschooling this year! I’m sure God has many blessings in store for you in this adventure!

  100. Thanks Tsh for this post – a great encouragement to me today & also a great approach to parenting in general!! Leaving expectations (our own & others) & all of the ‘shoulds’ behind is a great place to start living a simpler life. Thanks again.

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