BY: JULIE TERRY
Being the philosophical thinker that I am, I have dreamed of homeschooling my children…since before having children! Even before I was married, I would contemplate the eternal impact of a LOT of my time being invested in a few kids (my own), or a little of my time being invested in a LOT of different kids (my school students). Of course, I saw value in both, but I felt that God was leading me to teach whatever children I may have, at home. Once marriage happened and babies were born, my husband and I were in full agreement that homeschooling was the best option for our family. It fit our circumstances in ministry very well, we loved the freedom it offered, and chiefly, we wanted to help our children build a biblical worldview, and to protect them from unnecessary negative influences.
For the past 11 years, our family has been a “homeschooling family.” We’ve used a variety of methods- from seasons of many outside activities and classes to seasons of quiet, routine life and an occasional field trip. We homeschooled in 2 different states and 3 different homes, and really didn’t consider other methods a serious “option.”
Due to many circumstances, observations, and much prayer (and a move to a 3rd state), our family felt led to put our teenagers in public high school, for at least a school year, and probably for the remainder of their high school years. (We also put our youngest in a private Christian school at our own church, and she is doing great! But for this post, I’m focusing on our teens).
As we were contemplating the change to public high school, I scoured the internet for others who had gone through this transition, and was very encouraged by the few I found who shared their experience!
It is my desire to challenge parents to look at their situation with honesty, and do what is in the best interest of their child- even if it they have to let some of their own dreams die. For me, it meant letting go of being able to tell my grandchildren that I homeschooled their parents “all the way through!” For someone else, it may mean letting go of helping your daughter get all dressed up for proms and pageants…because you see that homeschooling is the best option for her. You may find yourself overjoyed at how your children blossom as a result of your willingness to make a change.
So far, we are glad we made the change to public high school for 3 reasons:
1- Our relationship has been more peaceful and pleasant.
For our family, the outer accountability that school and team sports has provided has taken me out of the equation for being accountable for simple things like getting out of bed, being on time, preparing lunch, and having clean clothes.
At home, I was the one who decided whether their tardiness was consequence worthy. I was often the “bad guy” if I held them accountable because they would have really good excuses- often referring to other chores around the house they were busy doing. It created a lot of confusion and conflict in everyday life and hindered our ability to have meaningful conversations…a key family value in our home.
Now, they have to go through an “act of Congress” if they are tardy, just to be allowed into class, and know that larger consequences are looming if they are tardy too often. They haven’t had any tardies! They can’t stay in their p.j.’s if they are out of clean clothes…they do not argue with me about getting up in the morning…they must keep up with their own homework responsibilities (rather than myself, who was constantly in limbo about whether to remind them at night, let them fail, or let them put it off a day)…and best of all, we are back to having meaningful conversations!
2- Our Teens’ Educational Goals are Being Better Reached
As parents, my husband and I desire to send out wise, courageous, and skilled adults that will impact eternity for God’s glory, as well as add value to their homes and community. The avenue of service they choose isn’t so important as their strength of character and use of their potential. We want them to be prepared to face adult life head-on, with joy, confidence, and ability.
When it comes to skills and reaching potential, public school does allow our kids to see a greater variety of career opportunities than we were able to keep in front of them at home. They are able to be a part of clubs, sports, special interest classes, and “groups” of friends that organically form, that had to include Mom or Dad driving them across town in the homeschool community, and often meant they just did 1 extracurricular at a time. By high school, they are ready for more, and in that way, public school has been a blessing.
Finally, the opportunities for college preparatory classes and tests, free dual enrollment classes (in our state), and just help for parents to know when deadlines are, is pretty great. With two students only one grade apart, keeping everything straight without was becoming a huge challenge, and we appreciate the community of helpers.
These opportunities and classes do ABOUND in many homeschooling communities as well! The difference is, it is the parents’ responsibility to seek out what is needed next, which year/semester is which test or class, registering ahead of time online, deciding whether each class is worth the cost, etc., so organization, planning, and budgeting are a must!
3- Our kids are getting a chance to apply the Biblical principles they have been taught.
When it comes to the morals at a public school, let me be clear: It is worse than “they” say it is. So far, my teens have heard foul language, references to drugs, sex, homosexuality, gender confusion, condoms, eating disorders, cheating, divorce, and heartbreak.
But there really is a silver lining…
We’ve already discussed many of these issues at home! Our kids have read their Bibles regularly since they could read. They have been a part of great churches and kids/youth church programs. So, our teens have each developed a strong moral compass, a sensitive conscience, and a great deal of discernment.
Since they are still living under our roof, we get to be the safety net for them to come home to! Our kids are coming to us for reminders of a Biblical worldview after being taught from a secular perspective and sitting around many peers who are making unwise choices. We are grateful for this season for them to process with us before they are sent out to college/independent living and would have to face these things alone. We believe this will strengthen their resolve as they enter college and adulthood, and the arguments against truth will be even more compelling.
What has always been hypothetical is now a stark reality. Just as the church always grows under intense persecution, we have seen our teens grow spiritually in an environment where they have very little encouragement to walk with Christ. They see firsthand the hurt that sin brings. They see lack of hope in eyes. They see value in nurturing Christian friendships! They see how transforming the gospel of Jesus really is. They are using opportunities they are given to share the truth, to reach out, to be influencers. And that brings us, as parents, great joy!