Saturday, September 15, 2018

HMJ: A Homeschool Mom's Fears Come True

Brooke is a Junior in high school now.  Her 18 year old brother has been her best friend since forever, they've done life together since the day she was born.  He always looked out for her and she was always secure in his companionship.  But big brother is graduated now and this is her first year, ever, having to do school, and much of life, on-her-own.  

It's been an adjustment.

She doesn't like being alone.

After picking her up from a friend's soccer game on Saturday and learning she was given a tour of their small private school afterwards, I couldn't help but ask if it made her want to attend instead of homeschooling.  I expected her to say yes, and she did, but what actually threw me was what followed the "yes".  

Every Friday since we started school we have some version of  a break-down.  A resistance beyond the normal "I don't feel like it" seems to cast a dark cloud over our day, and where we have had fun and striving all week long, it just suddenly falls apart.  Sitting in the car, driving back from the soccer game, she offered up her reason: she wants to go to school with her friends.

It hurt.

It cut deep.

The natural thought process was that she was choosing friends over awesome mom!  My heart sobbed but my words stayed inside.  I appreciated her honesty and I didn't want to do anything which might cause her to be afraid to open up in the future.  After some thought, I suggested the perks to homeschooling over public (or private) schooling.  She wasn't buying it. So I reserved the rest and let the weekend simply go on.

I guess another component feeding my initial struggle was knowing how tough of an adjustment it had been to go from homeschooling multiples to teaching just one.  I reconciled the transition by realizing how Brooke and I were kindred spirits and we would have a grand time with her last two years, one-on-one.  Praying over the heart-ache of Saturday I wondered if I was holding on when I should let go.  I even went so far as to look up tuition at her friends' school.  But as my thoughts swirled I felt that gentle tug of the Spirit and God's sweet voice reminding me, "I have called you to homeschool".  

It was a three day weekend, we took Monday off for hubby's birthday. I had a lot of time to pray and think while God's words eased my soul.  As my thoughts began to collect and conclude I decided to do a search, "What do I do when my homeschooler says she wants to go to public school"!  No joke!  I think I wanted the reassurance that I wasn't physically alone (I know I'm never spiritually alone!).I was also searching for confirmation in the feelings and conclusions I was coming to.  The results were a nod to my heart and I felt virtually 'cheered on' to go forward.
I stopped worrying whether or not I was getting it right and instead, I started TRUSTING.

As I Trusted, I could begin to problem solve. First of all, I was determined to communicate that homeschooling was a non-negotiable. I could make sure she knew that in a gentle, non-argumentative way... a way which wouldn't spur rebellion, rather, that would stir appreciation for our steadfastness.  I also knew I wanted her to have an active roll in our decision to follow through on God's call to homeschool.  I could set parameters and bring her in to move the details around within.

I prayed as I prepared... prayed God would ready our hearts for a good discussion.

Application time: Tuesday morning we ditched a few of our subjects and instead invested that time in a "class meeting".  I gently explained how we needed to talk about our car drive conversation but that first, we needed to open in prayer.  We bowed our heads and asked God to help us really listen to each other and guide us to good solutions.  After "Amen", I thanked her for her honesty on Saturday.  I confessed it was hard to digest and how I wanted her to know I was NOT mad at her.  I went on to explain how homeschooling was what God had called us to do and I felt I would be going against His call for us if I was to put her in regular school.  But that I wanted to HEAR her and help her to still be able to love homeschooling.

With the introduction out of the way, I proceeded to explain how we were going to make a pros and cons list.  I clarified how it would not change our directive to homeschool but that my hope was to use the list as a tool to help us resolve her longings. I placed a piece of paper between us and we started by dividing it into two categories : "Regular School" vs. Homeschool.  Then we subdivided each of those into Pros and Cons. 

With these parameters in place I asked, "Why do you want to go to regular school?".  Her reply was as expected: friends.  She doesn't like being alone and she felt her schooling experience would be enlivened by other bodies to share it with.  She also couldn't help but be curious about their school days life.  From this angle we began to fill in the various empty columns.  We openly discussed how many of the regular school pros could be fulfilled by a little bit of elbow grease in homeschool.  The more we talked and the longer our list grew, the more her confidence in homeschooling grew as well.  

By the end of our discussion we had fleshed out the most important things to her in schooling and all weighed heavily in favor of Homeschooling.  She did NOT want to get up early, or do 5-day school weeks, or be gone all day and then busy all evening with homework causing her to miss family time.  She wanted time with friends, but not at the sacrifice of all the best parts of homeschooling for her.  From here, we moved forward.

We began to talk about how she could enjoy friends AND homeschooling at the same time.  We couldn't fix having a cafeteria lunch with them, seeing them in the hall between classes, or sharing a classroom.  But here is what we could do:

  • Remember the perks of homeschooling.  Classes are done sooner, sleeping in till 7 is nice and our 4 day school weeks are valued... among many other things (notice all the pictures with her cat?  She admitted she loves doing school with him, "You can't do school with your cat in public school"!)
  • Get more involved with our local homeschool association.  Coops are a good solution as well, but we didn't feel it would be a good fit for us.  We are actively pursuing starting a high school kids hang out for homeschoolers where they can all get together a few times a month and do cool, memorable and engaging activities.
  • Get involved in extracurricular activities. To fulfill the void of "clubs" which regular school offers, she has decided to get involved with some others around here.  She picked 4H because she can work with her bunny and she is hoping to also do the Archery segment (and/or photography).  She is also talking about doing Volleyball next fall through our homeschool association.
  • We are going to become yearbook editors!  To address her longing to have and be a part of a yearbook, we are going to continue photo documenting everything.  Our association has a yearbook but I believe it is mostly for sports.  I will be checking into this and either seeing if I can join forces with the existing group or we will make our own.
  • Start a study group.  Of all the points we brainstormed, I think her favorite is study hang-outs!  She talked to her two closest friends about getting together regularly to do homework and hang out together.  I suspect she will simply save her school work from those days so she can do it all in the evenings as they all sit and work together.

Arts and Crafts "club" this week with the help of Michael's!

I am excited for her and proud of her accepting the terms and working maturely with me for results.  Until she is licensed to drive, I know it will be a lot for Taxi Mom, but I am happy to keep hopping... these days are fleeting and I don't want to miss them... I want her to be able to look back on high school with memories as fond (or more so!) as her public/private school peers.

Have your kids ever asked, at any age, to go to public school?  How did you manage it?  Here is what I figured out:

#1 - Don't take it personal.  It isn't you... not in the least.
#2 - Take a deep breath and walk away if you don't think you can manage the situation without blowing your lid!  You can say nothing at the moment or a simple, calm, "I'm sorry you feel that way."
#3 - Pray God will give you wisdom and words.

#4 - When you are collected for a calm conversation, ask, "Why do you want to go to public/private school?" 
#5 -As they talk, really listen, hear what they are saying and all the words in between.
#6 -  Respond constructively.  Pray together that God would guide your discussion and bring to mind and heart some good solutions.  
#7 - Make a pros and cons list where you BOTH are honest about what goes on the list. 
#8 - Be willing to admit that some gaps can not be filled.  You can also point out that neither scenario provides a perfect solution but homeschooling is simply the solution best for your family.
#9 -Look for realistic options to fill the missing pieces and follow through on them.
 #10 -Thank your child for their openness and honesty and encourage them to continue coming to you.  Empathize.

Be sure to pray throughout the conversation as well... especially if you find your patience tested.  I know some kiddos are more challenging than others... let God be your strength and guide; beginning, middle and end.

One other thing we found helpful was re-assessing our schedule.  Brooke's THREE maths were pretty cool, but also pretty overwhelming.  She dropped Pre-Calculus, at least till Consumer Math is done (and possibly till next year).  We also switched French to twice a week instead of all week and adjusted our order of work to provide better flow.  One of the many perks of homeschooling is the ability to switch things up when they just-aren't-working or meeting your needs.

The results?  When Friday came, she was a bit off first thing in the morning.  But she quickly recovered and we had a fabulous day!  Looking forward to the Christian Youth in Action banquet probably helped too:
...she helped demonstrate their work from the summer outreach.  But in all honesty, it wasn't the banquet itself she looked forward to, it was her friends whom I picked up so they could join us for the event!

Homeschooling isn't always a cake walk.  I want to say it is easy and a joy every single day.  But like all of life, it has it's good days and it's bad.  We have our wanting to give up days and having to push through days... but we also have those wonderful, drifting towards perfect days.  There are those days where you look up and see your budding student working hard, 'getting it', striving for it and growing through it moments... and you swell with holy pride because you were part of making THAT happen...and right then, every single trying moment is worth it for that one moment when the light bulb turns ON.

I pray you find strength and peace for the homeschooling days, both easy and hard, to persevere, stand your ground, give grace and find hope.


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  1. It's my first year homeschooling only one, too. I have 4 homeschool graduates (my 18 yo just graduated). I'm glad you worked through that with your daughter. Thank you for sharing.

    1. The good Lord guided us to some great solutions! Thank you for stopping by!