This is the Post I Never Thought I’d Write: Entering Public School after Homeschooling

One evening, I was staring at my computer screen as I was typing in many different variations of a search on Google. I was desperate to find others in the same situation as me…

Why?

Because I was a quitter.

We had made the decision I never thought we’d make. Our kids were going to public school…

I know what you’re thinking. “What’s the big deal?”

Well, for me the big deal was that my upbringing was heavily sprinkled with an emphasis on homeschooling being the “best” option, and I took away from that a very rigid world view which I’ve carried up until recently. Though in reality, it’s been slowly softening over the last decade-plus of marriage.

I’m a planner and a researcher. When it comes to life issues, I like to hear from others to know I’m not the only one experiencing it this way.

Back to me staring at my computer screen…

I searched and searched for blog posts about “sending kids to public school after homeschooling”. I found only a handful. It was very disappointing. I’ve read tons of books, blog posts and articles about all things homeschooling and leaving the public schools. Why aren’t there more articles about the opposite? Surely there are more people than the 4 or 5 writing the blog posts choosing to “quit” homeschooling for whatever reasons and enrolling their kids in public or private schools?

Then the thought hit me, “Well why don’t YOU write one?”

“HA!” I thought. “I have nothing to say that anyone would want to hear… I’m not that great of a writer… It’s too personal… People will judge.”  

My brain (let’s just say it was the Holy Spirit) responded, “Maybe so… but if there’s a need, SOMEONE has to do it. Why not you??”

So, this is me, writing the blog post I wish someone else would’ve written. Maybe this will be an encouragement to anyone considering putting their kids in public school that it’s going to be okay. It’s not the end of the world. You’re not a failure. Your identity as a human being is not attached to being a homeschooling/stay-at-home mom (like it was for me).

To those that disagree or feel that I’ve “lost the faith”, I hope that you’ll have grace and compassion for a fellow sister in Christ. We all have the freedom to make the choices we feel are best for our families.

As I’ve been pondering what I would say in this post, a lot of words and half-baked thoughts come to mind. I feel like I can’t formulate them into structured sentences and paragraphs.

I’m just being honest here. I love reading and tend to critique things even though I’ve not been formally trained as an editor. There are loads more people who are way more qualified than I to write this type of post. So that’s my disclaimer on the quality of this blog post. Don’t judge, ha!

A little background on me: I was raised in the Midwest in a Conservative Christian home. I was homeschooled most of my childhood except for 1.5 years at a private Christian school for Kindergarten and 1st grade. I always wanted to be a stay at home mom and homeschool my own children. I married an awesome guy who was public schooled his entire life. He’d only met one homeschooler (and that person was very weird) until he met me… and learned there are tons more “normal” homeschoolers than weird ones.

We agreed that we would homeschool our kids, but hubby was always adamant that we would stop homeschooling if it ever became too much for me emotionally. He has always been the more practical of the two of us when it comes to ideals vs. reality. He said it wasn’t worth my sanity or for our kids to grow up and hate their mother. He just wanted a happy wife, happy kids, and a loving, godly family.

Fast-forward 11 years to mid-September 2018. We had three kids ages 9, 8, and 6. I had been homeschooling basically five years, except for the one year we sent the oldest to kindergarten at our local rural public school. Although, I was still technically homeschooling then because I was doing preschool with the second child.

We were about a month into the school year and we (okay, it was really hubby) realized I needed to go to work to help ease the financial burden off my husband due to his recently developed health struggles, stress levels, ongoing medical bills for several of us, overall finances, and my sanity. The decision had been coming on gradually. We’d discussed my working full or part time many times, but I usually ended up blowing it off out of fear and anger. I was “supposed” to be a stay at home mom. We were “supposed” to homeschool. “That’s what good Christian people do!” or so I thought anyway…

After much prayer, tears, and bad attitude from me towards my husband over the weekend (hey, just keeping it real), off I went on a Monday to enroll the kids in the small, rural K-12 school of about 250 students. Surprisingly, I felt calm. I think having been there already for my eldest’s kindergarten year made it less daunting and I was already softened to the reality that public school is not “evil”.

It was surreal. I had all three kids in tow. I was wearing business attire because afterwards I was going to drop off my resume and an application for a job I was applying for. Secretly I was also hoping it would help the school take me more seriously…
We met with the counselor, who was super sweet. All my fears and embarrassment about being “THAT family” who quit homeschooling were put to rest after speaking with her. I asked about concerns I had with social and moral issues…you know, the typical stereotypes that us homeschoolers put on public schools (partly because it IS a reality in schools, partly out of fear).
The kids didn’t have to be tested. They chatted freely with her and were very excited about going to “real” school and riding the bus. I left feeling very confident that we had made the right decision.

The kids transitioned into the routine at school very well. That’s not to say it wasn’t hard at times, and when the novelty wore off, one or two were known to wish they could homeschool again. Mind you when we were homeschooling, one or two wished adamantly a few times they could go to a “real” school. But really, they just didn’t want to do the schoolwork and thought it was all fun and games at public school.

I was so proud of both my kids and I when we got their first report cards. All A’s, a few B’s and a C. The 4th grader’s teacher called me to tell me that his C grade was not reflective of how he actually was doing, it was because we came in part way through the semester and he hadn’t learned all the material that he was being tested on, plus he was learning his way around the computer they used for testing. He did get to have extra help from the math tutor to get him up to speed with the math they use (it’s not Common Core, but it is a little different than what we were using at home). Sure enough, by the next report card he was making all A’s.

Even though we “shouldn’t” be 100% focused on academic achievement, as the homeschool teacher it sure felt good to know that I didn’t do too badly.

Overall, it wasn’t a terrible experience. I’ve come to realize over the years, even while homeschooling, that the option a parent chooses to educate their child is not what causes that child to follow God when they grow up. I have seen way too many homeschoolers grow up and completely turn away from God, and I’ve seen public schoolers grow up and become the most devoted Christians.
My personal opinion is it’s a mixture of things, including the parents’ character and involvement in the child’s life, their marriage relationship that’s modeled, the CHILD’S personality and temperament, friends, relatives, cultural influences, etc. But ultimately, it’s the child’s choice when they grow up.

We’re now two months into the second year at public school. They finished out that first year with good grades. It’s for sure been challenging figuring out how to balance working full time with mandatory overtime thrown in and being a mom and wife. (I don’t know HOW y’all do it!!!)

I’m slowly learning tips and life hacks on managing the lunches, laundry, dishes, mowing, cooking, cleaning, the list is endless. Hubby of course pitches in with some of the tasks that used to be mine. Meanwhile the kids are growing in maturity and able to take on more responsibilities while I’m learning to let go and not sweat the small stuff… like, say, a clean kitchen floor- or living room floor, for that matter! (Backpack dumping grounds, anyone?)

In conclusion, we all are doing the best we can to get through life with our values intact and, depending on your beliefs, closer to God. I just hope to be encouraging to others in my story. If one person can be uplifted and encouraged by my struggles and journey, then I consider it worth sharing.

Choose joy,

Simcha

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