I quit homeschooling our kids a little over a year ago and I’m so glad I did!
Before I say anything else, I need to tell you that I think homeschooling is wonderful. I know some amazing people who homeschool their children and I think they are incredible. I admire them, especially because I’ve done it too and I know just how much effort and dedication goes into teaching children. So please hear me when I say that I have nothing against homeschooling.
It’s just that homeschooling is not for everyone, a lesson I learned the hard way.
Let me back up.
I was homeschooled myself from through 12th grade and graduated through an accredited correspondence school with a high school diploma. My mom was a saint for teaching me and my siblings all those years. She did an incredible job – we had an amazing education – and I will forever be grateful.
I always just assumed that I’d homeschool my own kids. When Nathan approached kindergarten, I reluctantly began homeschooling him. We worked well together and he learned and thrived.
Here’s the thing: I didn’t homeschool Nathan because I felt like it was the best decision for him. I did it because I felt like I had to.
It wasn’t pressure from my husband; Nate was very supportive. It was pressure I put on myself.
I was raised to believe that public schools were scary places where kids were indoctrinated with “bad” stuff and dumbed down with poor academics.
(I do not think that anymore.)
I didn’t outright believe all that when Nathan was little, but I didn’t think I could send my children there.
I thought it would make me a bad mom if I didn’t homeschool.
Not only that, I put so much pressure on myself to be a perfect teacher that I eventually began to crack.
I began to hate homeschooling. I dreaded ordering books each year and I cried when a new school year began.
It didn’t help that I had virtually no support network. I couldn’t find anyone in our church who homeschooled and the nearest homeschool co-op was 45 minutes away that also required parents to volunteer and teach. That wasn’t going to happen when I was already exhausted and overwhelmed.
Homeschooling was suffocating me slowly. Each year, it was harder and harder.
I felt trapped.
It wasn’t until Nathan was in 3rd grade and I had 3 other small children at home, that I finally woke up and realized I was doing it to myself.
I prayed. I talked with Nate and together, we decided it was time to put Nathan in public school when he entered fourth grade.
It was hard. I cried. I felt so guilty that I might not give Nathan the best education possible by sending him to public school. I felt like I was lazy. That I was putting myself first before my child.
But Nate reminded me that I had to take care of myself before I could take care of my family. At the same time all this was happening, I was struggling with debilitating periods that resulted in a hysterectomy when I was 29 along with severe exhaustion and low energy levels that I later learned was from thyroid and adrenal issues.
So Nathan started fourth grade in public school. Unfortunately, that didn’t last very long because of Nathan’s increasingly disruptive behavior issues. But it wasn’t all bad; this started us on a journey to find answers and help for Nathan. 15 long months later, Nathan was diagnosed with high functioning autism.
I homeschooled Nathan for the rest of 4th and 5th grade as we sought help for him, but it was never more obvious that homeschooling wasn’t working for our family.
I was beyond exhausted with the many doctor appointments and therapy sessions Nathan needed, in addition to still struggling with my own health problems.
I taught Emily for kindergarten and 1st grade, but we are too much alike and didn’t mesh well as student-teacher.
Thankfully, the Lord was merciful and at the end of 5th grade, we had answers for Nathan. Without even planning it, we ended up selling our old house and moving to a new town with a better school district in the summer of 2014.
Last fall 2014, our kids headed off to public school.
Joshua (who I never homeschooled) thrived in kindergarten with a wonderful teacher and continued speech therapy.
Emily also blossomed and went from a reluctant reader to an advanced level by the end of the school year.
And Nathan? He adjusted and did well, albeit not without incident, but still leaps and bounds beyond our first attempt to get him into school. With an IEP plan, the teachers and staff could help with additional support. I am thrilled that Nathan is now learning social skills he desperately needs as support with his autism, in addition to challenging subjects I would have really struggled to teach him at home.
Me? I can’t describe the relief I felt when we sent the kids off last fall. It was a rush of letting go and letting God take over. Of course, I missed my kids, but I knew in my heart it was the right choice. Sending our kids to public school enabled me to better focus on caring for my own health. I’m finally on the path to living healthy and well. And I’m a better mom because I’m not as stressed or exhausted.
I can breathe again.
I’ve learned that public school isn’t scary or “evil.” Our kids’ schools are amazing. The teachers and staff are incredible and our kids are getting excellent educations! Emily is even learning cursive writing and memorizing multiplication facts. I love our schools.
I think homeschooling can be an amazing avenue for many families. I know some homeschooling families now (ironic since I couldn’t find anyone before) and they are active, vibrant, social families who do an amazing job teaching their kids.
But if you are a tired, overwhelmed homeschooler who thinks about quitting, you should know that you are not alone.
Quitting homeschooling may or may not be the right choice for your family, but it’s okay to admit that homeschooling is hard. It’s a huge sacrifice of love and it’s okay to admit you want to stop. If you’ve considered or have made the decision to put your kids into public school, you are not a bad mom.
Sometimes the obvious choice (homeschooling) isn’t always the right one.