Note: I had most of this post written several months ago before we had even the faintest clue about the new-job-in-a-brand-new-city-adventure that has plunked itself into our laps. As such, I’ve held off publishing while I gave some serious thought to my deepest motivations for this decision. I realized somewhere along the way that I was writing the safe version of my decision. Because I value authenticity and uncomfortable truth, here’s the truest version instead.
Here’s a sentence I never expected to write:
We’re quitting homeschooling. Our kids will be attending public school this fall, and we’re no longer a homeschooling family.
In the last few weeks, as I worked from morning to night feverishly sorting and tidying every last item we own (it was KonMari in ten days, fueled by copious amounts of caffeine and a ticking clock) in preparation for our house to go on the market, I came across many bits of evidence of my homeschool plans and dreams that have been building for seven years now.
I held in my hands our math curriculum choice that I anguished over and finally became excited about, the dozens of specific books I had sourced over months of planning, the sticky notes and scratch pieces of paper with notes and ideas that sparked my soul, carefully tucked away to be used later, the weekly schedule I perfected and laboured over for three straight days last winter while on a homeschool planning retreat, secluded in my parents’ guest room. Each time I came across another book or scrap of paper, my heart would constrict a little and I’d feel the weight of sadness.
It’s painful to give up a dream. This isn’t the first time I’ve had to do it (we planned and dreamed for years to be overseas missionaries, but it ultimately did not work out). Strange as it may sound, my feelings over the last month have most closely resembled grief as I’ve mourned the loss of my homeschooling identity.
I don’t know how to be the public school mom.
I think I’m doing the right thing. But to be honest, I don’t really know. I second guess our decision every day, but when my head hits the pillow, I feel like it’s ultimately the right choice for right now.
Most who know me know that we were very firmly convinced that homeschooling was the best choice for our family. In fact, I wrote a post last year that was literally titled Why I Don’t Want to Send my Kids to Public School.
What you didn’t know was that I had a follow-up post called “Why I Want to Send my Kids to Public School” percolating in my head ever since, but it never made it to publication. I was a public school kid for the majority of my schooling, and I loved it so much it’s almost embarrassing. But I felt conflicted about confessing my seemingly contradictory love and disdain for public education. I felt like “I definitely really don’t want to send my kids to public school, but in many ways I really kinda wish I could.”
I have big concerns about the public system today. I outlined them in that post last year, so I won’t get into them again here. They are still real concerns in my mind, so you’re probably wondering if I might please get to the point, and tell you why are we making this decision already.
Here’s the first reason:
My amazing husband has been steadily and faithfully pursuing a stable aviation career for years. We’ve moved across the country (and back) for training, gone through several periods of unemployment, endured poverty-level pay grades, and weathered the stress of a job with unethical pressures which resulted in a resignation that seemed like a big, fat, career dead-end.
Until recently, he was unemployed after being laid off in March this year. The job search in aviation is complicated, and he had resigned himself to pursuing a pilot position in the airlines (which wasn’t his first choice). That path is a long one, and the first five or so years don’t pay enough to support a family.
We finally came to the realization that I need to contribute to our bottom line financially so that he could pursue that path without guilt. This blog has been a side business for me for a couple of years, and has been bringing in a solid part-time income. It helped us get through the last five months while hubs was laid off, and we’re supremely grateful for that. But in looking to the long-term future, we realized that we needed it to continue to grow. Last year I attempted homeschooling and running my business at the same time, and I failed miserably.
I mean, from an outside perspective – nothing disastrous happened. My oldest was in first grade, and I taught him to read, we did tons of zoo and science centre trips, we studied the monthly Tom Thompson paintings from our wall calendar, and he picked up a bunch of math concepts from our daily life, because he’s a smarty-pants. (proud mama.)
But I didn’t even come close to accomplishing the homeschool I dreamed and planned for. Not even close. And worse than that – I burnt out. My adrenal fatigue got worse, threatening my health and ability to complete day-to-day tasks. My stress was at an all-time high, and anxiety was becoming an every day issue. I felt like I was losing my mind.
So one day last spring on the way home, we took a spontaneous right turn and drove past the neighbourhood public school.
The large brick building loomed high in the blue sky, and I felt the gravity of the potential changes on the horizon. I let them wash over me ever so slowly at first. I sat with the idea for a few weeks before broaching the subject with my husband, and then the kids. We all settled into the idea slowly, and then we visited the school and had a tour.
It went amazingly well. I nearly cried tears of relief at the end, having so many of my fears assuaged. They were warm and friendly, and most of all – they cared about my kids.
I realize how silly that sounds. Many of you reading are probably like, “duh – public school is not a dungeon of monsters.” I knew that intellectually, of course. I think it was just the fear of the unknown. Will the kids like it? Will they thrive, or struggle? Will the teachers and administrators see my kids for the gems that they are? Will the system crush my kids’ love for learning, or handle it tenderly and encourage it to grow? Will the bureaucratic red tape create a negative experience in any way? What about my oldest’s fears and uncertainties about the whole idea in the first place?
Despite my uncertainties, I took our first visit going so wonderfully as a sign of hope.
So, I was going to stop the story here. Everyone would understand finances and the tough spot we were in, I figured. If finances weren’t an issue, I’d be gung-ho for continuing our homeschooling path, right?
But our finances weren’t the only reason we ultimately made this choice. You see, I must confess to a small sense of intense relief at the thought of having my kids go to school every day, with someone else taking part of the responsibility off my shoulders.
As a major introvert, the thought of someone else to help bear the major burden of teaching my kids everything they need to know sounds, well, amazing.
A few years ago when I was seeing our counselor for a few personal sessions to talk about my innermost stuff (sounds so self-centered, but boy oh boy, do I ever highly recommend it. It was heavenly), we were talking about personality types. She was an expert in MBTI (which I adore… special snowflake INFP here) and something that she said struck me most profoundly.
She told me that my particular type may be the one that struggles the most with being a stay-at-home mother. My introversion and my idealism combine with a strongly empathic personality that readily internalizes the emotions around me (hello toddlers! yowza!), and is easily overwhelmed with the every hour, every moment wild roller coaster ride of raising small children.
I’d be lying if I said that this truth about the personality that God gave me didn’t play in to my public schooling decision as well. In this way, I’m very much (with trepidation) looking forward to our public school journey.
If we were to choose homeschooling again in the future then of course I’d make it work by seeking to maximize my strengths and giving grace for my weaknesses. But for now, I’m just resting in the decision we’ve made, and letting myself embrace it.
It’s funny how life chooses the curveballs it throws, isn’t it? The thing you think is the one thing you’ll probably never do ends up being The Big Change that you end up making. Ah, irony, you big jerk.
But things change. Life throws big fat curveballs that nearly clock you in the head because they’re so unexpected. Careers ebb and flow. Parents do their best, but sometimes ideals aren’t met.
And yeah, that’s okay.
That’s a hard statement for me to affirm because I used to live in a very black and white world. Right or Wrong. Best or Worst. No real in between. Both/ands, maybes, sortas, and half-baked decisions weren’t my cup of tea.
I’m living in the in-between shades now – the myriad of choices and scenarios that exist in that expansive distance between Absolute Best, and Absolute Worst, and how sometimes those camps shift and change anyway.
Most of you know that we’re moving to Ottawa in two weeks. Our public school plans remain the same, but we’ll be withdrawing our registration here, and registering at our new school in our new neighbourhood.
We’re no longer a homeschooling family. School starts on September 8, and I’ll bring my two older kiddos, all of us a bundle of nerves.
I’ll check back in later next month with how we’re all doing with our new schooling adventure. Until then, I’ve got school supplies to buy and lunchboxes to figure out. Eek!
I know this is an older article but I’ve been scrolling in desperation trying to find at least ONE PERSON who might understand how I’m feeling right now.
My kids are heading to public school next year after years of homeschooling. They want to go. I must work. But my heart is broken.
I always hoped they’d end up in public school for high school but they’re still just little kids! It’s not time yet. At least it doesn’t feel that way to me.
I KNOW this is the next step in our journey but I also feel an intense sense of grief that is completely unexpected. I don’t even know why it upsets me so much. I don’t feel like I’ve failed. Maybe it’s more that my babies are transitioning away from me?
Thank you for writing this. I needed to read it.
INFP here as well. Loved your story. It really helped me to finalize the decision to send my children back to the public school. I am the type of mom who wants to spend all the time with my kids, but lately I am realizing that during the homeschool hours my interactions with the kids are not very positive. Most of the time I feel like I am torturing my kids, making them do the stuff they don’t want to. My dreams and goals about the homeschooling are a far cry from the reality, the house is a total mess, piles of mail sitting on my desk, etc. I am looking forward to greeting my kids cheerfully as they come home from school and spending a quality time together instead of feeling so tired and stressed from all the nagging and frustration during the homeschooling that I just want to relax and to be left alone.
INFJ alert! Today, I made the decision to enroll my children in publi school after homeschooling. On top of that, they will have to get vaccinated in order to do so, so I’m having to come to terms with that too. When I read the words “adrenal fatigue” in your post, I knew I had landed in the right place. Please, PLEASE say something to me to help me fully accept this. I’m terrified but realize it’s something we need to do for the sake of our family 🙁
I completely understand what you are feeling. Even know I am now 56 yrs old., when I was young and raising my 3 children, my husband and I went through many of the same decisions as you. I am a red head too! Ha! We home schooled our oldest, but only for 6th grade as he and I just did not mesh personalities as student and teacher. Plus, my inexperience in the homeschooling world did not help. Our main issue with him was that we refused to send him to our home middle school and were waiting for another option. Luckily, the second day of his seventh grade school year, we got the call there was an opening in the traditional program near us so we placed him there. Now, fast forward a few yrs. and issues arose with our middle son, in his 8th grade year at same traditional middle school as big brother, and our daughter in 5th grade. After speaking to teachers and counselors, neither of their situations could be resolved to our satisfaction so I asked to have their records copied and pulled them from public school on each of their respective days of problems. So, we ended up having two middle school age kids at home in the middle of their school years and me playing catch up on finding some curriculum for each. We muddled through that year and I took the summer to organize myself and outline my daughter’s middle school yrs and my son’s high school yrs. Then get curriculum for that fall. Those two were at such an age they were the perfect homeschooling age for me. They were organized, disciplined, and loved being home and together and to top it all off, they devoured books as if they were sweets!! We spent a great deal of time in our city libraries. It was their favorite field trip. We had a great home school group filled with many of our church family friends so they already knew many of the children in the group, plus met many more. They now to this day as married adults have friends all over the place from that group. Socializing? A problem in homeschooling? I do not believe so!! I laugh when people present this as an issue. These two were given the option to return to public school at anytime they wished, but they never wanted to take the option. My son took the ACT and did very well and went on to college. I had him on his way to a career. He is my brain. But chose love over school and was my first one to marry, dropped out of school for love and now works in a very good paying manual labor job like his father. We adore his wife, I just wish he’d finished school first and their financial situation would have been more secure. My husband was the same way. He has years of university level education, but only an Associates in English. He has remained a Teamster with UPS since age 21 and will retire in about 5 yrs. He has provided for us well. But he is just so smart and could have been many things. My daughter did not choose to take the ACT, but passed her college entrance exams at an advanced level! Proving that homeschooling works if done correctly. She now works from a music studio in her home as an audio engineer. Back to the public school decision, our oldest, just did better with the traditional setting of school, desk, and teacher up front. Plus, he was a social butterfly. He was also a ladies man. He wanted the experience of middle and high school with all it’s ups and downs. He did very well grade wise and socially. But, he had some private issues he was diagnosed with that he had to overcome before he could deal with college. We sent him to college straight from graduation, but he failed nearly every subject. This had nothing to do with method of schooling, but due to an illness. Once he was treated and on his feet again he decided to work for awhile. On down the road after he married, he went back to the University here(Indiana University South a campus located here in Louisville, KY) , was on the Dean’s list every semester and got his Bachelor’s in Human Resources and has worked in the field at a home for orphaned children ever since!! Do I sound proud?? My final point is this: it will all work out if you continue to support them, guide them, and most of all pray!
God bless you for writing this! After 4 years of homeschooling we just made the decision to send our 4 to public school. It’s breaking my heart, but at the same time I’m looking forward to it. I have the introvert/empath personality and I’ve simply just HAD IT with the noise and behaviors and huuuuge responsibilities. Anyway, it’s so great to read this and all the comments…super helpful for this momma in this season.
If there were any democratic school/Sudbury school (no curriculum, no classes, no exams, age mixed, interest led self directed learning) nearby where you live, it would have been a viable alternative. My two sons currently go to public school but hate it. They would like a democratic school but none nearby exists at the moment, so we need to found one with other parents.
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Thank you for this honest post!!!!!!!
To all of those who are being judgmental, hear me out:
I read this post about a year ago and had some of the same ‘black and white’ views as you. Oh my how the tables have turned! Guess what? life isn’t that simple!
Currently my health problems are so severe that I can’t even manage day to day basic tasks. I find myself wishing I could press a pause button and disappear from this world, heal, then reappear with renewed health and energy. But time doesn’t work like that!
So you can be judgmental about someone’s life, but when crap hits the fan…
I’m just now realizing how I’ve lied to myself all this time. About my health. About homeschool. I thought I had to just ‘push through’ and be a ‘soldier’. All lies. Now I can’t seem to function at all and I feel like I’m on the verge of a breakdown.
That being said, I’m FINALLY reaching out for help. Late but better than never. I pray to God for healing and help.
Beth this part of your post is me right now:
My adrenal fatigue got worse, threatening my health and ability to complete day-to-day tasks. My stress was at an all-time high, and anxiety was becoming an every day issue. I felt like I was losing my mind.
I didn’t think anyone would really understand my feelings but then I remembered your post that I thought negatively about last year!
May God forgive me for being judgmental!
Thanks for your honesty. This is what is needed most!
May God guide and bless your family
Wow, Faith, I am so appreciative that you came back to share this with me. Everyone needs to do what’s best for their families… and if others don’t understand, that’s ok. I’m so glad you came to a place of understanding about this, and I wish you lots of love and peace as you get to a healthier place. xoxo
I so totally get you! I homeschooled my three children up through last year but my clashes with my middle daughter were too much combined with trying to work and do EVERYTHING. My husband and I made the very difficult choice to send our kids to school. It was absolutely the best choice we could have made. The teachers are wonderful. The kids have loved it. It’s been great. And my daughter learned things I never could have taught her about how real life works. So next year I’m going to homeschool again because I just love it and my outside work has been cut in half and it’s doable again. Every year is different and it’s okay to have your plans change.
I’m so glad to have found another homeschooler turned public schooler with similar feelings as me. Virtual high five. I feel like there’s not much talk about homeschool parents who transition to public school and the positive side of it. We literally just went through a similar scenario because I needed to go back to work. I’m also an introvert and I was not using my gifts nor finding joy in homeschooling any longer. We’ve been pleasantly surprised with how well the kids are doing in school and how great the teachers are. Thank you for posting. I’m going to be following you on Insta, we have a lot in common.
Hey Sharon! I’m so glad this post resonated with you. I’m still so grateful that we made that decision back then. This year (fall of 2018) we actually made the decision to return to homeschooling after three years in the public system. And you know what? I don’t regret any of that. I wouldn’t be opening this next chapter in our lives if I hadn’t had the opportunity to send them to school outside the home for the last few years. It’s such a gift to be free to make the choice that works for your family, isn’t it? And to flex and change as different life seasons come and go! Looking forward to seeing you over on IG. 🙂 xo
Beth, can you share why you decided to return to homeschooling? I am at a major crossroads with my kids (7,5,3,1) with school and work. I am interested in the lifestyle that homeschooling could bring (freedom, no alarm clocks, whole foods, less exposure at a young age..especially tech, freedom schooling) but I have also been basically offered a job back into teaching next year (high school art) that I left four years ago to stay home. I am playing the “grass is greener” game on both sides. I see the pro and cons to public and home schooling options….as well at the SAHM vs. teacher mom option. Eek! I can not make a decision to save my life. So I am researching like mad to find something that I resonate with to help me make my decision. I think ultimately, any way we chose turns out just find most of the time, but I am having a hard time deciding what is best for our family. Our oldest kids are begging to be homeschooled (no problems at school, they just want to be home, which make sense when you are 5 and 7) but a part of me is longing to be back in the classroom, sharing things I love, whilst earning a paycheck –feels good and so does getting dressed everyday 🙂 When our kids come home from school, most days, “they had the best day of their life”. So I know they are having fun at school….. #mommingishard
No worries—you just needed a partner in education. That’s all. And that’s all public schools really want to be. I’m an extrovert who loves to meet new people and be an active part of my local community, so to the school we go. I loved school, too. When I was homeschooled it wasn’t a magical experience, either, and I entered fourth grade very ahead in reading and failing math. I have met many of the families in my neighborhood, and the homeschool ones tend to have introverted moms who take a lot of effort to draw out. I’m glad that for now I’m not going to try that. Maybe when the kids are older.
I’m now in the process of bringing my middle-son of 5 years old to school. With autism-related things. My eldest has to go to a special school, but has to wait for 14 weeks still, and I am having difficulties of having him around me, as tired as I am, wanting to have my Household in order. My youngest and my middle son are having a lack of my attention, because of that autism-problem. My eldest is super-smart though and now he is going back to school, to “emotional age”, which is best actually, but way back to what he’s capable of!!
And he doesn’t show what he’s capable of under pressure. How annoying! Yet his emotional age is way back there somewhere. and it also is very humbling and nibbling at the pride I had of how well he can do! 7 and he does multiplications. Now he must go back to counting to 1-10! How can people expect so little? ANd now I’m the one to prepare him to go do that, at school. Yet I can’t wait to have some quiet in the house, how contradicting!! A funny way, a mother can be…. Life is changing….
I’m in the process of making this very decision! I have 5 children, 3 of whom are school age. I came to the realization just this week that I can’t go on anymore with teaching my kids at home. I just can’t. I never, in a million years, thought I’d not only seriously consider school, but actually WANT to send them. It has blown my mind.
I have a 3rd, 7th and 8th grader I’m teaching, along with trying keeping safe my 2 and 4yo! Life is crazy and chaotic, and just not very fun. I know my older two are way behind in math and I’m dreading teaching science with the experiments and all. I can’t even begin to explain all the emotions I’ve been through the past few days. It’s been one of mourning over my “failure”, terror at how far behind my kids actually are, afraid of what they’ll experience among a bunch of kids (you know…bullys!), feeling like I’m abandoning my kids, to excitement…pure excitement and joy at the thought of being able spending more quality time with my little ones, to be able to get to my mile long to do list, to plan meals and actually have the emotional and physical energy to then make the meals I planned! lol!! SO much.
Although my first identity is that I am Christian and child of God, having been homeschooled myself, for a good portion of my school years, has given me the identity of being a homeschooler. I’m a homeschool mom. I don’t know what a public or private school mom looks like! I feel so lost as I start this scary, yet exhilarating journey! To be able to go about my day without school in the back of my mind, no more planning, and planning, and planning! Haha…so freeing. No more fighting with them to do their work all morning long.
Thank you for writing this. It was so great to know that I’m not alone in this transition.
Hi Alice! Thanks for commenting. I wrote this a couple of years ago, but I SO remember all of those many feelings swirling around this decision. It’s a whirlwind for sure! I don’t regret sending the kids to public school for the last 2+ years. We’re on our third year now, and it has been helpful as our family needed the breathing room. We’re now considering a return to homeschool for one kid, keeping one kid in public school longer, and the third is yet-to-be-determined. I’ve learned that it’s not an all-or-nothing endeavour, and that you can take it year-by-year. It’s a freeing realization! Hope your transitions all go smoothly! xo.
What a great read. We are facing some of the SAME issues. Only, my reasoning for homeschooling my oldest was never because I was passionate about homeschooling. I like that I can explore his interests and move at his pace in math [accelerated] and reading [not quite as accelerated] but, honestly, there are things that I know an educated teacher would present better than me, I am not a teacher. And we can absolutely explore his interests during weekends and summers. I am also experiencing some health concerns that are going to involve a lot of appts in the coming weeks and months. I’m just trying to decide when…there are things that appeal to him about going…his two closest friends attend the same school and grade as he would, but he is still very anxious about it–which is mostly why we started. But I somehow feel like not following through means that I failed at homeschooling. Lots of back and forth in my mind 😀 Hope your son is enjoying public school!
Hi Stephanie! Thanks for commenting. It’s such a complicated decision, isn’t it? I wrote this a couple of years ago, and have learned a lot about my kids’ different needs. My oldest is not cut out for the public school system long term, so we’re looking at homeschool again. My 2nd is enjoying school and is a teacher’s dream student. The jury is still out on our 3rd but for now, he’s happy, and will probably do Grade 1 next year. I don’t regret sending them to school for the last couple of years, and love that we’ve been free to make that choice. I hope your decision-making and transitions go smoothly! xo
Great post. I needed this.
I think we’re living the same life! I’m so relieved I won’t be homeschooling anymore. I am also an INFP and have been suffocating over here letting my adrenal fatigue consume me from a very strong willed first child. In fact, I’m so burnt, I want nothing to do with their education now. I never thought I would be in this place. Although my kids are not full time, they are gone several hours a day and it’s the best decision I’ve made in a while.
Thank you so much for your transparency in writing this! I think sometimes in conversations about homeschooling vs. private vs. public we can talk about The System hurting our children, or characterize schools as brainwashing children into The Liberal Mindset or something. I really appreciate your vulnerability about what led to your decision and your honesty about your fears and trepidations. My kids go to a fabulous public charter school, and I agonized over that decision as well, especially as many friends and family members are outspoken homeschooling advocates. While I do affirm homeschooling as the right decision for many families, it just wasn’t right for us. I feel like sending my kids to school gives me the freedom to clean my house, prepare food, run errands, etc. without also having to break up fights and be distracted, which then makes me a much more relaxed, peaceful mom when they come home. I can have apple cider and popcorn ready for them when they come home from a long day of school. I love it!
Also, my son is special-needs, and the resources that are open to us through the school are so helpful, and I have access to specialists who really love and care for my kids while also helping me better understand and help him. In my experience, most of the teachers we have had have been wonderful, caring, qualified people who love my kids and aren’t trying to brainwash them into some kind of agenda. The stereotypes that make headlines couldn’t be further from the truth in our experience.
I have also found that the school welcomes and encourages parental involvement, and sees the value in your input. If they want the best for your kids, they want you to be part of their education as well, and I try to work side-by-side with my kids’ teachers as a partner in their education but without it being completely up to me to figure everything out.
Sorry for the rant, I really just wanted to say thank you, and assure you that it’s going to be okay 🙂
Help! I need to go to bed by 10:30 PM or 10 PM. Can you still help me?
New to the site and just came across this post. I am blessed to read your words, so frank and transparent. Thank you. Life sure is made up of seasons. Hold onto the Lord’s hand for dear life and enjoy it!!
I feel fortunate to have stumbled upon your blog today. Oh my goodness, I could have written this post! I need to have a conversation with my husband, and children, about transitioning from homeschool to public school. I find myself heartbroken as I grieve the time I’ll be missing with my kids, but ultimately, I know this will be the best route for us all.
Very interesting post. I’m also an INFP and a homeschool mom. It is a struggle! I totally relate to what you are saying here. I wish the best for you and your family.