Day 25: Should We Change the Way We Do School? {Part 2} THREE More Questions to Ask.

31 days final big button

Yesterday’s post offered the first three questions. Today I present the last three. This isn’t an exhaustive list of considerations but it gets us started. In all of these, it’s important to be brutally honest. Our idealistic expectations can blind us to the truth. And while denial and boot-strapped pressing on seem preferable at first thought, it’s not fruitful in the long run.

So here you go. Three more questions to ask if you’re wondering whether to change the way you do school.

4. Is my relationship with my child suffering?

I have one child who would be particularly difficult for me to still homeschool. We butt heads. We’re both independent and always right. Our emotions feed off one another. As a result, I believe homeschooling right now would be detrimental to our relationship.

At the same time, public school isn’t an easy fix. Each of us is prone to detachment and privacy. We naturally put up walls and inhabit separate spheres. That too is detrimental. So I have to be very intentional about finding ways to connect. I’m not always good at it but I’m trying. Right now, we still feel like school is where this one needs to be and that our relationship is better because of it.

My husband reassured me with these wise words three years ago as we made the abrupt and difficult decision to switch from homeschool to public school:

Many people can be their teacher but only you can be their mother. 

It’s true. Having time apart and a break from being both mom and teacher have been fruitful for our family relationships. Every family doesn’t need that in every season but we needed it then and it’s still a good thing now.

I’ve known others who needed to bring their kids home, if only for a season, because they were losing them at school and wanted restoration. I greatly admire parents who are willing to do this.

5. Is my child suffering too much?

I’ve already written that hardship can be fertile ground for a brighter future so you know that I’m not about rescuing a kid every time things get hard. But there are certain challenges that etch unnecessary suffering into the tender skin of our children. We won’t always know but when we do know and there’s something we can do to change it, I believe we should.

Maybe it’s bullying or toxic peer relationships that won’t right themselves. Perhaps it’s prolonged academic distress or too much academic stress and the effects are starting to show up in concerning ways. It could be complete and total apathy toward the educational environment that surrounds him. Whatever the reason, finding a fruitful alternative, if only for a season, can breathe security and stability back into them.

tough cousins
6. Am I in crisis?

We all face times of crisis and some of them hit home in more devastating ways than others. Separation, sickness, divorce, death, depression, all kinds of loss — certain crises can swallow us whole and render us useless in areas where we used to have abundance.

In times like these, it’s okay and even necessary to remove every single thing from your plate but the bare minimum. You need to focus on survival and restoration and let me tell you, that’s a full-time job. Emotional stress eventually shows up in exhaustion and physical distress.

It’s okay to simply take a break and do what requires less of you. That looks different for each of us but for me, it meant putting our kids in school. We had a feeling that our kids would probably be okay and believed that even the transitional bumps in the road would be less taxing than continuing to homeschool when I had nothing to give.

When my friend suddenly lost her husband several years ago, she actually kept homeschooling — albeit with a long break — because this had been their lifestyle for over twenty years. Her kids had already lost their father without warning. Continuing with what they knew provided comfort and familiarity in the midst of a world turned upside down.

Currently I have a friend who’s transitioning some of hers from homeschool into public school but keeping others at home. Life has recently dealt some tough blows and they’re trying to be strategic about lightening the homeschooling load so that they can focus on these bigger issues.

See? There’s no formula. Each family has its own variables. But all of us must adjust in some way when crisis hits. Often this can affect our educational choices. God doesn’t write any two stories the same but that doesn’t mean we can’t find take-to-heart truth in each and every one of them. Humanity and redemption stitch us all together like that.

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While I believe in being sensitive to the needs of our children and not simply throwing them to the wolves, they are more resilient than we think. We do them a disservice with over-protection and too much sheltering.

resilient

It’s good for them to learn, early on, that hard things visit all of us and that life isn’t perfect. We make concessions and adjustments because sometimes the real trumps the ideal.

I remember having the tough conversation with our own children several nights before they started public school. We were honest. We told them I needed a break and lots of rest because it had been a hard year. It seemed a bit invasive to be so honest with their young minds and emotions but who was I kidding? They knew it had been a hard year because they had lived through it too.

Let’s be honest. With ourselves. With our spouse. With our children. And with the life we’re currently living.

There isn’t a formula but there are important factors worthy of our consideration. When I first began writing about this topic, I got comments and e-mails from those I knew and those I didn’t. They told me their stories and I heard a familiar refrain:

There’s plenty of support for starting your educational journey a certain way but there’s no support when you decide that’s no longer the path you can stay on. 

It can be a lonely road to leave the familiar behind. It was for me. But you’re not alone. I’m only one voice but I’ve been there and I generously extend my permission and support. Picture me with a megaphone, cheering you on.

It’s why I’m writing this series — for you, the ones who are in a place of indecision or insecurity. You’re not alone and you’re more equipped to make wise decisions than you think.

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These last two posts have been longer than my usual word count for this series. Tomorrow will be the last Sunday post in the series on finding rest. I promise short and sweet.

How sure do you feel in your educational choices for your family? Have you ever switched paths and if so, what have you learned?

For all the posts in this 31-day series, go here.

I’m linking up with The Nester and her tribe of 31 Dayers.

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Comments

  1. Renee says

    “It can be a lonely road to leave the familiar behind. It was for me. But you’re not alone. I’m only one voice but I’ve been there and I generously extend my permission and support. Picture me with a megaphone, cheering you on.” What a generous and life giving artist you are; thank you!

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