School Decisions: Finding Your Family’s Path & Walking in Freedom


My posts about school, particularly our transition from homeschool to public school, are by far the most read posts on my blog. Who knew?

I’m not a stats person but I recently found an interesting trend. My posts about school average five to ten times the views of my other posts. I don’t usually pay numbers much attention. I simply write what I want to write. 

But do you know what this tells me? There is apparently a vacuum on the subject of transitioning from homeschool to public school. 

Because of this, I now feel there’s a bit more purpose in these posts and I hope to offer words of freedom and consolation born out of my own journey. 

I get e-mails out of the blue, readers thanking me for speaking my small, shaky voice into the big void. I never wanted to be someone who stepped into that empty space. So all I can say is: Thank you for letting me share our journey. I spill my crazy insides onto these pages and then you thank me and tell me that my crazy has made you feel less crazy. Confounding, is what it is.  

Even though homeschoolers are still greatly in the minority, there is a lot of online support and often much personal, community support for making the switch. It’s a countercultural decision and as I’ve said before, you need your people. I know I did. I’m thankful that such support exists; I know it hasn’t always been the case. 

But it makes me wonder why there is such little support for doing the opposite. Perhaps some homeschoolers feel sad for or disappointed by or afraid of those {like my family} who jump ship. Or maybe it’s just that they haven’t walked this road so they don’t have much to say.

Perhaps decisive public school folks don’t know what all the fuss is about anyway. They never really questioned the decision; why should anyone else? Or maybe it’s just that they haven’t walked this road so they don’t have much to say either.

When we abruptly made our decision, I never had a single homeschool friend try to talk me out of it. Every person who spoke to me was incredibly kind and wished us well. I’m so grateful for their kindness. I would have crumbled into a heap if someone had negatively confronted me at that point.

But well-wishing is not the same thing as camaraderie with those who have gone before you and lived to tell about it. Guess how many moms I personally knew who had done the same thing? One. 

I enjoy chronicling our journey on my blog but that is not to say it’s easy. These posts are tedious to write because they require such mental energy. I want to say things “just so” for fear of being misunderstood. Decisions about how to educate one’s children are intensely personal and therefore the subject can become intensely divisive. Though it’s ridiculous, few things make us recoil more than differing ideas on politics, religion, or parenting.  

Because of the delicacy of the subject, it’s hard to write in a way that is both tender and honest. I have learned so much on our journey and as a result, I have some deep convictions of my own. And yet this is a topic that should be situated totally and completely within the context of freedom; it doesn’t usually feel that way though.

I can’t tell you or anyone else what to do. And I wouldn’t want to. I don’t have answers; I can simply write about what I’ve discovered along the way. We’re still not very far along on it, just a little over a year. Yet our story thus far has taught all of us volumes about ourselves, our family, and our God. 

A brief caveat: Because I am a Christian, faith informs all of my decisions. Even if you are not a person of faith, you still hold values and convictions that inform your decisions, especially the big ones. This post, however, talks about God more than many of the posts I write. I’m just letting you know up front.

{Also? This post is considerably longer than my usual fare. You may want to grab a cup of coffee. Or use the bathroom.}

Could it be that God calls us all differently because He uses us all differently? I can think of many ways my own school experience–the good, the bad, and the abysmal–have equipped me for life, not because it was perfect but because it was the path ordained for me by a sovereign God. 

Jesus’ own disciples and apostles came from a myriad of backgrounds–socially, economically, educationally, vocationally. They all brought varying life experiences to the table and were given unique ministry opportunities as a result. Sometimes it was because of their background; other times it was in spite of of their background.

God is not limited by the ways we often limit ourselves or others. His ways are not our ways, nor are his thoughts our thoughts.

Christian proponents of public school may argue that it’s our “mission field,” our “world,” the place where we are to be “salt and light.” 

Christian proponents of homeschool {and Christian private school} often argue that we equip our kids by providing a strong foundation in faith and learning before sending them out into the world to be “salt and light.” 

And they are both right. 

But where is our trust? Is our trust, our hope, our salvation for our children and our communities and our world found in education or methodologies? 

Are we following followers of one camp or another, or are we following a God who delights in directing us in ways that are unique and personal? 

Are we congregating with likeminded people more because they affirm our ways and share our fears rather than challenge us to proceed differently, if a certain way is no longer fruitful? 

Perhaps it all comes down to the issue of “calling.” And you don’t have to be religious to embrace the idea of being led down one road and not another. 

But if you are a Believer, I’m wondering if it has to be this: calling. I’m not sure if there is any other lens through which we see our family’s path. 

That’s fine and good, you may say. But how does one find this elusive “calling?” I’m on the fence. I’m confused. I’m afraid. What if I choose wrong?

I hear you. I am you. Fear has unfortunately been a constant companion since I first became a mother. 

Allow me to share what I’m discovering:

Sometimes God leads us through His word. This was one of the ways he confirmed, for us, the decision to homeschool nearly six years ago. 

Sometimes God leads us through prayer and meditation as we seek answers. 

Sometimes God leads us as the Holy Spirit moves and leads in powerful and unmistakable ways. Other times it is a still, small voice.

Sometimes God leads through wise counsel.

Sometimes God leads through the guidance of our spouse.

And sometimes God leads through circumstances and common sense. 

Let me elaborate on this last point. It’s the one I think many of us discount because it’s “less spiritual” and perhaps more subjective. 

In the case of schooling, we can enter a season and find that what worked in prior seasons is no longer feasible.

There are countless reasons for this:

It’s no longer healthy for a homeschool mom to have homeschooling on her plate. She’s burned out, stressed out, emotionally and / or physically drained to a point that she is not healthy.

Or perhaps homeschool is no longer the best option because one’s marriage needs full attention. 

Maybe homeschooling is no longer a fruitful course for one or more kids who would do better in a classroom setting. 

Perhaps one child needs full attention at home and therefore the other kids need to learn elsewhere.

I used homeschooling in the above examples because that’s been my experience, going from homeschool into public school. Sometimes it’s public or private school that’s no longer feasible and homeschool becomes the better option. 

God gifted us with minds to think and evaluate; that’s the “common sense” part. {Sometimes our poor minds are so stressed and depleted that it takes other wise and loving people to speak necessary truth into our lives–a counselor, a pastor, a spouse, a trusted mentor.} 

God has used all of these “leading ways” countless times during my life, often using several of them together to confirm a decision. 

It’s so difficult to go a different way than we’d planned and this goes for those of us who switch our kids from school at home to the school down the road and for those of us who’d planned to put our kids in school and for one reason or another, that’s just not best.

  


Proverbs 3:5-6 is a verse that has come to mind many times recently: 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.



What would our lives, decisions, emotional states look like if we leaned hard into God’s understanding, trusting Him with our whole hearts, instead of making idols out of our own knowledge, insight, and desires?

I think it would translate into lives governed by freedom instead of fear. I am just baby steps into the land of Freedom and let me tell you, it’s a way better place to live. 

I’m not really an “old mom” yet but increasingly, I have opportunity to speak into the lives of new moms, simply because my oldest baby is now in middle school. I tell these frightened, sweet moms to put down the books and get on their knees.

I wish I’d read less and prayed more. 

And every time I say that, I preach it to myself. Sure, there are books that have encouraged and guided me tremendously as I’ve trod the treacherous path of parenting. But the toughest decisions we’ve made had nothing to do with what we read in a book and everything to do with how God was personally leading us as a family.

As a mom, I want the formula. A + B = amazing kids.

Here’s the hard but freeing news: There isn’t a formula. Our kids’ training grounds vary, in part because their futures vary. Our options vary because our resources, abilities, and circumstances vary. Our decisions vary because what one kid needs is not what another kid needs, or what works for one parent is not working for another. 

Education isn’t always about the “best,” most noble way. Do what’s feasible and practical. Your lofty ideals are beautiful. I know it’s because you love your kids; you want nothing but the best for them. 

But sometimes the ideal is trumped by the “real.” Know that it’s okay, maybe even better? As I’ve said before: 

Sometimes real life reroutes us in ways that feel like failure but are actually grace.  

Trust that God has the right training ground for your kid and it may not be the one you’d planned. Your hope is not in a formula; it’s in a Person. Though we lead and guide our children, we too are led and guided by our own Shepherd. 

He loves you and He loves your children. He gently leads those who have young.

May all of us find rest in this promise.



………………………….. 


Isaiah 40:11

He tends his flock like a shepherd:
    He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
    he gently leads those that have young.

……………………………..



My comment section provides a way for me to reply to individual comments on the blog. You won’t get an e-mail notification or anything; you just have to check back. I know this issue invites lots of feedback. I’ll do my best to read and respond to individual comments.  : )


Comments

  1. says

    Your posts on this do fill a void and they are so encouraging. I’ll never forget the day when my husband found me sobbing over the computer, tears of relief and sadness and a whole host of emotions, we had just began to realize that our homeschool days needed to end and your post found me at just the right time. God knew I needed a sister who was on the same road, thank you for being brave and sharing your journey. So often it feels like you’re saying the words I just can’t articulate. I appreciate your candor and your honesty. It’s a tough road, but a year into it I know we are doing the right thing,

    • says

      Gina, you’re a kindred. : ) Of course you know that but I’m telling you anyway. Thanks for your support. I find such comfort in knowing I have t walked this road alone.

  2. says

    Scooper,
    THIS posting is amazing! Thank you for pouring so much of yourself into this one. It is nice to find out that we seek comfort in a lot of the same places.
    The Word is phenomenal, of course, and seems to provide what one needs at the right time — thankfully! But a good bit of guidance from a friend, pastor or husband is great, too.
    Thank you for sharing through this post.
    You are an amazing woman, daughter, sister, wife, mother and friend.
    with hugs,
    Lynne

  3. says

    Lynne, thank you for being such a wonderful, faithful encourager through these many posts. I always smile when I see “Lynne in NC” in my inbox. : )

  4. Denise says

    Beautifully written…thanks so much for gracefully sharing what the Lord is teaching you through your parenting journey. This is such an encouraging and freeing post. You’re a kindred spirit, dear Scooper, and I hope to see you sometime soon. Hugs to all your sweeties! :)

  5. says

    I did the same thing you did. I started Homeschooling my daughter in first grade. I had to give it up halfway through the year because of financial situations that required me to go back into the workforce full time. I did put her into private school. Which made me feel better. But then two years later I felt like a bigger failure because a family situation necessitated that I pull her out of her private school that she loved (she still asks four years later if she can go back to there and graduate) and put her in public school. Both times I felt like a failure. Your blog has helped me to realize that this isn’t a best,good,and horrible decisions that were made…but they were decisions that have helped my daughter to grow up into a lovely teen. Thanks…:)– Laticia

  6. Momof3boys says

    As always, your post had something that cut right to my heart. You said, “Sometimes real life reroutes us in ways that feel like failure but are actually grace.” I SO needed this today…this week. I would have never thought my life would look like it does…not bad by any means…but different from all the “plans” I carried in my heart. Sometimes, reconciling the present circumstances with the visions of “what was to be” is a struggle. Your words gave me new glasses that were much needed to correct my vision! Thank you, Scooper, for your words…they are so good for my soul!

  7. says

    As one who is walking this path alongside of you I echo your words and thoughts. It’s difficult, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. It’s life-changing and that rocks everything within you. As you said that can also be fertile ground for God’s work in our lives as well as the lives of our children

    I am glad you have your one person. When we experienced something similar years ago there was NO ONE who I knew who had gone before us. I was all alone. I was the outcast. I was and am the only person I know who has travelled that particular path.

    So let’s hold hands tightly. OK?
    http://www.raisingthreeknightsandaprincess.com
    Julie

  8. says

    Burnout is for REAL. I know two great moms who quit their homeschooling kids this year – one went the public route, the other went the private route (they can afford it). These are two dedicated women who just have nothing left in their tank right now to run on. They’re exhausted and need to tend to themselves for awhile. What is so bad about that?
    We’re mothers not martyrs. I keep in touch with them just so they know I still care about them and so they know it’s okay.

    • says

      “We’re mothers not martyrs.” Awesome quote. I may have to borrow that one. It’s so very true! Thanks for being a faithful support to your burned-out friends.

  9. says

    Just beautifully written. This should be the introduction to a book on being a mother! I love the common sense part because that applies to so many parts of life. I’ve certainly been noticing how sometimes God must moves us along to something new completely for practical reasons. With my first one I was all into books and schedules and routines and what-have-you, to the point where maybe I even rolled my eyes at my mother a few hundred times at her old-timey practicality. Then two things happened. First, I was listening to the sweet oldest one, who never cried it out – there was no out. He just continued to cry endlessly. And SJC happened to call and say “You know all these books are just to make your life easier. If it doesn’t, don’t do it.” My friend that was empowering. And then I realized there were thousands of years of mothers who never read an Ezzo book and probably managed just fine. :)

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