What To Do When Homeschooling Doesn’t Work

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homeschool stressOne year ago at this time, my husband, son and I had packed up our apartment in Louisville, Kentucky (where my husband attended seminary) to move back to our home state of South Carolina.   My husband had graduated from seminary, and we were searching for God’s plan for our lives.
We had homeschooled our son while in Louisville for his kindergarten year and had completed that year with success.  We had planned to continue homeschooling him once we were settled back in South Carolina.  The plan didn’t work.  After a few weeks of trying to get a house organized, jobs secured, and boxes unpacked, homeschooling was not going so well.  I was determined that since I had already done it for a year, I could continue with no problems.  I was wrong.
I think the move and chaos that ensued after it (with trying to get settled) caused my son to become unsettled.  He didn’t want to listen to me anymore.  He didn’t want to “do school,” and everyday was becoming a constant battle.
One day as I sat there crying trying to figure out what to do, my husband suggested the unheard of: public school.  I wasn’t against public school by any means, and I think it has great benefits, but we had already decided that we would continue to homeschool, as it would allow us the freedom to travel to Guatemala (the place we feel called of God to serve).
I was not for the idea.  I liked having my son at home.  I enjoyed homeschooling him, even through the hardships.  It was a great way to spend time with him, to watch him grow and learn.  I thought about him learning to read and the satisfaction I had in knowing that I had not only been there to see him read the first time, but in knowing that I had helped him achieve that goal.  My brain began to go around and around.  “What will others think of me if I can’t continue to homeschool him?  Will they laugh at me?  Will they say, ‘I told you so.’”  So many emotions came rushing at me in that instant, but knowing that my husband really felt that we should at least look into public school, I agreed.
The next day we called the school that my son would attend and took a tour.  It turns out that the kindergarten/1st grade age cutoff is different here in SC than it was in KY.  My son would have to repeat K5 if he went into public school.  For me, it was just another reason to keep homeschooling.  My husband was able to see things differently.  After much conversation and prayer, we decided that public school was worth a shot, even if it meant he would have to repeat kindergarten.  Maybe it would give him an advantage since he already knew what most of the kids would just be learning.  I was so torn about him going to public school and repeating, but with my husband’s leading, I felt that it was the right thing to do.
We enrolled him and dropped him off all in the same day.  I didn’t know what to do with myself.  I had been with him for pretty much the last 5 years.  I was sad because I was not able to see what he was learning (or relearning) each day.  I was sad because I simply could not physically be there.  It took me a few weeks to adjust to him being gone, but it only took about 3 days for him to adjust!  He was frequently bored at school in the beginning, but he still excelled in all that he did.  It also helped him socially.  He had always been very shy, but going to public school helped him learn to cope with that shyness.  He made many friends and loved his teachers.  I did, too!
So, what does one do when homeschooling doesn’t work?  Our best solution was to attempt public school.  For others, it may be private school, or it may be sticking it out to see if things change.  Yes, I still miss him being at home with me and teaching him, but I believe whole-heartedly that God gave my husband the wisdom to suggest public school to me that day.  I would have never suggested it on my own.  It turned out to be a great year for him and me.  I was able to engage as the “room mom” and help with school parties and events.
I think the thing we have to remember is that some things are just for a season.  That’s what homeschooling was for us.  It was a short season.  Some seasons last longer than others.  What we can’t do is beat ourselves up or feel like failures.  Just because something doesn’t work doesn’t mean we failed.  It may mean that God led us to that path for a short time and has something else in store for the future.

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