I’ve shared informally that my oldest, who is 16, will be attending public school this fall. Many of you were curious why and how we came to this decision. This post will share some of our reasons.
AJ is our oldest. He will be 17 at the end of this year. Wow, even typing that seems crazy! This is the same boy I have homeschooled since he was 4.
He is almost a legal adult now. Keep in mind, even though I have 8 kids, I am ALWAYS a first time mom with him. We jokingly tell him he is our guinea pig child and, at best, we are winging it. Sorry, not sorry.
While I can’t say I am perfect at it, I have tried to be intentional about checking my pride at the door when it comes to homeschooling.
I never wanted my identity wrapped so tightly around something that it limited my ability or willingness to lay it down. I wanted to always be at a place of peace if it was ever best for our family to change paths or if the Holy Spirit let us away from this season.
Just like my childbearing season, I wanted to live in the “now”, knowing and understanding that this, like all other things in this world, is not a permanent entity. I am willing to admit that is a hard thing to do with something that takes up a LOT of your thoughts and energy.
Ultimately, all of my decisions stem from a place of love for my kids and what is best for them, not me.
Yes, there are some bittersweet tinges, but all in all I am excited for our new season.
Deciding whether to keep homeschooling
Mike and I have always approached each new year of homeschool with the intention of continuing only if it works for well for both our family and the individual child. We never had a rigid plan that we’d homeschool until “x” grade.
It has always been a decision where we have considered what the child wants, what would be in their best interest and whether or not it added to or deducted from the unity and happiness of our family.
As our oldest approached High School we discussed alternative options. He was interested enough that he toured our local public school at the end of his 7th grade year. It didn’t feel like a good fit at the time, but not because we had a bad experience. Meeting the staff and touring the school actually made the choice harder. We live in a great school district.
As he entered High School, though, he was more interested. At that time we thought Classical Conversation would be the best of both worlds and tried that out for 2 years. In the end, it didn’t fit well for us.
After we exited Classical Conversations, the thought of alternative schooling was back on our mind. My oldest was craving community outside the home which is normal (and we welcome) as our children grow into teenagers. A strong foundation laid at home and confident independence as our children transition into young adults is one our main goals as parents.
We *almost* pulled the trigger last year, but in the end he and my husband made the choice to stay homeschool another year. AJ’s decision *might* have been swayed a little bit by a certain young lady who was also homeschooled… ahem.
He would benefit from outside accountability.
By the middle of last school year we knew that once he received his driver’s license it would be a good idea to encourage outside accountability. We didn’t know what that would look like, though. We were also butting heads with balancing a teenager’s necessary need for independence with boundaries all while wading through uncharted parenting waters, navigating them as best as we could.
Through a lot of trial and even some big errors we ended up coming up with a plan, but not without hitting a few brick walls from time to time. The conclusion? The seed that was planted in our mind that he needed outside accountability paired with his nagging need for more autonomy brought us to offer him a few solutions.
Mike and I had long ago decided that at the age of 16 our children would be required to hold a job and earn money to cover car insurance, maintenance and gas. Our oldest already was meeting these requirements. To allow them to foster a bit more responsibility for their own education we decided to add another requirement.
At 16 our children will be required to seek out a portion of their own education, in their own way, on their own, outside our home. This may look different for each child. AJ is our oldest which means this is our first year attempting this. I have NO idea how this will turn out. Again, y’all, I am totally winging most of the time… I’ll keep you posted.
Here are some of the acceptable options
- Full time job that instills a more specialized skill while finishing their high school classes at home.
- Part time job shadowing in a field of interest while finishing their high school classes at home.
- Attending a local community college for dual enrollment classes and conducting the rest of their credit hours at home.
- Working on a certificate or job program (like a cosmetology certificate) while finishing their high school classes at home.
- Full time private, online or public school to finish their credit hours.
We are now public school parents, too.
AJ chose public school this year and is excited to start! It is a whole new world to me (school physicals, proof of guardianship, proof of residency, transcript transfers, etc) and if I am being honest it’s a bit overwhelming. I am confident he will do amazing and have no problem adjusting to the new environment. I’ll keep you posted on how it all goes!
How are you schooling your kids this year?
Here is a video of our family getting ready for this new season!