From Homeschool to Public School

BlogHer Original Post

Our family started homeschooling in the Fall of '99 when we moved here and decided that the PS was not a great fit for Boy. Girl came into homeschooling after second grade two years later because she felt "we were having too much fun."

And for the next eight years, we lived a homeschooling-based life. That life changed last year when our youngest, Girl, entered 10th grade at the local public school. So as we start our second year of public school, I thought it was time to reflect on what I miss from our homeschooling days and the positives I see from the choices we made.

Homeschooling is not just an educational choice, it is a family life-style choice, and to me, it begins and ends with the idea that an education should be made to fit the child and their family. Homeschooling gave us the freedom to make that happen. (For anyone looking for homeschooling info; this post is sort of an intro, or scan the Nuts and Bolts category of my blog.)

So while Hubby and I would have things that we required the child study, we also allowed them the freedom to follow their interests.

But more than that, it meant that we could take each day and strive for an optimal balance between what had to get done and what we wanted to do.

A good example of that was going sledding.

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Around here we get 'maybe' 3 good snow falls per year. (I consider a good snow fall around here to be one that actually covers the ground to the point that you probably won't see lawn grass.) Some years, we won't even get one. Because we're in the Midwest, there is only a couple of places around where you can really sled, and so when it snows, those places get PACKED as soon as the public schools get out for the day. And with our amount of snow, the hill quickly gets rubbed bare and turned to mud.

Our typical solution was to spend the morning getting the absolute "had to be done" seatwork completed so that we could all meet for a couple hours of sledding before the PS kids got out.

When I look back on our homeschooling adventure, there was the obvious pleasure that came from watching the kids learn and being able to be part of that process, but what I find myself missing is the freedom the life style gave us.

These days, we march to the public school drum and while my homeschooling friends are talking about pulling plans together for the new year, deciding what they are doing for co-op and field trips and discussing books, we aren't part of it. Our life has certainly changed.

This year, she and I spent about 60 minutes in the local office supply store picking up notebooks, folders, pencils, and locker decorations ... oh, and a new school bag! And she's ready for school. It's very different from our homeschooling years where the summer would be spent talking to her and Hubby about her interests and our requirements and then tracking down the materials and supplies we'd need for the year. And right about now, I would be trying to make a preliminary plan of our schedule to insure that everything got covered.

The past year, I watched Girl deal with new situations and challenges. Her years of being homeschooled meant that coming into the high school, she was in a very different position than even a child that was transferring schools.

She knew very few of the kids (our local high school runs about 2000 kids); and of the ones she knew, none of them would be described as close friends; but she was also new to the entire system of public education.

The decision to have her go to the public school was not easy; but with year number two about to start, I have to say that for her, she has flourished. Watching her this past year, it is hard to know how much of her attitude in dealing with the school comes from her distinctive personality and would be there whether she had been homeschooled or not, but I can say that she doesn't approach high school like anyone I knew growing up.

And I love that while she seems to have figured out the system and how to make it work for herself, she also sees that the "accepted" way of the system may not be the only way.

And best of all -- the same curiosity that could get us discussing the organization of the periodic table in the middle of studying biography has her requesting books by Thomas Malthus and Dante.

Who knows what her last two years of high school will bring, but I know she will make them her own. And isn't that the whole point?

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