Friday my son went to school


It happened so fast.  I called a consultant to help me teach math, and she was very gung-ho on trying the school. The same day, I met with the school to tell them I’m homeschooling, and I felt scared to lose the only part of the community I have gotten to know during the year I’ve lived in rural America.

Then my six-year-old had a crying fit that he hates living on the farm. Maybe it is because he is sick of me fighting with my husband. My son said we could live in the city and see my husband once a week just like we see my ex husband – my son’s birth dad – once a week. My son painted a city picture of a parade of dads.

He also said he wants to be able to walk to friends’ houses again. Not that he ever did that. We never lived in a house long enough for him to make a friend. He’s moved five times in six years. So of course he thinks it’s time to move.

So I deal with the friends part of the problem and I put him in school. He asked to go. He said he wanted to be with other kids.

I know a hard-core homeschooler would say, “The parent decides.” But I didn’t have the guts. Or the heart. Or the brains. I don’t know what I was missing.

23 replies
  1. leftbrainfemale
    leftbrainfemale says:

    Here is one area, Penelope, where I will tell you do NOT feel guilty. I had friends who tried to guilt me into continuing to homeschool once I had made the decision to put the kids in public school. The one thing I always maintained is that homeschooling is NOT for everyone, and we must all do what we feel called to do – not to do something because it’s what everyone else believes is right. It’s another reason why homeschool groups never quite fit into our plan – most of the people that we met when we went to a homeschool organized event were gung-ho homeschool only. When we started, family and friends thought we were nuts, but we did what we felt was important for our family. When we got to the point that it no longer seemed the best option, we switched gears and our homeschooling friends dropped us. Just pay attention to your kids and your life; no one else can make the best decisions for you. And, if at some point school no longer seems the best, you can revisit the issue.

    • Sarah
      Sarah says:

      Wow, sounds like your HS community stunk. I can’t imagine not being friends with everyone we’ve met through homeschooling regardless of how they currently educate their kids.

      • leftbrainfemale
        leftbrainfemale says:

        I wouldn’t even be that hard on them – but living in the south, they were pretty conservative – in some ways more so than we, but socially we were not quite so controlling. We just tend more to “live and let live”.

  2. Sarah
    Sarah says:

    I hope hard-core homeschoolers would say you made the best choice for your family. If he doesn’t want to be home, then is it worth the fight? He could change his mind and you can pull him out anytime you want. I know families where some kids want to be in school and others do not. They make it work. How does your other son feel?

  3. Penelope Trunk
    Penelope Trunk says:

    I have to say, I think my son was largely disappointed with school. I think it’s boring to him, although he has not quite said that. What he does say is that he doesn’t like that his brother stays at home with me while he’s at school.

    I have to say that my older son and I have a very good time homeschooling — although there have only been two official days of it. And I can see why the younger one would not want to miss out.

    I think school will not last in our family.

    I am struck by the comment about homeschooling families dropping families who stop. It hadn’t occurred to me that it’s like an in-group thing.


  4. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    You tried to set up three days a week for your younger son in the public school which would have allowed for him to have both a public and home school education. The public school was not agreeable to that idea. The reason given was that – “he’ll fall behind”. I think it’s BS. I think it’s more about inflexibility than anything else but, hey, what do I know – just my opinion. Your younger son had to make a decision – home school or public school – and learned that he couldn’t have it all.

    • Mark W.
      Mark W. says:

      However, I also want to add he’ll still be getting home schooled after school. Just maybe not as much as if he went to school three days a week.

      • Lori
        Lori says:

        no offense, mark, and maybe you didn’t mean it this way, but i think it’s ludicrous when people say that they plan to do the same things (as hs’ing) with their kids after school. it’s similar to saying to anyone about their full-time job, “yeah, i’m thinking i’ll do that, too, in my free time – in the evenings – between meals and chores and homework and tv.”

  5. Jana Miller
    Jana Miller says:

    no guilt trip here…some times kids need to see what they think they are missing out on to appreciate what they have. All my son’s public school friends wish their moms would let them homeschool…hahah

  6. Zellie
    Zellie says:

    You, the parent, did decide. It’s true that kids that age don’t necessarily know what’s good for them, but you made the decision, and no one should second-guess you.

    Probably the home situation is way more critical than the school at this point. This combination you have now may help smooth things out and make them manageable for you. After this year, you’ll be an experienced homeschooling mom and be even better equipped to decide what to do next year.

    I’m rooting for you all!

  7. Tony
    Tony says:

    Don’t be hard on yourself. Pragmatism has much going for it. In this case it would make sense, your older son will more likely to flourish with 1:1 teaching, being on the autistic spectrum, whereas your youngest will benefit from being, and developing, with other kids his age.

    The skills he’ll be developing in a school environment; negotiation, teamwork, competition, with a variety of other individuals are surely those that really matter in the world of work. These are hard to synthesize in the home.

    There’s nothing to say you can’t include your younger son in home-schooling activities after school, it can augment and enhance what he’s learning at school. It may well help to keep him interested in what’s going on in class.

  8. Jen
    Jen says:

    My oldest daughter spent 3rd grade in a private Montessori school because she wanted to “go to school.” By the end of the year when re-enrollment and tuition were due, she asked to return to homeschooling, and has been homeschooling ever since (she is now in the 7th grade).

    We homeschool in the South, but we are NOT one of those families who thinks everyone should homeschool. It’s what works for us, and that’s all there is to it. To others we say YMMV. Fortunately, our homeschooling friends are open-minded and not militant. I think it really does depend on the group one is in, and the sorts of people in the group.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      I’m encouraged to hear that your daughter chose to go back to homeschooling. I’m definitely hoping that my son makes that choice.

      The whole idea of letting a six-year-old choose his own schooling genre. I don’t know. I never thought I’d be doing this. So I like hearing that others have done it.


      • Lori
        Lori says:

        this is one of the most frequent questions i get asked, and it’s always in a breathless, provoking manner: what will you do if they say they want to go to school?! i reply, what would you say if your child said they wanted to be homeschooled? they are nonplussed. “uh… i would say no.”

        a hs’ing parent should feel just as free to say no to a child who wants to go to school. sorry, kid, but we care too much about your education! but .. hs’ers *in general* are a group who seem to care more about letting their kids have a say in their education *and* i would venture a guess that many hs’ers have a soupçon of insecurity about their choice. so they’re probably a billion times more likely to say “okay, you can try it” than a public-schooling parent is likely to say to their kid asking to be homeschooled “okay, you can try it.”

        i think many five- and six-year-olds think they want to go to school because they have youthful, naive ideas about what it is. my younger son, at 5, went through a phase of saying he might want to go to school to be with his friends. my older son explained that school isn’t about playing or talking or making things together, so just see your friends after school – it’s easier.

        • Alison
          Alison says:

          Penelope, I think you did the right thing, you are playing to your children’s strengths by homeschooling the one who needs the one on one, and letting the sociable one go to school.

          I’ve seen too many times a parent homeschool based on their childhood experiences in the system, even when the parent and child have wildly differing personality types. The decision to homeschool should never be made entirely by the parent, since it’s not the parent’s life that will be affected in the long term.

          Lori, were you homeschooled? If not, then I would suggest that YOU have youthful, naive ideas of what homeschooling and it’s outcomes are.

  9. Nowgirl
    Nowgirl says:

    I think the only thing you were missing was the kids! It’s tough when you’re six to get your social needs met when you’re out of town and not in school.

    Sounds like you are still on the farm? Good!

  10. Carole
    Carole says:

    I was disappointed you took the youngest out of school after hearing how much he loved being around people. Let him go to school. Homeschool the oldest who will benefit more from it. You are getting it right. Parenting is a dialogue.

  11. brooklynchick
    brooklynchick says:

    Every kid and every family is different. You do what you think is best, love them, and hope for the best. No matter what they will say “I hate you” at some point and go to therapy just like the rest of us. :)

  12. Jennifer B
    Jennifer B says:

    I’m very happy to hear you are letting your youngest go to school- especially when there was no reason to take him out in the first place.
    I imagine life on a farm being pretty lonely for a social child and I see removing a normally functioning child from his social outlet of school as a detriment to him. So kudos to you for listening to him.

  13. Heather
    Heather says:

    I think that when you finally feel strongly enough about the value of one or the other, these decisions will not feel so difficult or so questionable. I feel your pain because my husband and I went through a HORRIBLE patch (of more than a year) arguing and I know that this played heavily into my son not wanting to be at home. Add to it that he is a social BEAST and lamented similar to yours for things that he never did/had (so glad to see someone else dealing with it, too!)

    The only difference between you and I was that I was already convinced one way or the other about what was best for my child, what the repercussions would be for each route, and which one I felt was preferable for my household. These were things I knew in my core and were settled. So the decision made itself.

    But this is not a mindset that only affects education choices. Really, if you have clear goals about anything–retirement, lifestyle, etc.–then the decisions really make themselves. They either further progress to the goal or they don’t.

    When you feel strongly about the pros and cons of one or the other, you will feel more confident in what happens. And you will also then feel confident about correcting any mistakes you make (if you make them–I’m not saying what you did WAS a mistake). You will also be driven to making the changes.

    Good luck to you.

  14. Homeschooling Works
    Homeschooling Works says:

    It is to bad that you gave up on HS, I know it can be real tough having kids at home. It sounds like there were many more problems at home then your kid wanting to make friends and go to school. My kids are 5 and 8 years old, they have never been to school or day care and don’t ask to go to school. We also find it hard to make friends or find people who want to be friendly for that matter! We use a Charter program and attend some stuff but still never make those connections even though we are very friendly with others. We see family a lot more than friends and I am happy with that, none family friends are over rated anyway and my self as an adult don’t even talk to my own friends very often. Sure we have some family problems, who doesn’t, but we are learning everyday to overcome them. At least I know what the problems are so I can deal with them head on, when I could just send them to school and ignore our problems. Homeschooling for us is something that we feel is best for our children and we tell our children why we don’t send them to school. School does not fit into our families philosophy and we do not believe that school is a good environment for our children to grow in. My children would not want to go anyway, I mean what child would choose school over staying home and doing what they want? I am always learning about how children learn and the best way to give them a fulfilling home experience. I particularly like the unschool approach to learning, no schedule, standard curriculum, or school! I am sorry that this was your HS experience.

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