When I began blogging about our transition from home school to public school, my real life friend, Lisa, encouraged me greatly. She’s done the transition and then transitioned back… and she graciously agreed to guest post for me and share her story of transitioning from home school to public school. My hope is that her story would encourage someone else too. Thanks Lisa!!
So, without further ado… here’s Lisa from My Story…
Six years ago my husband and I had one son in first grade, another son in preschool, and a three year old daughter still at home. Two years prior, when it was time for our oldest son to begin school, we enrolled him in our local public school without much thought about any other schooling options. We had both been public school attendees and although there were a few bumps and bruises along the way, we both emerged from our public school experience relatively unscathed. Public school for our children seemed like a fine option.
The transition into kindergarten for Andrew went mostly okay. For me, it was much harder. I hated sending him off into someone else’s care all morning – someone I didn’t know or choose. I was constantly dissatisfied with the lack of communication between home and school and I felt that Andrew wasn’t being challenged enough academically. On the bright side, however, was the fact that God was teaching me to trust him more fully and I was learning what the verse, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17) really meant.
Although it was challenging at times, thankfully Andrew and I both survived that first year of school!
First grade brought a new teacher, new influences, new situations to navigate through, new adjustments, and new frustrations. Although I continued to “pray without ceasing,” we began to see some behaviors in Andrew that concerned us, with the main issue being anger. By Christmas my husband and I were convinced something needed to change.
At the same time we were dealing with Andrew’s issues, we were also observing our second son exploding academically. He had taught himself to read at age four and was extremely precocious and social. We began to feel concern over how Matthew would handle kindergarten. Would he be bored or act out in class? Would he be challenged? Public school kindergarten just didn’t seem like a great option for Matthew. And so we began to pray, seek God’s counsel and explore our options.
Years before during my time in college, while pursuing a degree in Elementary Education, I had done research on homeschooling as an alternative to traditional schooling options and it intrigued me. I also knew people who were making that choice for their children and I wondered if homeschooling was a viable option for our family as well.
So after much prayer and in consideration of the unique issues our sons were facing, we decided that we would, in fact, educate our children at home. At the time we felt it was what God was calling us to and so we walked forward in obedience, not fully knowing what it would be like or where God would eventually lead.
That year of homeschooling was such a blessing for so many reasons. I loved having complete control over what my children were learning, I loved the freedom that came from not having the school system dictate our schedule, I loved the amount of time we were able to spend together as a family and I loved being able to incorporate our faith into our learning. By Christmas, we had settled into a routine and had, more or less, adjusted to the newness of our situation.
And yet I started to really struggle. Having never really settled into the homeschool community in our area, I became very lonely. On top of that, I was dealing with some health issues and was suffering from a serious case of insomnia, which would ultimately plague me for many months. Emotionally I was starting to wonder how much longer I could go on in our current situation. And so we prayed. And prayed. And prayed. We limped our way through months of confusion … months of questions to God … months of wondering what God wanted us to do as it related to the education of our children … months of simply wanting to do what was best for our family, but not really knowing what that was. And for months, God seemed silent.
And then finally he spoke. But what he said wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. He didn’t necessarily say, “you must keep homeschooling” or “you need to send your boys back to public school and then all your struggles will disappear.” What God revealed to me during those months when I assumed he was being silent was that where our family, and more specifically, the education of our children was concerned, it was not an issue of right vs. wrong. It wasn’t that one choice was right and one was wrong. Initially I was very disappointed with God’s answer. I wanted so badly for God to tell me specifically that one choice was better than the other because I was so consumed with not making the wrong decision. But instead I believe that God wanted me to know that he could bless either situation if only I would trust him completely and surrender my all (and my children) to him.
In the end, we did decide to send our boys back to public school after just one year of homeschooling. Although I’m sure there were times when we struggled some with that decision, what I remember most about that time is the peace God placed in my heart. It was as if God blessed us for finally letting go of the control we thought we needed to have, remembering that he was all my children needed no matter where they were going to school.
Five years have now passed since our decision was made and our children are thriving in public school. Although he’s continued to give us a peace about our decision, I’ve often struggled with feeling like a failure … like I’m not as good of a mother because although I gave homeschooling a try, we ultimately decided that our children needed to be in public school. Some of that comes from a perceived notion that one choice is still better than the other. Thankfully, though, I’m loved by an incredibly gracious and merciful God who takes pleasure in reminding me that he is at work in my life as well as the lives of my children. And regardless of where he calls us, he wants our obedience and will equip us to do what he’s asked us to do. With God’s help, I send my kids to school every day. I continue to “pray without ceasing,” I trust in his plan for our family and I find great comfort in knowing that no matter what my children experience during their day at school, God is always right there with them, holding their hands, guiding them and giving them the courage and strength they need to handle whatever comes up throughout the day. With God’s strength I surrender my children to him even when I’d rather not let them out of my care.
Yes, there are times when they are faced with situations that we would probably not choose for them, but we know that in those times and when we can’t be with them physically, they are always in the presence of their God and Savior.
Occasionally I find myself wondering why God took us on this particular journey – from public school to homeschooling and back to public school. Although our journey is somewhat non-traditional, I believe that ultimately it was to teach us that God always has a plan, that he is incredibly merciful, that he is with us no matter where life takes us, that his plan may take us to places we’d never expec t, that we are called to obey and that he can be trusted.
Learning just one of those precious truths about God would make the journey worthwhile, but having the opportunity to learn so much more was just one of the many ways God blessed our family. The journey, for our family, was less about how we chose to educate our children and more about being obedient to the calling of Christ on our lives. Praise God that he is faithful no matter where he calls us!