To the Homeschooling Mom Who Changes Her Mind

by Laura on May 2, 2012

Dear Homeschooling Mom Who Is Considering Putting Your Kids In School Next Year,

Even if you’ve waved the homeschooling banner strong in years past, you are not less of a mother for considering sending your kids to public school full-time. It is not failure to change direction mid-course, and it doesn’t in any way mean that your friends who still homeschool are proving superior motherhood.

You do the best you can for your kids, each school year. And you should have the freedom to decide that that definition of  “best” might just change from year to year, from child to child, from season to season.

It’s okay to backpedal, to sell your curriculum, to trade the pajama-days for the alarm-clock ones. And it’s okay to be looking forward to work outside the home again, or an easier relationship with one of your kids, or the space to really miss your children. There are a million factors to consider, and please, please give yourself the freedom to consider them honestly. While we can ideally head in a direction, life changes, and we have to figure the story out as we’re in the middle of the stage living it. Maybe you never expected this when you were deciding about that, back then. And that’s really, really okay. A mother is no fortune-teller.

Sometimes the lines we draw in the sand need to be erased, redrawn, or leaped over.  Maybe one of our greatest mistakes early on is that we drew them too deep in the first place.

But, God is a God who carries our kids, who works good in all things and in all places, and he is most definitely not limited by where our little ones spend their learning hours.  Truly. Just be open to prayer, follow your peace, allow for different paths for different kids, and really listen to your spouse.

Know that there will be things that you hate about sending you kids to school, just like there are things you probably hated about homeschooling. But, there’ll be things you love, too. And this is natural and to be expected– life is never all good or all bad.

And just like you homeschooled them because you knew in your gut that it was the most loving gift you could give your kids, be willing to admit that maybe sending them to school, this year, is an extravagant love-gift to them, as well.

With lots of love and grace for the line-jumping,

another homeschooling mom, considering school for next year


Related. Favorite Homeschooling BooksHomeschooling Stations  |  The One on Homeschooling

What ideals have you had to reconsider lately?

Thoughts on homeschooling vs. public/private school? Thoughts on why mothers are so hard on each other in their kid-decisions?

  • Marissa

    I love the ideals and opportunity of homeschooling, and we’ve long waffled back and forth over it.  But just lately I realized I’m not in a place where I can do it constructively, and I think – at this point in our lives –  it will just become another avenue for fear and insecurity to thrive.  Just this week, we’ve decided to do traditional 1st grade for our oldest child this year, and I was a little weepy over it today, so this was a timely post.  Thanks for this!

    • lauraparkerblog

       Marissa, so good to hear from you.  “Not in a place where I can do it constructively”. Honestly, that is where I am on many levels.  Thanks for your honesty– prayers from here to there in this first year of traditional school!

  • Jennifer DeVries

    I feel guilty for being in the opposite boat. I homeschool and love it, but our move to Taiwan puts us in a place where we don’t have the option to homeschool while we are full-time language students for our first two years here. I know that the school is great and prestigious and will teach things I can’t, like Mandarin. But I’m still in a period of mourning for the life we live and love.

    • lauraparkerblog

       Girl, don’t feel guilty about liking homeschooling!  That’s awesome. I think it’s so different for each person/family/season.  I loved homeschooling in the states, but I am learning here that b/c life is slower and more isolating, my kids really need the connection that school gives. For us, we just need some space from each other , I think. But i do get the “mourning for the life we loved” — oh, that’s hard.  But, You are wise– NO WAY you can do full time language AND homeschool. Hang in there in Taiwan!  lots of love from here, L

  • sherri

    Totally agreeing!!!! We home schooled for years, but now the kids are in a private TCK school.  It was time when we switched.  If we had stayed in the US, maybe I would have home educated all the way thru. But in Ethiopia at this time for these/ our  kids, their school is best.  

    • lauraparkerblog

       I hear ya, Sherri.  I think the mission field is a strange boat for homeschooling/schooling.  Sometimes it’s really necessary to provide a community for the kids if there is a good school closeby. And sometimes you just have to homeschool b/c that isn’t an option.  Anyone have any opinions about missionaries sending their kids to boarding school?  Another option for MKs, I know.

      Glad your kids are happy!

      • sherri

        My children are much older than yours.  2nd one heading to college this August. We did boarding in the past and may do it again.  We have the option to board our children in the same country as us so we can see them a couple times a month and talk daily by phone.  

        Also it is VERY common in our area of Africa to send high schoolers to Kenya for boarding school.  Most have a very positive experience.  Our kids did not want to leave Ethiopia so we did not pursue that option.  I just learn NEVER say NEVER. 😉

        • lauraparkerblog

          Oh, like that– Never say Never, in regards to raising kids!  Neat to hear that boarding is a positive experience for many in Kenya.  I have to say, that idea is a hard one to take, esp with younger children.  I guess high school is a different thing. 

  • Mom2twoboys

    Homeschooled for 4 years.  In homeschool “co-op” 2 years.  Left our country of service.  Both boys refused to be homeschooled any longer when we came back to the US.  It was time for them to be in school, and they’re loving it (1/2 year last year, and all of this year).  While I probably could have continued homeschooling my oldest (just finishing 9th grade), my youngest (just finishing grade 7) and I get along MUCH better when I am not the teacher.  Honestly, if there comes a time that it’s best for your kid to be in school, and you have a decent school for said kid to be in, it’s not an admission of failure to do so!

    • lauraparkerblog

       Love your description of your journey here and the admission that sometimes NOT homeschooling is helpful for a relationship with a certain child. I really love that you said:
      “Honestly, if there comes a time that it’s best for your kid to be in
      school, and you have a decent school for said kid to be in, it’s not an
      admission of failure to do so!”
      YES!  It’s not a failure to make a midcourse correction . . .

  • @ngie

    “Listen to your spouse”… yep. DaRonn was the one to see the need for a change with our family. Can I tell you the pride and guilt that surfaced when he hired a dear missionary friend to tutor our kids in a couple subjects to help me out? She was single, had the time, loved our kids, taught bi-lingual fluently, worked on our team, AND had a masters in elementary education. Still, I fought that sense of lost identity and the awful F word… yes, I felt like a failure. It took about half the school year for me to accept that this was a good decision. Then by the end of that same school year, when we decided to start our own private school, I was ready for it. I welcomed it. I felt like the home school season had come to an end for our family for that time. You spoke truth here. May your person growth through this transition time be to the benefit of each member of your family. 

    • lauraparkerblog

      I think you are right on that sometimes our husbands can get a reading on the family’s needs even better than we, entrenched as we are in the schooling. I know, for me, Matt has been able to step back and read the gauge of the entire family whereas I tend to focus on just one child’s needs. And sometimes, the needs of the greater good just trump what may be ideally best for one kid of the family. And I have to trust God’s hand in even that. Loved hearing about your schooling story, friend. . . .

  • Jenn

    I have homeschooled, private-schooled, and now public-schooled. There are definitely pro’s and con’s of each. But I have learned that if I seek God and have my kids where He wants them, He gives me peace and grace for that decision. I’m also learning to make choices from a place of faith, rather than from a place of fear. 

    • lauraparkerblog

      Jenn, what a great word– to make decisions based on faith and not fear. Man, that applies to so much in life, doesn’t it?

  • Andrea Ward

    Beautiful and full of grace.  Thank you for writing this.

    • lauraparkerblog

      My pleasure. Thanks for the kind words.

  • Sheryl

    I work with missionary kids and their parents.  Helping parents decide on the best plan possible for their kids is no easy task.  I’ve developed the mantra, “Have a plan, but don’t sacrifice your child to the plan.”  Education is not an easy task.  Changing the plan because it’s best for those involved is wisdom with her running shoes on.  Thanks for letting other parents know they have permission to move to Plan B, C or Q as their needs change.

    • lauraparkerblog

      YES!  Moving to plan Q is a viable option and in no way speaks failure. Thanks for the work you do with MKs. It is really truly important.

  • Duane & Carin Guthrie

    I am one such mom! I put my kids into an international school here in Bolivia because homeschooling was just too much for me here, even though I loved it in Canada! We as a family decided it was the right thing to do and our kids were excited to go. I liked your comment about having an easier relationship with one of your children, that would certainly be my case as well :0) Bless you in all your new adventures;0)

  • Elizabeth

    Re: boarding school.  I went to boarding school as a young MK right up until I graduated and went to university.  If I tell you how young my 3 siblings and I were when we started, you will probably judge my parents!  However, it was GREAT.  If we could go back and change it, we wouldn’t.  We had an amazing, fun, unique experience at our boarding schools (one elementary, one secondary).  There is so much I could say on this topic, here a few points:
    -there were no other good, viable options for us at the time.  God’s grace was sufficient for the situation.-we loved it.  That is not to say it wasn’t hard….of course goodbyes were hard-we all have a close, healthy relationship with our parents.  We didn’t feel ‘abandoned for the sake of the mission work’ or anything like that.-every family is different, every kid is different.  In a mission family with 3 kids perhaps you might find one who would do best at boarding school, one who would do best with being home schooled and one who would do best at a local, public school.  My hat is off to wise parents who make the best choice for their individual children.  Of course, sometimes a family doesn’t have the luxury of choice.-I think it is very tempting to secretly question families who make different choices than you (that applies to all of us!)-the school some of your commenters mentioned in Kenya is Rift Valley Academy.  An incredible school with first rate staff, academics and other programs.  I was lucky enough to go there for 4 years.”But, God is a God who carries our kids, who works good in all things and in all places”  This even applies to a 6 year old who doesn’t see their parents for 3 months at a time.  Would I send my six year old to boarding school?  I can’t imagine.  However, somehow, astonishingly, in God’s amazing grace it worked out.   Never say never.

    • lauraparkerblog

      So glad you wrote in and soooo glad you had good experiences! I think this is a really good insight for other missionaries to hear . . . the good stories. And RVA is where two of my friends from home work! I have heard great things about it, too.

      Thanks for sharing your story and for reminding us that everyone is different and situations/kids are vastly different, too. There is never a “thus saith the Lord” on educational choices, for sure.

      Have a great week!

  • Stephanie (MomKaboodle)

    Oh boy, did I need to hear these words – thank you! My husband decided that this year my 7-year-old would go to public school. There was much crying and screaming and gnashing of teeth on my part. {some of it was definitely a pride issue – ugh! SO not proud of that!}.
    Now clearly we’re only into the 3rd week, but can I tell you that my boy LOVES it? He comes home happy and excited, and he can’t WAIT to go to school the next day. And I finally feel like I can breathe. Deep, full breaths. My 3-year-old and I spend the days together and we do some preschool together while we wait for her brother to come home. Overall, everyone seems more relaxed and happier. And for a while I felt guilty about that!
    So again, thank you for this post!

    • Laura Parker

      Oh, Stephanie,
      I hear you. HOnestly, I think in many ways we are allll happy with my older two in school, too. I feel like I just have space, you know? and I am finding that my time after school with them is more intentional because I can get all the house stuff/work stuff done while they are away. I, too, love spending some intentional time with my preschoolers too. . .

      Hang in there– glad you are seeing some fruits of the decision!! Sometimes our husbands can see things more clearly than we can, right in the middle of it, ya know?

  • Frances

    Your article felt like a big hug to me. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  • Anna

    I know I’m late to the party! Great article:) As an MK who was born and raised in Thailand…waaaay out in the boonies…my parents made the decision to homeschool us. Looking back, it is incredible to see how God used as us little kids to open doors that may have been quite difficult otherwise. We built friendships with kids who in turn wanted to meet our parents, a smile and fluent Thai from my 4 year old brother made a Thai guard forget to ask for our passports….which were expired. Education is such a difficult decision for those on overseas serving as missionaries. I don’t judge parents at all for not choosing to homeschool. I will say that my childhood was so rich in the adventures I was given thanks to homeschooling.

  • Frank Hudson

    Hi – I am Faye Butler NTM and also homeschooling 2 kids. Thanks for your encouragement!

    Josh and Faye Butler NTM

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