Monday, August 22, 2011

Back to School--wherever you choose school to be

My kids all go back to school this week (I go back to school this week too!), so I guess the back-to-school theme has been on my mind lately.

Source: None via Shelly on Pinterest

Along those lines, I saw a comment on a blog recently that I just can’t get out of my mind.

The blog post was from a mom who was pouring out her heart about sending her first child off to first grade. Lots of conflicting, difficult emotions there.

I remember.

But the comment. Oh, the comment. I can’t help it, but it has bothered me so much I want to scream.

The commenter basically said something like this: “Well, if you homeschooled you could just keep her with you all the time and enjoy all those precious moments of learning together.”

Where do I begin? There is just so much wrong there.

For one thing, the sweet young mama who wrote the post might not have had a choice. She might need to work outside the home to support her family, as many moms do.

On the other hand, she may have also chosen to send her child to school—whether private or public—for reasons that are personal to her and her husband.

And for a third . . . well, I can’t think of a third. Do I have to?

I know many moms who have chosen to homeschool. That’s their right and their privilege. My husband and I chose—CHOSE—public school for our children for many reasons, all equally valid.

The homeschooling mother who made that comment probably wasn’t thinking at the moment. She was probably just so thrilled with her choice that she thought everyone would be happy if they did the same.

But I’ve had friends do that to me early on in our schooling career—try to persuade me that their way (homeschooling) was the best way—and I have to say it turned me off more than anything.

I have never tried to persuade anyone to put their kids in public school. I will happily tell you of our experience, if asked, but I would never say to you, “Well, if you put your child in school you’d have so much more time to serve the Lord elsewhere” or something equally as inane.

I guess the reason that comment got to me was because I just plain don’t want someone else making my educational choice for my children and my family. And I don’t want to make that choice for you or yours.

So what do you think? Was that mom out of line? Or does she have a point?


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  1. I think homeschooling is great if you can do it. I have dear friends who do it or have done it.

    While working with my daughter on homework over the weekend I certainly thought that if we homeschooled I could better control the content of her textbooks.

    But I know it is not right for us for so many more reasons.

    I fully support people who can and who are willing to do it. But don't tell me that I MUST do it in order to be a good parent.

  2. Our kids have gone to a private Christian school all of their schoolin' lives. With the small exception of one guy staying home one year ( and that's another story).

    I agree with you. That was our choice, and it was great for our family.

    Raising children is such a personal issue. I think there are over-arching principles and goals which should guide this process... but... in the end... our individual families are stamped with our personalities.

    Martin Luther said, "It is frightening to think that we mark our children simply by being ourselves."

    Parenting is a huge mission! It requires a lot of wisdom with extra doses of grace... from our children... and from ourselves... and hopefully from our support network.

    Personally, I don't see how anyone survives the parenting process without the Holy Spirt providing the *power* and the *wisdom*.

  3. I totally agree Linda. I have friends as well who have or are currently homeschooling. I think that's great if thats what you want to do....I however, do not.

    I've had a few moments while working on homework with my daughter that I thought I would surely choke her if we had opted for homeschool. Our public school is just where she needs to be - we have other circumstances as well - and she needs the social interaction too.

    I appreciate that people say that homeschooling vs public school is better for them...but I don't think that sole decision merits me with either the 'good' parent or 'bad' parent reward either.

  4. Well said Shelly.

    In my house I've used the prospect of homeschooling as a threat . . . not really, but we all know I am not wired to do it and thankfully we have excellent public schools!

    I'm probably not as gracious as you as I am always extolling the benefits of public schools - especially where we live. We need to keep strong families involved there.

  5. There are so many issues that this happens with. Breastfeeding is another emotional landmine - just as an example. You nailed it when you said "the one who made that comment probably wasn’t thinking at the moment. She was probably just so thrilled with her choice that she thought everyone would be happy if they did the same." Yep - that's it. How often do we all say things without thinking how they will make others feel? (I am an expert on this subject - Ahem)

    Wisdom - I pray for it daily. And grace. This post is a great reminder to walk in love and bridle our tongues. Have an AWESOME back to school week!

  6. One of the interesting things I've found with moms is that we can be so passionate about what we love that we often don't consider that in the end, MOST parents want the same thing--healthy, happy, successful children (however you define those things), but that there are multiple means to that end.

    I think one of our main challenges as women is to find ways to support and lift each other up on our way towards that goal.

  7. Ooooh. Actually, the words 'Aaaaargh, matey' came to my mind. (my kids know who's frustrated when they hear those words!) And just as quickly - 'could've been me being thoughtless and quick with the words...before.' Before the Refiner's fire which caused a whole lot of changes. Growth. God has a path for each of us. And our kids. And I want myself - and my kids - on it. No apology needed, no criticism implied, no judgment accepted. Support freely given, and gladly taken.
    Just so you know, we have a foot in both worlds. My wonderful husband will be homeschooling one, and the other will be out in the general population. Different needs...different solutions.

  8. We've had this conversation before and I am so glad that you put it out there how y'all made your choice to do what you felt was best for your family. My kids go to public school (H started Kindergarten this morning as you know) and I know that it is the right decision for our family. I also know that I hear God and if it wasn't the right decision for us, I would be hearing about it for Him.

    The truth is, we all have the ability to hear and see God moving. He will direct each of us, even if it is in different directions.

    Well said, friend.

  9. What an interesting question. Me? I've done it all. We homeschooled through grades 4 and 2; small private Christian school for grades 5 and 3; huge public school system for the next three years, and now with the oldest, a Charter High School. All that to's about what is right for YOUR family in whatever season you find yourself. I think maybe the original poster may have spoken out of her passion for her season....

    Though I wouldn't trade those years of being home and schooling the kiddos, I know that right now, God has something more for them "out in the world." They both need more than what they can get at home (for school).

    Does that absolve me of the responsibility of teaching them? NO WAY!!! It only adds to it! My husband and I are ultimately responsible for these children He's given us, and we have decided to use whatever method works for a particular season.

    Thanks for the reminder!!!

  10. I agree. It sounds like to me the woman writing the initial blog was looking for support, not critique. She wasn't asking for a judgment of her personal decision, but simply encouragement because of the emotions that accompanied it. And having a bit of sadness or sentimentality doesn't make the decision wrong (or wouldn't all of our lives be full of wrong decisions?!)

    It is a sensitive topic to begin with because people do feel so strongly about this issue, but grace needs to be extended to one another as we recognize God has different plans for different families, and that may change year to year and child to child!

    Hope your new job is off to a great start! I've prayed for you!

  11. It is interesting, because the entire many years we homeschooled our daughters, I never talked about it. We had lots of friends that didn't even know we homeschooled.

    The reason I didn't ever bring it up . . . is instantly people thought I wanted them to homeschool. Not true.

    It is a great priviledge and responsiblity that we have in America, to have so many choices and being intentional about what is right for your family . . . so important.

    (end of sermon) :)


  12. Yes, that mom was out of line. Thank you for speaking so well (but still so compassionately) on this issue. This - like all parenting decisions - is a personal, often difficult choice for parents to make. Criticizing someone else's choice, based on what's best for MY family, doesn't even make sense!

  13. I agree with you wholeheartedly, Shelly! And that doesn't imply that I or you want to start some sort of educational mommy wars either. It's just that we all need to truly respect each others' decisions about how we educate our children. There are all sorts of great options these days and they simply are not the same in all places or for all families either. We must be respecters of circumstances, economics, educational background, priorities (such as music, drama, sports, etc.) and how those play into the equation, etc.

    I applaud homeschoolers but I know that choice would not have been wise or best for either of my children or for me. They have had a mixture of private and public schooling (mostly public) and it has worked well for them and our family. But, like you, I would never judge others for making different choices.

    Well said, Shelly.

  14. Thanks for this, Shelley. You expressed my thoughts exactly. I feel like many people homeschool because they are afraid, and that seems like the wrong reason to me. But I still always feel sort of judged for not jumping on the homeschool bandwagon. Reading that someone else intentionally chose public school makes me feel validated.

  15. I never dreamed I would be a homeschooler, but one day I was "called" to do it. Scared me to death, but I just couldn't get away from that darned voice that was calling me.

    That's what people need to know about homeschooling--or whatever kind of schooling they choose. If you are "called" to a certain path, God gives you the strength to deal with it. Otherwise, the daily struggle of doing things "solo" (w/o calling) will squash you pretty quickly.