Why on Earth do we Homeschool One Child and Public School the Other?
Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. – Psalm 19:2
When we made the decision to homeschool, Connor was in 3rd grade and Makayla was in 7th grade. Both kids were excellent students and had no problems with peers or teachers. In fact, we liked our school district and thought the teachers were great. We didn’t really have any reason to pull our kids out of public school but, we were in a position to be able to homeschool and just felt like we could educate our kids more effectively. Once we decided we could do it and got our ducks in a row we talked to the kids about it.
Connor was on board; he was ready to stop doing tape diagrams explaining why 2+2=4. Makayla, on the other hand, was very conflicted. She liked the idea of learning at home but had trouble with the idea of leaving her friends and the daily drama she looked forward to at school. Curt and I struggled with that decision; part of us wanted to just tell her she was being homeschooled but again, she was doing well in school and we were afraid of messing with that. It came back around to “they will be fine, either way.”
So, the decision was made; Connor would be homeschooled and Makayla would stay in public school. We realized this was certainly an unconventional choice and would have its own unique challenges. Here are a few of the factors to consider when making this decision for your own family:
· Each Child is Unique. One of the greatest arguments for homeschooling is that every child is different and a one-size fits all approach to education doesn’t work. You can’t expect a classroom of 25 kids to all learn well using the same methods. So, that same logic holds true when deciding to homeschool your children. Just because homeschooling will work well for one child doesn’t mean it will work well for all children. Again, we felt like both kids would be fine in either learning environment so it came down to what they wanted and what would make them happy.
· Is everyone going to get a good education? We were in a pretty good situation when it came to this question. Our kids were good students and so even though our school district wasn’t winning any awards for academic excellence, we knew the kids were getting a good education because they tried hard and it was important to them. I also knew we could give them a good education at home too. There are so many resources and great curriculum out there we knew we could find the best ones for our family. We also really liked the idea of being able to decide together what we are going to learn and how. I also love that at home, the whole point is to learn things, so we can take as little or as much time as we need to do that. If we need extra time, we take it; if we get a concept quickly, we move on, we don’t have to wait for the rest of the class to catch up. In our situation, we knew that both kids would get a good education in either learning environment.
· Scheduling. Something to consider when deciding to combine homeschooling and public schooling is if you can work the schedule around both. Our schedule has always been pretty simple since we only have 2 kids. I could easily get Makayla to school and be back home to start homeschooling by 8:30. Connor is almost always done with his homeschool work before Makayla gets home from public school, leaving the late afternoon/evening to help Makayla with homework and school projects and be able to navigate everyone’s evening activities. If you have multiple children going different directions then it might be more challenging. I would suggest pulling out your calendar and figuring out how everything might work out.
· Is everyone onboard? This one was easy for us, everyone agreed on the plan and we all agreed that it wasn’t set in stone; we might decide homeschooling wasn’t a good choice for us or Makayla might decide she wanted to come home. A problem you could run into though is one or more of your children thinking it is unfair that they have to leave public school or that they are remaining in public school while a sibling gets to stay home. This might be a good time to brainstorm together pros and cons for everyone’s own individual circumstances. Referring back to my first point, no two kids are the same and may not benefit from the same learning environment. For us, allowing the kids to participate in discussions about the decision to homeschool or not was important. If they feel like they are a part of the process and their voice is being heard, they will be more likely to buy in to the decision.
I made it sound fairly easy to make the decision to homeschool one child and let the other stay in public school but it definitely wasn’t. We struggled a great deal with allowing Makayla to stay in school and we would return to that struggle often, at times wishing we just would’ve made her homeschool from the beginning. Parenting is a never ending exercise in second guessing the decisions we make but I do know that so far, our kids are pretty great so I think we’ve made more good decisions than bad along the way…