Rethinking School and Plans for Fall

DSC_0055

Last August, after a summer of feeling very worried about homeschooling, I did the unexpected and took a sabbatical. I couldn’t explain to Russ, or even to myself, why I couldn’t do it. After 23 years of continuous homeschooling, it wasn’t even logical. Just a month earlier I had published one of my most popular posts, Homeschooling: Six Truths I Wish I’d Known in the Beginning; what was wrong with me?

As I reflect on this, I am struck by the kindness of God. He knew that I wouldn’t be able to homeschool the kids last year. He knew we would be in the accident, lose Kalkidan, and I would be badly injured. Had I homeschooled, our academic year would have ended at Christmas break. I would not have put the kids in school at that point; our lives had been turned upside down and it would have been very traumatic.

As it was, Eby and Little Man were safely in the cocoon of their classrooms with teachers who already loved them. I cannot say enough about how good their schools were to them, and to us. Each day they had a break from seeing me bruised and broken. They could think about math, reading, and best of all, recess, lunch, and friends.

Likewise, the girls were able to come and go from school with support from their teachers. In spite of everything, all of the kids had successful academic years and I am deeply thankful.

That brings me to this fall. Annarose will be a freshman at the University of Idaho; my homeschooling days with her are complete. Beza is doing amazingly well at the high school, so she’ll stay right where she is. The current plan is that Claire will take three morning classes at the charter school and come home at 11:45. We’ll do literature, history, art, piano, and all kinds of other interesting things in the afternoons.

Eby and Little Man will attend the charter school as well, which is no small thing. Following the lottery, they were waitlisted, but spaced opened up in their grades. All three of my youngest will be at the same school, which really appeals to me. Last fall I had six kids in five schools and I could barely keep up with the information about events, schedules, etc, much less be of any help in any of their schools.

My problem is this, I really love homeschooling; at least most of the time I love it.

There are days when I can hardly stand homeschooling because it’s hard and takes a huge commitment, but the benefits to our family have been huge. The best long-term benefit is the close relationships of my oldest kids, likely due to spending their days together and not being separated by age and grade. Other perks are flexibility in our schedule, pursuing our unique interests, and more time playing outdoors.

I’m praying and asking God to give me a willing heart to do whatever is best for my youngest three. Last year I knew I needed to put them in school; God put it so heavily on my heart. I wrestled with it, questioned it, and even felt ashamed and weak, yet in the end, it was the very best decision for our family. This year I want to listen well and follow the path God sets before me.

What are your plans for this school year? Are you wrestling with any decisions? I would love to hear from you.

encourage one another,

Lisa

This post may contain Amazon Affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.

20 Comments

  1. Kim
    July 21, 2015

    Thanks for this post. We are dealing with the same conundrum. We're pulling four out of our local Christian school to do cyber charter school and I am really struggling emotionally about it. It feels like such a first world problem considering it's amazing my kids have educational options at all but it doesn't make it any less difficult.

    Reply
  2. Admiring Mom
    July 21, 2015

    Have you considered homeschooling other peoples children? My daughter had health issues last year and couldn't attend school – the school district hired a substitute who came to our home and taught her 3-5 hours a week! She didn't fall behind – what a blessing! I know now that there are other kids in Moscow/Pullman that can't attend for mental/emotional/physical problems and they might need a wonderful mentor/teacher like you! Just a thought… I also wanted to say that Beza is amazing! My eldest loves her at high school & my youngest got to know her at PPSEL – she joked with them & treated them with kindness & respect when they needed it! Thank you, Mom!

    Reply
  3. Shonni
    July 21, 2015

    Lisa, I hope this doesn’t get to long. Last year I kind of “came apart” in the home schooling part of my life. I have schooled, like you, for over 20 years. Having 13 children, many with special needs; and then finding out that two of our children have special needs that are more extreme than we knew, I was doing what I have done my homeschool career – find a way to make it work for everyone; which was overwhelming me and our budget. Only I wasn’t being able to do it. At a lunch with my husband, he asked me to honestly tell him what I needed. I hadn’t really thought about it, but from my heart came the words I had not let myself say – “To not home school any of the children.” This led me to “let go” of this and find a different way to educate our children and give me a break. After much looking we decided to use AOP. We have the older ones that can read doing the online Monarch (now Ignitia), and the ones who cannot be that independent yet, we are using AOP LIFPACs. Steve is doing all the grading on the online classes, and I help the others with the LIFPACs. We chose this route for two reasons; we live pretty far outside of town, and I still wanted to children to “grow” up together because we have such wide age ranges. So far this is working very well for us, though I still am praying about the best school for the two SN. There is “more” to the story of course, but I tried to cut it down. If you want to talk more, please feel free to write me, or call. loves and prays, Shonni

    Reply
  4. Laurel
    July 21, 2015

    Last fall, after 24 years of homeschooling my 12 children, I took a full time job and put my youngest 3 in school. My youngest (7th grade), we put in a small Christian school, while the next two (9th and 10th grade) headed to the local high school.

    Even though I am no longer working full time, my youngest had an amazing year at the Christian school, and will remain there this year. My next son, had a phenomenal year at the local high school, and will continue there. However . . . our 10th grade adopted daughter, we recently discovered, went down some not-so-good social paths. She has been lying to us for months, and has been living 3 completely separate lives (at home, with one group of friends, with a 2nd group of friends). We are seeking the Lord for what path to have her on.

    We do not want her back in the local high school social setting. However, she is rebelling so badly against me (as so many adopted children with attachment disorder do), that I hesitate to try to homeschool her again. However, just last night I was looking at the ABeka DVD option. She would be home, but I would not be her primary teacher. We would do the accredited program, so that she would have teachers correcting her work, and she would receive grades and high school credits from ABeka.

    If any of you readers have used the ABeka Video program, please let me know your thoughts . . . I have never considered having a child sit in front of a video 6 hours per day, but this might be our best option right now.

    Lisa . . . God was so very gracious and you were clearly hearing from Him last summer when you decided to put the kids in school. God is good, all the time (even when life takes us down the most horrific of journeys). Praying that you will have the same clarity this year as you finalize all of the kids' plans. I think having one-on-one with Claire might be a true blessing for you both this year.

    Love & Hugs!

    Reply
  5. Molly
    July 21, 2015

    I am homeschooling this year, and I take it a year at a time. I have five kids pretty close in age, which has many perks when homeschooling, but also some hard challenges. Last summer I looked into putting my special needs son in the public school (was very setious!) due to some really tough developmental issues, but I decided to stick it out the year at home, and around Christmas, something (a miracle, God answered prayer and the doctors cannot tell me what changed) happened. I'd been deeply struggling for two and a half years, and it just went away. I'm still in awe.
    God knows what we need right now, in part because He knows what comes next. He's given our family everything we needed at the time. Even when we didn't know we needed it. He'll give you the wisdom you need to do what's best for your kids too. Thanks for sharing here—I pop in now and then and am always blessed by what you write!

    Reply
  6. Morénike Onaiwu
    July 21, 2015

    We had to make some difficult schooling decisions this year as well. It was a tough call because there is really something special about homeschooling (even though I struggle with my own fears about "doing it right" – I'm a perfectionist when it comes to that type of stuff, which is not a good trait in this kind of situation). But despite the issues that exist with traditional schooling, it can be really beneficial to have others (youth and adults) pouring into our children's lives in a positive way. For some, that happens with a homeschool co-op or a playdate group; for others, it happens in a school setting. I think it's good that you are giving this so much thought and think you should take it year by year. Maybe this year is a great year for them to continue going to traditional school (getting slots at a good charter school is NO small feat!) and perhaps you'll decide for the following school year to resume homeschooling. Or maybe that year you will opt to keep them in school. You and Russ are very conscientious parents who are attuned to your kids' needs and responsive to them. I have no doubt in your ability to do the right thing for the younger children. And as I know you know, all kids are different and have different needs; some kids fare better than others in different educational arrangements. Time will tell which route will be best for the younger ones; continue to keep it in prayer and continue to look at it from all angles!

    Reply
  7. Emily
    July 21, 2015

    How about I come homeschool them again? I was so hard core about it last time.

    Reply
  8. jentompkins
    July 21, 2015

    I totally remember last year when you wrestled through this, but I never put 2 and 2 together about how having them in school must have been such a blessing after the accident. Wow. We have our older 2 (bio) in our neighborhood school and our youngest (adopted) in a Christian school. Our closest friends have made a wide variety of schooling choices, and I feel so blessed to be in a community that encourages one another to make whatever choice is best for each child. My husband and I always say we'll take it year by year.

    Reply
  9. Emily
    July 21, 2015

    Yes, I'm wrestling with what to do with one particular child who seems to derail everyone's homeschool day on a somewhat consistent basis. He doesn't want to go to school, and I'm not convinced that it would be good for him, but there are (many) days in which I feel that I can't keep going as is… Having the chance to read about your schooling struggles and thoughtful decisions has often given me courage to think openly about all our options. I appreciate your transparency and desire to follow where the Lord leads your family. Thank you for writing!!

    Reply
  10. Alyssa
    July 21, 2015

    Sounds like school is a big blessing for your family right now! Hopefully you can still get some of the part of home schooling that's fulfilling to you by working with them on homework, special art or science projects, reading aloud or volunteering at their school. Maybe the time while they are out of the house each day would be a good time to get things like errands and exercise and dinner prep done- or a Bible study or coffee with a friend. As well as a time of rest and renewal for you. Does this leave you with time all alone each day and does that sound good or challenging to not have the distraction of family? I pray that you will have peace as the season changes!

    I just graduated my youngest bio kid and have home schooled for 19 years so far- I totally relate to loving our family's life style and learning along with them and our home school community. We have home schooled our 11 yr., old since we adopted him 4 years ago- and it's been HARD- not often the joy I had with my older ones. I do believe it's been the right thing for attachment and the learning disabilities he has but I have struggled with facing it each day, to be honest. That's hard because I have gotten so much myself from learning and teaching the older kids and was good at it, took some sense of accomplishment and identity from it. I have had to work through a lot of things and be humble. I know we will home school him again this year and that I can do it with peace and joy as I trust God's leading. Because he is so into sports and so social and doesn't have a sibling near in age, I think we may put him in school for high school, but we'll see.

    Reply
  11. Robin
    July 21, 2015

    Lisa, I thought about God's kindness re: your school decisions last year, too. I'm grateful with you that the kids had that extra academic and social support they needed last year. We have made some big changes with school, too. Maddie is going to a brand new charter school which has been designed for students who are pursuing careers in dance. She will be gone everyday from 9-4, so I know we will really miss her. Two of my others came to ask if they could please, please go to school f/t, so we decided to put all 3 of the middle kids into a classical Christian school in the Springs. They have all always been homeschooled. I know that there will be many benefits, but right now I'm feeling sad about all the changes and the time we won't have together. I keep telling myself that it's only a 1 yr commitment and if we don't see lots of benefits, everyone can come home. I will be home with only the 3 little boys, and I am excited to go back to teaching the simple things and not being distracted so much by what the high schoolers needed to accomplish. School decisions are hard every year, but this year feels huge. I was grateful when you shared your decision for last year–it helped me to feel that it's okay to consider that other options might be better at different times. Have a wonderful vacation–hopefully it will be filled with lots of time to contemplate.

    Reply
  12. Sara
    July 21, 2015

    Thank you.

    Reply
  13. Jenny
    July 21, 2015

    I am going against all rational and pulling my three African adoptees out of school to join my other six at home. I'm only worried about one of them who has been in school since K and is going into 4th grade. She was the first I ever sent to school after twenty years of just homeschooling. I'm making this jump because we went to Family Hope Center and I want to do the intensive therapy with her that requires her to be with me.

    Reply
  14. ErinH
    July 21, 2015

    Thank you for this post. We moved to a new city a few weeks ago and I will be homeschool my daughter this fall for the first time – for Grade7. My son will go to "regular" school. I am (fairly) certain that we are doing the right thing but it is hard not to second guess yourself!

    Reply
  15. Kathy Cassel
    July 21, 2015

    Each year we try to figure out the best place for each child. At times that has meant pulling one who was too involved with his friends in a large public high school out to put him in a smaller school and get his attention. It has meant putting one in the charter school due to her background issues and another in that school to keep her accountable but leaving her brother in a very good public school to keep them apart so one doesnt' sabotage the other. this year, three kids, three different schools. Can't believe I'm down to three!!!

    Reply
  16. susan
    July 21, 2015

    Thank you for this post. I have wrestled so much with this. I homeschooled my bigs and was so thankful for that time with them. Now with 2 littles, adopted 4 years ago, it is time to think of school. One is ready for Kinder and boy howdy does he ever want to go……
    I guess my thanks is just that it is good to know that others wrestle too.

    Reply
  17. RussAnita Olson
    July 21, 2015

    my oldest will be finishing her diploma at a small school that is a highschool/community college hybrid. She didn't take advantage of the community college for a variety of reasons, but it seems they are willing to allow her to finish there. The next will be starting her freshman year at the same school. She is thrilled at the opportunity. Had we not received a spot at the alternative school, she would have done an online school at home. The next is going to our local middle school, and while I was very concerned, is doing well and get to pursue music and sports which he loves. Our youngest attends a small charter school, and I know we'd be in a pickle without it. I admire those who homeschool, and have always felt relief every year when God's answer to the schooling question isn't homeschooling. I do not have the gift of teaching. I will say with kids in school, we are more involved than most parents. We also limit our outside activities in the evenings and weekends so we have the family time. It is a balance to it all, for sure. And some days I wished we'd homeschooled, and then we have 3 months of summer 'school' which I get start in June and by August we're barely reading 30 mins a day and I'm done. And then I am so grateful for beautiful teachers who are gifted at this.

    Reply
  18. KMT
    July 21, 2015

    I am putting my 14 yr. old into special ed at the local high school. I wish she'd just learn at home, but the minute my back is turned, she changes from her math program to youtube. I just found out my 11 yr. old is doing this, too, despite having her computer in the family room. Our home is large and they can hear me coming in plenty of time to switch screens. She's going to a private school if I get financial aid. If not, she'll have to homeschool. My oldest, 16, will remain homeschooled with job training by helping in my licensed daycare. I wish my kids would just learn, but they can't and won't. I'm feeling very low today given that I caught my 11 yr. old on a movie website today. Parental controls might work for her, but not the 14 yr. old who clicked "submit" for over 900 2nd grade math problems without answering any of the problems. Needless to say, my kids were adopted older (7, 11, 13) and the results of spending so much time in an institution have taken their toll.

    I'm glad you be able to comment on your blog and know that you understand the dark place I'm in today. My children hate me most of the time, stare into space gripped in paralysis some of the time, act like aliens from another planet some of the time, act like tantrum-throwing babies some of the time, lie, cheat, steal, destroy some of the time, except for a few fun moments when they are being "entertained" at church, on an outing, or by me or a rare movie.

    Tomorrow will be another day….

    Reply
  19. Pam H.
    July 21, 2015

    The interesting thing about God, is He can always find something good to come our of our decisions good or bad. So I'm going to just put this out there that you won't make a wrong decision when it comes to your kids. You and your husband will do what is right and good by them, and you will support them in which ever venue they learn.

    I'm a homeschool mom for only the last seven years and I'm just going to be honest and say I'm really not good at it at all. I'm not college educated though I've had training and experience in various fields of medicine for years, so I'm not exactly stupid either. In my little town here in WV, the public schools are really poor and when after submitting my son's homeschool test scores which were flagged because he wasn't passing, I went into a meeting with the resource people from school. I said, "Listen, you know my son and how he learns (they'd had him in first and second grade before I pulled him out because he couldn't read) and this is where he is. If you can do better, then have at it." They quickly filled out the paperwork that we had talked, signed off on it and said, "No you are doing what is best for him – we can't do better." (Shocking right??) He is special needs (Autistic Spectrum), is cognitively years behind his chronological age, and my goal is to continue educating him while teaching him life skills to get through in life. He wants to be a meteorologist and I tell him he can be, but it will probably take a little longer than the average person to do so. I give him hope, teach him hope and we learn reality.

    Reply
  20. Glenda
    July 27, 2015

    When we became parents, my husband told me we would commit to praying each year about our schooling decision for the year. I took for granted that once we prayed that the plan wouldn't change EVERY year, but so far, it has. Our eldest has very special emotional needs that greatly impact his ability to be in a mainstream school. So this year, it back to homeschooling. I'm terrified and excited.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

I accept the Privacy Policy