The Year I Sent My Kids to School

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A week ago today, I stood at the bottom of the driveway and watched my children get on the yellow bus. I didn’t write about it right away because I needed time to sit with the decision. I have lots to share, but the end of this story is that I’m taking a sabbatical from homeschooling.

You might remember that last spring I had a crisis with my health, and it got my attention. Russ was in Kenya and I was in the hospital hooked up to machines and wondering where this was all leading. A few weeks later we got away to spend time seriously evaluating our lives and laid it all on the table. We made some good decisions and have acted on them, but it wasn’t quite enough.

I love homeschooling, really love it, which is why through all of the ups and downs of life, I’ve stuck with it for 23 consecutive years. I even wrote a popular post about homeschooling two months ago. Yet all summer I laid awake in the wee hours of the morning wondering how I was going to manage this year. The weight felt so heavy that my chest ached. For weeks we tried to figure out ways to lighten my load, but nothing seemed to be enough.

The week before school started Russ and I drove to the schools our kids might attend. We talked with principals and teachers, toured buildings, and looked at playgrounds. I shed a few tears in the second grade classroom, which was embarrassing. We picked up stacks of paperwork, all the while thinking that this was so foreign for us and that we couldn’t quite imagine putting everyone in school. We prayed and talked with one another, but otherwise kept fairly quiet.

I began filling out paperwork “just in case” and made copies of birth certificates and immunization records. One of the local charter schools looked especially good to us, but they only had room for Sunshine and not the boys. By putting her in, they both moved up the wait list, but not high enough to get in this fall.

By Thursday all paperwork was in and we told the kids our plan; they were all excited and just a little nervous. We began attending one “Back to School” night after another. Each school felt welcoming; the teachers were kind, principals friendly, and school secretaries, the best ever. I’m convinced that school secretaries set the tone for the entire school.

This is what our year looks like: Annarose (12th) is half time at the high school and half time homeschooled, Beza (9th) is at the high school, Dimples (7th) is at the middle school, Sunshine (7th) is half time at a charter school and half time homeschooled, Eby (3rd) is at a 3rd-5th elementary school, and Little Man (2nd) is at the K-2 elementary school.

That’s right, I have six kids in five schools; I’m pretty sure I’m trading one kind of crazy for another.

This is a brand new experience and it’s messing with my idealism, but I’m rolling with it and praying that the Lord will help me use each day wisely. I’ll have lots more to say soon.

Lisa

 

 

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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.

0 Comments

  1. Stacy
    September 15, 2014

    We have made similar decisions, even though we love to homeschool but with kids from trauma, a mama with health issues and lots of kids to help along the way, putting some in school was the best choice for us. They are thriving and my days aren't quite as full. Blessings to you as you try to get the rest you need during your day to take care of yourself!

    Reply
  2. Susie
    September 15, 2014

    Good for you!
    Don't be surprised if you have about 15 minutes each day between dropping off and picking up. That's how it seemed to me 🙂

    Reply
  3. Donna
    September 15, 2014

    Hi friend I was thinking of you this morning as I took my son to his private school, the first child not home schooled in over 20 years besides college. It is a strange feeling, very strange, but very good. We have been trying to find some sort of doable life, and this is part of what was needed. It has not solved all our issues or made life totally peaceful, but it is a step in the right direction and we continue to pray hard for direction. Praying for you too in this journey.

    Reply
  4. Jenny Covey Story
    September 15, 2014

    Dear Friend,
    Idealism is overrated. But you know that already. 🙂 Thanks for keeping it real.
    All my love!

    Reply
  5. Leah
    September 15, 2014

    I have been a homeschooler for 8 years. As my family grows (we have 9 now) and our needs change, the reality of it isn't as dreamy as it once was…. Thinking of you. I also struggle with idealism. God is working on my heart and helping me to learn to admit when I can't do and be everything for everyone in the house. Thank you for sharing! Hope to see you at Refresh again.

    Reply
  6. Pamela
    September 15, 2014

    Public schools can be great for some children and families. I was home schooled for most of my school "career". In 11th grade I decided I wanted to go to public school. We had a fantastic, small (10 kids in my grade, four in the graduating class that year) charter school nearby and I really loved going there. Unfortunately that school closed at the end of my junior year due to declining enrollment (they only had 93 students K-12). I went to the local public school, which I enjoyed a lot less. I loved being home schooled and I loved going to the charter school. I don't think I would have liked the charter school nearly as much if I had been attending public schools my entire life.

    Sometimes what is right for your family one year isn't right for your family the next year – and that's okay.

    Reply
  7. Amber Myers
    September 15, 2014

    We only made it through 2 real years of homeschooling (K and 1st) before having to do this this year. I've cried and cried about it, but Mercy is loving the charter school she's at, and Gilead loves the Lutheran Preschool we have him at. But with Ryan working so many hours so much of the year and a baby with special medical needs, trying to do it all was killing my joy. I am learning that there is, indeed, grace for this. Even if it messes with my ideals, too!
    http://mirroringgrace.blogspot.com/2014/09/there-

    Reply
  8. Brianna
    September 15, 2014

    My kids are in (a classical charter) school this year too. I have such mixed feelings and sadness and everything in between–but I must say that it is turning out to be SO GOOD for the kids. Hugs to you and your dear family during this transition!

    Reply
  9. Angela
    September 15, 2014

    I can't imagine how hard this was for you, but one thing I've learned is that if something is stressing you out, you need to make a change. You have gotten help in every area you could but with your health and everything that has happened, you need a break. This doesn't have to be forever (and if it is, that's okay too) but it is what you need now.

    Reply
  10. Cindy Mc
    September 15, 2014

    Lisa,

    I love this post. Not because you sent your children to school, but because you were courageous enough to recognize you needed to send your children to school. You needed help and you had to make a change. Change is such a hard thing, it takes so much courage. I love that you recognized what you and your family needed and had the courage to do it!

    Much love,
    Cindy Mc

    Reply
  11. Cindy
    September 15, 2014

    We have done it all – Christian school, public school, charter school, cyber school, and homeschool. Each time, God has made it abundantly clear that it was the right choice. I pray that you find the same peace and that each of your children will excel right where they are. Thank you for your honesty. I know that it sometimes our militant homeschooling friends find it difficult to believe that there could be another option and that God can bless it but there is and he does.

    Reply
  12. sleepyknitter
    September 15, 2014

    Hang in there!

    I want so much to homeschool our kids, but in the meantime, I have to say that public school has brought into our children's lives some truly amazing, wonderful adults. I am very grateful to the passionate, committed people out there who are willing to work in the public school system. We have been connected with four different public schools over the four years of our children's education, and all four schools have had their weaknesses, but overall, they have been wonderful. I still wish we could homeschool, but it's just not possible right now, and I am (mostly) okay with that and thankful for all the good, interesting differences and experiences that public school has brought to us.

    I pray that your children's lives are enriched through this year of public schooling, whether it is the only year or it continues into future years, and I pray that you receive rest in body and spirit.

    Reply
  13. Karen Bernard
    September 15, 2014

    Lisa, I am proud of you. I have 3 boys whom I have always homeschooled but the homeschoolers I admire the most are the ones who do what is best for each child and their family each year. I admire the moms who are willing to admit that homeschooling is not for every child every year. The parents who realize that the ideals of homeschooling may not be right at this moment for them. I pray that God will continue to guide you and what is right for each of your children. That you will know if and when you are to bring them home for school again. I also pray that you will find peace in the craziness that attending public school brings.

    Reply
  14. Karen P
    September 15, 2014

    I can almost feel what you are feeling…after 14 years of having a child home with me, all of mine are now in school (3 different schools!). My youngest started kindergarten 3 weeks ago and we are still adjusting. Some days he goes to school full of excitement, some days he is tearful and somedays I am the one crying! I feel like I am almost reinventing myself and am not quite sure where to begin. I'll be praying for you as you adjust to your new schedule.

    Reply
  15. Alisa
    September 15, 2014

    Ah, Lisa. I know how hard that was. Praying for all of you in this transition. I had a season of public school for one of my children (grades 6-8). Yes. An adopted one. I was also a leader in my local homeschool area. There was a lot of lack of understanding especially from those who had not adopted. Many did not even consider me a homeschooler any more! (I still had 6 at home!). I still homeschooled my daughter. We just called it "homework"! A lot of healing happened in those years where I could just be the mommy she came home to. May grace and love abound to you during this season! And wisdom in this new and different craziness!

    Reply
  16. Heidi
    September 15, 2014

    This is a huge deal! I'm so glad you and Russ were able to make this hard choice. Praying for you!

    Reply
  17. Kim M
    September 15, 2014

    Prayers for you and your family as you enter this new phase. I'm so glad that He works all thing together for good. Even the hard things. Blessings <3

    Reply
  18. Sharon
    September 15, 2014

    Good for you for taking this step (albeit a HUGE one!) to take care of you. So, so hard to do.

    Reply
  19. Joelle
    September 15, 2014

    Lisa, I cried for a week when my oldest started public school his junior year of high school. I didn't want to tell anyone because I felt like such a failure for not being able to make homeschool work and be the best option for him. I still wish for a different outcome but life is life and even tho I can still get emotional about it after almost ten years we do what we need to do and we keep going. I pray for a wonderful year for all of you. Bless you in this new venture.

    Reply
  20. jentompkins
    September 15, 2014

    That is really exciting, Lisa! Praying that this will be a blessing to you and each of your kids, and that you will feel a peace with this decision!

    Reply
  21. brianandracheldavis
    September 15, 2014

    Welcome to the partially homeschooled world! I have been on the fence about sending them all to school or not. For now, just one is at school and the other three at home. Hugs! I hate my idealisms getting messed with, but you're not alone!

    Reply
  22. stephanie
    September 15, 2014

    Both kinds of schooling have pros. Focus on the pros of public school for now maybe. And giving yourself some space is needed and will make good things happen for your family. How brave you all are!

    Reply
  23. peaceliving
    September 15, 2014

    To me, you need to choose what is best for the family as a whole and also what's best for each kid individually each year. To say that one type of schooling is the only way to go for every family and every child every year is to deny diversity. Every kid is different, every year is different, every child's set of life experiences and best ways to learn are different. (Which is why I also have my kids at different schools/homeschooling depending on the kid and the year!) There's nothing crazy about trying something new to see if it's a good fit for your family, especially after you've covered your decisions in prayer. Busy, yes. Crazy, no. I say, hats off to you, mama, for putting your family's diverse needs first, regardless of your own traditions and comfort zone. Most people don't have the courage to do it. Best of luck to your whole crew as you adjust!

    Reply
  24. Leeann Ward
    September 15, 2014

    Good for you for doing what's best for your health, which ultimately be what's best for your family! My sister was an avid home schooler and the thought of ever sending her babies off to school seemed impossible, but she did it for various reasons last year and it's worked out. All of her kids have to go to different schools too.:)

    Reply
  25. Clm
    September 15, 2014

    We homeschooled, private schooled, public schooled, tutored, homeschooled again….whatever you need to do, do that! And now, the most important thing I think that you can do with some free daytime is – sit down with a cuppa, put your feet up, relax and breath! 🙂 Whatever you do, don't do laundry and clean all day! 😉 (I'm exhausted just remembering those days!)

    Reply
  26. Alyssa
    September 15, 2014

    Thanks for sharing this. I have always homeschooled — 2 graduated and one senior this year and it's such a part of who we are. We have homeschooled our adopted 10 year old since he joined us 3.5 years ago and it has been hard but worth it, building relationship and taking academics at his pace. But we are totally thinking of putting him in some kind of school ( our home school center has closed) because he is so social, plays sports and doesn't have siblings close in age. i trust that we will have peace and wisdom if that time comes and God will provide the perfect teachers. I just read a testimony about this on a friend's blog (also in Idaho) . http://www.joyfullyruined.com/ the top 2 stories here– God is good!

    Reply
  27. Emily B
    September 15, 2014

    A wise decision. You have been through so much in the last few years. It is time for a breather. We have had wonderful experiences with our kids in public school. Enjoy this year to recover. You have given your kids a wonderful foundation, and they will do great. And no one says this is forever. You can always go back to homeschooling. Praying for you!

    Reply
  28. charity
    September 16, 2014

    Seems this decision comes to many of us, another piece of our lives we can't control, ha! A long hospitalization this summer led me to put my last homeschooled middle schooler in public with siblings I had started last year, of course in 3 different schools…it is amazing how quickly god reminds us of our true priorities if our lives aren't feeling balanced…breathe…I focus on being grateful for the many years I had the freedom to choose homeschooling and the fact that this season is different just reminds me to embrace change, I expect it will keep changing for the rest of our years as parents! Love you…

    Reply
  29. Sheryl
    September 16, 2014

    I loved what Cindy wrote…….I love this post. Not because you sent your children to school, but because you were courageous enough to recognize you needed to send your children to school. You needed help and you had to make a change. Change is such a hard thing, it takes so much courage. I love that you recognized what you and your family needed and had the courage to do it!

    Much love,
    Cindy Mc

    It is so important that we work out what is best for the people in our family….there is no shame in that, nor should there be shame when we realise that life has to change. The best choice for today may not be the best tomorrow, next week or next year. We should consider that when we get there. Right now we need to have peace in the present

    Reply
  30. Dawn
    September 16, 2014

    You are not alone! I felt the same weight this summer, and after much prayer, our 4 got on the bus for the first time this year too. Praising God that so far it has been the biggest blessing in our kids lives. And in our own. Good for you mama. 🙂

    Reply
  31. Laine
    September 16, 2014

    As a mom with children from hard places with educational and behavioral special needs, it is exhausting (and impossible) to meet all their needs. It took me awhile to understand there was no shame in admitting this fact. My kids need the resources available through our schools they attend, they need to be able to socialize with their peers and learn to function in real-life situations, and I need time to myself so that I can be my best self when I am with them. You've obviously put so much effort and thought into what best fits your children as individuals. Now, take care of yourself. 🙂 Reconnect with yourself, refill your bucket, heal your body, so you can be your best self.

    Reply
  32. Angela
    September 16, 2014

    As I am just launching into a new role as teacher as well as wife and mother, I have found it to be overwhelming at times with only in home school (my youngest is a very young kinder and I planned to start with him too on a schedule of our very own…) so I can't begin to imagine how your days must have been! Your health is important and Im glad you are taking care of yourself! I imagine it is hard but hope that is all works out for the best for you and your family this year!!

    Reply
  33. Heidi
    September 17, 2014

    Lisa, I'm a public school teacher and I love my students so much that I even became essentially "momma" to three of them when they were parentless (and still today with their dad back in the picture). I can't be a stay at home mom to them (I'm single) and it kills me but I cling to Jesus and this crazy plan of his. I just wanted to let you know that, although there are a few bad apples, most teachers love their students and will cherish them as their own. I hope your encounter those types along your new journey!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      September 17, 2014

      Thank you, Heidi. I can imagine what a great teacher you are just through our communication. Our schools seem to be filled with Christian teachers and administrators, which is such a blessing. I'm happy with every teacher I've met. Tonight we'll meet all of Beza's high school teachers and a couple of Annarose's, and then I think we'll have met them all. So far, so good! Thanks for the encouraging words.

      Reply
  34. Christine Weaver
    September 19, 2014

    Wow! The year we had our kids in three schools I thought it was rough. Please do a post on how you keep track of where you should be on a given day:)

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      September 19, 2014

      I'll do that, Christine!

      Reply
  35. Alicia
    September 19, 2014

    "This is a brand new experience and it’s messing with my idealism, but I’m rolling with it and praying that the Lord will help me use each day wisely" Love this line. Fits so much of life.

    Reply
  36. Tricia
    September 22, 2014

    Dear Lisa, as a "never have homeschooled mom" – but I have learned to never say never 🙂 – I want you to know that my 5 kids have had some amazing and God loving teachers over the many years of school. We have done a lot of different things – public, charter, private – and for the most part, people in education love children and want what is best for them. Teachers are truly some of God's finest people. I applaud you for doing what you need to do to take good care of yourself. Being a "good enough" mom truly does start there. I learned the hard way. Blessings to you and yours as you journey on.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      September 22, 2014

      Thanks for the encouragement, Tricia. We're pleased with the great teachers the kids have. We're still adjusting, but so far, so good.

      Reply
  37. Laurel
    February 25, 2015

    After 24 years of homeschooling . . . I put my children on the school bus this year. It was definitely a decision lead by the Lord, but oh how I miss it. My 4 youngest are at 3 schools (7th, 9th, 10th, and 12th grades). (smile)

    Reply

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