Support for former homeschoolers?

Support for former homeschoolers? July 2, 2013
A reader writes:

I know you used to homeschool but you do not anymore. Since stopping, have you found any blogs or support groups or anything of like for Christians with kids in public schools? Our kids are going to school in the fall and I am NERVOUS.

Oh, yes.  Nervous. The decision to stop homeschooling was one of the hardest ones I’ve ever had to make.  Lots of nightmares about whether it’s worse to send my children off to be eaten by wolves, or simply to cut our losses and eat them myself.


We’re very, very happy with our charter school, and more or less happy with the public high school, but it wasn’t easy to figure out how to get what we needed, appreciate the good things we hadn’t anticipated, fix the things that weren’t working, and let go of the rest.

I have written a bit about our transition.  First, there was Why We’re Dropping Out of Homeschool, which includes a photo of something that would make Charlotte Mason herself make tracks for the admissions office of the nearest Stefani Germanotta Memorial School.

Then I wrote one actually useful one for the old Faith and Family Live: From Home School to the Classroom:  Tips for Transition.

And then I wrote this quiz for the Register: Home School to Classroom:  A Quiz for Anxious Parents, which I intended as a self-deprecating jaunt into the realm of parody, but which many homeschoolers took as proof that I’m anti-homeschool, as well as anti-education, anti-child, and plus I make yearly pilgrimages to poop on the grave of Elizabeth Anne Seton.  (I’m not, and I don’t.  I’m just anti-sticking with things that just aren’t working anymore.)

So, back to the reader’s question.  Have you made this switch?  Do you have any advice, or do you know of a discussion group or something for people dealing with the transition?  Or at very least, can you offer a prayer for the reader’s peace of mind?  Thanks!

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  • Allison Grace

    I still homeschool, but Simcha’s writing has helped me not to be such as ass about it. Mommy prayers from me!

  • Julie

    I think of that photo of Irene any time my kids do something bad. I just remind myself, “It’s not as bad as that photo of Simcha’s kitchen…”

    • Katie TLC

      I love that photo. 🙂

  • KarenJo12

    Completely the product of and mother of two public school kids, but I have a couple of friends whose kids did homeschool for awhile. 1. Get involved with the school. If there is a PTA, join it. If your kids are in activities like band, orchestra, or sports, join the booster club. You’ll get to meet the teachers other than at required conferences and, especially, get to know the other parents. Hearing other parents discuss their kids is an essential reality check, especially if you van observe said children yourself. 2. Advocate for you child with the school and for the school with you child. I spent quite a bit of time last year having heart-to-heart talks about my brilliant son with the borderline ADD. At least in my case, the people I talked to were wonderful and we addressed the problem. I also spend a lot of time explaining to my sons that they have to accept that the school has to consider all the other students as well, and that that my sons will get only as much benefit from classes as the effort they expend. 3. Don’t freak at every difference. Public schools are, well, public. Remember that your children will have to navigate in the big wide world someday, and that having some experience in the controlled environment of a school will help here.

  • Caitlyn Wallace-Taphorn

    Public school is our only option since Catholic school is way too $$ even with financial aid and the thought of homeschooling my 5 kids 5 and under makes me want to cry. (Don’t get me wrong, I was homeschooled for 10 yrs and i loved it…. I just know what it takes) Sometimes I think it will be fine as long as i put the time and love into teaching them their faith. And sometimes I’m worried that dementors will be prowling the school yard ready to suck their souls out. 😉

    Then about a month ago I read something from Pope Francis about being a missionary and that has really changed my perspective on my children’s schooling and engaging out community. We really need the support of our good Catholic friends but we can not all hide together from the world either. I know we are to be missionaries of our faith and I see now how we must live in the world to do that. Its scary and uncomfortable and not what I want, but maybe God is calling us to witness to the non-Catholics or nominal Catholics in our community. Your not going to find them at your local Catholic homeschool group for sure!

    I am naturally more private with my faith but because of my incompetence with NFP we have a freakishly large family for the urban east coast. We will be a Catholic witness in our public school whether we like it or not. We will never be mistaken for normal. But it opens the opportunity for people to ask about my faith and family (and boy do they!) Sometimes they are rude but most of the time they are just curious. My plan is just to answer them with love and pray for anyone that seems like they need it. ….I guess this means no more snarky comments about being genetically superior and taking over the world or contributing to economic output / social security. :-/

    I looked and had a hard time finding a online community but I would love to start a community to support people in our situation. I’m all in!

    • MamaK

      You’re not incompetent at NFP. You are a super-achiever at procreation! You could use my husband’s line, which I don’t think is snarky. When someone says, “Don’t you know what causes that?” He replies, “Yes, I do. (pause) “Vitamins!!” People usually laugh.

  • Anna Cools

    Ha! I read the title and thought it was going to be about support for kids who had been homeschooled… as in we need a lot of help sometimes! Maybe a formerly-homeschooled-now-adult-children’s-anonymous?

    • MamaK

      Jump on the bandwagon! There’s a support group for everyone. Boomer Catholics Suffering from Mean Nun Syndrome, Catholic Couples Suffering from NFP, Catholic Women Recovering from No-Pants Syndrome, Traditional Catholics Recovering from Holiday Inn Masses, Catholics STILL Suffering from Banal Liturgical Music. This could go on a long time…

  • kiwords

    I am sending my second son to public high school this fall. I’m really happy about the school we’ve chosen for him, and a little better prepared for the transition than I was when my oldest started high school three years ago. But recently I was reading an email from my Catholic homeschoolers email list, and the mother who wrote it was mourning all the people who just give up on their children and send them to high school. She was urging us not to quit, but to continue to strive to give our children the best, to REMEMBER that GOD has GIVEN US these GIFTS….
    Like that. With lots of caps lock.
    And I? Deleted the email and walked away. Not only did I not respond, I didn’t even want to. We’re all doing our best, aren’t we?

  • Jen

    I’ve been debating about sending my older three to public school. I’ve
    been home schooling the other three for seven years. We had our sixth
    baby in April, and I have a six year old with autism (he already goes to
    public school for services), and a three year old with apraxia..who
    will most likely go to their pre k there for speech. I’m exhausted, and
    the thought of home schooling again next year honestly makes me want to
    cry. But..then I feel bad for stopping. I remember posting on Simcha’s
    other post on home schooling when she stopped, and kiwords there was a
    woman who posted on there with the same thing saying that God provides,
    don’t give up, and she made it sounds so heroic. I didn’t want to be
    heroic. I wanted a break, and she basically got offended when I said
    that. I walked away too. I get tired of the home school community (at
    least where I am) that says it’s all or nothing. That’s not true. But
    here I am, probably home schooling again, because I’m terrified to send
    my 12 year old daughter to middle school. So I’ll suck it up, and be
    miserable. I’m so optimistic lol.

    • sd

      Please don’t feel bad if you decide to stop homeschooling!! Catholics don’t have to homeschool. I could never do it. I went to public school all my life, and I’m still Catholic. My kids go to public school. Please just do what’s best for your family and don’t worry about what anyone else thinks.

    • MamaK

      Jen, you probably should worry about middle school. I homeschool but I’m not against brick and mortar school or public school. It’s just from friends’ experience I’ve learned that public jr. high age is the worst. Everyone complains about the middle school in our town. Our neighbors are both public school teachers and the dad told us that his daughter said he should have homeschooled her for middle school – it was that bad. It’s all those hormones. They all seem to calm down and improve by high school. It also depends on the personality of your child. I have some kids who are impervious to peer pressure, so I think they would be fine. I have others who are pleasers and more likely to get in trouble. I have friends whose kids did fine in public school, but I know some who hated it. A friend’s daughter begged to leave school and take the GED. She was a very attractive girl with a great figure and she was tired of being hit up and harassed by the boys. So just study your child well, talk with her a lot, making sure you have good communication (as in they’ll never hesitate to tell you about anything – from harassing boys to drug users) and remember that adolescent girls are always difficult, homeschooled or not.

      Another thing I wonder is if you should think about your homeschooling expectations. My attitude about how much I “had to do” to be a good homeschooler really changed with I read Suzie Andres books on Catholic unschooling. My husband had been telling me for years that I needed to not be so uptight about the whole education thing, but it took the stories of other women’s schooling journeys to see how I could ease up and still provide a learning environment for my kids. No more Sundays devoted to lessons plans and paper correcting! I stopped being a purist and started using a lot more online and outside resources and friends rather than trying to do it all myself. I also require the older kids to take much more responsibility of their education. And they seem to learn more without me breathing down their necks and handing out worksheets and tests. I have a much better outlook to my kids’ education. My two oldest graduated from college which erased some of my doubts about “what a lousy teacher I was.” I have an older friends who had a nervous breakdown after her fifth child. She told me it wasn’t the number of the kids (her kids were in public school), it was all the other things she thought she had to do to be a perfect homemaker – like ironing sheets and making perfect meals. She was trying to live up to her mother’s generation.

    • KarenJo12

      If it makes you miserable, STOP. You’re making everyone else miserable, too. Yes, middle school is difficult, but that’s because puberty pretty much sucks. Your kids will very likely appreciate the break as well.

    • Emily

      For real, MamaK? A woman just said she’s miserable homeschooling but anxious about middle school and you started a post with “You should be!” and two full paragraphs of anecdotal evidence from your own little community to support that. THIS is exactly what Simcha is talking about! It’s unhelpful at best, and manipulative at worst.

      Jen, FWIW, I went to both catholic and public schools and I am doing great. I LOVED the academic challenges that high school brought me.(I mention HS because that was when I switched to public schooling) I was a strong Catholic and was active in a Catholic youth group and local Students for Life group. I was in theatre. I sang in the choir. I was stretched academically and I LOVED it. I had teachers that appreciated a different view point. I was able to express my faith.
      The hardest thing about middle school is the friendships and cliques. You will find those in any school. You can teach your daughter a lot through those times. Even if she doesn’t experience the cattiness of girls in middle school because she’s protected somewhat from it by homeschooling, she’s going to experience it throughout her life. Goodness, it is shown in some of the comments here!
      I think a lot of homeschooled kids will be able to rise about that nonsense because of their beginnings. It doesn’t mean that it won’t hurt sometimes, but they will be far ahead of their peers because they realize that junior high isn’t the end-all-be-all.

  • Katie TLC

    I was homeschooled, myself, through high school in the good ole days, back in the 80’s when anyone who homeschooled was an absolute freak pretty much… my parents kept us indoors during the school day for fear we would get reported for being home, and the only homeschooling group was like three families large. Super normal. 🙂 Now it’s Catholic vogue to homeschool, and I’m sending my kids to public school (can’t afford private) for the moment. Having been on the wrong side of every fad, I would definitely reiterate to all to do what works for you and for your specific child and specific family situation. (For instance, I may be homeschooling one child while the other goes to public school, making me a pariah in every group. 🙂

    There are pros and cons to both methods, which means that yes, there are actual _advantages_ for your child to go to school beyond making our selfishly lazy lolling lounging mommy lives easier while the kiddos are being educated en masse by the government. (I’m thinking like having labs and foreign language immersion classrooms.) Let go of the mommy guilt. We are all doing what we think is best for our families.

    I like what was said above about Pope Francis encouraging us to be evangelists. One can’t do that in a bubble. Children will, eventually, have to live in the world, so over-sheltering them does them no favors. The better we can guide and prepare them as parents for what they will encounter, the better off they will be.

    • KarenJo12

      Labs, foreign language, band, orchestra, all require more than one kid. My kids are both in public school, in Austin, Texas, and while there are certainly things I would change — the principal at our high school is a little too much in love with EduFads — it’s still better than any alternative for us. Don’t presume that public school = hellhole.

  • Jenni Groft

    We sent our kids to school about 7 years ago after 8 years of homeschooling. Homeschooling was a very good thing for our family and then it wasn’t anymore. It was weird, our last year of homeschooling was one of our best, still, it was time to move on.

    Some things to keep in mind:

    1. Sending your kids to school is every bit as time consuming as homeschooling. Plan accordingly. Having kids who need schooling is just work any way you frame it.

    2. Give yourself some time and space to adjust. A full six weeks into the school year is what I generally plan for, before our new routine (and its new every year!) starts to feel “normal” to us.

    3. Its okay to mourn a little and celebrate a little at the very same time.

    4. The hardest adjustment for my kids was the concept of handing in an assignment and that was it. You didn’t get a second chance at it if your teacher didn’t think you did it well. When we were homeschooling I would have my kids redo things if I didn’t think they did well or needed to learn it better. Second chances are rare in school. It took my kids about 6 months to adjust to this. Mediocre grades as they adjust to school may make you feel embarrassed, but they aren’t fatal and they don’t reflect on how well you were doing in your homeschooling. This is adjustment time.

    That’s all I can think of for now. I’ll pray for you as you make the transition.

  • KyCat

    Growing up I went to Catholic school, not homeschool, for 1-9 grades. The schooling was excellent but in terms of teaching me to be Christian, well it instilled in me that we were better than the public school kids. I’m not proud of it but it’s true. Then I switched to the public high school. I remember being intrigued by the wild scenes ahead. I also had a potty mouth. It wasn’t really noticed by my Catholic peers in 1984 but I thought that it would be wild to be surrounded by people cursing all of the time. Well, it turns out that the wild public school kids were mainly Baptist and I only cursed once casually the first day to see that my behavior was NOT well received and certainly no one was joining in. Public school allowed me to separate the behavior from the religious label. People labelled good things do bad things and vice versa. Learning this lesson has been very valuable to me to not judge en masse. Public schools are NOT perfect and I’m sure some are not even good, but the problem when you discuss them that way in front of your kids, is that then the kids there end up being the ones labelled and that, I hope, is not what we are trying to teach our kids.

  • Lynette Agee Cabeen

    I pulled my only son out of PS in the middle of 3rd grade to home school. “Regular” school was just not a good fit for him. He caught on to concepts quickly, and when it was time to “reinforce” (read monotonous, tedious, rehashing of the same concepts in December that they had introduced in September), he flat out refused to do the work (for example, on a math worksheet, if he saw a repeat of the same problem, he would skip it… I mean, why do it again if you got it right the first time?).

    Skip ahead 5 years… He is now 14 years old, in the 8th grade, and every day is a struggle. He refuses to do anything that I ask of him, he refuses to listen to any lessons, he refuses to do any “school work” on the computer, preferring to play video games while I’m not looking. Life in general is one big argument and dad does not have a peaceful, happy home to come home to and relax at the end of his work day which just adds to the stress in the house.

    We sent him to the public high school his Freshman year which turned out to be exactly what we all needed. I’m not sure why, but some kids just seem to learn better from someone other than mom or dad once they reach a certain age. Let’s face it, no matter how much we love our kids, every last one of them, just like we all did, at some point think mom and dad are complete idiots. In that instance, home school is just not going to work, no matter how badly you want it to.

    My fears were: Will he be bullied? Will he be able to handle the homework demands? Is he prepared enough to do term papers, book reports, etc., etc.? I’ll admit, there were some rough patches while we both adjusted, but he has done better than I had ever hoped. He even won an award for having the highest score in the entire school for his science class! Our kids are resilient and much more adaptable to change than we give them credit for.

    It’s okay to be nervous, change can be scary, but it can also be good. Somethings are forever and some things are only for a season. Sometimes ya just gotta go with what brings you and your family peace regardless of the naysayers.

  • MamaK

    I just found out about this homeschooling book: Homeschooling in Your Tiara. It’s supposed to give you all the nuts and bolts and nitty-gritty from a veteran HS and help you decide whether it’s something you can/want to do. It’s described as brutally honest.

  • Pamela O’Keefe

    Hey, Simcha – yep, we switched over a couple years ago. (The three oldest are done, or nearly done — one’s a senior in college, the other two have full time jobs – one w/ a GED, the other finishing up senior year)

    I NEVER thought I would have done so. But, three years ago, we THOUGHT that we were going to be making a big cross-country move. (Change of plans — we’re not.) And, I learned the last time we moved that I do not move and homeschool well at the same time. I also do not work even part-time and homeschool well at the same time. So, several years ago, I made the decision that if either of those were to happen, needed to happen — that we would discontinue homeschooling, because SOME sort of education is, IMO, better than none; and none is about what the kids would have ended up with.

    We currently live in a very small town. (pop. 411) The school has about 250 students K-12. Our youngest started kindergarten; the next one up, 8th grade; and our daughter, who had already gone there the previous year for math and science, 10th grade.

    The youngest? I honestly do not think I could do him justice in a homeschool setting. He thrives on the interaction with other students. Just thrives.

    Second youngest? He went from a D in math at the beginning of the year, to a B. I love their math teacher. Love her, love her, love her.

    Third one? She struggles with people, but not with academics. If she could have the academics without some of the people, she would be happier. Or if there were more of “her people” ;). In fact, I will end up largely homeschooling her for her senior year due to all sorts of weirdness with her credits.

    The bottom line is: we need to do whatever is the best we can do, and the best that we can do for the particular kids in question. I have often said that not all kids fit into the round hole that is public school – a lot of kids are square pegs.

    But many others (like my two youngest)? They’re round pegs, and fit into those round holes much better than the various polygon-shaped holes that make up the homeschooling experience.

  • Anna Sparkman

    I made the switch from private Episcopal school (have to point out that we’re Anglicans in the Ft Worth diocese–totally conservative) to public school for my 5yo son when he was expelled for throwing chairs at his teacher in pre-k.

    Background: son is Aspergers/high functioning autistic. Private school, while being an excellent educational institution and one I still support, does not have the resources or staff necessary to deal with major behavioral problems that are a result of autism. Public school is required by law to provide services necessary to ensure social and educational development of children with autism.

    I would love to homeschool, but social skills with his peers is what he actually needs right now. He is super smart and I certainly work with him on developing his knowledge and learning skills, but I am not a replacement for teaching him to converse socially with people his own age.

    It was a difficult transition for us. Besides the fact that he absolutely loved his old school (and still calls it his first school) and still has many friends from there, he went from a classroom with a 12:2 ratio to 24:2 with inclusion support. He does not do well in large groups, and I still had to be called up to school to pick him up several times because of meltdowns. I miss him getting the experience of Chapel every morning, and having his lessons rooted in Biblical teachings. I developed friendships with many of the moms and teachers at his old school, and feel like a tiny fish in a very large lake with the new school. Public school is so impersonal to me. The private school concentrated on not just educating the mind but developing the body and spirit as well. The public school it seems just wants to make money from having warm butts in the seat.

    But the benefits? He is starting to develop friendships. He gets pull-out services like speech therapy, counseling, and possibly OT this coming kindergarten year. We received in-home parent training which mostly involves developing discipline strategies and rewards/choices for behavior, and developing a system that is consistent between school and home. We are able to work closely with an entire team of people involved in his education and tailor a behavior intervention plan and individualized education plan that work specifically for him and his needs. He is making progress. And another benefit for me is that I’m not driving 30 minutes each way to take him to school and pick him up (that’s 2 hours of driving through terrible traffic across the metroplex)

    So my advice is to weigh the pros and cons, pray hard, and listen to both your gut and the common sense God gave you. Do what is right for YOUR family, and be ever vigilant and INVOLVED in your kid’s education, whether it be home, private, or public.

  • RestWeary

    I know this is a bit late; I just found this post. I am a mom who has homeschooled for 18 years and now have a foot in both worlds. Two years ago, I put all of my children in school for a semester to recover from burnout. It was a huge change for me so I began a blog to encourage and share with veteran burnt out homeschool moms, homeschool moms considering school, and former homeschooling moms. Please feel free to pass this along.

  • RestWeary

    I know im late in the discussion but wanted to share my blog that i began last fall for burned out veteran homeschool moms, homeschool moms considering school, and former homeschooling moms. When i was thinking about putting my children in school, i found very little support thus the birth of the blog. Please feel free to share your experiences.