We’re in our thirteenth year of homeschooling. We started with my oldest in kindergarten, and he went all the way through to graduation. My other children are currently in tenth grade, eighth grade, and fifth grade.
But this has been a different kind of year for us. In our area, there’s a public charter school for high school students. We had heard that it was a lot like a private school but without the cost. Discipline problems weren’t tolerated, grades had to be maintained, and parents had to be involved. We knew of a number of homeschooling families whose high school students attended there. So when my tenth grader wanted to give traditional school a try, the charter school seemed like the ideal fit.
We decided to sign her up. But the school is so popular, there’s always a waiting list to get in, no matter what grade level the student is. My daughter joined the ranks on the list, and to our surprise she made it in at the end of the summer. So this year, she’s discovering what it’s like to be in a regular classroom.
And I am too. And it hasn’t been what either of us has expected. She thought she would receive better instruction than she had at home, but many times I still have to explain the lessons and work with her through the homework assignments. She thought that since so many people attend the school, she would meet lots new friends. Instead, she found that the kids there already had friends and had no desire to bring in someone new. I thought she would get together with other homeschooled students, but they just haven’t connected. Now I don’t know any of the kids she’s hanging out with or their parents. But from what she tells me, we don’t share the same values.
And then I think about what she, and we as a family, gave up. We gave up a flexible schedule that allowed us to travel, visit extended family and friends, participate in community service, and pursue favorite activities. Our days are now structured around the school calendar, the daily schedule, and the car line for afternoon pick-up. My daughter was excited about taking part this year in a student government program for homeschoolers, but she had to miss it. And because the school doesn’t have a music program, she doesn’t practice her instrument very much anymore, an instrument she has spent the last three years diligently learning to play.
The school seems to be a good fit for many other homeschooling families; the parents seem very happy having their high schoolers study there. But it’s not working well for us. While it’s been an interesting experience, we know that it’s time for us to homeschool again.
Photo by: woodleywonderworks