Why We Quit Homeschool Before It Began

My son, Maddox, had been asking me for nearly two years if he could change from a traditional public school to a homeschool platform. I was reluctant mainly because my husband and I both work full-time and aren’t home to run a homeschooling operation. And I read the blogs, people. Homeschooling is indeed a major operation.

But I had started to see those K12 commercials and it seemed like a potentially workable option. After exploring the whole thing in detail and checking out a few of the networked schools that appealed to us, we settled on one and went through the registration and enrollment process. Maddox was thrilled to finally have the homeschool opportunity he’d been hoping for and I felt perfectly confident about the decision.

Maddox is a very studious, smart, focused person. He is only 9 years old, but wise beyond his years and just very scholastic. He understands his lessons clearly, requires very little help with homework or assignments, and (much unlike his mama here) was gifted with some sort of inherent knack for school and learning. Its bewildering to me, really, as I was quite over the whole schooling thing by third grade or so. But he is who he is.

Which is exactly what convinced me that he might actually know what’s best for himself in this department. I certainly wasn’t doubting my ability to call the mom-shots, but I felt in my heart that Maddox knew what he needed in this area of his life better than anyone else did. So when an opportunity came up that made sense for him, I was completely supportive and happy to help it come to fruition for him.

The driving force behind this entire thing was that I trusted my children to make this call for themselves. My daughter absolutely did not want to homeschool. She wanted to be with lots of people…she missed her friends and her teacher. She craves a highly social learning environment, which is perfectly and totally okay. Maddox felt pulled toward the exact opposite.

This isn’t surprising…my kids are one another’s exact opposite in almost every way. A complete listing of their common interests includes Disneyland and that Minecraft game that kids play now. Other than that – Completely. Different. People.

So we planned for their two unique choices and went about the business of both. Then last week, the final week before school officially started, Maddox had some orientation and welcome courses to take, meant to familiarize him with the online platform, his course listing, what is expected of him, and all of that good stuff.

Those orientation classes were a clear indicator to him that this was not the right option for him.

After going through them, he felt overwhelmed and uncertain. He felt ill-prepared and unsure that he would be able to stay on-task in the online classroom. I assume these courses were meant to give students confidence as they begin a new system, but Maddox left the courses feeling like that new system was not a good fit for him after all.

Since this whole endeavor was motivated by the belief that my kids can make good decisions, even if it is a last-minute decision, I accepted Maddox’s feelings about it without any reservation. If he felt wrong about this, I was not going to argue with or condemn his instincts. My greatest aim in all of this was that my kids feel empowered and able to make decisions for themselves. Obviously supervised decisions (I’m not an idiot) but decisions nonetheless.

So we stopped everything. We cancelled enrollment. We sent the books and materials back to the school. We put the furniture back the way it was prior to adding a desk to the layout. We made sure his previous school still had him registered. And then did the whole uniforms, backpack, lunchbox, new shoes, and spiffy new haircut dealio last weekend before the grind kicked back on Tuesday morning.

And everyone is perfectly happy.

For us, this was never about sheltering our kids from mainstream education or trying to protect them from pop culture. And it definitely wasn’t about intervening with basic scientific or educational norms, since I am really not the type to rob my kids of general factual information. I am totally confident that, like myself and other intelligent believers, they will reconcile (to the extent possible) the realities of science and history with their spiritual teachings and Biblical understanding as they move into adulthood.

What this was about was showing my kids that I respect them as individuals. Showing them that they can explore things and make decisions, and that they can make adjustments when needed. Showing them that there’s not always a right way and a wrong way to do things, and that each of us may take our own approach. We don’t all learn with the same methods and we don’t all excel in the same environments. But we’re all people and we all have feelings and desires and things that drive us, and we have to honor those things.

This experience has shown me that my kids (and probably most kids) know a lot more about life than one might first think. So I will keep encouraging them to explore different paths and will absolutely seek their input on big decisions as they grow up.

(But I’m still not footing the bill for this kid to take up hockey. He can start himself a GoFundMe campaign or something.) 

😉

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© Danielle Hewitt (of Loving A Fit Life) and DanielleHewitt.com (including LovingAFitLife.com) 2011 – 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Danielle Hewitt and DanielleHewitt.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

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Ministry & Life Balance (part 2)

Hopefully the first part of this story didn’t bore you to death.

If you’re still breathing and wondering what happened next, read on…

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Part 2:

The final First Step session of the year came and went, and our team had a lunch meeting in late January. (Team = Greg, me, Shelly the Office Admin, and Jeff and Kathy who coordinate another aspect of this ministry.) During that meeting, Pastor Greg said he wanted to expand the First Step Experience teaching team and asked if any of us would like to teach portions of the class.

Call me crazy, but I piped up (which I think surprised everyone) saying that I would really love to since I wanted to start practicing what I was trying to learn in terms of speaking to groups. Real-life experience is pretty much the only way to improve on this, you know? After all was said and done, there were portions of each class set aside for other teachers, and I got to be one of them. 🙂

So far this year (2014), we have completed one full round of First Step Experience and are approaching completion of a second later this month we have completed two full rounds of First Step Experience and are halfway through a third one. I am not on the teaching team again until the Fall session, but I was on it for both of the earlier sessions this year so I had lots of opportunities to get hands-on with this and I am thrilled at how much I’ve improved in it.

(Side note that was not [even possibly] included in the original writing of this story is that I ended up telling this tale [by reading and ad-libbing the formal paper] at our completion ceremony to a room full of people that I both did and did not know. It felt like a little testament to the success of the whole first half of this nonsense. Hooray for small wins!) 

Anyway – the first few times I taught a portion of the class were scary. I definitely fumbled with my notes, stumbled over words, and forgot what to say during some of the presentation slides. BUT,  I kept doing it. (And thankfully, the First Steppers are a really encouraging and sweet bunch of people, who didn’t seem to mind me being new to this.) After doing it a few times, I began to realize that I could actually accomplish this. I was getting a little better each time. I was able to slow down a bit, stop shuffling papers, and be confident in knowing what I needed to say. (As well I should, considering I’ve heard the material a couple dozen times at least.) I’m by no means ready to hop on a main stage or anything like that, but I can comfortably hold a mic and deliver a short message to 25-75 people, which is a giant step forward from where I was last year at this time.

Now meanwhile, over the months that all of this was taking place, I was getting kind of weary and tired. In hindsight, it isn’t at all surprising considering that I work full-time during the week, have two school-age children, was serving on both weekend days at church, had school on Tuesday nights, while hosting a small group on Wednesday nights, and doing a bowling league with my dad and husband on Thursday nights. With two rounds of First Step Experience running back-to-back, things had become very busy for me. TOO BUSY.

Don’t get me wrong though – I absolutely felt like my life was full of goodness and impact, and I personally felt needed and valued. So it seemed strange to me when I also started to feel bogged down and depleted. It didn’t make sense because I truly valued the things that were happening in my life (with the exception of bowling, but that’s neither here nor there) and I didn’t understand how things that I loved so much could possibly make me feel run-down. So I just kind of overlooked the issue, chalking it up to moments of weakness.

I didn’t realize what exactly was happening, but there was more than one occasion where I broke down crying to my husband about how badly I just wanted a vacation.

Even still, after those moments of panic had passed, I would brush it off like nothing happened and go about my business. This continued on for about three months, until it finally reached a tipping point on March 23rd – totally unexpectedly…

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Stay tuned for Part 3! 

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© Danielle Hewitt (of Loving A Fit Life) and DanielleHewitt.com (including LovingAFitLife.com) 2011 – 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Danielle Hewitt and DanielleHewitt.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.