At some point in your homeschool career, one or all of your kids will utter those words. It’s like a dagger to the heart and its your child that ‘s doing the twisting. How can that be? Am I not a good enough teacher? Am I that boring? Am I that awful? My kid doesn’t like me. Was I too hard on him yesterday? What in the world did I do wrong? You get the picture. If you’ve homeschooled long enough, you will more than likely hear it at least once, and sometimes repeatedly. So, what’s a mom to do?
First, don’t take it personally. It crushed me the first time I heard from my oldest daughter. I heard it off and on for a couple of years. Sometimes it was just a random question and others it was a passionate debate. But now that she’s older, (almost 18!) we’ve had a few conversations that have given me a glimpse into what she was thinking. First all, I’ve learned that school is school and that no matter where you take it or who you take it from, it’s still school. Someone asked her a few weeks ago what she thought of school and that’s exactly what she said. “You know, it’s school.” It’s not that she doesn’t enjoy school, but it’s school and she told me that it wasn’t personal and that she’d feel that way no matter where she took it. And then I remembered when I was in school, even though parts of it was fun, it was still school. Like going to work everyday; it’s just something you’ve got to do. She even told me you can’t make it fun all of the time, because some of it’s just going to be hard or dull no matter what. Then I realized that was ok, it’s actually good for them to deal with a boring and hard now because unfortunately in the so-called real world, it’s not all fun and games anyway.
So a good bit of it’s not because of you or anything you have or haven’t done! Yeah! Most kids seem to ask starting around 4th or 5th grade. Why you may ask? Think about it. What were you doing at that age? You were having sleepovers like crazy! Starting to go to the movies with friends (even with parents in tow), developing relationships, etc. This is the age when everything becomes all about your friends. Whatever they’re doing you want to do. Whatever they wear, you want to wear, etc. So it’s only natural that if their friends are in public/private school that they want to do that to. But, I turned the table on my kids! When they would ask about going to school, I would ask their friends where they would like to go if they could choose. And you know what? Most of them said they would like to be homeschooled or go to private school and if they were in private school, they would like to go to public or homeschool. In other words, we always want what the other person has and it’s no different when it comes to school. So again, not my fault and not you’re fault!
But don’t think you’re off of the hook just yet! Have you looked at your child’s friends lately or even their youth/children’s pastor? They have a major influence on their thinking and decisions. I have seen entire youth groups/children’s churches turn against homeschool kids or at least be snobby towards them because of a less than homeschool friendly leader. In that case, maybe you need to educate the leader or pastor or perhaps find a homeschool friendly church. If it’s friends, it could be just that they want them to go to school with them; you know that kind of wishful thinking kids have where they think if they spend every moment together it will be just so awesome! But seriously, some “friends” are not really friends at all and it could be a form of bullying which we have been through. That needs to be taken seriously and dealt with. Most of the time, that’s not the case, it’s just that all kids want to be just like all the other kids and it can be hard to be different. But if you point out that, they want to be like them sometimes, that might make it easier.
Look at your child’s activities and not just homeschool activities. Does your child have a passion? Are you involved in a homeschool group that does activities besides classroom stuff? Do they get together with kids outside of church? It can get kinda claustrophobic for kids if they only see their church and you. Please don’t misunderstand me, church is vital, but they need other outlets where they can express themselves and start to discover their likes and dislikes. For us, I’ve found out that when my kids started complaining about wanting to go to school, it was because they needed to be around their friends or make some new ones. My kids wanted to try sports, so we got them on rec. leagues and they built friendships there. I made more of an effort to go to field trips and activities with our homeschool group and built friendships there. Not just friendships for my kids but for me also. Guess what? The complaining subsided. Now that doesn’t mean they didn’t still ask every once in a while, but it did slow down.
For most of the kids I’ve known they ask because they need more friends or they just need to be around more people. Keeping them busy with other homeschoolers, church and outside interests helps. Sometimes it can completely turn the situation around. Now my kids are involved with our homeschool group, church, showcase teams and our homeschool athletic associations. In each of those things my kids have found friends and things they are passionate about it. Sports, photography, video games, dance, etc. and friends that are homeschooled and not homeschooled.
This may not solve the problem for every parent that wants to continue homeschooling when their child asks to go to school. Look at the age of the child, their friends, activities, etc., before deciding what to do. Are they old enough to have a say? Find out their reasons and go from there. They may have legit reasons for it, but don’t feel like a failure. Pray and decide and be patient, it may just be a phase.