I am thinking of quitting homeschooling.
I have been homeschooling my sons, ages 15 and 14, for about 13 years. Early on we did Bible lessons and crafts. We went for walks and sang songs. Then school came. A friend recommended “thirty minutes a day for kindergarten and then add half an hour a year.” I stuck with the thirty minutes, but I think that after that I probably got too long.
For first grade E went to a private school that I chose because it seemed to have the best academics and the best Christian teaching. The academics weren’t great and the Christianity, regardless of the teaching, was lacking. But I was afraid. I didn’t want to homeschool for years and so, out of fear, I left my eldest son in a class with a teacher who wouldn’t challenge him, didn’t like him, and thought the rules were far more important than the children.
I hope God and E will forgive me for that. I also hope that God will redeem the time for E and not let my fear and my bad choices hurt him long term.
After that year, though, I knew that I needed to homeschool. I could not trust my children to a school, regardless of what the sign on the door indicated, who wouldn’t love them as best they knew how. So I committed to homeschool them for however long that took, even knowing that it would probably take through high school.
Many mothers are thrilled to know that they will have their little ones with them for a great deal longer than normal. I was afraid. Many mothers take unabated joy in the reveling with their children. I loved being with my children, but I also wanted a break. God gave me a couple of hours a week and then a few more. It was enough.
My children are a challenge. They keep me growing in ways I may not really want to grow but know I need to. I still have some more growing to do, but I am not sure if I will do that growing in this phase of life.
Thirteen years of hard work (It was hard for me, though blessed and loved and occasionally a joy.) have gone by and now I am trying to decide, once again, what the best choice is for my sons. It is not for me that I chose homeschooling and, if I give it up, it will not be for me that I give it up. (I have looked forward to the time when my sons would be grown and I would go back to full-time teaching of other people’s children, but I have not been inclined to hurry it along too much. It has been mostly a financial looking forward.)
I have two sons. I love them both dearly. Both of them are smart. Both of them are special. Both of them are different.
But in my home, at my knee, one of them has become an atheist. (My husband says it is not my fault and I am grateful for the release from guilt. But I also know that elders are required to have faithful children and so I wonder if, in some way, it is.)
And in my home, with my teaching, one of them has declared that he is a socialist and that Islam is not as bad “as all that.” I don’t think he is turning away from God, but he is turning away from me. And I don’t want to encourage him into the abandonment his brother has chosen. (I don’t know how likely it is, but I know that the possibility exists.)
And I grieve. They are my sons and I love them. I have taught them some of what I intended to and, somehow, I have taught them things I never intended. And some of the things I wanted most to teach them, I did not manage to teach them.
My eldest is already taking college courses and I am not sure what he could take at a high school. I am not sure there would be classes available for him that would be at his level. But I know that emotionally he isn’t ready for college full time. And he’s certainly not ready spiritually. I could just continue to have him take two classes a semester at the college for another year and a half. Or I could enroll him in high school and hope he got all AP classes.
But my youngest is eighth grade age and is more social, or he has been in the past. (I wonder if our lack of getting out and being social has impacted his desire to be social. He has always wanted to be like us.) His weakest subject is math. I can see where he would benefit from going backwards in that class, even if he doesn’t in all the rest. And right now he’s spending hours working on his math every day. It is beyond him. But I’ve done all I know how to do to help him. I don’t know what else there is that I can do.
And so, because I love them, because I want what is best for them, I am wondering if they would be better off in public school.
This is not a decision I am approaching in anger. It is not from frustration with teaching (though I’ve had those times).
I wonder if they would be better off in public school because I am no longer having a positive impact on their lives. Perhaps if they were with other people more, the value of what I value would be more clear to them. Or perhaps if they were away from me, they would be less likely to rebel against me.
I do not want to abandon them, not even into the waiting arms of the middle and high school.
But I wonder if they would be safer, better off, less rebellious, if they were with someone else most of the day instead of with me.
God, give me wisdom. Give me strength. Show me what you want me to do and how to do it. Please.