Follow-up Question

Divajean asked a good question in the post on homeschooling below. I’m going to post it here so that hopefully it will get seen (and answered) by more than just me. Here’s the question:

One question for all of you- when would you feel it appropriate to release your children into “the real world?”

I don’t mean to sound facetious- but when would it be easier? Now- when the issues are about who sits with who in the cafeteria- or when they are going off to college and having to navigate issues of s*xuality, drugs, drinking, etc all in one fell swoop?
I find that as my daughter goes thru the public schools, her issues sort of grow with her. Without the exposure and natural flow in my conversation with her, when would these discussions happen?

Here’s my response:

I think you are asking a good question, though I don’t think the answer is as cut and dried as saying one thing only happens in public school, the other thing only happens in homeschool.

I would be interested to hear what those who’ve homeschooled their children all the way through and have watched them enter the college arena have to say. Being as my oldest is only 8, I can speak only from my own experience and that being of a mom who has only homeschooled children up through 2nd grade.

Here’s my experience: we are not free of issues here. We do not (and I’m certainly not being facetious either) lock the girls in the house and never expose them to our culture. My children observe things as we interact with other people in the grocery store, as we’re driving, among their friends (ie: who gets invited to which birthday parties and who doesn’t and why). We’re not immune to either being sinned against by other people, or even ourselves sinning against others. The difference here, is that I’m usually around to process those things with them on the spot. So we get cut off by someone on the highway and I get audibly frustrated. My girls wonder what that’s all about and it’s a mini lesson in both driving manners and also in appropriate ways to respond (ie: I shouldn’t have responded the way I did). That’s a simple example, but I think it illustrates the point. The girls have gotten cut in front of in lines and had to learn to deal with it. They’ve had their stuff messed with by strangers and had to learn to deal with it and they’ve had their feelings hurt – sometimes tremendously, sometimes by friends, and yes, had to learn to deal with it. The difference is that I’ve been there each time to guide them through these situations. To ask them questions to help them figure out either how to respond or what a better way to respond could be. I know when to intervene and when to let them figure things out on their own, but the difference is that if they do need someone to intervene, I’m available. For my family, that’s a high value to me.
We encounter many tough life scenarios on the news, in movies, in books and magazines. We talk about those things as they come up. We’ve tackled the war, the poor, the homeless, single parenting, s*x before marriage, s*x after marriage, drinking and both the harm it can do as well as the appropriate uses of it (and ages for it), smoking, drugs, etc.

We’re dealing with the whole of life as we live it together. I’m certainly not saying that can’t be done if you choose to have your children educated in the public system, but I know that I would have a harder time seeing those teachable moments come to the surface if I weren’t with them for the majority of their days.

So, that my $0.02 x 2,000 for tonight. Anyone else care to chime in?
Thanks for asking the question!

I’d be interested in hearing from moms on either side of this. What say you?
Note: When transferring over from my other blog I could not bring comments, but this post needs the comments, so I’m pasting them all in here with the original:

Comment by Rocks in my Dryer

February 9 @ 6:58 pm

Wow, DivaJean, that’s a good question, and you’ve articulated better than I’ve ever been able to why we’re in the public school.

We’ve really seen this idea of issues “growing with” our kids firsthand. Our kids are encountering teachable moments daily, and they’re very open with us at home about what is going on. I almost see their public school experience as a “workshop” in life skills: going to school, then coming home and hashing it over with us under our careful guidance. This way when they’re in college, they will have “lived” these issues for so long that hopefully their decision-making skills will be especially honed.

And there’s my two cents, Megan! 😉 Great dialogue.


Comment by Anne

February 9 @ 7:37 pm

Megan, I (not surprisingly!) agree with you. Even though my children are homeschooled, they’re not isolated. And like you said, we’re not free from issues here. At various times my kids have been in a Department of Defense school, in private Christian schools, and homeschooled, so I’m familiar with all of those options. The difference here is time. We have the luxury of time together that we just did not get when they were in a traditional school. Now that they’re getting older (one in high school and the other in 7th grade), they’re doing more on their own, but we have plenty of “debrief” time. And I’ve found that more time together has encouraged them to speak freely with me and their dad. And, no, I’m not so naive to think they tell me everything, but they do tell me a lot.

We homeschool, but we live in the real world right smack dab in the middle of all kinds of people. We’re out and about just about every day, and we’ve come across all kinds of scenarios. Just yesterday, my 7th grader went to the Exchange here on base to buy some gum. She saw two girls making out. Yes. Girls. But she told me about it and we talked about it.

I think there’s a persisting mis-perception that homeschoolers are locked inside all day and only interact with other like-minded homeschoolers. In my experience, that’s just not true, and it’s not true of the other homeschoolers I know, either. The issues grow with our kids, too.

Comment by Rose Bexar

February 9 @ 10:33 pm |

Well, I’m not a mom, but I’ve seen all kinds at the college level, as a student, as a tutor, and as a teacher. And honestly, I think a lot depends on the child. I’ve seen homeschoolers thrive at college, and I’ve seen homeschoolers go off the deep end. Ditto private school, ditto public school. I’ve known life-long homeschoolers who adjust better to the size of my college (small compared to state schools, but large compared to many Christian colleges) than my small-town cousin who freaked out at the size of my school, went somewhere else for undergrad, and has been kicking himself for it ever since, even though he came here for grad school.

My own experience has been mixed–small private, big public, small public. Before we moved to a smaller town and a smaller school, I was (||) this close to begging to be homeschooled because I hated dealing with big-city-school problems and big-public-school curricula. My high school was exactly what I needed, even though it didn’t have the same variety of options I could have had at a larger school (like a Gifted and Talented program). Even so, there’s no way I’ll put my children in public school (when/if I have them); I’d rather have them at home so that I can control both the quality of the information and the quality of enrichment they get.
However, some cities have Christian schools that combine regular school and homeschool–three days a week on campus, two days a week at home, or vice versa, with a good selection of extracurricular activities like sports and fine arts. To me, that sounds like the best of both worlds, provided the curriculum is good and the teachers can really teach.
That’s my $0.02. 🙂

Comment by Michelle

February 10 @ 9:46 am |

You know, I’m always a little amazed that there are moms on both sides of the fence that want their children exposed to conflicts at the age that our broken society dictates. I recently blogged about just such a discussion a good friend (and homeschool mom) and I had.

I’ll just add this, my children are far from sheltered. We attend 2 different homeschool functions each week (which is full of other homeschool children of course). We also attend 2 different church youth functions that is mainly public school children, each week. We also are members of a GirlScout troop that is mainly public schoolers, every second week.

They are in 5th and 7th grade. My oldest went to public high school so I’ve seen both sides.
My girls have a cross section of friends to be sure. And they are exposed to life. But because I’m with my girls every day, *I* get to be their mentor. They bring their problems/inequities/thoughts to *me* and I get to guide them in the best way to handle things. I get to pull out the Bible and show them what is expected of us.

How often do you think that happens in public school?

My girls certainly live in “the real world”. And as for the question of when it would be easier to allow certain influences and conflicts in their life? That’s easy as well. 🙂 When they’re mature enough, when their relationship with Christ is strong enough, and when they have enough background and backbone to stand up for what’s right.

And from my many, many years of parenting, that doesn’t happen very often at 6.

Comment by TulipGirl

February 10 @ 9:50 am |

Like Megan, I’ve found the reality of processing things with our children as we confront them in daily life to be of great value. For us, that has included why our friend Zhenya doesn’t live with his parents (a street child/friend of ours), why Mommy has to inspect the playground first (drug needles, broken bottles), and how to behave in different cultures. I wish I could have shielded them from some of that when they were young, but since it was part of our life, I’m glad I could walk them through it.

Some things, like divajean mentioned “who sits with whom in the cafeteria,” daily relationship issues with other people we’ve addressed as well. To a degree, honestly, they have had less experience/opportunity until recently to work on those “working things out with peer relationships” problems. I’m glad they are getting more of that now that we are back in the States with neighbors than they did when we were in Ukraine. They were in school last year, and we did have some of those issues come up and it was hard for me not to be able to “coach” them through the new experiences.

We’re back to homeschooling, and a big factor, like Anne mentioned, is time. When they were in school, they were so tired and cranky when they got home, and so quick to fight with one another–it was just rough all around.

Comment by TulipGirl

February 10 @ 10:00 am |

Just wanted to add. . . I believe one of the great pluses the homeschooling movement has brought to our society is the empowerment of parents not to default to the local public or parochial school as it was a generation ago.

It seems parents *as a whole* are more active about their decision about their own children’s schooling, be it public, private, or home. I think this is a good thing for all families.
I believe schooling decisions are an extension of parental responsibility, and are best made each year, each child, each family.

And so I do respect my sisters in Christ who have their children in public school or private school, out of a decision that this is where their family and child are supposed to be at this time. And so when I talk about being able to “coach” through the new situations, I don’t want it to sound like I assume parents with public school students don’t do that–I assume you do! And that sounds exactly like what divajean is doing with the “small” issues now that are growing into “bigger” issues each year. Just for us, that scenario wouldn’t be the best for us “coaching” our kids.

Grace and peace,

Comment by Renae

February 10 @ 10:28 am |

A. I can’t figure out why issues like this divide people up into “our side” and “their side.” Especially among Christians, why aren’t we more gracious and merciful in our attitude toward each other, just as God is gracious and merciful toward us? God calls each of us uniquely, and his individual relationships with us do not fit into neat little, say, “homeschool” or “not homeschool” boxes that we create (and the resulting criticism and judgment) for ourselves.

B. That said, to address Megan’s question, a difference that has come up for us is that I have discussed what “IT” is with my oldest a year or two sooner than if I had homeschooled her. I think. I didn’t want her first contact with information about “IT” to come from her school friends, some of whom are raised in sexually dysfunctional homes, so I intentionally told her about “IT” starting when she was 6 so that her first information about it would be positive and Godly, not “ewww!” and negative.

I was pleased and slightly surprised that she actually didn’t know what “IT” was when we read through “Before I Was Born” (Book 2 of God’s Design for Sex). The book is for kids 5-8, so maybe many homeschoolers learn what “IT” is at 5, but I probably wouldn’t have had our first conversation until 7 or 8, given our oldest’s personality and needs, without the impact of her school friends.

Comment by Michelle

February 10 @ 10:32 am |

Ugh. I hope my above comment doesn’t sound like I think homeschooling is the only way. If it does, let me clarify, I certainly don’t.

I have a (20 year old) daughter just a year and ½ out of public school. There are *many* upsides to public and private school. I have my two younger girls “in line” for a great public (magnet) school here, that we may or may not accept if/when they get in, depending on how the Lord leads us.

I just happen to think that the above questions are some of the *positives* of homeschooling. And I’m always surprised when people see them as negatives.

But just to be totally clear, I think everyone should follow God’s direction in their lives. Including their schooling choices.

Comment by Renae

February 10 @ 10:48 am |

“You know, I’m always a little amazed that there are moms on both sides of the fence that want their children exposed to conflicts at the age that our broken society dictates.”
– a quote from Michelle, above

Perhaps I’m misinterpreting what you mean here, but for us, “exposing our children to conflicts …” comes along with our call to be “in” the world. If we are “in the world” of course this would happen, then! Our call to the school we’re at right now is part of our call to walk alongside people in our community who are broken and hurting (we send our kids to a church-based school that reaches out to inner city & refugee kids). Because of our intentional entry into broken lives, our family is sometimes exposed to their sin and brokenness… we therefore have to very intentionally guard our hearts against the hurt of these sins… hence the issue I raise in my above comment.

In other words, we intentionally come alongside children from broken homes, therefore I intentionally guard my daughter’s heart against learning about sexual brokenness by making sure I teach her at home about it first. (”Knowledge is power!”)

Cheers!

Comment by martha

February 10 @ 10:57 am |

from the sound of things, parenting whether of home-schoolers or out-of-home schoolers, is a full-time job. (i’ve done it too–3 girls.) we constantly have to have our mental,emotional and spiritual antennae up and on alert all the time. we have to be talking/listening to our kids and be aware of what is happening in our world and the culture around us. if they are schooled out of the home, we have to be aware of what “their” world is like as well. on top of that, we must be know God and His Word and how it applies to real life.

my kids are grown now…very grown! by the time i knew about home schooling options that would work for me (a non-teacher) they were beyond me academically…especially in math. at that time, homosexuality was not an accepted lifestyle in our culture, abortion was not ok among their group of friends or in their minds,(often discussed over dinner!) and many of the changes that are becoming more accepted in our culture now were not condoned then or at least not in their circles of friends with whom they shared common beliefs.

if i were starting over, i would (and do)recommend considering homeschooling. however, not as an easy shortcut (as i have heard done by some!)but only with the realization that it will take a LOT of commitment from both spouses. to do it well will not involve outside pressure from someone telling/guilting them into it, but rather their own conviction that at least for one year, this is a commitment they plan to make after looking into curriculum/talking to other homeschooling parents, etc. it is only when a person makes this decision as their own, that they will be able to handle the difficulty that comes with the decision. it is a decision loaded with reward…certainly in the long term…if done well. but from everything i’ve read/heard that first year or two can be quite rocky b/c it will show up every flaw in personal organization and child discipline to name two major ones.

the decision not to homeschool will give you a few hours in the middle of the day. if you don’t make good use of that time for bible study, becoming aware of what is happening in your culture, how to relate well to your children, how to have a good marriage, building a network of godly, wise friendships/prayer partners etc., you will be totally unprepared for those hours when your children are home. either way, it won’t leave a lot of time for career building, not in these days! how do you like my 2 cents? just call me opinionated:)

Comment by Michelle

February 10 @ 11:44 am |

Renae said:

“Perhaps I’m misinterpreting what you mean here, but for us, “exposing our children to conflicts …” comes along with our call to be “in” the world. If we are “in the world” of course this would happen, then!”

I’m not sure if you’re misinterpreting what I meant to get across or not. 🙂

Our children are certainly going to be exposed to conflict, whether we homeschool or not. But it is my experience that it is much easier to be swayed by poor behavior than to sway someone to good behavior. Especially at a younger age. This is why I added, “at the age that our broken society dictates”. Which seems to be younger and younger all the time.

We intentionally come alongside children from broken homes as well. Through some of our other functions, but mainly through our Church youth programs. Which I am much more comfortable with, as my girls have strong Christian leaders to support them in their outreach.
And it sounds like your children have that same kind of support in their school. Which is fabulous but not, from my experience, the norm.

Comment by Chelsea

February 10 @ 1:32 pm |

If we’re all seeking and trusting God as we make decisions regarding schooling for our kids, then why does everyone feel the need to defend their decisions?

Incidentally, there are biblical examples for every type of schooling.

Comment by sheri

February 10 @ 2:01 pm |

An interesting thought: “As your child approaches high school or is in high school a lot of their success (regarding their choices and faith) depends on who their friends are. This is independent of home schooled or public school.”

Someone brought this up to our high schoolers at a ministry meeting last night. Agree or Disagree?

Comment by Anne

February 10 @ 6:24 pm |

Chelsea, I think it’s because Divajean asked Megan a question about her decision, and Megan asked for the opinions of others on both sides of the issue.

Divajean’s question was a good one. All parents should think about the issue whether they put their children in a traditional school or not. Tulipgirl is right — the decision of where our children will be educated is a parental decision that requires lots of prayer and thought. I think that has been reflected in these posts.

Comment by Chelsea

February 11 @ 12:04 pm |

I wasn’t saying that Megan was trying to defend herself, because I think she’s done a great job expressing why she feels led to homeschool. I do think the schooling discussion, outside the walls of this blog, has become a highly divisive area among Christians. Even the choice of which private school to send your kids can cause schisms among friends. I was just trying to say that God speaks to our hearts, and we shouldn’t have to defend God’s voice.

Comment by caron

February 11 @ 3:18 pm |

your blog will now implode.
good words, martha.

Comment by Megan

February 11 @ 7:24 pm |

Wow, everyone! Sorry I checked out of this conversation just as soon as I posted it due to my weekend class. Looks like you handled everything well without me…

Comment by Divajean

February 12 @ 1:29 pm |

Wow! What an interesting and thoughtful dialog this has been!