I wrote about sending my son, who had been homeschooled his whole life, to high school as a junior. It’s hard to believe that was three school years ago.
I know there are many homeschooling parents who have wondered if they should send their children to school, particularly when it comes to high school. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to answer that question for you. I don’t know you, your child, or your school district. Even if I did, I could give you bad advice. What I can do is tell you what I learned from the process and tell you where to go for help in making the decision: God. He knows what is best for your child. He has proven Himself trustworthy to us. I believe He will for you, too.
I share what I’ve learned in case it will be helpful to you.
Public school isn’t always the enemy.
I had heard horror stories and I was terrified. Our local high school’s website said that homeschoolers would have to be interviewed by department heads to determine what grades they would be given for previous coursework. When we met with the guidance counselor, I was prepared for a fight. If the school planned on giving my child anything less than the grades he had earned, I wasn’t willing to enroll him!
We had submitted my son’s transcript and PSAT scores prior to our meeting. The counselor handed us an official transcript with all his courses and grades on it, just as we had reported. I said, “You’re just going to accept his courses and grades?” She said yes. Not only that, but she asked if my son wanted to enter as a senior because he had so many credits. He declined because he wanted to build up an even stronger transcript for college.
I don’t know if my son’s PSAT scores were taken as validation of his coursework or if this is how any homeschooler would be treated. I have heard of other homeschoolers being forced to repeat high school years.
In our case, the public school was our ally, not our enemy.
Public school can be validating.
I have heard the story of poorly prepared homeschool students entering public school and failing socially and academically many times. It’s a popular tale among teachers commenting on homeschooling online. I was worried that teachers would use my son to confirm that narrative.
Instead, my son came home and said that one of his teachers had this conversation with him:
TEACHER: “You were homeschooled right?”
MY SON: “Yes.”
TEACHER: “Your parents have done something right. You’re an excellent student.”
I just wanted to hug the man. It isn’t that I didn’t know that my son is a good student. It’s that I’ve never had my teaching of him praised. It was nice to hear.
My public school stereotypes were wrong.
Even though I went to public school, my views of it have changed as a result of the media and warnings from the homeschool community. I honestly expected a completely out-of-control morass of immorality.
I agreed to help serve lunch to the theater group at the high school. When I walked into the lunch room and saw everyone sitting and talking quietly, I was astonished. When I served the teens lunch and they all thanked me, I was again surprised.
Because my son is extremely social, he has introduced us to dozens of young people he met in the various groups he was in. It’s been a joy to get to know them. Many of them share our faith, which was another surprise. While they have shaken my public school stereotypes, I believe we have given them a non-stereotypical view of homeschooling, too.
My son needed to experience public school.
My son had a much different set of stereotypes about public school than I did. In his mind, public school was filled with cool kids who loved to discuss what they were learning and teachers who all loved to teach. I did my best to relieve him of those stereotypes, but it wasn’t until he went to school that he had a better perspective. He later told me that there were just as many weird kids at public school as in homeschool groups (ha ha), that there were kids in advanced courses who would play video games instead of listen and discuss, and that some of his teachers were just plain awful.
His funniest realization (for me anyway) was this: “I could have learned in two weeks what it took them a whole semester to teach.” Ahem. I told you so.
His saddest realization is that unkindness exists everywhere. As a homeschooled kid at church, his experience was that his friends who weren’t homeschooled tended to ignore him in favor of their schoolmates. I think my son hoped that once he was in school that this wouldn’t happen anymore. It did, in various settings.
I’m so thankful that he was able to learn these lessons while living at home. We had plenty of discussions about what he was learning and experiencing and his dad and I were able to give him guidance. Everything he experienced has also served him well in college.
While I’m thankful for the lessons learned by sending my son to high school, I can’t recommend it to everyone. I still have reservations about sending young people who aren’t strong enough spiritually, academically, or socially to succeed. My next three oldest sons do not want to attend public high school at this time. But if they change their minds or my younger children want to go (and the Lord confirms that decision), I won’t be terrified.
Have you sent your child to public school after homeschooling or are you thinking about it? Let’s chat about it on Homeschool Sanity on Facebook.