For the past seven years, I've homeschooled most of my children. For the past three years, we've enrolled them in an online public school but have had most of the flexibility that homeschool offers. I am a big advocate of parents being able to homeschool their children, so it is with a sad heart that I am allowing my son to attend public school (the brick and mortar kind!) for the very first time this year. I am not sad because he is attending, but sad that he will be on his own for the very first time and I will have to entrust him to other people, and sad that my baby won't be with me 24 hours a day! Before you judge me on either side of the equation, hear me out.
First, I am not going into this blindly. I have put several hours of prayer and fasting into this decision and feel like it is the right one for him. I started working more hours this year and our oldest is going to college. My son was getting bored with the curriculum the online school was using and needed more interaction with others. No, he is not socially awkward. Just the opposite! That is why I felt that this is where God wanted him. He loves to be around his friends and has been such a good witness of his Christian faith that I feel like he could be used in a bigger way.
Second, he learns differently than my girls. He is a "hands on" learner; whereas, the online public school was not able to give that to him. Once he is shown how to do something, he understands the mechanism behind the process. My husband is the same way.
Third, he has been begging me, so I put some guidelines down for him before I made the decision: 1.) He needed to pray and fast about this decision, as well; 2.) A list of pros and cons was to be made; and 3.) I made it clear that nothing-not even football!-was going to take him away from church attendance. I thought this might be met with some resistance, but I was pleasantly surprised when he told me, "Mom, I have already been thinking about that and I don't want to get away from church or God for anything, either." That made my heart happy!
Is this the perfect solution to all of his educational needs? Probably not. However, I trust that the Lord knows what he is doing and will keep his hand on my son as he walks the halls of the middle school. Plus, if, after a year, he doesn't like it or I feel the need, I will pull him out and continue to homeschool him. Yes, it is tempting to do that now, but I have given him a year to try this out.
Does this mean that I just send him on his way and hope he keeps his head above water? Absolutely not! I will continue to pray for him and give him the support he needs. I will keep involved and always know what's going on with him.
It is hard to let our children go and, though I am only letting the rope out a few feet, it is another step to him growing up and becoming the man God wants him to be. We live in a world where there's a sea of confusion and chaos and our children will need to know how to navigate those waters, but I also think we are living in a time where this world needs to see Godliness and righteousness in action.
"Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity." I Timothy 4:12 (KJV)