What If Your Kids Want to Go to Public School?
Homeschool parents wonder how they should respond when their child requests to go to public high school. My children never asked to go to public school - at least not after the first year we homeschooled. My children attended public school until they finished 2nd and 4th grade, so they had no illusions about it at all. They loved homeschooling, loved using Sonlight Curriculum, loved having real friends they really cared about, and enjoyed our homeschool activities that we fondly called "PE." When my kids were older, they did go to the community college for a year with some of their other homeschool friends, and it was very similar to a public school situation. My son later told me he thought that year in community college was a mistake, in his opinion.
I know that some kids do ask to go to public school. As a consultant, I have notice that most of these families have children that attend a homeschool coop class, or are taking some courses in a classroom setting of some sort. I'm not sure why there is such a correlation. I wonder if these children are experiencing some classes and think that public school will be the same way - or perhaps they become used to classrooms and view them as the way things "should be." Some parents have removed their children from classroom settings and noticed the children stop requesting public school. For that reason, one thing that may help is to do homeschooling at home (what a concept, right? LOL!)
Sometimes it will help for the child to see what school is really like, by visiting with a friend. That won't work with a child who wants to get into trouble, or who is easily swayed by peer pressure. Still, it may help to remove the whole mystique surrounding school, when they can see what really goes on inside the walls. It may be particularly helpful to children who desperately want to learn and aren't sure that mom or dad is teaching "enough." One of my clients recently visited some public schools. She and her children were truly shocked by so many things it completely cured them.
You may want to have a talk with your children about the "grass is greener" phenomenon. That's something that everyone has to deal with at some time. As adults, we may see a house or car and wish it were ours, forgetting about the cost of fuel or the hours of yard work (or the moles in the front yard and the rabbits in the back yard!) Being content with what you have is an important life lesson, even while you teach children to be their best.
Finally, it's important to remember that while we want our children to be happy, we are still the parents. We make difficult decisions for the benefit of our children all the time. We provide reasonably healthy foods instead of cake for dinner every night. Children might prefer desserts, but we still do what is best for them physically. The same is true of their social, spiritual, emotional and academic well-being. As adults we know the big picture. We know what is best for them. It's OK to decide to homeschool because you know best.
Like other periods of childhood, it can really help to be very matter-of-fact about your decision to homeschool. A simple statement "our family is a homeschool family and this is the best thing for you" can go a long way. On the other hand, a dramatic confrontation with raised voices and exasperated exclamations from the parent may only escalate the situation. We can't always control the tone of voice and dramatization of a teenager, but we can control our own. Imagine if you teenager asked you to do something completely unimaginable. What would you say? That is the kind of thing you can say, in the kind of tone of voice, when you respond to the public school question.
As a mom, I know that every family is different. I know that I haven't been through this situation, and I don't pretend to know all the answers. I hope that brainstorming these ideas will help you with this issue.