My oldest daughter is going into the 11th grade this year. She has always been exceptionally smart and I know she could have a brighter future than I did. Like a shining star, she has always excelled at everything she did, from school work and dance class to making friends. She always had lots of friends, but recently she has started shutting many of them out and pulling away from them because of things they do and the way they behave and act. Her best friend of the past 4 years started homeschooling, and now my daughter wants me to do the same for her. I admit to not knowing much about the subject of homeschooling. I’m worried that if I let her home school, she will miss out on the chance to graduated and may limit her college opportunities. Should I let my daughter home school and allow her to further distance herself from the negative influences she is trying to cut out of her life? If I do, will I be allowing her to throw away the future she has started building that has such wonderful potential? I just want to make the right choice for my daughter’s happiness AND her future. How do I know what the right thing to do is?
Help me figure this out!
Parenting is Hard in The US
Dear Parenting is Hard,
Boy, did you make an accurate statement with that pseudonym! Parenting IS hard, no matter where you live or how old they are, and it doesn’t seem to really get any easier, it just keeps changing forms on us. First they’re newborns, soon little crawlers, before you know it they are walking, etc. With every stage or phase of their lives, comes a new stage of parenting for us, complete with new challenges we haven’t faced yet. Oh joy! Just what we were hoping for.
Oftentimes these challenges aren’t just new to us, but they’re new to our parents as well, which makes things even worse because now the place you could always go when you didn’t have the answers, doesn’t have the answers either. Now you’re left trying to figure it out on your own, not even sure where to turn. So now it’s time to do some research (Thank you, Internet, we love you) and weigh your pros and cons. Decide what works best for your family in your situation.
For a lot of people, homeschooling is a foreign concept they aren’t familiar with. For most families, education has been a similar process for generations: your child reaches a certain age, and they go to public school until they graduate and get a diploma. That’s what you did, it’s what your parents did, it’s what your grandparents did, it’s what all your other relatives did, it’s the way education was done.
In today’s world, the face of education is starting to look a lot different than it used to. With homeschooling legal in all 50 states, more and more parents are taking control of their children’s educations, choosing to home school, rather than have their children attend traditional public schools, for a number of reasons. The growing number of online public school options available to families, makes it easier than ever to persue more non-traditional educational routes. Students can receive the same, and sometimes even better, education than they can in the public school systems available to them in their areas, and they do receive a high school diploma as well. There are sites that can help you as a parent sift through and find online school options that are official and meet the homeschooling requirements where you live. K12.com is one of the most well known options for online schooling. They offer public and private online school options, as well as independent study programs that allow students to learn to their own pace, be that slower or faster than average. For a child that is advanced or learns at a faster than average pace, programs such as these can help them thrive educationally, and even graduate early.
Another concern pushing parents towards homeschooling is the ever-increasing number of school shootings, bomb threats, and bullying violence in the United States. 2018 saw 24 shootings involving injury or death in public schools across America. That is an average of 2 shootings every month. And those are only the shootings involving injury or death; not all instances of gunfire in a school results in someone being hurt, but that doesn’t make it NOT a scary situation for children and parents. When I went to school we had fire drills and tornado drills. Now the kids have intruder drills, and they go on “lock down” it seems like once a month. When you read news stories of 7 year old kids writing “Love you Mom and Dad” on their arm in case they never get to tell their parents again, your heart breaks, and you think about the psychological scars these situations must be inflicting upon our children. Though more schools are taking a zero tolerance to violence and bullying stance, none of these policies seem to actually be doing much good. Instead, they only serve to punish the bullied child who finally decides to stand up for him/herself. The schools somehow seem to miss the bully’s behavior, even when it is reported. Then when the bullied student has finally had enough, he or she gets caught up in the consequences of the zero tolerance for violence policy that the bully managed to escape. When we send our children to school, we want them to receive an education, not to be tormented and then punished for not taking it in stride.
Each state creates it’s own laws regarding homeschooling, so it’s up to parents to research the regulations of their particular state. It may sound like a Herculean task, but all the information you need about the laws and regulations and what you need to do as a parent, is on the Internet. You can usually find it with a few Google searches and some time and patience. A good place to start would be something like HSLDA.org where they have all the homeschooling laws by state. It’s a good idea to do more in-depth research into your own state’s laws, to make sure you adhere to all the regulations required.
In addition to homeschooling, there is another option. Depending on your child’s age and your state’s laws, she may be able to take her GED exam. Many states allow children at 16 years of age with parental consent to take the GED exam. All community colleges and almost all 4-year universities accept a GED in lue of a high school diploma. A person with a GED can enroll in a 2-year college and take certain high school credits while taking their first semester courses and actually qualify to attend Harvard and other ivy league universities. This could allow her to begin her college career early. Homeschooling, and even getting a GED, doesn’t have to limit your child’s opportunities for her future.
Any decision about your child’s future is important and shouldn’t be made lightly. You have a lot of things to think about and discuss with your child. Not just about the quality of the education she is receiving, but about life and dealing with it, too. It’s important to make sure that your daughter isn’t trying to run away from some problem by electing to home school. Even in a bullying situation, we need to teach our children to address and deal with our problems, and not to simply run away. Though you may in the end decide that the best course of action is for your child to remove herself from that situation, it is still important to talk about it, and address the problem. Looking at a situation and deciding that the best thing to do is to remove yourself from the situation is not the same thing as running away from your problems. Whether she is experiencing bullying or not, having this discussion could offer that learning opportunity.
The best advice I can give in your situation is for you to do some online research into the home school laws in your state, look into the home school options that are available to you, and talk to your daughter about her motives for wanting to home school, and her plans for her future. If it were me, I would do all my research before I talked to her. Come to the table armed with the information that you will need for you guys to make an informed decision that will be best for your family. Only the members of your family can decide what’s best for your family. For our family, homeschooling was the right decision, but that may not be the right decision for every family. Hopefully, I was at least able to give you some tools to help you in making a more informed decision, and to set your mind at ease with the knowledge that your daughter can choose to be home schooled and not limit her opportunities for her future. In many cases, leaving the traditional public school system can actually open the doors for bigger and better opportunities for young people. Each family has to look at their situation and decide what’s best for them. Just remind yourself, parenting is the hardest thing you’ll ever do, but it’s also the most rewarding.
Good Luck and Remember to Abide,
Rev. Andie Lynn Mayton
Ordained Dudeist Priest