After 18 years of being a home school mom we are starting to transition our girls into public school. Part time for this year, most likely full time next year. Funny, most people ask, “how are you handling that?” speaking of me more than my girls.
Which makes sense, if you are a home school mom.
For the last 18 years a major part of my identity has been “home school mom”.
Some years I was a “better” home school mom than other years but nonetheless still a “home school mom”.
This is a different job than “mom”, not any more important only a bit more complicated because of the many hats involved with schooling.
As a home school mom you are responsible for your child’s
social life (making sure they have one).
You are responsible for all meals, snacks and a clean, safe home.
You are responsible for assigning tasks including homework and housework, defining expectations and disciplinary follow through.
You are responsible for clothing, doctor’s appointments and extracurricular activities including filling the parent volunteer positions for said activities...
You are responsible for bed time, teeth brushing, nursing duties, fun family times and not so fun family times (pitching in around the house right!?!).
You get it, every single aspect of life. Before you say anything, I do have a very involved, loving husband who helps too but if we are really honest, moms set the tone for the home and the same goes for home schooling.
It’s a lot and honestly can be overwhelming, extremely rewarding, sometimes defeating but mostly full of moments that would have been missed if not for home schooling.
We have used home schooling, not only to educate our children but to spend more time together, to help them become independent thinkers with a moral compass and firm foundation in the faith my husband and I share and hope our children will always share with us.
Understanding that as we develop these girls into independent thinkers it means they may choose differently than us as they grow up, however we remain confident that even if they do our relationships will stay strong in the process (my main mom goal through it all...).
We have used home schooling for lingering mornings around the breakfast table talking about everything from politics to Musically (now Tik-Tok and depending on when you read this you may wonder what in the world those things are anyway. I will explain, they are social media trends that are as fleeting as the tides).
We have used home schooling for the flexibility to take family vacations (not enough of them though) in the off seasons and taking days of doing nothing to a new level (a family specialty in our home).
Yes, we also made sure math, English, history and science were happening. Learning took place. Lessons completed. Testing happened and grade levels passed
but more than that, home schooling has been a journey of connection with my girls that am not sure I personally would have been able to cultivate outside of home schooling.
Many parents have strong relationships with their kids when they go to traditional school – please hear me when I say this is not a criticism of anyone.
What I am saying is for me, personally, the type of person I am, I am not sure I could have developed the family relationships we are reaping now if not for the years of homeschooling I poured into all 3 of my girls (at the time this is being written they are ages 22, 16 and 13).
This transition into public school for my girls was not an easy decision to make after all these years of home schooling.
Even though, deep down, I knew it was time. I prayed. I cried. I gave it up to God, took my selfish desires and set them aside as we walked into that big high school for the first time. When we had our first meeting and without any pushing from my end all the pieces fell into place it became clear – it really was time to do this.
As parents we have the authority to call the shots for our kids. I could have forced our home schooling journey to continue but at what cost?
The cost of the relationships we have worked so hard to build?
My girls have been expressing a desire to go to school now for a while, even before our move from Florida to Virginia, and I had to choose not to take that personally but to realize they have goals and dreams that need input from other teachers and systems of learning. I am choosing to not be threatened by that but to nurture it just as I have hopefully nurtured their individual dreams and desires all these years.
Sometimes as home school moms we can become fearful of “outside” influences when really we need to teach our children how to learn from others and decide “right from wrong” for themselves without being fearful of "outside" influence.
We need to teach them to be able to listen to someone other than mom and dad, how to listen to, learn from and value people who have different views and experiences in life. We need to teach our children to be able to take what they learn make decisions for themselves hopefully using the foundation we have provided as their parents and home school teachers.
We need to realize we can teach them our faith and world view but at some point it has to become theirs, on their own, by their own choice and understanding.
I am proud of my girls, they are so brave to walk in to a school so big after being at home for so long. They are strong in faith and not easily swayed by popular opinion. They are being so disciplined, getting up every day to catch the bus in the wee hours of the morning! They are making friends, navigating a HUGE school with thousands of students, attending football games and being responsible for themselves.
This transition, for us, it’s going to be ok. I am expecting better than ok, I am expecting my girls to thrive and grow beyond what they even think is possible.
So for now, during this “part time transition year”, I will enjoy picking them up early and taking them for coffee dates while the coffee shops aren't busy, taxiing them to their other classes (we have outsourced their other subjects, their school is officially “mom free” other than me overseeing their work and dad teaching math). I will soak up every minute of every day.
Be encouraged moms, wherever your schooling journey with your family takes you, you will always be “mom”.
Through every age and stage, that stays the same and for that I am forever grateful.
Coming soon - How having an Umbrella School helped us home school through high school with one, and transition to public school with our younger 2.