Jennifer Turner had always wanted to homeschool her children. She explains to Mommyish that the practice seemed “natural” given that she had already been the one who taught her daughter to talk, walk, color, and write out the alphabet. With a Christian education degree, Jennifer already had experience teaching children of a variety of ages. But after homeschooling her daughter since preschool, the mother is now preparing to send her little girl to school for the third grade.
One of Jennifer’s main concerns in keeping her daughter, as well as her younger son, out of school had been bullying. Both parents felt that maintaining the little girl’s studies at home would “protect her” from that particular pain of scholastic life. She and her husband also own a business that sometimes requires errands in the middle day. A flexible academic schedule, in which mother and daughter could interupt a lesson or take a half day off, appealed to the mother. She adds that the private schools in her area were much too costly and that, even though the public elementary school is up to her personal standards, she has concerns about the quality of teaching on the junior high and high school level.
The older daughter’s days during the week normally consist of waking up at eight o’clock in the morning, eating breakfast around nine, and then going online to a cyber school to work on a math lesson. The student also completes offline worksheets for language arts and then breaks to clean her room. Come lunchtime, Jennifer reads her daughter’s history or science lesson with her. Sometimes, the mother instructs art or music in the afternoon or her daughter has free time. Either way, Jennifer has her daughter’s studies finished by 2:30 in the afternoon when the school bus drops off the neighborhood children so that the cyberschooler can play.
The little girl asked to attend a “brick and mortar school,” Jennifer says, this fall primarily for the social experience. Unlike other homeschooling parents, Jennifer cannot join a homeschool co-op, which usually offers plenty of social outings and sometimes field trips for homeschool kids. Because the mother has opted for a cyber school, such opportunities are unavailable. She adds that her daughter also simply wants to ride the school bus.
In what is definitely a very unique back to school experience for the entire family, Jennifer has many concerns for her child.
“I wonder if she’ll lose her sweet spirit,” she muses. “Will the kids tease her? Will she struggle with her body image? Will she be able to get up on time for the bus? Will she be exhausted? Will it fit in with our family’s schedule? How will she handle her grades? Will she base her self-worth on her grades? Will she enthusiastically leave for school on days my son and I have fun activities planned?”
Going forward, she plans to evaluate her daughter’s experience every year to determine whether school has been conducive to her learning. However, the mother has an inkling that the former homeschooler will most likely choose to stay in school what with all the sports, musicals, and other organized activities with her peers. Jennifer maintains that even though her daughter has requested to attend school, she is not regretful in the least about choosing homeschool for her child’s initial education.
“I see her desire to attend school not as a failure by me or homeschooling but as the next step in her life,” she tells Mommyish. “Just like she’ll one day want to attend overnight camp, go to college and possibly get married, I need to allow her the chance to try school. Plus, she can always return to home school if she wants.”