My Daughter’s Insights from 7 Days in Public School
This year I was ready to embrace the dual role of public school and homeschool parent.
After over a decade of enjoying our homeschool only lifestyle, it was time to embrace the early morning life of a carpooling public school mom as my second daughter headed off to public high school.
I was prepared and determined to rock this new stage.
And rock it I did.
For seven. whole. days.
And then my daughter’s journey into the public school came to a very abrupt end when she realized that it was not the best fit for learning during her high school years.
In all honesty, she realized it within the first three days but we encouraged her to keep going.
By day six, she shared her very clear reasons with us and asked to come home.
Her reasons made sense. They confirmed some of our own suspicions. And we knew that waiting much longer to make the switch would mean trying to shift gears midyear.
The realities weren’t going to change so we decided to pull the plug that week and get her started at home right away.
We all agreed that it was the best decision and here are the top five reasons my daughter decided to return home:
Public school is timing consuming. It consumed her day and then it consumed quite a bit of her evening. She realized that much of her time was being consumed by school and the heavy workload had not even kicked into full gear.
I am sure our 30-minute drive to and from wasn’t helping, but I know lots of kids that sit on buses for 20-60 minutes one way, so a 30-minute ride for school isn’t too uncommon.
But she was done with it all. She wanted her time back.
The classroom is not the most conducive to her learning style. The teachers do not teach the way she learns best.
There were so many distractions and the pacing was too fast at times. Teachers often said things verbally that weren’t written anywhere and they expected everyone to keep up and write them down.
This isn’t ideal for anyone with auditory processing difficulty.
This meant that she “learned” things in a classroom and then had to learn them again at home with me teaching them. She was perfectly capable of learning the information, but not in the school classroom setting.
There were certainly paths we could walk to get her support and help in the classroom, but the process was clearly going to be long and tedious even though we already had all of the testing results ready to share.
And ultimately, she has a mom who was willing to homeschool her so the frustration wasn’t worth it.
She was eager to branch out and meet new friends at school.
And she did!
But she quickly realized there was a limited amount of time to actually socialize with them. (The irony of a lack of socialization time in school wasn’t lost on me…)
Ultimately she realized there wasn’t a “hole” in her life the way she felt at one time.
She turned in an application to this school during a time when she felt lonely and a bit lost at home. It was at the beginning of our “throw the noodles at the wall” stage and we were working hard to find groups and activities for her to enjoy.
Working hard to find her passions had paid off over the year and she realized that she no longer felt lonely and lost at home, but she was still curious enough to give the school a try.
With her curiosity satisfied, she returned home with confidence.
Let’s face it. Sometimes life is boring. And sometimes that is true of her time in our homeschool.
She has a lot of free time and isn’t able to drive yet to go on adventures, so there is a lot of time spent just sitting at home.
And she was bored.
Turns out that school has plenty of boring moments too.
And she preferred the boredom of home.
BONUS: She doesn’t complain about being bored at home anymore. (HA)
Five: Her Passions
She gave up a weekly master class for musical theater, voice lessons, and drawing classes to leave margin in her life for school. We knew that school would fill in the gaps because her schedule included both a Musical Theater and Visual Arts course at school.
Unfortunately, despite her two years of private art lessons, they enrolled her in the level 1 drawing class and she was bored.
Her musical theater class required projects and writing assignments (as do most classes in school). She was excited to sing, dance, and act in her theater class, but didn’t expect so much written work. After spending a complete class doing written work, she felt pretty disappointed.
She didn’t want her learning weaknesses to destroy an area of strength and enjoyment. And we didn’t either.
We were convinced. Even though we had planned to push her to finish a semester, we knew that wasn’t the right choice.
And we let her change direction with confidence. And we cheered her on again.
Because the biggest lesson I hoped she learned is that we will always be her number one cheerleaders.
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I’m so happy for you, having navigated this and made such a great choice to support your daughter each and every step. It can be hard to make that call of when to push and when to listen and stop. I love that homeschooling gives us so many options and freedom to find the right fit. Thank you for sharing your journey with us, and for being such a model of seeing and supporting your children! XO
This brought me to tears. So beautiful and it reminds us to have faith in our children’s path they choose. My oldest wants to go back next year for 7th grade and the feelings are bitter sweet. Your daughter looks so happy and grounded in herself and this is the ultimate state we are aiming for as parents. Good for you Mary!
What Audrey said EXACTLY!
This is so lovely. Thank you for sharing. I love that you switched courses so quickly and I love that you acknowledged that she had good reasons. Her reasons are great. This post speaks to my specific fears about putting my very similar daughter into school ( the paint table and Starbucks and colorful short hair- we have the same kind of girl). I think it’s so important to remember that we’re allowed to change our minds. I give you a gold star for parenting.
Crazy to read this and realize this is exactly why my girl would not rock high school. The first one being the time, she is already annoyed that our academic work time cuts into her art time 😂. And yes, I have a short colored hair girl. Maybe they are their own tribe.
Yes! Maybe they are their own tribe 🙂 They sound quite similar <3
Mary, you are incredible. You were such a beautiful example of how to support a child transitioning to public school. And now you are a beautiful example of supporting one coming back home. What a great motto…WE WILL ALWAYS BE YOUR NUMBER ONE CHEERLEADERS! Am I awful if I also say that I’m so glad she is home. 😉
I am glad too 😉 And thank you for this incredibly supportive comment 🙂
You are rocking this parenting gig! I am so glad that you all worked together to figure out what she needs,
and SHE was at the wheel. Excited for your year.
It is so awesome that you guys supported her and listened to her. That is the best gift we can give our children. Knowing we will always listen and support them.
I am so thankful for this article!!
I just quit my 20 year gig teaching in the public school system so I can homeschool our two kids. Before we even began homeschooling, I thought, I will send them to jr. high. Um, no. WHAT was I thinking?! HA ha!
Then I thought, well, if they want to go to a private or public high school when the time arrives, they can. Reading about your daughter was a true encouragement for this momma’s heart!!
Really inspiring story, thank you for sharing!
My son decide to take 3 classes at the Junior High this year for the first time, 8th grade. He decided on choir, Spanish and a new competition theater class. After about 2 weeks he was constantly complaining about all of the writing and testing work they were doing in the theater class. Just like your daughter, he was interested in the hands on part, not the writing/academic part, which he also struggles with. After talking a lot with the teacher , who was very supportive, we let him drop that class and are so happy we did.
Last week, that same teacher came and found him in his choir class, gave him the audition packet for the Junior High musical and encouraged him to try out. He was really excited about it, tried out for a solo role and made it! My husband was really worried that letting him quit the class would be a negative thing, you know, not pushing through a hard thing. But I think if we had forced him to stay in the theatre class he would not have had the same enthusiasm and energy to try out for the musical. He would have been bogged down and worn out by all the “academics” and the fun would have been sucked out of it. Yeah for you for recognizing that in your own child and supporting her decision!