If you're homeschooling or if you've ever thought about homeschooling, you've likely asked yourself this question a million times. For some people, the answer seems easy. Throughout your homeschooling journey you will no doubt encounter families who say that they always wanted to homeschool. You'll meet other parents who give you that deer in the headlights look and tell you they could never homeschool their children.
At times, I've been an in-betweener. My children started off in public school. My husband and I made the decision to pull them out of public school and homeschool when the older one was in 5th grade and the younger in 2nd. Like any other homeschooling family, our reasons were unique. And that's okay. And like many homeschoolers, we question that decision from time to time. Are we doing the right thing for our children? Would public school be better for them? How much more of this can I handle?
In-betweeners seem to constantly struggle with this decision. On one hand, I think that's a good thing. It keeps us constantly checking in to see what's going on at the public school and making sure that we are doing what we need to do in case we do one day decide to re-enroll our children. On the other hand, it keeps us in a rather constant state of uncertainty as we plan for our future.
Sometimes, I'm more of an in-betweener than others. My older son goes through these phases with homeschooling. He battles me. No, he goes on a major offensive. Then, when I am nearly broken, when I am convinced that I have failed at homeschooling, he does a 180. He gets his work done promptly and with a good attitude. But it doesn't seem to last. We're in one of those pits right now. So, I'm once again an in-betweener, trying to decide with my husband if our older son really can succeed in homeschool or if his temper and defiance will hurt our family more than homeschooling can help it.
It's all too easy to get trapped into thinking like the rest of the world does about school. We find ourselves doubting our abilities, our decisions, and what is best for our children. But on those days, we must take a break, breathe, and remember why we chose to homeschool in the first place.
We have continued to homeschool over the years. I've become much less of an in-betweener than I used to be. We see the growth and benefits of homeschooling. We hear more and more from friends about challenges in the public schools, both socially and academically. I think that this trend is likely common. The more we do something, the more comfortable we become with it. The more we homeschool, the more we see the benefits, the good days and the bad, and the fruits of our efforts.
I'd like to say that I have an answer to my original question: to homeschool or not to homeschool. But the truth is I don't. That's the burden of occasionally thinking like an in-betweener. We each have to carefully look at the dynamics of our own families, our financial capabilities, our abilities to teach our children (especially high achieving students and those with special needs), and the personal dynamics of the teaching parent and children. For some families, the decision may be made once and for all. But for many of us, the decision is made at least annually...and sometimes more often.