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Public School or Homeschool?

A Gift at the Fork in the Road

By Linda Dobson

It seems that into many homeschooling families’ journeys comes a fork in the road; a time to decide between continuing on the homeschooling path or to travel the road that leads to public school attendance.

Children offer a wide array of reasons to want to do so: to spend more time with friends; to be able to participate in sports programs off limits to homeschoolers; to test their mettle with age mates; to see how they compare to the “norm.”

Sometimes, the reasons aren’t voiced, perhaps because the child doesn’t know why he is being drawn in another direction: comments about homeschooling from family, friends, or strangers; the feeling that homeschooling sets him apart in a negative way; curiosity about the unknown.

When my eldest was considering whether or not to drop into high school at fourteen years of age, a lack of logical reason(s) led me to believe he fell into the second category. He had reasons, but they weren’t clearly expressed. At the same time, I knew he had to feel ownership of the final decision, whatever it might be.

We spent many hours discussing the pros and cons of attending school, to the point where my head was spinning. So, in lieu of any further conversation, I sat down and wrote out for him the benefits – as I saw them applied to his future – of his remaining with homeschooling. Here are the top twenty positives of homeschooling.

  • You won’t be motivated by the “crowd.”
  • You’ll question opinions presented as facts.
  • You’ll enjoy learning throughout your life.
  • You’ll grow into the person you are, not become someone somebody or something else wants you to be.
  • You’ll stand up for that which you know is right.
  • You’ll listen to and try to understand “the other guy.”
  • You’ll welcome differences in people, cultures, and circumstances.
  • You’ll be comfortable with people both older and younger than yourself.
  • You’ll find that time spent in quiet and solitude is time well spent.
  • You’ll know that thinking is but one of several faculties at your command.
  • You’ll make decisions based on your thoughts and feelings, not on those of others.
  • You’ll know how to find out anything you may need to know.
  • You’ll be confident that choices you make and actions you take are the best for you.
  • You’ll understand that doing something for others is more rewarding than doing something for yourself.
  • You’ll discover that many things are not black and white/right and wrong.
  • You’ll know about the world in which you are growing up, and in which you’ll spend your adult life.
  • You’ll realize that life is precious and is the true school you were intended to attend.
  • You’ll know that nobody but you can decide how and when it is best to learn something.
  • You’ll be able to find the best in others because you will have found it in yourself.
  • You’ll learn how to make choices that serve you and truth well.As it turned out, my son stayed home, until he was sixteen, that is. By that point he was testing the community college waters, grabbing every opportunity for training as a firefighter and emergency medical technician, both of which were his passions, and working in a paid job for the state visitors’ interpretive center, employment that resulted from his several years of volunteer experience there.By the time he was twenty-one, he’d already seen enough challenges to put the list to a good test. I watched as he dealt with the many aspects of his early, independent life – friends, family, work, relationships, and community activities – and he proved the list quite accurate.

    Years later, he thanked me for caring enough to take the time to clearly lay out my thoughts on that important fork in the road. He thanked me for a great gift.

    In case you, too, find your family at a fork in the road today or in the future, during this season of giving, I pass the gift forward.

    © Linda Dobson
    Permission to republish on A to Z Home’s Cool granted by
    Home Education Magazine, March 4, 2011.

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