7 Lessons I Learned in Sending My Homeschooled Child to Public School

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Recently, we made the decision to send my youngest daughter {14 years old} to public school. You can find out why we made that decision in this post. She has definitely learned some valuable lessons during the transition, but so have I. It’s been a heart wrenching, bittersweet time for me. But, I’ve learned seven life-altering lessons in sending my homeschooled child to public school.

7 Lessons I Learned in Sending My Homeschooled Child to Public School

Relationships come first.

My relationship with my child is more important than where she goes to school. This was something that I couldn’t fully see until I stopped homeschooling my daughter. Our once so strong relationship was plummeting at a critical level….and the issues were on both ends. Each day was met with more harsh words and more tears. I honestly found myself looking for reasons to get out of the house. The issues that we had during our homeschooling day bled over into every other aspect of our lives together. Peace was nowhere to be found. Within three days of her being enrolled in public school, I noticed a major change in both my child and in our relationship. I pick her up from school and she is so excited to tell me all about her day. She honestly wants to talk to me from the time I pick her up until the time she goes to bed {pretty crazy for a teenager!}….and I have found joy in our relationship again. I find myself missing her while she is at school and I look forward to going to pick her up each day. While of course I wish that she was still homeschooling, I would give it up all over again to salvage our relationship.

Pride comes before the fall.

If I’m going to be 100% honest with you, I have to tell you that there were many instances over the past two years where I thought maybe homeschooling isn’t working out well for this child anymore. Those thoughts were always quickly pushed out of my mind and replaced with mantras of We are a homeschooling family. I will homeschool my children through high school. I am a homeschooling mom. I lead other homeschooling moms. I will never send our children to public school. I, I, I. I even clearly remember a conversation that I had with my husband after a few particularly difficult homeschooling days a couple of months ago. He calmly mentioned that maybe we should consider the fact that homeschooling may not be the best option for this child any longer….and I quickly {in a not so polite manner} shut him down. I wouldn’t hear any of it. I was SO full of “homeschool pride” that I was willing to sacrifice my relationships, the peace of our home, and our emotional wellbeing on the altar of homeschooling. Again, this isn’t something that I could see until I stepped back and laid it all down for a moment.

Never say never…or you might have to eat your words.

I was a staunch opponent of public schooling. If you search through my blog, you’ll likely find posts in which I state that I “would never send my children to public school”. In fact, when I was scrolling through my list of drafts posts that are waiting to be published, I found one titled “10 Reasons Why You Should Pull Your Children from Public School Now.” To be transparent with you, I still feel that homeschooling is the best educational option out there. I still feel like there are A LOT of things wrong with the public school system. But, as a parent, I must exhaust all options in providing what is best for my child. So, while I may think homeschooling is the best option- I also have to recognize that what I think may not be fact. The evidence of this was clear for me with this particular child. I firmly believe that God called us to homeschool all those years ago, but I also firmly believe that He has a plan for my children…a plan that is so great and so well devised that sometimes I need to get out of the way. He called us to homeschool…but maybe for this particular child it was only for a season and now He has a different plan for her. Maybe instead of preaching “I will never send my kids to public school” I should have been preaching “I will always do what is best for my child even if it doesn’t match my plans”.

The strong foundation that we laid will steady her.

I think one of my biggest fears surrounding enrolling my daughter into public school were all of the “what-ifs”. What if she gets in with the wrong crowd? What if she is taught material that doesn’t line up with our beliefs? What if…? What if…? While I laid in bed the night before enrolling her crying and presenting all of these questions to my husband, he took me in his arms and said “We have to trust that the foundation that we laid will carry her through.”. While we’ve only been into this public school journey for a few weeks now, I will say that I can already see the truth in this statement. I’ve already seen and heard of times when my daughter has stood up for her beliefs and her faith…or has walked away from people and situations that don’t have the same moral standards that we’ve instilled in her. One of the rules of the school is that students can’t bring any religious articles. My daughter carries a green scapular in her backpack. Each day, she has to go through security before entering the school. She has to take everything out of her backpack for inspection. When we pull up to the school, she removes her scapular and places it in her pocket or the sleeve of her shirt until after she gets through security! This is something that she takes upon herself to do and I didn’t even know that she was doing it until she shared it with me. This little witness was a huge relief to my heart- that foundation that we’ve spent 14 years building is strong and God will use it to see her through!

The opinions of others don’t matter.

I learned this lesson over nine years ago when we made the decision to homeschool our children, but somewhere along the way I forgot it. I didn’t let the opinions of others sway me from homeschooling….why would I let the opinions of some well-meaning {I think} members of the homeschool community sway me from doing what is best for my child? I am a very transparent blogger. I share the good and the bad in my life with my readers. They’ve come to expect nothing less from me. What would they think when they found out I sent one of my children to public school? Guess what? It doesn’t matter. I love my readers. I love my homeschooling friends…but at the end of the day, they don’t live in my house. So, while waiting in car line on the first day of public school for my daughter, I got on Instagram and did a very tearful Instagram Story and let them know what was happening in my life. The support that I received was amazing. It honestly blew me away. I had very few negative comments. I had more people reach out to me to share similar stories…stories that they had not shared with anyone else in the homeschooling community because they were afraid of the backlash. This has got to stop…and yes, I’m swallowing my pride here because I used to be one of those who preached “homeschooling no matter what”. Each child is different. Each situation is different. As homeschooling mamas we are all just trying to do what is best for each of our children…no matter how different that may be.

God is always 10 steps ahead of us.

As I look back over this entire situation, I can clearly see God’s hand through it all. You see, less than 6 months ago, we lived in the worst public school district in North Carolina. I’m talking the worst on all levels from academics to crime and gang activity and anything else that you can think of. Public school would never have been an option there…but now, we live in South Carolina and just so happen to be in the best school district in our county and even one of the best in the state. Even though I can’t understand it, God has a plan for my child to be in this public school setting. He was working all of this out for us before we were even aware that it was an option. I must trust in Him and His promises to always be faithful. He loves my child even more than I do…and He’s got this.

Communication is key.

While I’m not entirely convinced that putting my child into a new school setting in the middle of a semester was a great idea {it’s hard on the student and the teachers}, for us it had to be done right then. I didn’t feel like waiting until the spring semester was a good idea for us. So, we made the leap. Since we are mid-semester, my daughter entered into classes in the middle of units and was often confused. She would come home and tell me that her teachers just expected her to know the material and to be on par with the rest of the class. She even told me that one of her teachers thought that homeschoolers followed the same scope and sequence and used the same curricula as public schools. I could see that this was frustrating for her..and I can understand that. So, I took the time to email each teacher and provided them with a scope and sequence for each course that we were doing in our homeschool. I can’t tell you how much the teachers appreciated this…and it totally helped them to help my daughter. I was able to send in her grades and they were even able to use some of those grades in place of work that she had either missed or scored poorly on because she came in mid-semester. If you find yourself sending your child to public school mid-semester, I highly suggest reaching out to each teacher and providing these materials.

Overall, the decision to send my daughter to public school has proven to be a good decision…no matter how hard it was for me to let go. She is happy. She is doing her work and she is thriving…and that is ultimately what I want for her. If that involves a public school setting, then so be it. Thank you so much to all of you who have reached out to me on Facebook, Instagram, and via email to share your support and stories of encouragement. I appreciate each one of you!


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This Post Has 14 Comments

  1. Thank you so much for your honesty and transparency!! It is a breath of fresh air and so encouraging. We homeschool our daughter who is 9 and in 4th grade but when it came time to start homeschooling our son who is now 6 and in Kindergarten I just feared it wasn’t the best fit for us. We also added a 3rd child to our home in February and with an infant, working part-time, and homeschooling, I just feared I was not doing what was best for him. We enrolled him in public school Kindergarten and it has been the best thing for our family!! We are learning that one size doesn’t fit all for each child and to just take it year by year (or even just day by day!!) with each child and be willing to change and adjust when needed. God bless you!! 🙂

    1. You are welcome! We need much more transparency in the homeschooling community, don’t you think?! Thank you for sharing your story with me! I’m so glad you made a positive move for your family!

  2. This post almost sent me to tears. Last school year we put my daughter, who is the 2nd child, in public school. (We have 3 other kids that we continued to homeschool). She had been asking for a few years and we just kept feeling like we were doing what God called us to. Homeschooling was something the Lord convinced me of so I felt like I was obeying Him. But tension grew and even though we had her signed up for certain activities and special classes, my husband decided to let her make the call. He felt she had something in her heart and we couldn’t change her mind. Although when it became her decision it was harder for her to make. She finally decided to go and we became her cheerleaders to help her succeed in this choice. There were a few hard things and a few great things. I watched her be brave when she was scared. I watched her step up to challenges without my pushing. I was so proud of her. Then one day she told me she had been thinking about it and had decided she wanted to come home to homeschool. This was February. I was shocked! There wasn’t anything that happened, she just wanted to. Looking back I think she was worn out by the schedule and wanted to rest. This year we are homeschooling but she wants to go to high school next year. I am praying that the Lord help her to make that decision well. I learned so much through all this and I think she did too. I grieved, I blamed myself, I blamed God, I felt confused, and then I took a step back and trusted the Lord instead. It was the best thing. He’s got her whether she homeschools or public schools. And she’s learning to make important decisions for her life in our care. This year my oldest is in public school. As outgoing as he is he always wanted to homeschool but last year changed as we did first year high school for home school and it was not a good fit. It was stressful for us both. We both learned a whole lot but in the end decided it was time to let homeschool go for him. This has taught me that it’s ok to change course. It isn’t about all the technicalities. It’s about trusting the Lord with our kids because He is faithful to them.

    1. Amen! Thank you SO much for sharing your story! It has brought so much encouragement to my heart!

  3. Thank you so much for your post. I have all 3 of my school aged children in public school this year because last year basically didn’t happen for school and my oldest and I were constantly fighting. I completely understand. I cried when I dropped them off, I felt overwhelming guilt sending them and was so scared about the influences on them. I have been so amazed at how well they have been doing and we are already discussing who is coming home and who might not next year. I will be a ongoing decision and truly looking at the best thing for each child. It’s also given me a chance to organize my home and really focus on my 2 youngest without distraction. I still deeply desire to homeschool and plan to again but I see this year as a mental health year for us all. ❤

    1. Good for you for recognizing that each child and each season is different. You are an inspiration to me!

  4. I’ve always told family members and others that we homeschool one year, one child, at a time, and are willing to reevaluate if we need to. But I am recently realizing that over the years of homeschooling, I have begun to find too much of my identity in being a “homeschool mom” and a “homeschool family”, even in having kids who are different from their peers in “regular” school. I think the (often strong and loud) opinions of many in the homeschooling community can lead to the sense that considering other schooling options for your child means that you have failed, or can’t hack it as a parent, that somehow homeschooling is the ultimate hardcore parenting. Thank you for speaking up against that stigma, and sharing your family’s experience. Your honesty, and the timing of this post, have nudged me to return to some discussions my husband and I previously had about what’s right for each of our kids in this season. Thank you. (And I hope your family settles in well to your new home in South Cackalacky. We lived there for 14 years before making the opposite move to NC a few years ago.)

    1. You are so right!! I couldn’t agree more. I’ve felt {and preached} exactly what you’ve said for many years….and I am deeply sorry for that.

  5. Thank you for sharing your story. So hard to let go and trust God, isn’t it? Parenting is humbling.

    Btw, I will be sharing this post in my blog post about not homeschooling beyond the elementary levels and that school need not be such a scary thing because GOD has got our children in His hands!

    1. It is hard!! Parenting in general is so hard. Thank you for sharing!

  6. Happy to hear that your daughter has adjusted to public school. She sounds like a lovely and level headed young lady. I love the part about the green Scapular. Good for her. You and your husband has obviously instilled great moral and religious values in your daughter. God Bless.

  7. Thank you so much for these real thoughts and emotions. My favorite lesson was that opinion of others don’t matter. This is something that I often deal with as a homeschool mother and it’s exhausting. It doesn’t matter what educational choice you make for your children – you must do what is right for each child. Yes, it’s hard! Thank you for being such an encouragement with this post!

    1. Thank you so much!! Yes, this is a lesson that has taught me a LOONNG time to learn..and one that I find myself having to relearn time and time again.

  8. My 12 year old son just started public school for the first time. I feel like I’m losing all my friends from the homeschool community, but I also don’t fit into the PTA mom groups either. It is definitely more of an adjustment for me than for my son, who is doing well with both the social and educational aspect of public school.

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Hi, there! I’m Heather Bowen, and I am so glad you’re here.

My passion lies in helping homeschool moms balance marriage, motherhood, homemaking, and homeschooling all while remaining sane!

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