I have been homeschooling my children for 16 years. In that 16 years, we have certainly had some troubles here and there. We've had some years that went really well, we kept up with our school work fairly easily, the curriculum worked great, and we just felt like we were having a successful year. We've also had some years in which we didn't feel so successful and things didn't go so well.
One thing I try to remember, whether our school year is going well or not so well, is that my kids are right where they belong. They are still benefiting from being home with each other and with a mom who teaches them because she loves them. They are still learning more than they would if they were going to public (or even private) school. They are still avoiding many of the negatives that come along with going to school outside of the home. They are still maturing and learning to stand up for their beliefs and values so that, when they graduate and go to college or enter the working world, they will be able to stand up for themselves and defend their faith instead of allowing "the world" to lead them astray.
So I have to wonder why it is that, many times when homeschooled students have behavior or learning issues, the first bit of advice most people give us (homeschooling parents) is to send the child(ren) to school outside of the home! I know the folks giving the advice mean well, but I just don't "get it"! I simply cannot understand how a child who is already having behavior problems or difficulty learning will benefit from leaving the security of his/her own home, being put into an "artificial" learning situation, sharing a teacher with 20 or more other students, and dealing with peer pressure and the need to be cool and to try to fit in with the other students.
One of my children has recently had some behavior problems. Yes, these problems have been difficult to deal with. No, it hasn't been any fun dealing with them. Yes, I admit that it would be much easier for me to send the child to school somewhere instead of dealing with the problems myself. The problem, though, is that I know in my heart it's not the right thing to do--at least for my family. I know that this child, if put into a public or private school situation, would gravitate toward other children with similar behavior issues. I know that this child would learn to confide in other kids of the same age and to value their advice and opinions instead of continuing to see my husband and me as the authorities in our house and therefore the people he should look to for advice and information. I know that this child would seek out other children to provide validation and sympathy. I know that this child would (most likely) develop even more of an idea that we, the parents, are unreasonable and too hard to please because of peers who readily agree with his/her statements to that effect.
It seems to me that there's very little possibility that sending the child to school would do anything other than give me a break for a school year and give my child even more attitude and behavior problems to deal with. I just can't see how that could be the best thing for my child even though, at least temporarily, it would be easier for me.
I'm not saying that all students who go to school suffer because of it. Many children do very well in public or private school settings. I do honestly believe, though, that there are some children who simply aren't mature enough to deal with the pressures and choices and temptations that he or she will face in school outside of the home. Yes, of course these students will one day have to face these very real pressures and temptations, but that's all the more reason why we should keep them at home as children and teens in order to teach them and give them time to mature! Once they have matured enough to deal well with those issues, then would be the time to allow them to face the world.
I hope and pray that those of you homeschooling moms and dads who feel called by God to homeschool and who know in your heart that your children are where they need to be never have to face being encouraged by friends and relatives to send your children to school somewhere else. Instead, it is my sincere hope that, if you find yourself and your student(s) in a difficult situation, the people around you will encourage you and pray for you. I hope they will give you a sympathetic ear and a hug. I hope they will respect your decision to homeschool and know that sending your children to school is simply not going to help the situation and could possibly make it worse. At a time when you need love and support, I hope they will give those things to you.
Have you ever been encouraged to send your child(ren) to school outside of the home because of a behavior problem, learning difficulty, or something else? How did you react? Did it cause you to second-guess your decision to homeschool? I know this can be a difficult topic to address, but I would love to hear from you! Your story might just be enough to encourage another homeschooling family that's going through a difficult time!