All parents are called to feed their children. Although there are many who have great theories on what is the proper way to do this, there is not just one healthy diet. Likewise, every parent has been called to educate their children and the ways in which they choose to do so are as many and as different as our food choices. From the time my husband and I met, we would spend long periods of time discussing the great blessing that being homeschooled was for us and how we couldn’t wait to homeschool our future children. We just knew that this was the only option for our family and ‘no matter what’ we wouldn’t be swayed! But life has a funny way of shaking things up, and we began to better understand Proverbs 16:9 – In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps-. And when our oldest two were in 5th and 6th grade they entered the classroom.
I assume much like any family sending their child to school for the first time, we had a transition period. We had to make some adjustments as to how we approached each day and we had to have an extra dose of grace for one another. Here are some do's and don’ts that we found to be extremely helpful for making a transition from homeschool to Christian school just a little smoother.
Don’t sacrifice your home life
I was devastated when we first decided to send the kiddos to school. I honestly thought that life would never be the same and I was grieving not being able to ‘teach’ my kiddos. As it turned out, I was still a teacher. However, instead of teaching from 7am-1pm, we did ‘school’ (homework) together from 4pm-6pm. Similar to our homeschool routine, we created a homework routine. Come home, have a snack, and ‘what can I help you with’. Much in the same way, we created new routines for chores, family time, quiet time, and free time. In reality, having the school schedule caused our family to be more purposeful with our time and commitments.
Do become a planner
Time management will be a lifesaver! Mornings were a real bear for us. It almost entirely consisted of mom repeating and nagging and the kiddos dragging their feet and dawdling. It didn’t take long for me to realize that the mornings needed to be reserved for waking and dressing. By packing lunches, snacks, and backpacks the night before, we found our mornings ran smoother and there were less forgotten items.
Besides the daily grind of chores, homework and personal hygiene, we were wondering if we would ever find time for family adventures. By checking the school calendar regularly, our family was able to plan day trips, vacations, or playdates based on half-days, days off and weekends. Although it wasn’t as spontaneous as it once was, our treasured time together wasn’t neglected.
Don’t use school as a punishment or a reward
It didn’t take long for the kiddos to become head over heels in love with school. They enjoyed it so much that they dreaded any days off or missed days because of illness. Sadly I found myself, on occasion, using it as a threat. When an unpleasant, yet very normal, childhood behavior would rear its nasty head, I would say things like 'Knock that off right now or you won’t be going back to school' or 'Did you learn that at school?' or 'That would have never happened if you were homeschooled'.
As a result, I ended up setting myself up in opposition to the school, at least in my kiddos' minds. Now, not only did they have things they didn’t want to tell me about their day at school, but they could also use it as a way to manipulate me on a day that they didn’t want to go. “Mommy, I don’t want to go to school today. I just miss being home with you”.
School has to be a positive and a “have to”. Learn to become a cheerleader of all things school, even homework, and even if you aren’t feeling it. By partnering with the school, when real problems do arise, you will find that you have an ally and a support system with your student’s teacher and the school staff. You will find that school will run more smoothly and be more positive for everyone involved.
Do get involved
Many schools have a shadowing opportunity for new students. We found that after a day of shadowing a current student, our kiddos were much more at ease about the idea of going to school. In fact, they came home excited about the classes, teachers, and friends. Other events, such as family orientation and back to school night, gave our entire family a chance to meet other families and become familiar with the teachers and staff.
In addition, schools love parent volunteers. By volunteering at the kiddos' school, I was able to stay connected, meet other parents, and still sneak in a hug from my loves throughout the day.
Don’t forget there will be a transition period
When my kiddos came home from school grumpy, tired or sullen, I began to question our decision. I was sure that we were squashing our kiddos' creativity and hunger for life. The truth was they were tired. They had never been required to be away from home for 7 hours a day, to sit still at a desk, or go all day without ‘alone time’. Thus, there was some crankiness and a little extra neediness. I needed to be purposeful in our routine and be their cheerleader. It took a good month for them to get into the routine of school, both physically and mentally, but once they did, I began to see their sweet and adventurous personalities come back in full force.
Do trust God
God has an amazing plan for your children. The promises we see over and over again in His Word apply not only to you, but also to them. He loves them WAY more than we could in our humanness, so seek and trust God in your education decisions. Prayerfully consider how God is leading your family. God will use this experience for His glory.
Although unplanned, our time in school has been so very sweet. Our kiddos have developed relationships that I am confident will last from year to year. They have learned what it means to love, prefer, and serve even when your classmate isn’t ‘deserving’ of it. Their school introduced them to choir, Latin, and soccer, all things that we weren’t doing at home. And it has taught me to let go and let God. School has been a wonderful time of growth and maturing for our whole family. Learning to trust God in ALL areas of our lives. We truly are thankful for this transition.