For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
I turned the calendar’s page and gaped at the capitalized black letters: AUGUST. I have been pushing the decision to the back of my brain, where it sat simmering all summer long. Now the season is here, and we have to decide whether or not to homeschool our beginning 5th grader.
When our family hiked up the grassy slopes of the Alps last month, I thought I knew the answer. How could we not take advantage of being stationed in Germany and show our son all these amazing places? With homeschooling we could easily adjust our schedule and take frequent day trips. No more wasting time every day going to school, waiting for classmates to settle or walking back and forth to different classrooms. We could be up starting with his lessons before eight in the morning and be done by lunchtime.
Of course, we could do it. After all I had homeschooled our son during 2nd grade. It made sense spending all the time he needed with reading comprehension and adjusting lessons to his personal abilities. I enjoyed teaching him at home. He did not.
“I don’t wanna be homeschooled,” he told us last week. “I wanna be with Mike and Rachel in school.”
I understand his argument. Being a military brat, he has to move every two or three years and leave his friends behind. It used to be easy for him to make friends. Ten minutes of playing with another child at the playground, and he had a new friend. That has changed as he has gotten older. After his friends moved last year, it took him many months to befriend Mike and Rachel.
I tried to reason with him. “You know, you can be with your friends in the afternoon. You don’t get that much time together in school anyway. Think of how much more time you’ll have playing outside.” His eyes rolled over. I knew he would not warm to the idea very quickly. “You could be done with your lessons by a Thursday, and then we can go on a trip to Berlin or Paris.”
“Oh.” His eyes lit up. “We can go to Disneyland in Paris. And we can go to Legoland every week. Yeah!”
I cringed. “Well, we’ll have more time to do some fun stuff, but we can’t be going to Legoland every week.”
Sighing, he turned to his Playmobil figures on the living room carpet. “I don’t wanna do homeschooling.”
I forced down my frustration and sat down beside him on the carpet. Maybe I should just make the decision and be done with it.
“You know, there’re lots of homeschooled kids in the neighborhood. You can play with them during break every day.”
“But Mike and Rachel are in school. And my other friends. I wanna be with them.”
“Yes, I know. They’re your friends.” I took a deep breath. “But we need to decide what is best for you. And homeschooling is an option. We can do it.”
I watched him toss his figures into the toy basket. “Ugh. I don’t know.” He got up and headed toward the front door. “Can I play outside?”
I sighed. “Yes, for half an hour.”
Still no decision. Where do we go from here? I read that arguments against homeschooling include the lack of social interaction for the child. Our son is outgoing, so I know that providing him with plenty of play dates and activities with other kids would be a daily effort. In addition, if my husband should deploy, we will need a break from each other every day. Still, I cannot ignore the benefits of teaching him at home, adjusting the lessons to his needs and traveling with him around Europe. Should we try homeschooling again and see how it works out? Should I even consider homeschooling, when he wants to go to school? Or, should we stick with school and give him some sense of stability and continuity?
I tossed and turned for several nights. Whatever we decide, it can take years until we see the fruits or flaws of that decision. After more days of thinking and talking with my husband and son, we agreed to let him continue with school. My arguments for homeschooling fell on deaf ears. He wants to go to school and be with his friends. We will see how that unfolds in the coming months.
Now the road of him going to school lies ahead of us. It is defined and concrete, paved with obstacles and surprises. We made our decision. Now is the season to look forward, to prepare, and to trust in the Lord.