From Luke's Inbox: Discouraged and Pulled Toward Public School

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I need a little encouragement. I've homeschooled from the beginning, but I just found out my 13 year old told my mom he wants to go to a public school. None of my relatives have ever been supportive of homeschooling. My husband nominally supports it. My son has dyslexia. We made great strides in reading after I read "The Gift of Dyslexia" a few years back. I am discouraged now because he thinks that if he had started in public school he wouldn't be as far behind in reading. I suspect the draw may also be because some of his peers in scouts are teasing him because he hasn't been exposed to popular music, girls, etc. I'm at a loss as to what to do. I'm thinking that maybe a charter school might be the way to go so that he has more interaction with his peers?

I am so sorry you are feeling discouraged. I'll gladly give you my two cents. But this is purely my opinion based on my observations. I don't know your family or your children or your local schools. That said...

1. Homeschooling is a great option. It allows us to customize and tailor our children's education to fit their needs, something a classroom can't do. Your example of reading a book on dyslexia and incorporating it into your homeschool is a perfect example of this, and, from what you've said here, it has proven very valuable! Here's a blog post that I think you may find encouraging about how homeschooling's flexibility can help your children keep moving forward.

2. I do not recommend people homeschool if their spouse is not behind them. But it sounds like your husband is still supportive--at least nominally--so that's good. The rest of your family--even your mom--can be dead set against you homeschooling, but as long as your spouse is behind you, please feel free to keep at it! Jill has a great blog post on this subject.

3. You know your children. You know them better than we do. What I recommend you figure out is why your son wants to attend a public school. Based on my experience, I'm very skeptical of the idea that he'd be reading better had he been in a classroom setting. If he's being teased--and that's driving him to want to be in a classroom--the teasing is only worse in school... especially at that age. I've talked with far too many kids who survived this time of life to think that this is a beneficial environment. It could be. But I highly doubt it. Here's an example of just one of the many conversations I've had with publicly schooled students (and I'm guessing a charter school won't be much better, especially, as you point out, much of this is likely coming from Boy Scouts).

4. Interaction with peers is great, but not the end-all of everything. In fact, building off point 3 above, it's likely a huge part of the problem! If your son needs new/more/better friends, that's one thing. And it's a very big thing! But, I've found that schools aren't the best place to make friends.

5. Homeschooling is a great option (said that already <smile>). But it's not the only option. If you and your spouse decide it's a good idea to send your son to a school to try it out, that's fine. Please feel free to do so! One of the things I've seen is that once parents have homeschooled, they discover a new sense of responsibility and power over their child's education. Even if you send your children to a public school, you'll be involved and active in their education. If the classroom allows your son to thrive, fantastic! If it proves not as beneficial, you will have the power and drive to bring him back home.

Hope that helps a bit.

Whatever you decide, may you have peace in your decision. I look forward to hearing how your son is doing in the new year! Keep up the good work.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Empty Nester

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