I am adjusting to impending change. I feel the change calling, and I've tried and tried to resist it, but I know better, and I'm beginning to yield. At least be open.
I am considering enrolling my three children in public school next year. There. I said it. This is a decision fraught with anguish and emotion, and long-time homeschoolers will understand just what I mean.
I have been shepherding my children's education for eleven years now. I have lived and breathed their academic progress and interest. I have loved schooling them. They love being homeschooled, but I think it's time for a change. For many reasons, most of which I won't address in this forum, but the biggest reason is that I've tried to always discover God's will for my children, and His approval in my efforts to educate them and raise them.
I have been researching schools non-stop for the past week. We do not live in a great school district. There are low-expectations and a lack of hope. The positive side would be that my children could walk to their various schools (they would be in three separate schools, but each within a mile of our home), and they would see kids from church. The negative side would be the lower academic challenge they would have and the bombardment of really down-and-out kids around them. It would not be an inspiring atmosphere. They do offer advanced classes, which my kids would be in, and some AP courses. And, if that is our only choice, then I believe I have done a good job as a mother teaching them personal standards. I believe they would be at the top of their classes, and would pick good friends, and make the most of what opportunities would be available to them.
Lyndsay is my main concern. She will start high school next year, and she has definite plans for college. I want her to be challenged and inspired. She is a self-motivated, bright girl and will rise to the occasion. Another school in the next town is a tempting option. It is a Blue-Ribbon School in CA and has a high API index and many AP classes are offered. It also has a well-respected theater and arts program (which due to lack of funding has been cut from many schools). My husband is a graduate of this particular school and though it is a little drive from home, it isn't too far, and it is still within our Stake boundaries. And Lyns would still get to see her church friends in early morning seminary each day. But then, what to do with the boys? You see, we could potentially have 5 kids in 5 different schools next year. And we only have one car, that seats 5 people, so you can see the dilemma here. Especially if hubby is working a new job...(which we pray he will be).
So, the third option, and the one I'm most heavily leaning towards, is to see if we can get a boundary exception for the same school district that my husband's two children attend (a sibling allowance). Their mother lives in a very wealthy area in a top-notch school district, which also still falls within our Stake boundaries. We got his kids into that district because of her address, even though they are with us half of the time. I've been very impressed with their school and the programs they offer. I've researched the middle school and the high school in that district, and am blown away. The high school has a 99% college enrollment rate, and an impressive list of college prep and AP courses. The school is ranked 95th in the nation. I think the education would be challenging and rigorous for my kids, and I think the atmosphere would be inspiring and hopeful. There are clubs and groups and activities galore.
It is farther away, but three days a week we are driving there anyway with Caitlin and Sean. The middle and high schools are combined on one campus, so then we would only have two schools to worry about, instead of five. FIVE!! They wouldn't be going to school with kids that lived close to them (playdates, etc), but hopefully they'll have so much homework they won't have time for friends during the week anyway. :) A big concern is that these are kids that come from wealthy families, even celebrity families, and I don't want my kids to feel like they are the bottom of the heap economically in the school, or to feel pressure to keep up with their peers materially. I hope I have raised them better than that. There is the reality that public schools are not free, and there would be expenses that would be difficult or burdensome to us. But their academic opportunities outweigh that, right? And I can think positively, that maybe we won't be at the bottom of the heap for too much longer, right? And if we can get them into the district then that should be our first concern, and then other factors will work themselves out, right? (a second car for our whole family to fit in, a good job opportunity for Adam, enough money to allow them some fun opportunities with the school--field trips, etc?)
It's a lot to take in. There are so many unknowns right now. Things could be very different for us in the near future. All I know for sure is what is right now. If we could even get them in. I have so much on my mind! I want to make the best decision for them, to do what's best for them, to put them where they need to be. I have sacrificed much of my time to educate them here at home, when my friends have had time to pursue their own interests. I have laid a solid foundation, I believe, and it may be time for different experiences for them, as well as for me. I'm excited to see what's next.
*updated 3/17/08: Well, I've heard back from both of the "other" schools and they have absolutely no boundary exceptions now. One school is already 500 students over capacity, and the other one...the one that the other two kids attend...does not allow boundary exceptions for siblings. Only for parents who work in the area. Period. No exceptions. Sorry. So, back to the drawing board. There is a well-respected magnet school some people in our ward have recommended, but it's a 30 minute drive each way. We may just have to enroll the kids in our local schools and stay very involved! I know they'll make the best of whatever the situation may be.