I have homeschooled for the last 5 years. Our daughter is now in 8th grade. She has expressed her desire to attend public high school next year. She would like to go to the same high school her older brother attends. I'm so unsettled and sad about this. I love being able to homeschool our children and feel it has made our family life and faith life stronger (as well as more peaceful). She has homeschool friends and friends who go to public school. Of course, her non-homeschool friends are wanting her to go to public school next year. She has said she wants to see what public high school is like, that she knows what homeschool is like and if she doesn't like public school, will come back home. Our daughter is an average student, who sometimes needs more help and time for some subjects. I'm worried that she will become discouraged if she falls behind in public school classes. I am having such a hard time accepting and letting her go. I don't want her to feel she missed out of something by not going to public high school like her older brothers and sister. I have prayed about it, but still feel unsettled. How should I handle this?
Thank you for your question. I can tell that you are a concerned parent, and rightly so, about your daughter's desire to attend public high school. As a parent you are aware of the problems surrounding public school, and the obvious blessings and gifts that come with homeschooling. However, your daughter does not see the comparison, as she has never experienced public school.
I think that much of your decision depends on your daughter's maturity and her needs as a student. By maturity, I mean how well is your daughter grounded in her Faith, and has she learned what it means to be a Catholic in this often anti-Christian society? Can she adequately defend her Faith? Can she stand up for her beliefs? Can she discern between what is right and wrong, and choose the right friends? If you think she is not mature in this area, I would not recommend letting her attend a public high school. You also mentioned that your daughter is an average student, who sometimes needs more help and time for some subjects. In a public school she will most likely not find the help that she needs with her classes; she might find that the classes are too fast-paced, and teachers are more likely too busy to provide the extra help she needs. It seems as though her desire to be in public school stems from her friends who are telling her that it is better than being homeschooled.
The following are options you might wish to consider:
1. If you have a Catholic high school in your area, you could consider sending her there, as a compromise. Some Catholic high schools are not much better than a regular public school, but at least you know that she will be more protected there, than if she attended a public high school.
2. You can continue to homeschool her through high school. She might not be too happy with this decision, but as a parent, you are responsible for helping her develop a mind and soul that is truly beautiful in God's eyes. We are told to be in this world, but not of it, and as the parent you have to protect your children from the society that draws souls away from God. You might be interested in High School of Your Dreams (https://www.chcweb.com/catalog/HighSchoolofYourDreamsGuidebook/product_info.html). This program allows high school students to pursue their interests and needs, while allowing for creativity and growth both spiritually and academically. You would definitely want to discuss with her the various facets of the high school program that still allow socializing with friends, pursuing academics that she might like to study at her own pace, extra-curricular activities, etc.
3. You can allow her to attend the public school, and tell her that if she doesn't do well after a term, she can go back to homeschooling. This might help her get a taste of what public school is really like, and satisfy her curiosity. Another option you could do, as well as homeschooling, is encourage her to take a class or two at the local college. This also will give her a taste of what is out there. While I homeschooled all the way through high school, I learned so much about the public school system when I was involved in the community orchestra. While I have not had much experience in public high schools, I have had extensive experience teaching and tutoring in various public grade schools and middle schools. Every time I go into those schools, I come out grateful that my parents homeschooled me through high school.
Whatever you decide, I'm sure that you will take into consideration your daughter's feelings, but also what you know is ultimately best for her.
You and your family are in my prayers. God bless and good luck!