I’m talking about dual enrollment in the local school- not college credits. I know it isn’t popular. I’m not sure how ideal I think it is, but I’d be ungrateful to say the least if I didn’t say how much OUR local public school has benefited my home-schooled children!
Let’s start at the beginning. I fought the calling to homeschool. I could hear the Lord whispering it in my ear but I wouldn’t listen. My family was against it. It was against the grain. It was an insult to my parents that had brought me up in the public school.
We live in a small town. NO, not the small 10,000 people kind of small town- take away another zero. There are about 1000 people in my town. K-12 is in the same building. The public school here is really the community building. Pulling them out here feels like pulling out of the community- all of us.
But, alas, when oldest two were 6th and 4th grade, I stopped dragging my feet. (The Lord has a way of making His plan happen even if you drag your feet) They were already enrolled in band- so we kept that. (One pioneer-homeschooling-era family had homeschooled in our area but I was really the first to pull out of public school here) The school officials when I told them were kind to me- not everyone gets this, I know!
This is how we started. It was comfortable and as we grew I had high-schoolers enrolled in : Spanish, Band, Speech, and Ag classes (this is the only way to be a part of the FFA) and sports. This is how I feel about our experiences. (I think 😉 )
They stay in contact with friends they’ve had since childhood.
They are involved in a band
They are involved in FFA
They get to play organized high school sports
I still get the majority of their time- I get to parent. I get to share my values and ideas with them. I get to structure what they learn.
I get to structure what they learn (again, I know- hang on) because I don’t feel railroaded or confined by the choices made by the public school- I always feel able to pull them out or change what is going on for my kid. I am not intimidated by them! (and neither are my children- more on that) It is always our choice to be there.
Opportunities opened up because they received school announcements: oldest was in plays, speech competitions, several attended field trips to local community college or (other things I can’t remember)
This one I could hardly believe! They asked my oldest to participate in the graduation ceremony with them and included her in the yearbook. They said she would be handed a participation award or something while the others got diplomas but she would be there when the area scholarships she applied for were handed out. She would be invited back for class reunions. (I truly can’t even decide how I feel about this! Does she even identify as a homeschooler? Does it matter?)
I got to see just how SLOW the learning system is. Let me explain. ‘What are you working on in ___ this week?” two weeks later, same questions…. me: “still?” I realize that I may worry about how much we are covering but we cover it faster most of the time. I don’t have to wait for others to catch up. I don’t have to catch up sick kids that have missed days. We are not working in a collective. When she has it, we can move to the next concept- public school classrooms have to wait until everyone in the class is more or less with them.
Confidence. This may just be a home school trait? This may have come from 4H and FFA- amazing leadership and development programs with which we’ve been involved? Not sure, but I’m amazed to watch the interactions with teachers. They are not intimidated by them. They recognize they have something to learn from them, respect and a want to do well in class and please them- but they have an interesting discernment I didn’t have in high school. They really recognize their teachers downfalls, and days the teachers go all hullabaloo – we all have those days and the kids truly shake it off as a day- even if it was directed at their class or them personally. It is neat to watch. We do have our issues arise- my kiddos are not perfect! They can come home more influenced with an idea than I think appropriate, or upset for ‘getting in trouble’ but most of the time I am impressed with the poise they have for their ages. I call this a pro of enrolling them when truly I think it is a product of homeschooling- but I put it here because of how it impacts me! I get to see and talk through how they balance authority influences outside of home and church.
To the outside world- they have proven grades and proven integration. I get to put A’s on their transcripts that I didn’t give them! 🙂
This one is really all about ME. Their involvement in the public school has allowed many volunteer opportunities for me. FFA Alumni, working concession stands, sports and music boosters, helping with and instigating Ag Literacy programs, being involved in and coaching with REC sports (this is not technically a school function. It’s community sports, but takes place in and around the school, announcements and enrollments are done at school- truly the school is the center of our community here)
Cons: (this list is shorter but heavier)
Our schedule! We are not as free as other homeschoolers!! We have classes scheduled every day or band- every other day. We get to choose our schedule- but we are tied down to school days!! My high-schoolers drive themselves (we are close!) so my youngers and I are free to join in filed trips with our local homeschool group. I don’t feel bad about pulling them out of classes for something I want to do- but it is limited. This is a HUGE downfall.
They have a romantic idea of what it means to be enrolled in public school. They sleep in, drive in for class- see their friends, sit through 45 minutes of class and drive home. If they have homework- it is only for the one class. This is a regular discussion. Reminding them of what it would be like to get up, (arrive early for speech practice) stay an 8 hour day, can’t snack during the day, sports practice and then homework. They can reason it out- but it really is a different perspective.
Influences. This- to my way of thinking- is good and bad. Yes, they are exposed to more! BUT- we get to discuss it and learn from in in small snippets! They witness the drama- but they are not living it! They really seem to have an interesting perspective. They don’t seem so involved and influenced by it all- but they are definitely exposed to more than I wish. I do feel, they will experience it sometime. I am delaying it some until their minds mature, and I am able to handle it with them. This is a pro and a con.
And our calendar schedule. We schedule school according to the local school calendar. After all, they need to keep track of what days they need to show up for classes. This means that we run a thrity-six week schedule. (This is one of the reasons I schedule 4 day weeks– the numbers for our legal days work well here) We have to watch for school closing snow days- but we do not take snow days at home- we prefer sun days!
I don’t tell this story to encourage your involvement as a homeschooler with a local school district or to influence your choices. I simply share my experiences as food for thought. I believe my own prejudices have been a stumbling block, yet clearly I can only be thankful for the blessings we have receive being open to unique options.