Homeschooling: Letting Go of the Vision

Prom, swim team, quarterback, yearbook staff, class president, cheerleader, pep rallies, homecoming dance, valedictorian, debate team, marching band—all visions parents may hold for their children for their high school years.

High school was, for me, one of the best times of my life. Being a part of the pep squad, attending football games, going to homecoming dances, and being  prom queen—high school was chock full of unforgettable highlights for me all chronicled in my coveted yearbooks. All good memories.

It was such a great experience for me and I couldn’t wait for my own kids to experience the fun of high school also.

BUT…

Homeschooling one’s high schooler may mean no yearbook to create and then reminisce over, no pep squad to join and cheer with, no homecoming dances to enjoy, no playing on the football team, no class offices to run for, and no momentous walking across the stage at one’s graduation ceremony. Homeschooling pretty much knocked out having many of these experiences and opportunities.

Face it, traditional high school has a lot that homeschooling does not– good and bad.

As long as I have homeschooled, I have, at times, been overcome with the guilt and regret that my own homeschooled high schoolers would never have the opportunities and experiences I had in high school. My own wonderful high school memories tainted my thoughts and clouded my judgement. And I get that not everyone has a good high school experience like I did.

And now, it’s not that I regret homeschooling—I CHOSE homeschooling because it was the best education for my children. I LOVE homeschooling because it is so full of educational opportunities, unparalleled experiences, and we’ve always been able to tailor it to fit the academic needs of each of our children.

No, it’s just that for as long as I can remember, I wanted my kids to be able to experience the same memorable times in high school as I had. To excitedly receive their yearbook, find their class picture and look back at their past year in school.

But, is that a reasonable want or vision? Most likely not! I know that.

I understand that my own life experiences will not compare with or be duplicated by my child’s experiences. It is just that it is so hard to let go of the vision of my kids clutching their yearbooks in their hands, yelling at school pep rallies, attending club meetings or pulling basketball game tickets out of their pockets at the gym door.

And that vision has been very difficult for me to let go of mainly because I worry my children may be missing out on opportunities or experiences somehow.

In an attempt to ease my guilt, I try to parse through and sort out my favorite moments during high school, and what I’ve discovered is that it was really the extra-curricular activities I had enjoyed so much. To be perfectly honest, I enjoyed those extra-curricular high school activities so much, I totally forgot I was in school to get an education. My grades seriously substantiated how little I was studying and how much fun I was having in high school.

So, why am I homeschooling? Why am I not insisting my kids go to traditional high school? I’m homeschooling for my kids’ education, and for a better education than I had. Does this mean my kids will be deprived of fun, momentous and rewarding experiences and opportunities because they are homeschoolers?

Nah, not at all. We are making our own wonderful memories and having the most rewarding experiences throughout our homeschooling years.

Traditional high school is just not for every student.

The freedom and extra time in our day that homeschooling affords us gives us the opportunity to  experience many more social and extra-curricular activities than I could have ever had when I was in high school. Lunch dates, volunteer opportunities, meeting other homeschoolers, co-op classes, traveling during the school year, extensive field trips—hey, Disney World is tons more enjoyable when you can go while everyone else is in school–and it’s educational, too!

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I have to keep reminding myself that the experiences my homeschooled kids have had can easily be more rewarding, more memorable than my own high school experiences. If not better, they are easily more educational, more rich, more diverse, and more meaningful than my own high school days. Plus, I get to experience all of this homeschooling fun along with my kids.

I try to remember that in the end, my homeschooled children’s high school experiences can be very different from my own and still be just as unforgettable and rewarding, if not more so. And as a homeschooler, I uniquely have the power and the ability to make sure their high school years are more memorable, rewarding AND more educational than mine were—and this thought has helped me to let go of the vision.

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As a homeschooling parent, do you ever struggle with regrets or guilt over what you kids may be missing by not attending traditional school?

8 Comments on “Homeschooling: Letting Go of the Vision

  1. I’ve homeschooled for 12 years. We have yearbooks, proms, graduations, sports, etc. , for tbe entire time I’ve homeschooled. If you don’t in your area, its up to you to start it. Your kids can have the same things that are school but they will have to see you be a community activist to get it. That is better than anything high school has to offer.

    • Elke,

      You are absolutely right about starting up one’s own groups if there are none in your area. In my many years of homeschooling (my oldest is 30 and my youngest is 15), I have started, organized, volunteered for, coached and been a part of many homeschool groups, teams and co-ops. But, maybe we shouldn’t feel we should try to duplicate the traditional school experience but embrace the fact that homeschooling has the unique circumstances to create a learning experience different, richer, more rewarding and better than traditional high school, which is why I talk about “letting go of the vision.” Personally, I know I need to let go of the vision because it is only my vision, not my kids.

      It is my “hangup” that I need to let go of and wanted to start an open conversation about this to see if other homeschoolers felt their gifted kids were missing out on traditional school experiences. And there has been a lot of conversation about it over at the Crushing Tall Poppies Facebook page.

      Thank you, Elke, for sharing your thoughts and excellent suggestion!

  2. None of the things you described are part of the Dutch highschool experience… They’re something out of American highschool movies, strange and foreign and amusing.
    My son has yet to turn 2, but I plan on homeschooling him. I do have worries that he might might miss out on friendship an dating opportunities, but hey, he can find someone in his drama/sports/music/whatever-he-will-do club.

    • Stefanie,

      I bet the U. S.’s traditional high school experiences are strange and amusing from afar. When you really step back and look at some of these traditions and expectations and how we focus sometimes on seemingly ridiculous things, I imagine some do look pretty silly. Yet, they are such a strong, prevalent culture that most kids feel they need to be a part of if they want to belong and fit in. Right or wrong, silly or not, it’s what we have in the U. S. and to break the mold of this high school culture would be a monumental task.

      Luckily, homeschooling can take kids away from this and they have the unique opportunity to formulate their own culture which can reflect their own desires, interests and needs. Homeschooling is awesome that way!

      Thanks for sharing your perspective. It made me giggle to think how the U. S. high school traditions may look from another perspective. Thanks for that, Stefanie!

  3. Half my senior class in high school didn’t go to prom, just wasn’t important… whole life of bigger and better things ahead, who cared? (1988, gimme my diploma so I can go to college… probably doesn’t mean much more to folk now.)

    • Yes, that is what I know and keep reminding myself. It is my fear as a parent, wanting to do the best for my kids. And my kids, thankfully, have the same belief you do–there is a “whole life of bigger and better things ahead.”

      Thanks for reminding me that it is really not a big deal! It helps with my mom-guilt 🙂

  4. Yes, I often feel jealous for my kids. All the friends they might have…experiences. And often when I sit in the bleachers at their baseball games, I even feel a little left out, as all the mom chat like they are all bff’s. Lol For us it has been different for each child. Our oldest was homeschooled from the 5th grade, she said for her it was a terrible experience. She felt too isolated, but she wasn’t as involved in sports as the others. My 2 sons loved being homeschooled. The 3rd son did go to our high school for his junior and senior year, and excelled! (I think it was due to his homeschool background 😉) Now I have 3 sons to go, one in 4th, one in 2nd, and one in 1st. We will make decisions independently for each as we feel best. Sure they may miss out on stuff by being at home, and if they are at school, they may miss out on good stuff at home. I went to public high school. I never went to prom or homecoming, I was not a cheerleader in high school, I didn’t play highschool sports, nor did I run for school office. I could have… I just didn’t. Did I have good experiences? Sure. Did I have bad ones also? yes.

    • Kelly,

      You point out exactly the “moral” of my story in the post: All of our experiences are different–some good, some bad, some better, some worse. And you are right, “make decisions independently” because our most memorable or best life experiences all depends on the person, the child.

      And maybe I’m biased towards homeschooling, but I would agree, your 3rd son probably did excel in high school because of his homeschool background!

      Thank you for leaving your thoughts and sharing your homeschooling experiences with us. We all learn from each other!

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