Today was a rough day. One of our kids really struggles in school; two actually, but one more than the other. Report cards arrived this week. I had been dreading it, praying that the hard work at the end of the quarter paid off, praying even as I opened the envelope and began to read the letters. But my prayers were not answered the way I wanted. I dreaded talking to the child, but Brent and I knew we had to do it. It was crushing. Through tears we began to discuss other educational options. I have been down this road many times. Ever since we entered public school, we have had many discussions about home schooling again, especially with this particular child, but I think there are so many things to weigh, and in our case, I don't know that it is a family decision. If I bring one home for school, I don't think that means it is best to bring all of them home, but it does add additional stress and new dynamics to our already busy life. I'm willing to do that, though, for the success of my child, if I know that is what is supposed to be done, but there is no writing on the wall.
I remember being faced with educational decisions when James was about to enter pre-kindergarten. There was a new Christian school in Bartlesville, and they offered scholarships to families in ministry. We had already been paying for daycare, so we had it in our budget, and I was excited about the small classroom size (1 teacher to 5 students, if I remember right). I also worked for the school system as did my mother-in-law, causing some reservations about the school James would go to. It seemed the right move to go to this private school. James and Jason stayed in school there until after James completed 5th grade. During James's sixth grade year and Jason's third grade year, I decided to home school. We were in transition, planning our move to California but not knowing exactly when it would take place. Our budget was tighter, and we did not think it was wise to continue to pay for private school (even if they were very generous to us in terms of scholarships). When we moved to California, we made the decision to put the boys in public school. We heard great things about the elementary and junior high schools in our neighborhood. I was not working full time, so I had plenty of time to volunteer at the schools. It gave all of us opportunities to develop relationships with other people. I still believe it was the right thing to do.
My kids are very social, and they are strong in their faith. They have all been a light in the darkness in their schools, and we have had some incredible moments hearing from their teachers about the impact they have on other students and even on their teachers. It's been incredible! For us this impact cannot be ignored when we are considering our schooling options. God calls us to be salt and light. The school is a great place to be that (not the only place, lest a reader misunderstand what I am communicating) but a great place and quite honestly, an easy place. People from all different walks of life are all around and you have at least common ground in that you share the same school.
Home schooling the year I did it, though, was incredible, incredibly hard at times but incredibly rewarding, too. I learned so much about James and Jason, and I was able to teach them things they would not have learned in school. We struggled at times, but we enjoyed each other and grew in our relationship, and I would not trade that year for anything. I always wanted a year to home school with David and Sarah, too, but God has not made a way for that yet. As I opened that report card and felt that terrible sinking feeling in my stomach, I was again reminded that I do have decisions that I can make with regard to my children's education. Freedom is a great thing! So as I sit here, ideas are whirling through my mind about what is the best thing to do for this particular child. And the truth is I JUST DON'T KNOW. I wish I did, but I don't.
Academically I think my child can be more successful if I was home schooling him, but losing the influence he has in public school and the social aspect, which is such an important thing to him, is not something that I can ignore. So I am left trying to make some big decisions. I had a friend one time give me great advice, which was to walk through the doors until God closes one. For now, I guess we will walk through more than one open door and see of God closes either one. In the meantime, we have to be diligent to remind our child that he is amazing, and God has incredible plans for him. His academic standing does not change that. It is incredible how bad low grades can make a person feel . . . it's a killer for the self-esteem. We have to compensate for the loss. I remind him that God cares about his effort and about his heart; the actual grades are not important, but society does not acknowledge that, and unfortunately society's judgment of outcomes impacts a person's feeling about himself or herself.
We are traveling a difficult road at the moment, though not as difficult as some, I know . . . I'm thankful we serve a God who cares about all of these things and who loves us even if our grades are subpar!!! We do not have to perform a certain way to be loved and accepted by Jesus!