We've always believed that each child is unique and has his or her own special set of needs. Over the years we've experienced a wide variety of school settings. About 17 years ago when my first baby was a preschooler, we decided we would definitely homeschool. We joined a wonderful local group designed for parents with young children who were planning to homeschool. I was a former high school English teacher, so when Daughter 1 began kindergarten, I expected her to sit still and complete the wonderful learning tasks I had designed. Unfortunately, she was the child who liked to do flips around the living room as she practiced her spelling words. I'm ashamed to admit that I didn't understand very much about teaching young children, and it was frustrating for both of us.
We homeschooled through second grade, then we headed to Costa Rica for language school prior to going to Peru as missionaries.In Costa Rica Daughter 1 entered a very small Christian school which was part of the large missionary language school there. Son 1 began kindergarten there, and Daughter 2 was in their outstanding preschool program.
Exactly one year later we arrived in Lima, Peru, where our kids entered an even smaller school for missionary kids. Daughter 1 and Son 1 were both there. Daughter 2 attended a local preschool part time to improve Spanish acquisition. Then she went to a Peruvian/American Christian school for kindergarten. When we came home for furlough, all 3 were homeschooled; although at times it seemed more like "van-schooling" as we traveled all over the southeast.
Upon our return to Lima, Daughters 1 & 2 and Son 1 all returned to the MK school located near our house. We had a very close-knit school family, and the classes all had 2 grade-levels. By the time Daughter 1 hit high school, we felt she needed something different, so much to the chagrin of our co-workers, we placed her in a British/Peruvian school for girls which was quite challenging academically.
That decision didn't go over too well with our mission team, so we ended up back in the states where all 4 of our children entered a Christian school, and I began teaching again. Several years ago Daughter 1 graduated, and Son 1 graduates in May. However, I realized that Daughter 2 was miserably unhappy there. Despite being involved in cheerleading and making good grades, she was caught in that awful phase that all middle schoolers face. She begged me for over a year to homeschool her, and after much prayer, I realized that was exactly what she needed. So at Christmas break, we made the change.
Her whole outlook on life has changed. We have a great math teacher who comes once a week and a local meteorologist who teaches her science. A couple of days a week she brings her books into work with me and "store-schools." After completing her assignments, she learns skills that most 14 year olds won't learn any time soon. She is great at receiving merchandise and has amazing business computer skills. She knows how to answer a business phone properly and is a fantastic cashier. She loves babysitting, so she gets a lot of job offers. Tonight at Son 1's soccer game, another parent asked her how she likes homeschooling; she replied with an effusive, "I love it!"
Recently I re-enrolled Son 2 for next year. He asked, "Mom, I don't have to homeschool, do I?" He loves his Christian school situation. He has wonderful friends and has never had any teacher who wasn't outstanding. At this point in his life, he needs to be right where he is.
I am so thankful that I have the freedom to educate each child the way he or she needs to be educated. The bottom line for me is that I am in control of their education. I know my boys are getting a solid education at their Christian school. Son 1 is part of a terrific class and has friends who encourage him spiritually. Athletics has been an important key to his character development, and I will always praise God for the wonderful coaches he has had at his school. On the other hand, Daughter 2 wasn't thriving in that environment. Now I see her thriving and making plans for high school that include taking dual enrollment classes by the time she's a junior.
If you're looking at the education decision, bear in mind that each child is an individual. Take it one year at a time, one child at a time. Most of all, find an option that you and your children enjoy. Learning really can be fun! If it isn't, then maybe you need to find a new education option.