Our public school experience was tragic

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Check out Our Unconventional Homeschool Story Part 1 here.

A Quick Recap

To say that our first year in the public school system was a nightmare would be a major understatement. At this point, we were dealing with:

  • a daughter who previously had no behavior issues at home or in preschool was now having major behavior issues and changes in her personality
  • the school was communicating behavior issues were ongoing during the day yet refusing to give us any details; effectively shutting us out of being able to help our daughter deal with any struggles she was having
  • our daughter was having stomach aches and anxiety issues to the point she begged not to go to school most days
  • a new “friend” in our daughter’s kindergarten class had been confiding all the nitty-gritty details of being sexually abused to our then 5-year-old
  • our daughter was coming home cussing like a sailor and asking me what a plethora of sexually explicit words meant
  • a host of bussing-related issues; from being bullied to being “lost” multiple times
  • repeatedly coming home from school with bite marks and/or bruises

We knew something had to change. We were desperate, but apparently not desperate enough. I would love to tell you that we wised up with all of this nonsense and our daughter’s blatantly obvious anxiety, physical abuse, and borderline mental abuse.

Nope. We are apparently thick-headed people. Or we were just really, really desperate for me to go back to work in the near future. Either way, God had one more way that He was going to get our attention, loud and clear.

Looking into Private Schools as a Possibility

Girl in school uniform at door with backpack on floor

By the year’s end, we were beyond concerned, especially for the well-being of our previously happy-go-lucky daughter who was now a shell of her former self. Out of desperation, we started looking into private schools. We looked at 3 different local private schools.

Not only were they far from our home, but they also didn’t have any bussing service for our area. The worst part? They were all expensive. As we calculated the financial costs of paying for both of the girls to attend a private school we realized I would be working a full-time job just to pay for someone else to be with my children all day long. Not to mention I would not have the same energy for my family or be able to care as well for my home if I was working a full-time job. It just didn’t make sense for our family. Besides, I had heard that many of the private schools were dealing with a toned-down version of many of the same problems as the public schools. We ended up passing on all 3 private schools.

The Final Straw That Sent Shock Waves Through Our Lives

Death Touches Our Daughter’s Life in an Unimaginable Way

Early in the summer, after a hellacious year spent dealing with a nightmare kindergarten experience, we got a phone call from a friend who also had a daughter in Kennedy’s class that year.

Who Had Our Daughter Spent Most of Her Waking Hours Over the Last Year With…Really?

Kennedy’s teacher was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. We were in complete and total shock. The first thought that crossed my mind was “Who has our daughter been spending almost all of her time with during this last year?” I had entrusted one of the most precious people in my life to a person I didn’t even know. For 7 hours a day, 5 days a week, for an entire school year!

Trust Your Gut

Whenever I had complained to someone that we were having problems with the school and in particular our daughter’s teacher my concerns were usually waved away with “she’s a great teacher and has taught for years”.

I have so many questions without answers still to this day. I know I will likely never know the answers to some of them.

Several things did, however, become crystal clear. One of the biggest things that were exposed as time passed is that this particular teacher had been struggling with mental health issues for quite some time and that the school was well aware.

Again… I kept asking, “Who had our daughter been with all year?” I had entrusted one of the most precious people in my life to a person I didn’t even know and who was mentally unstable. Even when people were telling me something different, my gut continually told me something was wrong. Yet, I did not change anything. It sends chills up my spine that this could have turned out way worse if it had happened just 2 months earlier and at school.

Discussing the Real-World Issues of Mental Health, Death, & Suicide With a 6-Year-Old

Teddy bear in corner next to window

We weren’t sure how to handle dealing with this death when it came to our then 6-year-old, Kennedy. She had spent a lot of time with her teacher. Despite the difficulties we had, we knew she cared for her. Up until this point in our children’s lives, we had been blessed to not have any deaths within our friends and family circle that affected them.

After a great deal of discussing what to do, we decided we had to tell her that her teacher had passed away. She had friends in the same class, we had acquaintances who were employed at the school, and we lived in a small community. Everyone knew everyone. We ran into her teacher on occasion. She asked about her sometimes. We didn’t want to lie or withhold information from her, even if it was difficult.

We couldn’t protect her from this reality of the world, even at the tender age of 6. Explaining to a child the tragic death of someone they have grown close to is very difficult; even if it’s done in an age-appropriate way.

We explained what death means, what a viewing and funeral are, and what to expect if we were to go. After discussing, we let Kennedy decide if she wanted to attend the viewing and she did. Several of her classmates were there. She grew so uncomfortable as we approached the casket that she asked if we could leave.

The finality of death didn’t have a space in her world of catching lightening bugs and creating fairy gardens. We watched as we saw her fumbling around with what death really meant.

The Decision to Homeschool

Maybe Homeschoolers Aren’t That Weird

It was at this point that my husband asked me what I thought about homeschooling. Funny how things work out in the end. He didn’t even remember our conversations the summer before Kennedy started kindergarten. Needless to say, God answers prayers in the most surprising of ways. He has a way of bringing beauty from ashes and binding up the brokenhearted. It became more than apparent that homeschooling would be the avenue we would be taking moving forward.

I didn’t think I knew a soul that homeschooled. However, I did even though I didn’t think about it right away. I had a good friend I worked with who had been homeschooled. For whatever reason, this never registered earlier. I also babysat for a sweet family right next door when I was in high school who homeschooled their kids. Even though I knew these people well, I never really put much thought into the fact that they were homeschoolers. As we started out on our journey I found that there were more and more people that we knew that homeschooled their kids.

You’re Really Going to Homeschool?

I think some of our very well-meaning family and friends thought we had lost our minds when we announced we were going to be homeschooling! I’m happy to report 10 years into homeschooling and two kids later that we still have our minds intact. Well, most days 🤣😂

When You Start Homeschooling It Can Seem Scary!

I was terrified! I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing. But, I knew it had to be better than what had been going on in our daughter’s life the previous year. Let me give you a leg up now and tell you the scariest part is the beginning. As you gain knowledge, especially pertaining to what are your legal rights to homeschool, it becomes so much easier. Another key to successful homeschooling…

Building Confidence

I was encouraged by the fact that Kennedy was reading well before kindergarten (although as I would soon find out that wouldn’t be true for all my other kids). One question I consistently got from Kennedy’s teacher was what we did to teach her to read at such a high level at such a young age. Um, we just read a lot of good books together. I do think Kennedy was (and still is) predominantly an auditory and reading/writing learner.

A bit of confidence was instilled in me in the most unexpected of ways. It came from a mentorship program that we had participated in before Kennedy was in kindergarten. That program’s aim was to empower parents as their child’s first teacher. Ironically, a teacher friend is the one who told me about this program!

I never expected that this little program encouraging parents to do something educational would equip me with the confidence I needed to realize that I CAN TEACH MY KIDS. Not only can I teach my kids, but as a parent, God made me to be their best teacher.

Support Those Fighting the Good Fight

And yes, you heard me correctly. Even though I have been critical of schools and teachers I do know there are wonderful teachers too! Ironically, you will find many previous teachers and school employees homeschooling their own children! If you know a teacher or public school employee who is wrestling with and drowning in the current sea of wokeness and indoctrination going on in the public school systems- encourage them! They are fighting an important spiritual battle!

Homeschooling is Really Not That Hard!

Field Museum
Kennedy and Hayley at the Field Museum in Chicago in our early homeschooling days.

We learned that homeschooling isn’t as difficult or complicated as most people think it is. In its simplest form, homeschooling is parenting and mentoring, which involved parents are already doing. See, it’s not as scary as it seems!

In its simplest form, homeschooling is parenting and mentoring, which involved parents are already doing.

Pandemic Schooling, Remote Learning, & Online Schooling ARE NOT HOMESCHOOLING!

"A Closer Look at Homeschooling" on crumpled paper and girl looking into magnifying glass

Let me be clear. Homeschooling is NOT what was going on during the pandemic for most families when schools closed. Your child may have been learning at home, but that is not homeschooling. You were assisting the school in implementing their curriculum choices with their objectives. You were facilitating what they had decided was going to be best for your kids to learn.

Online public schools like K-12 and Connections Academy are also NOT homeschooling for the same reasons. Need another reason? There has been a huge push for these entities to cash in on tax and education dollars. It’s about money, not your kid.

Public schools and private schools also miss the mark by lumping everyone together. They don’t account for previous knowledge (or lack of), students’ learning styles, and have an emphasis on performance on standardized tests-which are directly linked to funding for schools and state remediation programs by the way. There has been a push for curricula that are downright liberal indoctrination of students, often against a parent’s systems of morals and values. Through facilitating online learning, many parents finally got a first-hand look into what has been going on in some of the classrooms across this country.

I also personally believe hours of online instruction is wasteful and can be detrimental to your child’s mental health. That’s not to say that I never use any sort of online materials in our homeschool, but it is the exception and not the rule.

Hayley kindergarten tangrams
Hayley was proud of this kindergarten math project.

My goal is to encourage you and inspire you. I hope I can provide you with tools, encouragement, and tips for you and your family as you pursue a homeschooling lifestyle. Check out this blog post on creating a morning basket to help your homeschool flow in an organic way.

I would LOVE to hear your thoughts and stories! Are you considering homeschooling, new to homeschooling, or a long-time homeschooler? Send me an email or drop a comment in the section below!

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  1. I really enjoyed reading both parts of your homeschooling journey. I can’t believe all that bad stuff that happened at your school. I’m so sorry. I have always homeschooled my children and my oldest is now 22 and my youngest 5. It’s the best life! I’m so glad you’ve discovered that too and are helping others find what a joy it is. You’re doing an awesome job! It’s fun to get to know and read about your family. Keep it up!

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