"I will not go to that school. I only want to go to _______!" (My daughter's assertion last fall, as we discussed options for high school.)
From Home to Public SchoolWe've been homeschooling our children since our oldest began kindergarten.
Disclaimer #1: Many would say that home "schooling" starts well before the age of 5. I would agree.
Disclaimer #2: When I say "we" have been homeschooling, I mean that my wife has done 99.99999999637% of the work. And you should agree.
We never set out to be a homeschool-all-the-way-through family. We would take it year-by-year, and child by child. And this strategy has worked out great for our family. Educating our children at home has provided them with a great education (low student-teacher ratio), has given our family a lot of flexibility, and allowed us to engage our community (in Allendale and in Greenville) in unique ways.
Over the past couple of years, as we've had regular discussions about education, Hannah has expressed a desire to go to a "regular" school for high school. She has enjoyed being homeschooled, but feels that going to a public high school would help her prepare for college.
(Due to financial constraints, private school is not an option, and we're not sure we'd choose that option anyway.)
I love how she came to this conclusion. She isn't frustrated with homeschooling, so she isn't running away from it. Part of her would love to continue it. But she is thinking about her life 5 years from now. (Whoa! Is college that close for our family?) She is thinking about her own independence and responsibility. I could not be more proud as a parent!
The Decision ProcessLast fall, we began the process of sorting our options. (One great aspect of Greenville is that we have so many great options! #yeahTHATGreenville). One maxim that I live by and try to teach my kids, is to "keep the funnel wide" for as long as possible. That is, don't rule out options too early.
But when Joanna put Hannah's name in for a lottery for Greenville Tech Charter School (which happens to have uniforms as part of their dress code), Hannah made the adamant statement above.
You see, our artistic daughter wanted only to go to an arts-focused school, and she especially did not want to go to a school which required uniforms.
We worked through the uniforms issue (another blog post for another day), and came up with a way for her to actively think through her options.
Thinking Through New IdeasI asked Hannah to list five possible options for school for next year, write at least one pro and con for each, and rank them in order of her preference. On our next date, we'd discuss them.
I didn't expect Hannah to change her mind completely. I only wanted her to sincerely consider the options. After spending a few days on this project, this is the list she came up with, in order of most preferred to least, with the pros and cons of each.
- Fine Arts Center (at Wade Hampton High School): pro -- she loves art, and she'll know some students there; con -- very big
- Greenville Tech Charter: pro -- get a lot of college credit; con -- uniforms
- Note: She eventually came around to see the benefits of uniforms.
- Note: I was shocked that this school went from never to second favorite.
- SC Governor's School for the Arts: pro -- she loves art, and she can get college credit, and it's right down the road from where we live (now); con -- the student atmosphere (as best we can determine) isn't very pro-God;
- Note: We need to get her ready for a challenging environment like this, since we do want our kids to be around people who think differently.
- Homeschool: pro -- comfortable with it, loves our co-op, and gives our family flexibility; con -- won't know what high school is like, and she wants to be prepared for college
- Greenville High School: pro -- really close to home and our community, and will get to be with students from our community; con -- "nothing special" for her, and it's very big
Winnowing DownAs the weeks went on, we saw this list get winnowed down. First, Hannah wound up being waaaaaaaaayyyyyy down the waiting list for Greenville Tech Charter. It looks like that won't happen. But we all recognized how neat it was that Hannah allowed her heart to be softened to this idea, and then God closed the door. Hannah sees it as a test from God, of whether she'd be open and humble to the idea.
The Governor's School decision is years off, since it's only for two years -- typically the 11th and 12th grades. So we won't have to concern ourselves with this for now.
And as we continue to talk and pray, homeschool seems to be dropping down to the bottom. Hannah (though she can be self-protective) is getting more and more excited about going to public high school.
Now we are left with these three options:
- Fine Arts Center (at Wade Hampton HS).
- Wade Hampton High School. Even if she doesn't get in to the Fine Arts Center, we applied for an out-of-zoning permission to attend there, to help her adjust if she got in to the FAC next year.
- Greenville High School.
Above all, we have seen her grow through this process. She has displayed a growing maturity, that we have seen in a number of areas in her life, over the past few years.
I don't know where she'll be accepted, but I do know that God loves her immensely. And that's the most important thing she could ever learn.
Finally, I'll close with a verse that Hannah has been memorizing, which fits how God created her with a wonderful, artistic gift.
"For we are His masterpiece, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them." (Ephesians 2:10)