The Wheels On The Bus Go Round and Round

A common question when you homeschool is, "How long do you plan to homeschool?"

I never had a solid answer to that question, but I did have some lofty goals. Do you know of a good homeschool college program?

But life is unpredictable my friends. Today I put my kids on the big yellow school bus and sent them off to kindergarten and third grade.

boarding the big yellow bus

This was not my choice. I was happily homeschooling my little heart out, but my kids have been lobbying to go back to "real" school for quite some time. Aidan even told me about a dream he had that he went to school and had a super nice teacher. Avery would salivate every time we mentioned the phrase "public school".

It hit me one sleepless night that the decision to send my kids to school was not my decision at all; it was theirs. My goal for homeschooling has always been to follow my children's lead, to let them decide what, where and when to learn. I had the misconception that our education system was linear, with public school at one end of the spectrum and unschooling at the other. I now see that, just like the wheels on the bus, the spectrum of education goes round and round. Unschooling led my children right back around to public school.

I'm not quite sure if this is what John Holt meant by trusting our children, but allowing my kids to pursue the education they want feels like the right thing to do at this time. It hurts just a little, well actually a lot, but I'll get over it. The tears will eventually dry up, won't they?

So now the question everybody asks me is, "What will you do with all your free time?"

I have no idea. So far I've done the dishes, washed the slipcover on the couch, said a few prayers and tried to channel some mommy love across the few miles separating me from my children. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that "real" school is all my children hope it will be, but I'm harboring a secret wish that the wheel of education will continue to spin and one day bring my children back home to learn. Until then, I'll be at the corner come three o'clock waiting for the missing pieces of my heart to step off the school bus.

first day


  1. OK, you made me cry!! The pictures are so sweet, too. I know this hasn't been easy, friend. hugs!

  2. Each day will get a little easier to say goodbye, but you will always worry while they are away. I think it's wonderful they have gotten to experience both worlds and can then decide which one they would rather be in! Glad George is with you this week.
    Love you

  3. Good for you, Molly. I think you hit the nail on the head -- if your motivation has always been to follow their lead then that's what you're doing. And maybe they will decide it's not all they want it to be, or maybe they will decide that it works for them -- but it's very big-hearted and brave of you to let them choose and to follow through for them. They're lucky to have you in their corner.

    But I can imagine how quiet and lonely the house seems now on Day One. Hang in there -- three o'clock's not so far away...

  4. Oh, honey. Good for you for following their needs and desires for their education. My house is empty today too - mine started on Monday. I'll be thinking of you this week as you adjust to your quiet days.

  5. You are a brave, loving & trusting momma! Way to go listening to your children. I admire that.

  6. From a total stranger: Nothing stays the same, no matter how much we would like it to. What I get from your post is that you understand it is about your children, not about you. Good job!!! Tomorrow, things can be totally different (or next week, next month, next year....). Do something you have been wanting to do for yourself, you might not have the time tomorrow!
    Kathy B.

  7. well done and said momma. i am so proud of you for trusting so well in your children and your heart!

  8. Hoping all goes well for you and your kiddos. Growing up I had friends who were both homeschooled and went to public school. Meaning that one year they'd go to public school, another they'd stay @ home; and at times a couple would be schooled at home, while the others went to public school. I don't know what the determining factor was, but it seemed to work for them!

  9. Oh man, my heart is in my throat right now. I've said since B was itty-bitty that if he requested the school bus, then the school bus it will be, and here you are, living it.
    You are brave, selfless in the right way, and yes, trusting. What wonderful, wise people your children must be. I wish I knew them.

  10. It is just past 3:30and I will assume the bus has done it's job well. You've done yours well too. Never second guess your actions. You do what is right at the time and hope for the best! I trust both my children and my wonderful g-kids to become what they need to become. Rest assured we will be there to assist or enjoy the view!

  11. What a great post. You're already ahead of the curve by caring as much as you do and paying attention to your kids' opinions. I am worried that by homeschooling, I would be taking them away from something they really enjoy and then not being able to substitute it for something equally enjoyable. But the mere act of contemplation, I think, goes a long way toward doing it right.

  12. Oh, Big Hugs to you Molly!!
    It's so brave of you to trust them and give them this chance to test the waters...I wouldn't be surprised if they don't change their mind's after the novelty wears off. In the mean time, enjoy some free time, take some time to nurture you!!!

  13. awww.

    "waiting for the missing pieces of my heart to step off the school bus."

    oh wait i read what your Dad said... it makes even more sense, the love.

  14. Oh goodness! Oh my!!!
    Big hugs to you Molly. What an amazing mama you are to let them truly lead the way.
    I'm just impressed all to pieces.
    I hope their day was full of smiles and fun, and I hope too that 3:00 came quickly!

  15. The freedom you've grabbed hold of is inspiring! No matter your choice of schooling methods, what's so beautiful is that you're not a legalistic slave to any one of them. Taking each season, each child, each heart into consideration, seeking wisdom and love for the moment - I can't think of a better way to live! That's what Jesus did too.

  16. Congratulations to you for really listening and doing what your kids need most. Even if it hurts you. That is inspiring!

  17. wow. that could NOT have been an easy decision. but i admire you for following their lead. i homeschool my oldest, but my middle is in kindy in public school (and i'm hoping to have him home next year). every morning we walk him to school, and i'm struck by how odd it probably looks to walk back with my 8yo instead of leaving her there - and how odd it is for HER to walk by a lot of her friends on the way there and back. but the closest we've gotten is "sometimes i wonder what it would be like to go there." whew! she knows she has more free time and more reading time - so i think we're okay...

  18. p.s. what's up with that 'how long are you going to homeschool' question? i get that a lot. i should just ask 'how long are your children going to be in public school?' and for the record - our long-range plan is online college courses and/or the community college for high school.

  19. Oh, poor sweet you! I think it's absolutely wonderful that you have the faith in them to trust the path they chose. If you weren't doing your job so well, they would never have the confidence to leave the nest! Hang in there!

  20. Oh what a sweet post. And what a wonderful mommy for listening to your babes and letting go. I think that's the hardest part, letting go. Sniff.

  21. yikes. we're kind-of going through the same thing. we start 1st grade on monday...and kaden's asking when he can go to real school...ummmmmm...
    follow their lead...i know...so hard to do...
    you're in my thoughts, friend.

  22. This is a great post in so many ways. I loved reading it, keep the experiences coming :)


  23. Made me tear up Molly. Very well written. Change is good and inevitable. Good luck to all of you and I look forward to hearing all kinds of new adventures.

    Enjoy your clean couch!

  24. Thank you for this...it's so hard isn't it? My oldest is only 3.5 but I'm already having the internal debate about what to do when Kindergarten approaches. I want to homeschool but I think she would prefer to go to public school being the social butterfly that she is. We're going to at least homeschool during these preschool years to see how it goes (and to give her something to reference public school by if she does start). I hope it all goes well for you and your little ones. Take care!

  25. Now that H. is almost 2 we've been letting it seep out to the rest of our family that we intend to homeschool.
    And we are getting the question of "how long do we plan to homeschool?", too. My answer is, "as long as possible".
    Like you, I have made the decision early on to let H. (and his soon to be here sibling) decide if and when they go to a 'real' school.
    I know this can't have been easy for you, but by letting them make this choice and follow through with it you have given them so much. I bet it wasn't an easy decision for them either.
    I'm proud of all of you.

  26. wow! big news! best wishes to all of you!

  27. This parenting gig, isn't as easy as they billed it is it? Here's to new experiences for us and them.

  28. I applaud your willingness to allow your children to explore outside of the comfort zone.

    I hope you're right and that they will come back, full circle and realize that the grass on their side was actually greener ;).

    Enjoy your quiet time.

  29. I'm thinking of you, too, Molly. I understand that being alone feeling. Please don't hesitate to reach out to any one of us who has commented here. It's a big step for them AND you. Be well.

  30. oh molly , i'm crying with you! i'm in a schooling predicament now myself and have no idea what to do !!

  31. "what will you do with all your free time?" I hate that question; it always makes me feel like such a looser because in all my life, I've never felt like I have "free time." If something gets off my to do list, it just makes room for the 5,000,000,000 things that didn't make it to the to do list due to time restraints! IT's similar to the "time for myself" issue... if I am living the life of my choosing, isn't it all "time for myself." Doesn't making the pies and making the bed the way I like it spend my time my way?
    UGH! I suspect you won't have a bit of a problem spending all your "free time." Even if you are spending it on "yourself" by making pies, making beds, repurposing, knitting, and all that other stuff you do--for yourself!
    AND OH! did I forget to congratulate you on being selfless enough to let the kids wade out into the waters of "the real world" when you know the hazards?
    Congratulations!... I know it is hard, very-very hard.

  32. Your comment about waiting for the missing pieces of your heart made me cry. You captured what we all feel.

    You are giving them the chance to see what is out there and even if they spend time at school, they learn the most from you.

    Take care.

  33. oh Molly, I so remember my kids first day of "school". How are you doing now that it's been a few days? I love how you referenced the fact that homeschooling is their decision, not ours, and yes, I think that is what John Holt meant. Love that man. Congratulations on a new chapter in your family's life.

  34. Aahh, I loved this Molly...I did both too - homeschooled and went to private school...I think it's great that you're following their lead...it's what I feel like my parents did as well. We are "planning" on homeschooling our little one and I found this post to be very thought-provoking...what if she doesn't want to be homeschooled? We'll have to cross that bridge when we come to it, but thank you for the post!

  35. Tears in Iowa for you. :(

  36. molly this is so huge. I need to write you a letter. You are so brave and caring and loving and....i could go on. Some days, I see this decision in my future--nearer than I'd probably like or anticipate.

    I can't wait to hear more about it. hang in there. enjoy that much earned time!

  37. Another comment from a total stranger:

    You are still a major (the biggest?) influence in their lives and you educate them constantly by being an involved mum. By the look of your blog they will no doubt be blessed with all sorts of interesting "extra curricular activities" each day at home which is what turns a school education into a life education.
    Best wishes


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email: mollydunham@sbcglobal.net
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