When Your Child Has Never Been to Public School

whenyourchildMy youngest has never stepped foot in a classroom before. Well, not a classroom of his own anyway. 

During the toddler years, he suffered through countless parent/teacher conferences with us as we journeyed through my oldest’s years in public school, but that’s the extent of his classroom experience.

He never attended any kind of day care program or preschool. He has always been home from day one.

It’s crazy to think about how different his early years have been compared to my oldest, 6 years his senior. He began preschool at age 2 and stayed in public school through 4th grade. I worked full time. Our lives were just different then.  

My youngest, on the other hand, has never experienced getting up and rushing out the door by 7:00 am. He’s never had to eat in a cafeteria filled with hundreds of screaming kids, or worse, silent lunch.

He’s never had to deal with a teacher he didn’t like, standardized testing, or walking in a straight line from point A to point B.

He has grown up in a totally different type of environment than my oldest. One free of class rules, late bells, and early morning car lines.

And while I’m so thankful for that, there’s a small part of me that wishes he had experienced some of those things. I mean, a little disappointment never killed anyone, right?

There’s a part of me that wants him to know what it’s like out there. I want him to know that things don’t always go as planned. Sometimes school is hard, but you push through and move forward. 

He needs to know that some days suck and you don’t get to wear pajamas. 

Sometimes, it bugs me that he doesn’t know how good he’s got it at home. It kills me to hear him complain about a lesson or act like I’m being too hard on him when I know that I’m not. 

I get frustrated that he doesn’t always seem to appreciate the perks of homeschooling, and I take it personal when he whines about having to write complete  sentences with proper punctuation. 

I’m guessing this is just a stage I’m destined to go through as a homeschooling mom. It must be some kind of right of passage to survive homeschooling a child who has never been to public school or experienced any kind of real academic frustration. 

Even though I point out the perks of homeschooling here and there, he doesn’t really get it. How could he? He really has nothing to compare his day in pajamas to. 

Should he be expected to appreciate the homeschool life when he really knows no different?

I need to remember that this homeschooling journey is different for him. 

Homeschooling will never be to him what it is to my oldest. 

Homeschooling wasn’t a saving grace for him. 

Homeschooling didn’t change his life.

It wasn’t his solution. 

It’s just what we’ve always done. 

For my youngest, homeschooling is just school.

And just like most 9 year old little boys, he hates writing long sentences. It’s nothing personal. 

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Adrienne is a Florida homeschooling mom of two boys, follower of Jesus, and lover of words. She's an imperfect parent surviving on God's grace and mercy, lots of yoga, and regular doses of salty ocean air! Find her as @TheMommyMess on Twitter and connect with her on Facebook.




  1. says

    I’m with you! All three of my kids were homeschooled from day one. We did one day a week cottage schools when they were older but still not a “real” classroom setting, Hey, they were with a bunch of other homeschool kids. My middle kid is attending college. It was eye-opening for him but not too over the top. He’s making it just fine. You are so right, your son has nothing to compare it to and can’t appreciate it. I guess it’s just part of the gig. Thanks for the walk down memory lane. PS, I really don’t mean to write a book every time I comment on your posts but I can relate to so many of them. :)
    Laurie recently posted..We Bought a HouseMy Profile

    • says

      Laurie, I LOVE your comments! Keep ’em coming! I’m happy that you can relate and, as always, you help me see there’s a pay off in all of this! 😉

  2. says

    I can’t imagine how hard it is to homeschool and also how rewarding it is to homeschool, since I never did it I was not a very patient parent when my girls where little I have a lot more patience now. I think your son is one lucky boy to be homeschooled.
    Jo-Anne recently posted..Being NoticedMy Profile

  3. says

    Oh yes indeed Adrienne!!!! He knows no better and there will come a time in his life, where he will- and be so grateful for what you gave him now. Beautiful perspective I am SURE every home schooling mom goes through…
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  4. says

    I hate to say it, but in my humble opinion, children rarely appreciate what they have until they’ve grown up. Maybe it’s because their point of view is very subjective at these tender ages. Who knows. My children are no different. As much as my husband and I try to instill in them how lucky they are, (I wouldn’t have minded being my kids when I was their ages!) They still grumble when asked to help out and do the other’s chores this one time. Or extra chores. Or wait to play video games. There is grumbling about doing homework and attending their religious studies.

    I hope by constantly reminding them they could be living in a box under a bridge along with the other reminders and responsibilities some day they will look back on their childhood and know they had it good. I mean, no one is walking to school up hill in both direction barefoot in the snow!

    • says

      It’s hard to teach gratitude. It’s one of those things we need to practice ourselves in order for our children to observe. I know I grumble and complain often about my own responsibilities. Sometimes I wonder what kind of example I’m setting for them. My boys are like night and day too. My oldest does get the perks of homeschooling, so navigating this new territory with my youngest has been interesting (to say the least).

  5. says

    What I find amusing is the perspective my kids have on schools. They only see the fenced grounds with a big brick building in the middle as we drive by a school. They see newscasts that show video clips of kids in straight lines being shuffled from here to there in those brick buildings. Their response is always something along the lines of “… doesn’t that look like a prison?!”
    Michelle Cannon recently posted..Pumpkin Pie and Chicken Gravy: Carton Smart, Organic RecipesMy Profile

    • says

      Haha! My youngest has some memories of visiting big brother’s class, so at least he knows what’s going on in there. We have some family members who teach/work in the public school system and a few cousins who attend, so it’s not totally foreign, but he definitively has no idea what a day there would be like.

  6. says

    Oh – my 13 year old has grand delusions about how awesome school is (as dictated by some friends). We’ve tried to inform her of the not-so-awesome parts about school. But she has never experienced it so she can’t appreciate the differences here at home. :)

    The only time my kids have stepped into a school building was to attend a neighbor’s winter program. I love this post!
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  7. says

    My kids are the same way. My oldest went to daycare from age 2-5 and we started homeschooling in kindergarten. He is now 13 and we’ve added 3 younger brothers since then. My kids have no clue how good the have it! (Although I must admit, I sometimes try to explain it to them.) it’s a huge challenge, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    We recently moved and while our move was delayed almost 3 months, I kept wondering how difficult it would have been if they had been in school and I would have had to reschedule things multiple times. As it was, we just kept working and when we finally did move, we just unpacked our books in our new cozy school room and picked up where we left off.

    Thanks for the reminder. I think I, too, need to remember how blessed I am that we have this privilege.
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  8. says

    Hey Adrienne! It’s my first time on your blog and I’m so glad I found you! I could truly feel your emotions, questions, and doubts on this subject matter and I probably would think the same way about the situation. I’m always soooo curious about homeschooling as it seems that all the kids who grew up in that environment are so much more advanced, mature, and all that good stuff. However, I’m really big on the social aspect of life and I think I’d have a hard time if my daughter doesn’t get to experience that as much as a child in a class setting. (she’s 6 months right now :D) So, I’m interested in keeping up with your life and seeing every side of this schooling thing! And I think it’s awesome you’re able to do that for your younger son–if this is encouraging at all, it seems like you’re doing a great job because that takes major sacrifice!
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  9. says

    I haven’t really decided whether I will homeschool.beyond the preschool years, but if I do, I’ve thought of this challenge. Maybe your youngest won’t realize how good he’s got it until he’s much.older and able to reflect on his wonderful.memories at home with you!
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