Know BEFORE Taking Your Child Out of
by Barb Shelton
If your child is in school and you want to take him or her out, there are a few things you should consider in deciding the best way to approach this. How you will do this will depend completely upon your particular situation as what will work well in one circumstance may prove to be a disaster - or at least not that great - in another.
I suggest you go over the following tips and considerations carefully and prayerfully, asking God to "speak between the lines" of what I have written and guide you for YOUR situation, YOUR student, YOUR personality, YOUR school district and its staff, YOUR level of boldness, as well as your future considerations... HE WILL TAKE YOU WHERE YOU'RE AT!!!
For instance: Do you ever plan on your child going back again? Do you hope to have your child participate in sports – or any other programs – there? Do you need to obtain records? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, or even "maybe" then you don't want to "burn your bridges" or make it awkward to show your face there again! You especially do not want to tempt anyone to burn your house down. ;-)
The very first thing you need to do is relax, take a deep breath, and remember to whom God entrusted this child. And who is that? ... YOU! Sometimes those you'll be coming into contact with have either forgotten – or never knew – this simple fact. I'm totally serious! The school district needs to see the situation from the perspective that this child is YOURS, not THEIRS. And if this ends up becoming an obvious point of disagreement during the conversation, then you will need to respectfully remind them of this very fundamental and pivotal fact. Because, if indeed, the child DOES belong to the state, you would be in a very different position.
At the same time, may I suggest that you need to retain the perspective that this child is not even "yours," but is GOD'S, entrusted to you. I may or may not keep that last point to myself when discussing the matter with a school official. Hear God as you go. Remain as non-inflammatory as you can while still standing your ground and making any necessary points.
Next, become familiar with your state law regarding homeschooling, even if you do not believe that God is directing you to comply with it (which I'll come back to in a moment and also deal with a bit more in-depth in my article entitled Obeying the Law, Testing, and Qualifying to Homeschool). Many school officials have either no - or a very incomplete idea - of what their state's law really says regarding homeschooling. They may know a portion of it, but not the full extent of it, and then require things of homeschoolers that are not stated anywhere in the law.
So become fully acquainted with your state's law, preferably through a homeschooler who is thoroughly familiar with it. Your state's homeschool organization should be able to either give you the information you need, or direct you to someone who can. (There is a book put out by Home School Legal Defense Association that presents the laws of all 50 states. It is $20 and can be obtained directly through them. Call 540-338-5600 and ask for "Publications Dept." for more info.)
As for possible non-compliance with the law: Many homeschoolers have the conviction that any law regulating home education, even a good one, is unconstitutional and even unbiblical. Why? A rebellious or "above the law" spirit? Hopefully, and most likely not. Rather, if it is based on conviction, it is only because of a belief that such laws infringe on our fundamental right as citizens to educate our children as we see fit, and are often impediments to obeying the Biblical directive to bring up our children in the ways, nurture, and admonition of the Lord. And many believe that, even if the law's requirements are NOT impediments - i.e. they are easy to fulfill - the state still has no business regulating anything in this arena, no more than it would have the right or authority to tell you how you ought to wear your hair, run your day, or shop. And education is of a much graver nature than any of these!
There are different ways of looking at this which are far too extensive to get into here. I do offer a flyer that discusses this subject briefly, but gives some very good food for thought. It's called "Should Home Education Be Regulated?" and is available in the Legal Issues section of our catalog. But my above-mentioned article is also a good (and free) place to start.)
Before withdrawing your child from school, you might consider going to the teacher first to explain what you are doing. Make sure you do not come across as being disgruntled, which, of course, will be next to impossible if you are. But the less defensive you can make the teacher, the better off all of you will be. To this end, keep your reasons more to "We have done quite a bit of research (and prayer, if you want to include that), and have decided that this is the best option for our family and our child." One mom who took her child out of school mid-year brought cookies to the class on her daughter's last day. It made for a very favorable exit. Now had this been in a classroom where one of the students was prone to "sugar-induced hyperactivity" and/or was PMS'ing and who just happened to have brought a knife to school that day (for a school report, of course), it could have proved disastrous.
You might include such non-defense-raising reasons as "We've learned that the one-on-one tutorial method is the most effective," or "We want to be able to impart our values along with the academics." Or perhaps something like this would go over well: "You never know who's going to decide to mow down the lunch line with a machine gun, so we think it's just safer to keep him/her at home."
The reason it's helpful to talk with the teacher first, if possible, is that news of your child leaving will eventually filter down to him or her. If they "heard it first" from you rather than the grapevine (which tends to twist things), they will be much less likely to make assumptions that will be hurtful or insulting to them.
Many have told me that, when talking with teachers, they found them to be very disgusted with the whole idea of homeschooling, which would not be helped or avoided even if you were the most highly qualified teacher. (And many of these teachers are now homeschooling!) Keep in mind that you are, in essence, telling them you can do their job. This is not very flattering in light of all the education they have had – and paid a pretty penny to get! (Many "pretty pennies" which they're probably still paying back!)
But what you also need to keep in mind is that you can indeed do a better job. And if you aren't convinced of that yet, you obviously haven't gone through the Season of Re-education and Renewing of the Mind that I suggest, and are still of the "school at home" mentality, which simply has to go! Of course, you don't need to let THEM know that you think you can do a better job of educating your child, at least not at the beginning of the conversation, but you do need to keep that fact at the forefront of your mind while discussing the matter.
And if you can also keep in mind the fact that you are not really in competition with each other – not as far as God and you are concerned – it will help at least you feel better about it.
Also remember that this matter of you taking your child out of the school system is not "up for discussion" as many teachers and administrators seem to think it is. If they try to give you their well-meaning advice - like, for instance, anything that sounds even remotely like "You really have no business doing this" - simply bring the conversation to a close as quickly and kindly as possible, thank them for their time, and then, with a smile on your face, (plastered, need be) head for the nearest exit. If there is anything from your child's desk that you want, be sure to remember to get that on the way out. For this very reason, though, try to have gotten that taken care of before such a conversation ensues.
Talking with a school official is where you'll need to be more informed about what your state's law says, and how you are going to relate to it, as it is more likely to be an issue with someone in that position, and it is very likely, from what I have seen, that they will be misinformed about. Many (incorrectly) think that the public school system is "the authority" over all parents regarding the education (schooling) of children, so they base their interpretation of the homeschool law on this misconception. Just knowing this will help you in talking with them.
(I'd estimate that 99% of school officials do NOT really understand the law. But probably ALL of them THINK they do. They seem to get the "We are the school so what we say goes" mentality. It doesn't hold water, but if you don't know what does, you'll be thrown for a loop.)
Saying as little as possible is generally the best policy; honesty - or at least FULL honesty - probably isn't, in THIS case. There are possibly all sorts of things you COULD say to them, and would LIKE to say to them, but saying only what is necessary to remove your child from the school is wisest. I say this only because you do not need to get yourself involved in an argument. "Steer clear of foolish discussions."
As for timing, of course the best time to do this is at the end of the school year. But then you probably wouldn't really be needing to read an article like this if that were the case. The next best thing is at a break, like Christmas (woops – sorry, I MEANT to call it "Winter Holiday") or Spring Break.
Assuming your situation is more desperate, a weekend is good, and assuming even THAT is not soon enough, "this afternoon" is just fine. (Or as fine as it's going to get!)
The only thing stopping some from doing it as soon as they'd like is the idea that they think they can't legally do it until "things are taken care of" with the school officials. Wrong! As I so tactfully pointed out earlier, you are your child's legal authority. Neither the school nor the state own your child. They have NO legal recourse for the "ownership" of your child, nor to detain him or her in their custody.
Remember also that teachers and school officials are not your authority, they are "public servants" and have no more jurisdiction over the education of your child than the public library has jurisdiction over what you read; both are simply there for you to use, if you feel so led. Nor is any school personnel an expert in educating your child; only in "schooling the masses"!
True education goes far beyond what can be taught in a classroom or out of a text or workbook – which is actually the easiest part! In fact, true education is actually often UNdone in the school setting. You have been called to take on the unique yoke that Jesus is placing on you, not to take on the binding, choking yoke of imitating the school system.
So, with all this said, you are now free to have fun with this process of pulling your child out of that system! OK, maybe not fun, but at least you're going to be able to do it with a clearer mind and lot less fear. (OK, maybe just a little less fear, but it's better than what you had before you started reading this article, right?!)
I got the spiral notebook background from:
and the books 'n' apples bar from:
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