When to Expel Your Kid From Homeschool: Circles of Influence and Homeschool vs Regular School

by | Feb 12, 2020 | Homeschool, How We Roll | 51 comments

I currently have four kids in “regular” school, three in homeschool (and three not-yet-school-age), so I often get asked why we transition our kids out of homeschooling, and how we make the decision when to do that. This post is my answer to that question. <note: all kids, and all families are different, your experience may vary>

I was a reluctant homeschooler to begin with, and I homeschooled for many years as a pragmatist rather than an apologist for homeschooling. For an introvert with many many children and a visceral aversion to waking a sleeping baby, homeschooling seemed like the only practical decision I could make. There were always things I loved about it, but I kinda always half figured I’d just put them all in a regular school if only we had a good option for that.

Then, one year, homeschooling my oldest went so very badly that we spent the next year driving him nearly an hour to a school every morning, and the school was so great that the next year we moved to be closer to it. And it was finding that really wonderful brick and mortar school, and discovering what a good fit it is for our family, that solidified my commitment to homeschooling.

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So here’s how I see it now . . .

I LOVE homeschooling in the early grades. I like the flexibility of setting our own schedule. I like being a part of all those early learning milestones. I really like have older kids around to help with little kids. Even more importantly, I like solidifying sibling relationships as my children’s primary friendships in their early years, and our family culture as their primary influence. It works really, really well for us.

See this post and this podcast for more on how we promote a family culture.

Then . . . around age ten or twelve, most notably for my boys, it stops working well for us. Very dramatically. More on this process here, but in those “tween” years I have noticed a very fundamental shift in the way my boys respond to being bossed around all day by their mom. It made me think about the fact that, historically, boys of this age would have been sent out to be apprenticed, or off to boarding school. And I was like,

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For our oldest four kids, we have used a classical Catholic homeschool curriculum through grade school, and then sometime between 6th and 8th grade (depending on the kid), we’ve transitioned them into a classical Catholic brick and mortar school. It’s been a really successful approach. I haven’t experienced the tween push-back to the same degree with our daughters so far (the eldest are currently 16 and 10), but I still think this approach is the right one for them as well.

It feels like concentric circles. Our kids’ lives and educations start out very family-focused. We mindfully shape their earliest worldview. We are picky about the curriculum we use, and the Mass we attend, and the books they read, and the shows they watch, and the music they listen to, and the friends they spend time with. We teach them not only to read and write, but also how to interact with other people, how to work hard, how to handle adversity and frustration and success. We are careful of the influences they get from entertainment, and we teach them how to be discerning in their entertainment choices.

Our family culture firmly established, they’re ready to make the jump into the next circle of influence, that of a carefully chosen community. The school to which we send our kids shares our faith, and our devout practice of it. The teachers and other parents share our primary goal for our children, although we don’t all approach parenting in exactly the same way, of course. And while no school is perfect, a school that is TRYING is so so important to us.

Because in the tween and teen years, it’s natural and appropriate that kids would start to look outside the family. It’s often characterized as “rebellion,” but it doesn’t have to be that. It’s just looking past mom and dad and asking, “What do other people think about stuff?” “Is my family’s way the only way?” “What do *I* believe about the world?” Having teachers and friends and other parents who share our same fundamental worldview is a huge blessing in this stage. My kids can have new mentors, new influences, new people who can share their own approach and their own experiences, but not undermine the foundation we’ve worked to establish.

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And then, at some point, we have to trust them to venture into the wide wide world. For some kids, they could be ready for this responsibility after high school, for others, a more nurturing college (or college alternative) environment is going to be beneficial for them. But then, we just have to hope (and pray) that we’ve prepared them to meet the challenges that they’ll inevitably face to their faith and morals and character. And to be there to help them dust themselves off if that becomes necessary. This part is all conjecture (well, and advice from trusted friends) at this point, as our oldest is a senior in high school this year.

But, I can say so far, so good for our kids on the circles of influence approach. This isn’t the only way to raise faithful adults, of course. But it’s *a* way. That you might want to consider for your family.

So, what do you think? Have you noticed these same stages in your homeschool kiddos? Have you expelled anyone? And for moms who are sticking it out with homeschooling, please share your wisdom with us in the comments!


  1. Erin

    Kendra, I really liked this post. Thank you for having such a reasonable, charitable, and confident (but not prideful) voice where parenting and school issues are concerned. You’re always a breath of fresh air, and I’ve read every post you’ve written…for years.:)

    I’m a homeschooler right now, with five kids under 11, and I have always thought we’d seriously consider excellent Catholic and hybrid options in the future, especially for my oldest son, who doesn’t have a brother older than 3 (he’s 10 right now:). Being around women and babies all day has made him have to deal with growing in patience at a young age! 🙂

    • Mary Gerken

      Erin, we love Regina Caeli Academy! They have one in Baton Rouge!

      • Sara Beth Meyer


        What a blessing & surprise to hear a parallel approach after so many years of making all of our schooled and home schooled friends puzzled & even uncomfortable.
        My husband and I met in college, majoring in education. We never dreamt we’d home school. As our family has grown, the method that has worked for us is home schooling through elementary, then going to public school through the first half of high school. Our four oldest all opted to go to college early; we’re blessed to live in TX, where there are two different tuition free residential early college programs: TAMS and TALH.

        Public school remains our bread & butter, with my husband working as an administrator in the local school district. While our kids all exhibit those delightful home school quirks: hanging out with siblings, having a strong family identity, etc. they are also professionally geared toward public school. Our oldest is an English teacher, and our next three are all in varying stages of earning a degree in teaching.

    • allie

      I love this post so much, just found it. I have a 10 year old boy who we are putting in the small classical catholic school this year. It is a great, solidly catholic school, but I am still very emotional about not having the time with him. He has a big age gap between his younger siblings, 6 years. So, i do feel like it is all in God’s timing that the spot has opened up now when he is naturally craving that sense of community and peers. He also stays with his bio-dad 2x a month who is not a man of faith or morals, so I’m hoping this school and the friends there will help solidify that it is not just mom that has these views. Any thoughts on that situation?

      • Kendra

        It sounds like a good plan, and you can always change things up if necessary!

  2. Aimee

    So if you were me, what would you do? We’ve been homeschooling and my oldest is now 12. I can sense he wants to be part of a community but is still ok with homeschooling as well. We live in NH (the least religious state in the country apparently). Our 2 catholic schools within driving distance are very large, very expensive, and focused on sports. Most students are sent there because they want a better option for sports than their local school offers and don’t care about religion. Our local public school is the size of a small college (not much of a sense of community, they barely know their classmates) and they were hitting around an inflatable penis at the last graduation. Would you keep homeschooling?

    • Kendra

      Before the husband offered to do the lion’s share of the driving so Jack could go to St. Monica’s, my plan was to keep him home and hire a private tutor to come in. Preferably half-Narnian like Prince Caspian’s. I have no idea if this would have worked. We tried doing online classes, but it was still me having to do all the enforcing parts, so that wasn’t any more successful for us.

      I think that some kids can handle big secular (even if they’re “Catholic”) schools well, often because they’re particularly innocent or particularly stubborn. For more influenceable kids, I think it could be a bigger challenge.

      But not impossible, of course.

      I think the biggest thing to remember is that it’s not a multiple choice quiz with a right answer and a wrong answer. You have different options that have different pluses and minuses for which you will have to compensate. You can probably figure out a way to make any of them work, with some effort.

      • Katie

        Kendra, could you please share some info about the online classes you tried with your oldest. My kids are still elementary age but I have thought about online classes when they are older and am not sure where to start. Thanks!

        • Kendra

          Mother of Divine Grace offers them for enrolled families. I think they’re well done, they just didn’t solve the issues we had. 🙂

        • Elizabeth

          Hello Katie,
          We have used Classical Academic Press for our online Latin courses and I have been very impressed, particularly for my 15 year old son. His teachers have been really incredible and his Latin 4 teacher is a homeschooling dad and has become quite a role model for my son. CAP is not Catholic but they are Christian and I have never experienced anything I would object to at all. In fact, my oldest studied works of St. Augustine and St. Patrick this year. They are a definite option for us for the years to come as they offer every subject and you don’t need to be enrolled. Hope that helps!

    • SPell

      Fellow NH mom here! My oldest is only 9 and homeschooling is going pretty well at this point, but I can definitely see this being a challenge we face in the next few years. Aside from hiring a mythical Narnian tutor (which should really be a thing!), it looks like our only local option might end up being a Protestant Christian school. We do have a “Catholic” school nearby, but almost none of the staff are faithful Catholics, if they’re even Catholic at all.
      Kendra, what are your thoughts on weighing the option of a non-Catholic Christian school where the staff really does love Jesus (in the ways they know how), but doesn’t embrace the deepest teachings of the Church?

      • Kendra

        I haven’t experienced it personally, but my gut says it would be easier to counter at home the issues that would arise in a non Catholic Christian school, rather than a lukewarm Catholic school. For the right type of kid, it might even give him a chance to really hone his low key apologetics skills.

        • Katie

          Kim, as a devout Protestant Christian, I find your comment to be in poor taste. It saddens me to think that you would look down on your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. While I do not embrace all of the teachings of the Catholic Church, I have a deep respect for your community. I enjoy Kendra’s blog immensely and always find inspiration and positivity here. I would like to encourage you to focus on unity, and the things that we have in common. Catholics do not have a monopoly on truth. Truth comes from God, and we can all learn from one another. Thanks for considering my thoughts.

    • Hillary Swetz

      Mainer here! I know there’s a new Regina Caeli school opening somewhere in Northern MA/Southern NH in 2020, and there’s a small group of us trying to get one going here in Maine, too. You might find more likeminded families at their local inquiry Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/NMASNH/

  3. Caroline

    I am bookmarking this post for the future. We have just begun our homeschooling journey, but are keeping an open mind for the future. Each kid, each year, we will just see what lies ahead. I totally agree that homeschooling the early years is so rewarding and important. I dont know yet what comes next, but it’s so nice to hear different perspectives on what is possible! Thank you!

  4. Andrea J Blackshear

    Oh my goodness!! I am so glad to hear you say this about boys!! I wish you I would have understood this sooner. It has been such a struggle for me having 4 teenage boys in homeschool. I needed to hear this today. Unfortunately, we don’t have a great school option around here. The nearest Catholic school doesn’t have high school. Living in the boonies there aren’t any great private school options and public is NOT an option for us here. We’re working on finding different outlets for our boys. Prayers are always greatly appreciated here. Thank you for sharing this. I don’t feel so inadequate now knowing I’m not the only one that struggled with this.

    • Kendra

      It’s interesting, isn’t it? I’ve heard similar things from so many other families.

  5. Catrina

    This is exactly what I’ve notice in my son! He’s ten and a half now and it’s been a very challenging school year for us. Many times a day I would like to expel him. We live in a rural area and I’m not convinced the local schools are a viable option for us. But it’s comforting to know his behavior is not all in my head! I will keep praying. I know God will provide. Thank you for sharing.

    • Kendra

      Someone on Facebook commented that at this age dad took over most of the homeschooling for her son. I know that’s not an option for everyone, but I could see that being really effective.

      • Melissa

        My oldest is 12 and homeschooling is still working for us currently, but this is always in the back of my mind. Especially since I’ve seen other homeschool families take a similar path.

        We do have a Classical Christian School in our town, but the tuition is way out of budget for us so it’s not really an option and neither is public. That’s said I like the idea of some online classes or even outside classes for homeschoolers. We do have those options locally. I also know some families where the husbands took over a big majority of the teaching and it has worked out great.

        I think you’re right in having to find what works and explore the different options. At the same time, if I’m being honest, it is slightly discouraging to read about the boy/mom thing. I know that your intention is not to discourage, but you aren’t the only person I’ve heard this from about boys. I suppose it is just part of life in general and homeschooling can complicate that if we aren’t careful. It makes me stop and wonder if I’m being too optimistic wanting to homeschool all the way through. Eek…Haha. Im sure homeschooling boys through high school can be done, we just have to be sure it’s not at the cost of our relationship with them.

        I always love your parenting posts Kendra, so thank you! ❤️

        • Anne

          I have a 12 yr old who is still at home! There is hope 🙂 I really think it depends on temperament. I have a choleric 5 yo daughter who is harder to homeschool– for me! We have a school we LOVE but since it’s a private school they can’t make the needed learning accommodations for our kids. Sooooo we are homeschooling for now and exploring classes with co ops etc.

        • Elizabeth T

          Melissa, I posted below, but I just wanted to reassure you that I am currently homeschooling a 15yo boy, 13yo girl, and 10yo boy (plus some younger ones). The teens are absolutely delightful! The 10yo is currently in his growing pains. They all went through the rough 10-12 phase, but the teens have come out the other side. I posted more details below, but take heart that homeschooling teens, even boys, can be a wonderful experience.

          • Melissa

            Elizabeth, Thank you! That is so encouraging to me. ❤️ Lord willing we can keep going through high school.

  6. Amanda

    Love this! This is very similar to our approach though we’re sticking with homeschooling all the way through for various reasons. But our 0-5 year olds really are with us 24/7 for the most part. Then at 5/6 they start soccer and scouts. In the tween years we’re now starting online classes/individual co-op or tutored classes and the sports seem to demand more time too. By 16/17 we plan to have the kids do one or two community college classes locally or online. Hopefully that will give our kids a similar transition

    • Kendra

      Yes, sports and scouts have been a huge help in formation for our older boys. I definitely think that’s beneficial for them, and a good way to have new, male authority and influence in their lives.

  7. Amelia (One Catholic Mama)

    Your circle of influence infographic is spot on! This sounds like a pretty ideal solution. Unfortunately, we don’t have any great Catholic schools near us and moving is not an option. I so, wish we had an awesome school nearby. I definitely understand what you are saying about kids getting to be an age where they need “someone else” being responsible for their education. So far, I only have girl teens, so I don’t have personal experience with boys, but I have definitely heard others say the same thing as you, in regards to boys. Even with my girls, who are responsible and self-motivated, I do think things are better if they are accountable to someone outside the family and practically speaking, I just don’t feel like I can homeschool well both high school and younger grades and care for younger children. There just isn’t that much me to go around. What we’ve done is homeschool through 8th grade, then put them in an online school (we’ve done both Catholic and public online schools…depending on finances and the type of online school that fits each child better) and then get them really involved with youth groups, activities, volunteer work, etc. with other teens that share our values. so they still have the “community circle of influence.” My oldest is about to turn 18 and planning to attend a public university next year, so she’ll be thrown into the world at 18, but I am confident she is ready for it.

    • Kendra

      I think that sounds like a very well-reasoned approach!

  8. Carolyn DeGoede

    This is a beautiful article. I started homeschooling before it was even legal in the state of Washington. We now live in Idaho and have enjoyed the freedom we have here. My story may be a little unique as our nine children are 24 years apart. Our youngest two sons each have a nephew the same age as them, our oldest daughters sons. Each of our children have had a different path in highschool. Two were in schools for girls open to the concecrated life, two finished up high school by free college classes offered in our state, one went to a homeschool tutor who met with them twice a month our last two are in public school. That being said there is not a Catholic school that they could attend. We were involved in Classical Conversation with two other Catholic families. Our eighth child tried college for one semester which is offered in our state through our tax dollars from 7-12 grade. Timothy entered part time high school at 17 1/2 years with the choice of doing one semester this spring or staying and taking classes next year to. That left me with an only child at home. He was already doing two band classes a day he attends for a total of five hours with band. Our oldest grandchildren have been home schooled in their junior high and high school career. This had afforded our two sons to be spending time with like minded families. The boys just entered school four weeks ago after 39 years and four months I am home a couple of days a week by myself. My husband works part time with grandchikdren and tutoring struggling readers. It is a HUGE change to say the least for me I knew it was coming but it became clear after Christmas 2019 we would need to change. I am so grateful for all the years we home schooled. The deep friendship our childrent have with each other. The relationship they have worked on building with their youngest two siblings. The deep and active lives they have for Christ and His Church. I look forward to Christ’s invitation to continue to work for His Church.

  9. Emily Chadwick

    Thank you for sharing! We discern God’s will every year and, despite being open to homeschooling, God has not opened that door (yet) for our family. But I have often wondered if we pull the four in school (in 6th, 4th, 3rd & 1st) how the boys would do at home because of their natural role as boys/men to be part of the outside world.
    I will say that I think you hit the nail on the head when you said you can make almost any situation work, with some effort. And if God calls us to homeschool our 7 kids (4 boys, 3 girls) I believe it could work. For now, we live far from a Catholic school so our kids attend public school. While not ideal, we have still managed to form a very strong family culture & devout Catholic culture at home and our kids genuinely prefer to be home with each other every free moment they have. We also have a large extended family and an amazing church community so our kids have the reinforcement of our Catholic identity from other adults and like-minded peers. At this point they get plenty of exposure to the outside world at school not to crave it, yet they distinctly see the differences in how they are being raised compared to the secular culture.
    All that being said, it isn’t ideal and requires a LOT of diligent oversight but we have made it work so far. I do think that your approach sounds ideal!!!

  10. Catherine Lamothe

    I really enjoyed this post. I homeschool and my 2 oldest are in high school. My son was always good at being alone- legos, long board, Boy Scouts. And then he got his license and a job and he is fine. My daughter, is lonely. It’s hard between the ages of 13-16 unless you have a robust homeschool community which for her age range we don’t. The catholic high school is meh, and at 14,000 a year, “meh” isn’t gonna cut it. And honestly with the passing of the new LGBTQ curriculum here in N.J. and the state of their public schools, I’m stuck. I wish I had more options- but my point being, if you can find a good, affordable catholic school for your high schooler, I say go for it, the teen years are lonely without a community!!

    • PZ

      Different circumstances for all of my kids.

      My oldest is a girl. Before the start of her 8th grade year she came to me and told me that she wanted to try a “regular” school. She was tired of being bossed and wanted to spread her wings.

      So, we enrolled her in a Catholic school. She enjoyed it and thrived. She is currently in a Holy and academically strong Catholic high school. She is flourishing and happy. She is academically successful and credits the discipline and rigor of her homeschool education.

      It was the right move at the right time for her.

      For my second child, she was ready at 5th Grade.

      With the success of my older two, I tried putting my two younger kids in a Catholic elementary school and it didn’t work out well. I pulled them out and I am currently homeschooling them. They need me a little longer than I realized. I will probably try to put them in a Catholic school again when they are in 5th grade.

      All kids and families are different. At the end of the day, we all know what’s best for our families.

  11. Tori

    I really enjoyed reading how you made these decisions for your family. I have a question though, how do you do focused work with older kids and keep babies busy? I have 2 children, a 4 year old and 1 year old. I am looking into homeschooling but my girls seem to be a such different stages, namely the 4 year old needs focused attention and the 1 year old needs constant distraction. I’m curious how you make it work. Also, my daughter has been in a small preschool a few days a week and loves playing with the kids her age. Since we don’t have a large family at this point I’d like her to have that time…did you do any play times or meet ups when you had 1-3 kids? Thank you!!!

    • Kendra

      I did! Things are so different with only little kids. I forget sometimes. We did a play-based preschool two mornings a week, plus a Rosary group moms and kid playdate once a week. Now, I have enough kids for them to play with each other. But I do try to hit school work hard during Barbara’s morning nap.

  12. Betka

    Our journey has been almost opposite. We homeschooled everyone in the beginning which was SO STRESSFUL for me. I don’t remember learning to read and it always seemed to take a miracle for my kids to learn to read and everything depends on reading! And then math facts! AAAAAaagh! Homeschooling suddenly started to work when my oldest girls were in middle school and began to work independently. At that time we moved near the most beautiful holy Catholic classical grade school, where the next five kids have been thriving. But my oldest boy (13) is petitioning to homeschool in high school like his sisters. I told him I needed to see that he had self-discipline in getting his work done and could be kind to his little siblings. He has managed the first, but not the second, so we’ll see.

    We have a Catholic Schoolhouse co-op which really goes a long way toward making homeschooling possible for the mothers of middle school boys. I was the middle school (“dialectic”) teacher and all the other mothers thought I was a saint, but the nine boys in my class were all willing to write papers and memorize recitations for me just because I wasn’t their mother.

    In grade school I put together my own curriculum, but I have found Catholic homeschool programs with a diploma to be essential for high school. We have used three different programs so far and I would like to give a shout-out to Kolbe Academy. My second daughter has had a fire lit in her heart by Kolbe’s online classes. We both disdained computer-based classes until she tried Kolbe’s. Now she is asking to add more and more online classes; she loves her online classmates and thinks of them as her friends. She is the third high school student I know of who has been totally transformed by Kolbe’s online school. (I know another girl who changed her plans from finishing high school in three years to four so that she could spend more time in her Kolbe online community.)

    I also recommend begging God with a mother’s tears to send you the best educational option for your family at this time–and then take the options he sends and say thank you!

    • Elizabeth T

      We’ve had a similar experience with Rolling Acres School! My older kids love their online teachers and classmates and also begged to come home from the local Catholic school (but I think a better school would have prevented that). I am not a big screen person, but I have found that this method as a truly good way to use technology. Our kids can access some of the best classical teachers in the country, and they work to minimize screen time with a flipped classroom and largely handwritten assignments. A solid online classical Catholic school can be a Godsend for those older kids :).

  13. Elizabeth T

    I know exactly what you mean about ages 10-12 — And my oldest daughter went through this, too! My younger two daughters are not yet old enough to report. I do support sending kids to a solid classical Catholic school, but I also would like to offer some hope to those who either want to homeschool all the way through or those who do not have a good school option. Our philosophy has always been to take it year by year and do what is best for each child, but we are now in a position where it is clear the local Catholic school won’t work for us. As a result, it also became clear that God’s will for us now was to homeschool our older kids. (Some were attending the local classical Catholic school and actually begged to come home, but I don’t think that would have happened with a better school.)

    I always tell people that 10-12 is the hardest age. Many like to joke that I have teenagers, but they are actually wonderful, boys and girls alike :). I love the teen years. From age 10-12, the responsibilities and work loads increase. Kids that age are able to do almost anything an adult can do with a few exceptions, but they have not yet fully nailed the virtue part, even if they have had years of virtue training. Virtue can be hard even for adults. It’s a new level of development where virtue must be strengthened, and it is painful for a time. It’s very much like returning to the toddler years. There are tantrums. For parents, if you stay calm and consistent, they will grow in virtue and become wonderful teens. They will get the work done, pleasantly, and be motivated again. I am sure you are doing this at home, Kendra, as this certainly can be done going to a good school outside the home, too!

    My teens look at their now 10-year-old brother and chuckle at his current ups and downs. They say to me, “I remember when I used to do that.” They remember resisting the work, throwing fits, and all the struggles of this age, and they like to talk about what they learned and how they grew during that time period. Homeschooling teens has been wonderful.

    In order to provide a solid classical Catholic education, I do enlist outside help with some live online courses and teachers. My teens do some work as independent study (even math!) and some work with teachers, but the kids are all at home other than social functions and extracurricular activities. I have really enjoyed helping my high schooler learn how to navigate high school, how to pace himself, how to plan ahead and do his best. He has grown so much! So that’s a long comment, but I wanted to offer some hope to those who are considering or facing homeschooling all the way through.

    • marlonpdavis

      Oh gosh I just loved your post here. That’s so encouraging. My daughter is 10 and I want to push through to the post 12 age and this has given me the encouragement to do so.

  14. Elizabeth T

    For context, we homeschool all our kids now, little up to high school. And when it became clear to us that we needed to return to homeschooling everyone, I absolutely dreaded it. God has been good to us in showing us the path forward and making it a truly joyful experience! I am so thankful that he “forced my hand” on this :). But, again, I have no doubt that God is also blessing many of these wonderful classical Catholic schools across the country!

  15. Ava

    This is very interesting. Thank you for sharing! My husband and I were both homeschooled through highschool, but we grew up in different states and had no idea the other existed until we met in college. He came from a family with mostly boys and my family had mostly girls. We used Kolbe and his family used Seton. We both came from super “apologetic homeschooling” families (hehe) but I realized as I met homeschoolers from different states (so around college) that homeschooling could be a real hardship if you lived in either a not-so-homeschool-friendly state and/or a rural area. We both grew up in suburbia in verrry homeschool friendly states so local community was readily available for our parents…which made a huge impact on our experiences. We just have toddlers now but we’re pumped and planning to homeschool through elementary (we live near a city) and then take it year by year after. My brother definitely suffered in high school for want of accountability and fatherly motivation to do anything besides extracurriculars (and boy we had a ton of that – basketball and tennis, mathclub, band, choirs, junior legion of mary, youth group, dead theologians society, teen pro-life club, speech & debate – so much of it competitive because in IL homeschools are considered private schools). I think my husband may’ve thrived a bit more or at least been more academically enthusiastic if someone other than his mom was teaching him just because she was his Mom not because she was inept – she was a teacher with public school teaching experience and a masters in chemistry. He loved her then and he loves her a ton still so it didn’t wreck their relationship but, again, I think he may’ve excelled more in highschool with more male oversight. He did belong to a weekly one day/all day academic co-op in highschool with male teachers and he very much enjoyed that. I don’t think there were any good classical Catholic highschools around Houston at the time he was in highschool, but I think that’s since changed. Anyhow, just my experience and perspective in case it helps anyone?

  16. Callie

    I have been waiting for a post like this! Thank you!

    I wonder if you have any thoughts on why an older child is more willing to be accountable to an outside teacher? I teach in a classical hybrid school (the students are in class two days a week and do the rest of their work at home) and some of the moms have expressed how wonderful it is to have an outside teacher to keep their kids accountable (and I teach 3rd and 4th graders, so this is even younger than the tween years.)

    I guess i’m just almost in awe that the mere presence of an outside teacher (and classmates, they must be important too) could motivate someone so well.

    • Kendra

      I really think it’s just a stage of development, at least this “tween” thing I’m talking about. At my house we don’t have exercise of authority issues outside of this, really.

  17. Karen

    Kendra, I am so glad to hear your experience on this, especially about boys. Once I began to have teenage sons, I could much more fully appreciate the story of Jesus being lost in the temple for days doing “his Father’s business.” There is something about boys that makes them want to venture out and not be tied to momma’s apron strings 100% of the time. If my husband’s job were such that he could take the boys to work with him at age 12, I would have jumped at that in a heartbeat. Boys need men to mentor them at a certain age. We do not have a Catholic school anywhere near us, so our choice for our son, who is now age 15, was to send him to a Catholic boys’ boarding school about 5 hours away from our home. This school has been such a blessing to him, not only because of the male leadership and male camaraderie, but also because of their pedagogy which inspires a love of learning and all things good, true and beautiful, and especially the way he has grown in his own faith. It is hard to send boys away, but I can see this is where this particular son is going to be helped the most in becoming a man who follows Christ. The good news is that I do think God helps us all wherever we are and whatever our options are — his grace and wisdom are there for the asking, and he can help us get creative in providing the right stepping stones to adulthood for our children.

  18. Alix T.

    Have your kids adapted well? Did you all use a classical approach at home? Do they have gaps in their knowledge?

    We would like to take a similar approach – we have all boys, and our oldest is approaching kindergarten soon. The classical approach seems so much more formal than what I think education should look like in the early years, yet I think our little Catholic classical school would be perfect come middle school. I’m wondering if that’s reasonable though, for them to make the jump into a formal classical education setting if they weren’t brought up in that for their early schooling.

    That being said, I grew up in a military family, and know that kids figure it out and catch up somehow when jumping between school systems!

    • Kendra

      Yes, they have! It’s a pretty easy transition because they know many of the kids in their classes already from social events and our homeschool group. And, yes, we do a classical curriculum at home, so they are familiar with that style. We use Mother of Divine Grace, and haven’t found it to be too intense in the early years.

  19. Kathy

    Excellent article! Thank you!! When we started homeschooling, I never imagined homeschooling all the way through high school. Had we ever had the option of a good Catholic school, I am certain we would have enrolled all the boys (and had a Catholic girls boarding school existed, as in “The Trouble With Angels”, we would have sent our daughter–believe me, I searched!). But from Alaska to rural Tennessee, there was never a school that was even close to what we would consider better than homeschool.

    Jr high and beyond, our way of homeschooling became nearly all self-study with my role being that of manager. We did seek out many opportunities in music and sports for all the children, and all have excelled in music particularly. Also, 4-H was great for the boys!

    I “retired” from homeschooling last year, our 19th, after graduating our last. All four children have gone on to excellent colleges of their choice, are faithful to the Catholic Church and are just plain wonderful people.

    Looking back, I am so thankful to have had all those years with them all at home through high school. But had they gone to a fine Catholic school, I’m sure I would be just as happy. God gives us all the graces we need in whatever circumstance He places us–ours just happened to be Catholic isolation.

    Our curriculum was based on Mother of Divine Grace. We enrolled only our first through high school. After that, I figured I could keep the transcripts myself–and I did.

  20. Samantha S

    Thank you so much for your post. We began homeschooling my daughter as I was pregnant with my 4th and then 1.5 years later pregnant with babies 5/6. I too consider sleep and naps sacred and well will recreate my world to preserve them. So we homeschooled. I was hesitant but then fell in love with it mainly for the family-centeredness and as a way to help “hopefully” create a strong faithful foundation for them to rely on in their future lives.
    My husband however has been less enthusiastic about it. He sees the benefits but feels the kids need to transition out of the house and more into the world sooner. My thoughts were to homeschool until ninth grade as it’s a time when all the area schools (our local catholic school only goes until 8th grade) mix and so there is a lot of reforming of groups I thought it would be an easier blending into brick and mortar, but he thinks it’s too late.
    I guess my question is, would you have sent your kids out as early as you did *if* there wasn’t such a great catholic school option available in your area? Again thank you so much for helping me feel not alone in trying to raise a faithful catholic family.

    • Kendra

      We have done the transition in 6th, 7th, and 8th and 8th was for sure the best transition. Middle school kids are rough, even at a very small, devout Catholic school. I’d transition later rather than earlier, but, full disclosure, my husband was also an advocate for an earlier transition. And he saw our son’s troubles with friends as character building. And this year, really everything is fine. So that’s a lot of words to say, I agree with you, but it will probably end up just fine either way. 🙂

  21. Jessica Kegley

    Kendra, This post is really an answer to prayer. My oldest, almost 11, is really struggling at home now. It’s coming out in “I’m stressed, I’m bored,” and a lot of tears and acting out. I really think he needs a brick and mortar and our church’s school is really fantastic. We were thinking of putting him in before Covid set in and decided to do 5th grade with him this year instead. After reading this I feel all the more convicted that we need to plan to enroll him for 6th grade. Now to try and make it through this year.

  22. marlonpdavis

    I really did take much encouragement from this post. I am homeschooling four children and this post reminded me that many scenarios can work. This is so important to keep at the fore.

    I am finding some difficulty with my 10 yo. However our oldest went to the local catholic high school that is very lukewarm with few practicing Catholics. He is not leaving the school with his faith in tact— he graduates this year. I do not blame the school entirely but it frankly undermined the faith.

    I actually started out homeschooling because I wanted to homeschool in high school! I felt the best way to get there was to start from the beginning. We are not there yet with the rest of our kids. I am navigating the 10-12 yrs with my girl and hoping and praying to come out the other end with hope for future in homeschooling. She actually doesn’t want to go to a brick and mirror school but some days it’s sure hard to believe it.

    I took great encouragement from this podcast on schooling high school boys from A Delectable Education ( I think much can apply to girls and even younger kids). It’s in the Charlotte Mason approach which we use but it speaks to much of what Kendra mentioned is critical for boys and high schoolers – that growing independence and world that they long for— in the context of homeschooling. Well worth a listen.


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Hi! I’m Kendra.

For twenty years now, I’ve been using food, prayer, and conversation based around the liturgical calendar to share the lives of the saints and the beautiful truths and traditions of our Catholic faith. My own ten children, our friends and neighbors, and people just like you have been on this journey with me.

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