A Foot in Both Worlds: How Our Family Balances Homeschooling and Public School

Words by: Lindsay Hufford

It’s a tremendous understatement to say the last two years have held staggering amounts of change for families across the world. We have learned what it’s like to live through a pandemic. Many families had children at home for an entire school year for the first time. Parents switched jobs or started working from home. And homeschool families across the United States cried actual tears when our libraries closed for months at a time.

All joking aside, it’s been a tumultuous time for many. Our family was spared many of the more challenging aspects of the pandemic, like illness and unemployment, but we have been through some significant changes. In February 2021, our family left our home of 11 years outside of Detroit to start a new life just south of Nashville, Tennessee. The move was bittersweet. The time felt right for a fresh start, but it’s always hard to leave behind a community you’ve come to love. 

Aside from the physical move itself, the most significant change came when my oldest two children decided to try public school for the remainder of the 2020/21 school year.  Up to that point, our kids were never enrolled in full-time school, so this was a considerable change. It felt like an opportune time to give it a try for the kids to meet new friends in the area and to provide them with a taste of school without committing to a full year. Our children ended up loving the local school they attended and decided to return for this school year for 6th and 8th grade.

Our typical day starts bright and early. My older children need to be dressed, ready, and headed out to catch the school bus by 6:50. I usually wake a few minutes before 6 a.m. to grab a quick cup of coffee and a few minutes of quiet (or funny TikToks) before the morning rush. While I miss the unhurried mornings when everyone was homeschooling, our family really thrives on routines, and I have been so impressed by my teen and tween’s initiative to get themselves ready for school each day. 

Once the older two children are off at school, my youngest child, who is still homeschooling, helps me with the morning chores, and then we start with his school work. One significant benefit of the older children being at school is my youngest’s one-on-one time with me. We’ve been able to do more of the things that make homeschooling fun, like baking, field trips, and spending lots of time cuddled up reading together. 

When his academic work is done, we often take the dog for a walk or practice his newest obsession, skateboarding. In the afternoon, we have some downtime with screens or rest. The days fly by, and before we know it, the older kids arrive home. Because my youngest child receives my attention during the day, I can devote myself to my older children in the afternoon to help with homework or talk about their days. Thankfully, our school has progressive views on homework, which has been scarce. 

The magic you make as a homeschool family is about the culture you create, regardless of whether academics are completed at home or away.

Lindsay Huffman

Our evenings look much the same as they did when we were exclusively homeschooling. We often watch some TV together after dinner or play a board game. And we are all in bed pretty early to get enough rest before the early wake-up call for the next day. 

While I was excited to enroll my older kids in school, part of me worried we’d lose some of the magic we’d created as a homeschooling family. I’m happy to tell you we didn’t. The magic you make as a homeschool family is about the culture you create, regardless of whether academics are completed at home or away.  We still curl up on couches on the weekend to read books and drink tea. We still have exciting and in-depth conversations on complex topics.

Our children are thriving with the new rhythms and environments. I’m glad we all trusted our guts and took this leap. Everyone was ready, and that is all I could have asked for. So, for now, I am a homeschool mom and a public school mom. I have a foot in both worlds, and I’m standing firm in the gap fostering a life in which my children can grow to their best potential. 

Lindsay Hufford lives by the mantra, “Keep Growing” and resides just south of Nashville, TN with her family. She is a flower farmer and florist, homeschool and public school mom, weekend hiker, kitten cuddler, and seltzer water aficionado.

Lindsay is committed to lifelong learning, creating an equitable world, and speaking up about the hard things. She shares about motherhood, mental health, sobriety, human rights, leaving religion, and more on her Instagram account, @kinshipflowerfarm

You can read more from Lindsay here.

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