- Give yourself permission to doubt the system. This may mean truly seeing flaws for the first time, perhaps in the business model, the academics, the intentions of those over you, the fit for your family, or even how “Christian” it really is.
- Become aware of other options. You begin to see that there are other legitimate, and possibly healthier, groups, other curriculum, and even other ways of thinking about the group you have been in. You are not only giving yourself permission to doubt, but to think and see things in new ways.
- Decide you MUST leave. I put that in capital letters, because as some point you realize that what you have been seeing in the group MUST lead to your exit. This may be because of unacceptable liability for your family, legal concerns, damage being done to your kids academically or psychologically, or damage being done to you (this is a legitimate reason - you don't have to sacrifice yourself just because your kids have friends in the group). Maybe continuing would violate your own integrity, or maybe God is simply calling you out of it. Whatever your reasons, accept this and write them all down.
- Panic over what to do now. I am not telling you to do this, but you very well may - over how/when to leave, over your fear of conflict, over the fear of what will happen to your kids when you leave, over fear of failing your child. You don't need to give in to the panic, but if you feel it, it's normal.
- Actively explore your options. This helps you to deal with the panic. This is not just being aware of what's out there, but now that you have decided to leave, it is deliberately considering the curriculum you may switch to by investigating new books, online classes, co-ops, Facebook groups, etc.
- Leave. Likely, this means talking to someone in charge of your group, or someone to whom you were reporting as a leader, but it also means talking to and being on the same page as your spouse, telling your kids there is going to be a change, telling friends, and actually not showing up or signing up. And this is the hardest thing of all - just saying good-bye and closing the door on that chapter of life.
- Attend to your own needs. This is super important when going through a loss - and this is, indeed, a loss. Take care of your physical needs, in terms of getting adequate rest, nutrition, and exercise. Consider limiting contact with old connections and Facebook groups, if that is going to increase your anxiety or agitation. Watch your thought life, and if you find yourself obsessing over the situation, take steps to get busy with other activities and conversations. Make definite plans for your kids’ schooling if you haven’t yet, and establish a new normal schedule. Watch for your kids' signs of loss and grief and help them deal with those in healthy ways.
- Express your emotions. You will probably feel grief over what you have lost - community, security, a planned out future, friends, and maybe homeschooling itself. You may experience guilt over time lost and being a part of a system that you now reject. You may be angry over mistreatment you or others got. You may also feel relief and excitement for what you have gained - freedom, time, money, and new relationships. Whatever you are feeling, acknowledge those emotions, perhaps through conversations with others or by journaling. Encourage your kids to do the same.
- Make new connections. Find a new community or co-op. Use the time gained to pour into relationships you already have. Use the extra time and energy you have on your spouse and kids. Go on play dates with new homeschool meetup groups in your area. Talk with others who have also left the group or others who have been in a similar situation. Most of all, connect with God, bringing all of your concerns to Him.
- Expect setbacks. It is not uncommon to feel lonesome or afraid, especially when the new school year begins and your old friends are moving on without you - but don’t give in! Go back to points 3 and 8 to remember why you left and what you have gained.
- Move forward with confidence. Put your plan in action, making changes where you need to, setting up play dates, signing your kids up for a new class, etc. Recognize that this will be a process of figuring out what works, and making changes as necessary. As you begin, you may try to retain parts of the former curriculum out of comfort and familiarity, only to move away from those as you gain confidence and knowledge.
- Reach out to help others, whether online or in person. Think through how to explain your choices to others in a two-minute "elevator speech" and connect with others who are helping people leave unhealthy groups. You've been through it now, and God can use your experience to help others.
Come on in, friend! Pull up a chair, grab a cuppa, and let's chat! I'd love to share what God's been putting on my heart about the topics of family, femininity, and faith, and you do the same. If you want to go deeper, join my Facebook group for "This Side of Heaven", and be sure to subscribe to keep up with every new post (no spam, I promise!). I look forward to getting to know you and sharing the journey "this side of Heaven!"
Most homeschool groups and programs are healthy and supportive, but others are not, whether that is a single local group or a whole geographically diverse system. Our family recently left such a system, and while it might seem like the choice of one homeschool curriculum over another might be fairly straightforward, the longer you have been in a system, or the more intertwined you have been with different levels of leadership (as we were), the more complicated it can be when you discover flaws with which you can no longer co-exist. Over the last year, I have seen myself and my family go through 12 steps of leaving one homeschool system and embracing a different path. I've written these from the perspective of leaving a homeschool system, but perhaps you have been on a similar path, with a different kind of group, an unhealthy church, or even a family situation. If so, you are not alone!
Welcome! My name is Kristi. I am a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a teacher, a writer, a musician... but most of all a child and worshiper of God discovering that even in life's messes, God is still good. Learn more about me and my journey here!
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