You know better than anyone that homeschooling solves many of the problems created in a public school or even private Christian school environment. However, it’s not always a perfect solution. Sometimes, there are issues that even homeschooling can’t solve. What happens if, no matter what solution you try, your student just wants to drop out?
He may have a reasonable argument for wanting to drop out. He may have chosen a career that doesn’t require a high school diploma. He may point out that he’s just not succeeding academically and that he’s not likely to improve. Whatever his reasons, you may feel like you’re running out of options.
There is one last resort you could turn to. An extended break from homeschooling is a viable option. The time away from the regular pressures of learning would give your student an opportunity to evaluate his life more clearly, discover God’s plan for him, and redirect his hopes and dreams to fall more in line with that plan. Once he returns to school, he’ll have a better understanding of the purpose of your homeschool and what both you and he want to achieve with it.
An extended break like this is called a stop out. Education Week published an article last year about the growing trend for students to stop out of high school. A stop out happens when a student drops out of school for more than four weeks but returns to finish later.
In the homeschool situation, it’s far easier for you to manage a stop out effectively. However, stop outs can be dangerous. The longer a student stays away from his studies, the more difficult it will be for him to recall previous learning. Besides that, older students who take a break may lose their motivation to return and finish.
Here are a few things to keep in mind if you’re considering letting your child stop out from homeschool for a short time.
• Approach it with prayer
As with any major decision, you should discuss this idea with your family as well as talking to God about it. Pray about your student’s reasons for wanting to stop out. If you decide to go ahead with it, you will need God’s help more than ever in staying firm about resuming your homeschool.
• Plan a day to resume homeschooling
Breaks can be dangerous in education, especially if your student takes on a full-time job or begins pursuing other interests during the break. At some point, it will become easier to let things stay the way they are rather than returning to the way they were. Setting a day to resume homeschooling and sticking to that day will ensure it won’t be completely forgotten. Or, if the intent of the break was to remove pressure, you could set a date for a future family meeting when you will reevaluate the situation and set a firm date for resuming homeschool.
• Maintain prior learning
Perhaps the biggest danger of stop outs is the same challenge all students face over summer break. During the time away from formal learning, they tend to forget a lot of what they learned before. The study in Education Week found that students who had stopped out had a hard time getting back into the school routine. You’ll need to rely on similar methods you’ve used during summer breaks to keep your student’s mind engaged while he’s not homeschooling. You can encourage him to read new books, work through worksheets, or review old material.
If handled with caution and consideration, stopping out could be just what your student needs to get back on track for finishing homeschooling through high school. While it might not be the first solution you should consider, it’s still an option.
How have you found breaks to be helpful for your student?