I think the key is in your question and that is the word ‘balance.’ The needs/desires of the individual must be evaluated and balanced with the needs of the family. It is a balance that shifts and requires periodic reassessment and fine-tuning. This is going to look so different for every family.
In a commentary about Jane Austen’s work, Peter Leithart remarked, “…virtues are formed, tested and manifested within community.” (Miniatures and Morals) He affirms, as Austen does in her novels, the value of community in the growth of people.
Family is the first community for the individual. It is not entirely an either/or situation; either you meet the needs of the individual or the needs of the family. There is a both/and aspect; tending thoughtfully to the needs of the family, you may find that you are also meeting a need of theirs for community in which to ‘form, test and manifest’ a virtuous life.
You won’t be able to say ‘yes’ to all that is available to do outside the home, and this tension is one that exists no matter where your child is being schooled. It is a tension that we continue to feel all our adult lives. Leithart goes on to say, “As Aristotle pointed out this makes ethics a subdivision of politics—that is, it makes the question of ‘What should I do?’ a sub-question under ‘What kind of community do I wish to live in, and what is my place in it?’
What kind of community do you envision for your family? If that is established then you begin to see where there is a place and room for community in a broader sense. My only advice is that in seeking to meet an individual’s need for community, be careful not to the damage the community they already have in family.
You ask for points to ponder, and I would suggest these for your consideration:
We have to first let go of the idea that there is a ‘perfect’ educational experience out there. I won’t use the word drawbacks, but there are indeed limitations to every educational paradigm. Home education—in its fundamental sense of education done at home—has limited peer experiences and accountability to outside sources, for example. There will always be something that seems attractive because it speaks to a limitation in what we are doing. But limitations are unavoidable and seeking to fill them all is only so much chasing after the wind. If this is indeed lifelong learning, than who is to say that all must be accomplished right now anyway? You are not damaging them forever because they, like the rest of us, are forced to live within limitations.
Where, in my opinion, more damage is done is when the family community is jeopardized. Stability of home—not perfection and ease—but love and peace that endure despite external circumstances is invaluable to the growth of people. Nancy Kelly wisely suggests cutting back until there is peace in the home atmosphere: Time, Peace, and Creativity. I can think of no better advice.
Every choice that is made will include a transaction of sorts, a cost that must be borne in order to obtain those benefits. Like any budgetary decision, can you afford the cost? Is it worthwhile? For example, dual enrollment at a community college has both a financial cost and a time cost, time spent commuting and studying as well as class time. There is also a cost that is the loss of authority over the choice of subject matter, the choice of resources, the choice of method. And so on. These must be weighed against the benefits derived. Can you afford the costs? Can you sleep well at night? I am not judging dual enrollment; I am only suggesting we must have peace with the burden of the cost, whatever the dilemma at hand. We may be able to afford the costs of time, money, and other resources --- but can we live peaceably with the decision?