School Wars

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

As I mentioned in my previous post, this handsome little dude is headed for Kindergarden in a short ten months. Kindergarden! I can not even believe it. 

As this point RJ and I have absolute no idea where Landon will land next year. Will it be public school, private school, charter school #1, charter school #2, homeschool, homeschool/public school hybrid program???...we have no clue. We're researching schools, gathering information, and praying through our options. It's a really difficult decision and, honestly, one that gets my stomach into knots. All I want is what is best for my child. My heart's desire is that he end up in a situation where he grows socially, academically and spiritually. I want him to have fun, enjoy learning, make good friends, learn to overcome obstacles and problem solve, and grown as a whole person. I want what every loving parent wants for their child - an atmosphere where he will thrive. 

The thing is, unlike many other families, RJ and I don't believe there is one correct course for education. 

And we are finding that many people believe differently than us. 

A few months ago an older, wiser mom-friend of mine warned me about School-Wars. "Promise me," she said, "that when you and your girlfriends start discussing where to send your kids to kindergarden you won't let it hurt your friendships. Disagreements about school choices can divide people and destroy relationships. I've seen it happen."

Of course, I promised, but at the time I though she was being a bit dramatic. 

However, as we get closer and closer to elementary school I'm noticing that her warning carries major validity. People, particularly mothers, are passionately opinionated about schooling. And there are many moms who truly believe schools X,Y and Z are horrible, ignorant choices (the equivalent of throwing one's child to the wolves) and that the only reasonable, loving, wise choices are schools A,B, and C. And vice versa. And then there are those that believe school A (or B or C or D) is the only way to go - no ifs, ands, or buts about it!

Of course, strong opinions about the schooling for one's personal children is Im glad (and envious) you have a clear understanding of where your child should be educated. But blanket statements about schooling choices in general really frustrated me. It just isn't that black and white.

Most of the people/moms in my life are wonderful women and typically we truly have encouraging, helpful, honest discussions about schooling that aren't hurtful. But, I must admit, as our children grow and the reality of school gets closer I'm noticing more back-handed comments that reflect a one-way-or-the-highway opinion. (My friend Jessica did a great post recently on back-handed mom insults. They are the worst!)

For example, I've recently heard: 

"I don't know why you are so worried. Just send your kids to public school."(A comment such as this cuts down a mom who is really experiencing anxiety about where to send her child. It does not encourage or build-up. Nor does it help a friend think through her decision for her individual child.)

I was also recently told:

"The choice is obvious. You have a boy. You need to homeschool." (I understand that many young boys do well in homeschooling because they don't have to sit quietly for long stretches of time. But my son loves puzzles, workbooks, and lego builds. I'm not worries about him sitting still and learning.)

And of course, I've gotten the comments about, "Making sure I socialize if I homeschool." And, "Why would a Christian mom send her child into the pit of despair and debauchery that is public school." (I might have exaggerated that last one a little but that's how I heard it in my head.)

Anyway, I write all this because I want to give my two-cents on the subject. I truly, completely, and whole-heartedly believe that THERE IS NO CORRECT ANSWER. A good parent much evaluate the individual child and make a choice based on what best suits him/her. 

Not only that, I believe it isn't a one-time decision. A child's schooling situation should be continually evaluated to make sure that their current atmosphere is still the best choice.

Much of my opinion is based on the way I was raise. I went to public school, home-school and then back to public-school. My sister was home-schooled, then went to public school, private school, and then back to public school. My mom prayed and agonized and researched and evaluated each and every year to seek what she thought was best for her two individual girls. As we got older she allowed us to be a part of the decision making. At times we went to the same school and other times we didn't. Sometimes the schooling options that my mom thought were best for us were not the easiest for her, and she found herself driving all over town. She always made decisions that best served the individual and the family as a whole. 

Parenting decisions are difficult. We all want what is best for our children and unfortunately how that looks isn't always clear. The Bible says we must know the "bent" of our child; meaning we need to study our children - know their personalities, struggles and gifts. And, as mothers, we need to make decisions based on the INDIVIDUAL children that God gave us. 

Instead of demanding that "home schooling is the only way" or "private schools is a must" why don't we help each other study our children. My friends notice things about Landon that I don't necessarily see. They view him through a different context; from an outside perspective. How much I would love and value their thoughts about Landon's schooling. Particularly if I could trust that it wasn't based on preconceived opinions about the best and/or right ways to educate. 

(So I if you have any insights on my Landon please share them with me!)

Meanwhile you'll find me studying my boy like a hawk, touring half a dozen schools in the district, interviewing home schooling moms, and falling to my knees in prayer as I try to make the absolute best decision that I can for my precious growing-up-way-to-fast boy.


Ryan and Sabrina August said...

You are such a great mom. And I wish we lived closer. I think the answer is...Landon will do well anywhere. He is so special, and you have raised him to be confident in himself. And he radiates joy, which will attract friendships. I don't know him well enough to share thoughts about his learning style, but I DO know if he is not doing well in any situation, you will know right away. And you aren't afraid of change, so I know you will change it. You are a mommy warrior! The best of the best! Trust your gut, friend. xoxoxo

Ryan and Sabrina August said...

I have to say, a hybrid system sounds pretty cool and flexible. Kind of the best of both worlds. I am not a fan of having the schools guide my calendar. And with RJ's career, flexibility might be nice for everyone. Just a thought, which I am sure you have already considered. :)

Jessica G. said...

Landon is such an adorable little boy! And I love this post. I am already freaking out over what to do with Connor. He is a fall birthday, so that gives me some extra stuff to think about. I agree with you on everything you said. I am the product of public school, Ian is private. I see pros and cons to both. Then there are the various charter schools. And I thought of homeschooling, but don't think I am disciplined enough. However, that hybrid system you talked about piqued my interest. I may have to look into that in my area as well. You and RJ are great parents and I know will make the best decision for your family and for Landon.

The Schmidts said...

I agonized as well before I sent Nayeli to kindergarten! I was on the fence about whether or not to send her to the neighborhood public school or do a charter/homeschool hybrid. I literally signed up for both! Finally what made the decision for my was pregnancy! Once I was pregnant with #4 I was so overwhelmed with life that I couldn't imagine homeschooling, so I sent her to our neighborhood school. It has worked out really well for us so far and now I have two kids there. I have Christian friends who have their kids there, and I involved with the PTA, so I stay really connected. It was the right decision for our family--I can barely get through homework with the girls without Declan trying to rip up their papers--I can't imagine homeschool. That being said, I have friends who homeschool, friends who do the hybrid, and friends who send their kids to public school. It is hard not to get defensive as a Christian when people hear that I send my kids to public school since I do feel like I'm often in the minority. It is a hard decision!

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