Public School—Is It Really ‘All That’?

As our kiddos approach the end of the first quarter of public school this Friday, I’m reflecting on their education now compared to our 3 years of homeschool.  There is no such thing as a perfect school, whether homeschool or “brick and mortar.”  The key is following the Holy Spirit’s leading as to what’s best for your child and your family as a whole.  We have a 6th, 5th and 1st grader.  The last time the two oldest were in public school was 4 years ago in northern California.  Our daughter stayed home with me and last year she homeschooled Kindergarten.

I posted previously about two of my children needing to “prove” their way into the next grade by testing out of the one they’d just completed with me.  Admittedly, I had some concern about how they would test. For the past 3 years my children didn’t sit for any formal standardized tests and I hadn’t strictly adhered to the Common Core scope and sequence.  Did we cover enough?   Well, by God’s grace, we covered what was necessary by Texas standards, and more!  Other than a couple of questions he guessed on, my 5th grader felt very prepared.  In fact some of the 4th grade test covered things we did in 3rd grade (in case you’re wondering, my kids enrolled in a top school district in Texas).  God is faithful!  If the Lord has called you to homeschooling, be encouraged and trust Him to lead you in teaching your children!

This go round, our public school experience is quite different from our previous one.  Homeschooling families know there is still a stigma surrounding homeschooling.  I got my share of pitying glances and condescending questions during the school registration process, as if the public school experience would be “superior” to our homeschooling one.  Instead, our children found they were already utilizing independent learning strategies their new classmates were just being taught.  You could also imagine my surprise to find our children’s schools using teaching strategies quite common to homeschooling families.  Our children’s teachers not only teach to different learning styles, they’re also receptive to particular aides our kids find personally helpful while learning (such as our kinesthetic 5th grader squeezing a small ball during individual work time or our middle schooler chewing gum in class).

Overall I’m grateful our children have teachers who seem to compliment their learning styles.  They’re enthusiastic and creative, often presenting the material in ways our children are most receptive. That didn’t just happen; we committed this transition to prayer just like we committed homeschooling to prayer.  I’m also well aware our experiences thus far this year in these two schools are NOT indicative of public schools across the country, nor are they perfect.  There is no perfect schooling scenario, but I’m thankful God has led us to a school district that realizes a child’s education should happen in partnership with parents.  Is public school really ‘all that’?  Is it the benchmark of education?  No, it’s not better, just different and has its own drawbacks depending on how you define learning success.  Effective teaching in public schools requires school officials dedicated to meeting every student’s educational needs and child-advocating parents who expect no less.

Your thoughts?

Oh …To Be Heard

The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their cry.
Psalm 34:15

It’s so nice to be heard.  Knowing that someone cares about how you feel and what you have to say is a basic affirmation of your value.  In hindsight I find the child advocacy aspect of Pediatrics more rewarding than the science.  I guess because I remember as a child wanting and needing to say things that I wouldn’t or couldn’t because it inconvenienced the adults in my life.  That’s an unfortunate predicament for a child.

It’s worse still for those children who have something to say but don’t really know how to express it.  I find it particularly true with boys or with very young children period.  Often times we mistake their silence for blissful ignorance, almost glad we don’t have to entertain immature conversation.  Listen; advocate that I am, I’ve been there myself.  Sometimes you don’t want to entertain “silly” chatter, but there are those times when discernment unstops your ears so you hear their cries though sometimes silent.

I had another of those moments today with my sons today.  They were both so angry and though supposedly angry with each other, it turned out they each needed to be heard.  They needed to express themselves without interruption. They needed someone who loves them to listen.  They even needed help identifying the root causes of their frustrations.

We interrupted our entire school day so they could be heard.   I hope that means as much to them some day as it would have meant to me when I was their age