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?

Doesn’t Jesus Make All The Difference? Part II

…Recently, my little girl had a challenge I truly wanted her to avoid. It was unfair, quite frankly, and in a perfect world it wouldn’t have gone down that way. We were initially told she was registered for first grade, only to be told last minute her birthday fell just outside of the state deadline for first grade. They also wouldn’t let her test out of Kindergarten (which we homeschooled last year) before school started as they let my middle child do for 4th grade. She’d have to start in Kindergarten and try to “test out” of it within the first two weeks of school.

Worse still, she didn’t hear about the news from me. She heard about it in the middle of the school office waiting area, along with everyone else, as she overheard the school counselor inform me. I was furious, it was handled so unprofessionally. I looked over to see tears silently stream down her face.

Let me tell you what it took to prepare her for public school.  My sensitive little girl has always stuck to me like glue. She’s been that way from day one. As much as she thrives in group settings she dreads the thought of being away from me, so it took all summer to prepare her for the concept. And we prepared for 1st grade. We shopped for supplies and she was finally excited, only to have her first interaction with public school be a punch in the gut.

She cried and I cried. We talked and prayed and talked some more. I told her no matter how she does on that test, she’s the brightest kid I know and I’m proud of what we learned in our school. And yes, I meant every word!  More than that, Jesus is so very pleased with her, He’s on her side and if she depended on Him, He would help her pass the test and go on to first grade. That’s a lot for a 5-year-old to hang her hat on, but such is the faith of a little child. When tested, it springs forth and you get to see why Jesus said it’s the kind we all should have. The next morning she started confessing that Jesus is greater than that test and He WILL help her. Brought me to tears! I thought this was too much for her, but it gave a passion to her faith and prayer life that blew me away.  She started Kindergarten again with a great attitude, confident that when test time came, everything would work out!

I will always want to shield her; it’s my inclination as a mother, though a non-reality. This world is fallen and groaning all the more as it inflicts its sorrow on us. But Jesus…is greater and has overcome the world. He makes all the difference between being crushed by life and reigning in it (Romans 5: 17-21). No better time than the present for my kids to experience Jesus and be transformed!

By the way, my daughter did well on the test and has been in first grade about a week!  She’s LOVING it and thriving; go Jesus!