My husband and I believe that our local public school is the best place to educate our son for a variety of reasons.
If you are expecting me to deride homeschooling, charter schools or private schools you are going to be disappointed. I have several family members and friends that were homeschooled and are successful adults. Ditto for charter schools. My husband attended a private school for 12 years and I taught in one.
They all provide excellent learning opportunities. I have nothing against them. I am 100% for them, for the right students. They are not the best fit for my son at this time.
Education and the Mommitment
Recently, I have come across a few blog posts and many social media posts from homeschooling parents that are highly critical of public education in the United States for any student. Some express the belief that it should be abolished and women should stay home and educate their children. The message from these individuals is that I do not love my child enough to homeschool him. That I put no thought in to how he is educated and am too lazy and selfish to explore other options.
I believe in the Mommittment: the idea that every parent is making decisions in the best interest of their child and family and should not be judged for choosing something different than I chose. Compassion and support instead of judgement and shame.
We considered and researched various options for our son’s education. There were many reasons we opted for the public school. Here are a few.
Reason #1: Our local elementary school is awesome
As educators my husband and I both believe the administration sets the tone for a school. Our principal knows all 1200 students by name, and most of the parents too. His commitment to education and character development is clearly evident in the staff and students. Every member of the staff is caring and dedicated to the development of every child. The school does very well in standardized testing and any deficiencies are viewed as opportunities for growth to better serve the needs of the students.
Are all public schools this way? No. But ours is, so why shouldn’t I take advantage of that.
Reason #2: My son’s “team” is awesome
J is on the Autism spectrum. With the help of the district’s special education department, he has gone from special needs pre-school to fully integrated in a mainstream classroom with an aide available to assist if needed. We are all working towards him being fully independent. And we all agree on what areas he needs to work on to get there. At our last IEP meeting, without prior consultation, three of the four of us had discovered one glaring area of development he needs to work on that could effect his future academic success. It was easy to make goals when we all agreed on where we want him to be and what he needs to get there.
Are all school districts this way? No. Not all students in our own district have the same experience with their teams.
Reason #3: He needs the daily socialization
J is on the Autism spectrum. He needs to learn to interact in mainstream society. He needs to learn it isn’t always what he wants, there are other people in the world. He needs to learn to deal with people with different ideals. He needs to learn to deal with people that are not nice and tell him that red rain boots are for girls (or homeschooling is the only education option).
He is very fortunate to have great peer support. In Kindergarten he was lucky enough to be placed with a group of students that “get him”. Truthfully they often get him better than I do. They get more upset when people make fun of him than he does.
I could bubble wrap my son so nothing upsets him. But that won’t prepare him for the “real world.” I could tell him these things until I am blue in the face, but experience is the best teacher for him. He needs the practical daily interaction with people who might be supportive and understanding of him as well as those that are not.
Reason #4: We want him exposed to different ideas, experiences and people
In reason #1 I said our school was awesome. It is becoming more awesome by becoming an International Baccalaureate school. The IB Primary Years Programme
“prepares students to become active, caring, lifelong learners who demonstrate respect for themselves and others and have the capacity to participate in the world around them. It focuses on the development of the whole child.”
Our society is becoming more and more global every day. We are being exposed to ideas and philosophies from cultures that might be vastly different than our own. But there is also a great deal of commonality. I want my son to see the similarities in human cultures and to respect the differences.
GASP! But what if someone tells him something that goes against your moral beliefs? We tell him what we believe and why. We explain not everyone views the world the same way; that you can allow other people to believe what they want and still hold true to your convictions AND you should still be respectful when you disagree.
Reason #5: We can teach him things not covered in school
Cursive writing is covered for one semester in our district. I know J needs more than that so I supplement at home. We are educating him in our faith. I teach him to apply the mathematics and reading comprehension skills to cooking. We go to museums, go on nature walks, do science experiments, learn about music and the arts on our own.
Just because we have chosen to educate our son in the public education system does not mean we have abdicated our role as primary educators. If we see a need or he has an interest in a particular area we are still allowed to pursue that even though he attends public school.
Do what is best for your child
I will repeat what I said earlier. I am a firm believer in the Mommitment. Compassion and support instead of judgement and shame.
Is public school the best option for every child? No.
Is public school the best option for your child? I don’t know. That’s for you to decide.
Is public school the best option for my child? For now, yes.
Maybe down the road it won’t be and we will have to look at other options. But, for now, he is right where he needs to be to become a productive and happy member of society. And, I assume every other parent is making the best decision for their child.