No, I Don’t Hate Public School

Lately I’ve had a few people delicately hint that they think I hate public schools.

If you haven’t already read this post I wrote several years ago, please do! And here are some more thoughts that I’ve had since writing it.

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There are very few things that would make you a “bad” parent.

Abusing your child makes you a bad parent.

Neglecting your child makes you a bad parent.

Allowing someone else to cause harm to your child without intervention makes you a bad parent.

Thankfully, I’ve only met one or two “bad” parents. The vast majority of parents I’ve known all fall on the good side!

But, the good side isn’t just black and white. There’s plenty of grey.

So… why are we still judging each other as if we think we’ve somehow got this “good” parenting thing figured out?

There are so many grey areas of raising children.

Whether your child watches a television show (or two, or three) and your neighbor doesn’t even own a t.v. set….

Whether your kid is allowed to stay up late when his friend has to be in bed by seven o’clock…

Whether your family chooses to go to a specific denomination of church while another friend goes to a different church…

Whether you don’t force your daughter to eat more than one bite of a food she doesn’t like, yet her friend is required to clean her plate at every meal….

Whether little Jimmy down the street delicately munches on organic carrots and raw milk cheese while your own kids snack on animal crackers…

… none of those things make you a bad parent.

Adding to that list:

Just because you enroll your children in a public school…

… that doesn’t make you a bad parent. Or a better parent than someone else.

Just because you believe that your child will be learn best in a private academy…

… that doesn’t make you a bad parent. Or a better parent than someone else.

Just because you want to home-school your children…

… that doesn’t make you a bad parent. Or a better parent than someone else.

As long as you are making all these decisions for the good of your entire family and the good of your individual child, then you aren’t a bad parent or a better parent than anyone else: you are a conscientious, loving parent. And if that’s what we’re all striving to be, then shouldn’t we be uplifting each other rather than judging? Especially when we are in the same community together!

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That being said, you WILL see my posts here focus on two things:

~ Arguing against educational practices that I personally believe are detrimental or questionable for a child’s learning/growing.

~ Presenting evidence and articles that strongly support alternative education and home-schooling.

Why?

Because this kind of attitude in schools frustrates me.

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And I believe this instead.

Personal Qualities Not Measured By Tests

I believe that many schools focus far too much on academic skills. Succeeding in school is becoming an achievement that rewards children who take tests well and learn the way the school wants them to learn. But, as any teacher or parent will tell you, that is not the way every child is designed.

I also believe that many schools do not provide the instruction, environment, teachers, mentors, or free time that children need for their own individual, personal development as capable human beings with specialized gifts, interests, and abilities. Intelligence is not measured only with exams, computers, books, and numbers!

Some children function well in a classroom, thriving on the structured assignments, smoothly mastering new concepts in math, history, social sciences, and writing, and bring home report cards with top grades.

Many do not.

If a child is struggling in whatever educational situation they are in currently, then a good parent will do whatever they can to help their son or daughter succeed. That might mean talking with the teacher, or hiring a tutor, or assessing a learning disability, or cutting back on extra-curricular activities, or addressing bullying, or encouraging your child to build friendships, or giving extra help with home-work, or setting up a counseling session, or even placing their child in a new school or bringing them home to home-school. As a teacher, I’ve known families who have done each of these things as they seek to help their child succeed!

Because the majority of children are in public schools or academically-focused private schools, much of what I write here has to do with exploring alternatives for those who do not fit into those categories.

But I know that alternative education is not all sunshine and roses either.

Every single educational option has its pros and cons.

In upcoming posts, I’ll be going over some sticky issues, like the dark side of home-schooling, Common Core, and what religion has to do with education. These posts are not going to be easy to write, but I want to address and explore what they mean, both for my own benefit and to urge others to think about these hard topics as well.

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To go back to the original topic, no, I don’t think that if you send your child to the local school down the road that you’re a bad parent. Just like I hope you won’t think I’m a bad parent for NOT sending my child to the local school. We’re doing what we believe is best for our children. And we can still be friends : )

I want to encourage everyone, no matter what parental or educational choices your family is making, to treat each other (and speak about each other!) with grace. What works for your own family may not work for another family. What works for one of your children may not work for one of your other children. What worked for you as a child may not work for your own child. Everyone is different, and we need to look at each other with grace.

As a final note, here is a book that portrays children who are in public school and children who are home-schooled getting along together and being great friends. Totally looking forward to reading this together when my daughter is older!

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