If you know me well, you know that my opinion of public schools is not very high. (This could be, and probably will be at some point, another blog post) You probably know that I homeschooled my kids for many years. Yes, one of my kids did go to public high school full time. I tried to be flexible knowing that each child is different and has different needs.
If you are a parent of kids still at home and your kids will soon be going off to school, perhaps you are very excited that school supplies are out in the stores and open houses are fast approaching. Perhaps it has been a long summer of refereeing kids and trying to come up with activities that will keep them busy. Perhaps you have just given up and have allowed unlimited television or video game time just so you can have some peace. Or maybe you aren’t a parent who is looking forward to school starting. Maybe you enjoy having your kids home every day and not having to worry about waking them up in the morning or missing the bus or driving them to school or spending every evening fighting the homework battle. (If the last sentence describes you, you should REALLY consider homeschooling! The quality time spent with your kids is something you will never look back and regret investing in. I’m still amazed at how quickly those years went by and I am so thankful for the days that we all spent together learning)
Regardless of which camp above you fit into, there is one thing I’m sure every parent in America agrees on…education is important. No parent hopes their child becomes a 40 year old adult who still lives with mom and dad because he/she is unable to make it on their own. Please understand that I am not talking about a college education here. That is something entirely different. I’m talking about a basic education: reading, basic math, spelling, writing, and interacting with others in a productive manner. (I think of the book I had to read in college titled, “Everything I needed to know I learned in Kindergarten”. A good read.) For most parents, the battle to get homework done is one worth fighting because the parent knows that completing the assignments is ultimately for the good of the child. (In most cases at least. The topic of homework could be another entire post!) Just as parents see the importance of healthy meals and do not allow candy for breakfast, parents see the value of learning and are committed to helping their children be successful in school.
So where is this all going?
I was watching the news the other night. I actually hate watching the news–it is depressing and I don’t need anything adding to the depression battle I fight. My husband had it on, though, and I was half listening to it. The news anchor, a mom on one of the area’s largest local TV news shows, said something that kind of ticked me off. It was not only that she said it, but also HOW she said it that bothered me. She was conversing with the meteorologist, who had just given the forecast, and said, “A few last days of nice summer weather before the kids have to go back to school.” It is difficult to write in words the expression on her face. It was one of disdain, maybe even disgust, as she emphasized the word “have“. Now, I realize that many children, please know that not all children, feel this way. Many dread the thought of being confined to a classroom again, losing the freedom of summer days, or maybe even going to school knowing they will be made fun of or harassed in some way. I believe society has taught children in America to hate the thought of school starting. It is words spoken like those of the popular news anchor that has helped contribute to that line of thought. As soon as I heard her, though, I thought of the little boy and girl we sponsor through Compassion International.
These two children live in Rwanda, a country greatly affected by AIDS. The little girl we sponsor has no mom or dad. She lives with her grandma. She is only able to attend school because of her being sponsored through Compassion. Most children in Rwanda, and many other countries, do not have the privilege of going to school. Yes, I said privilege. In some countries, boys are allowed to go to school but not girls. Right now, as many American children are whining about having to go back to school and parents may be complaining about the cost of new clothes and supplies, there are countless children in other countries who would give almost anything to be able to go to school and learn. I imagine there are parents and grandparents who wish the same thing for these kids. One thing that most parents have in common, regardless of race or ethnicity, is they want success for their children.
I encourage you, if you are a parent of a school age child, regardless of which method you choose to ensure your children get an education, to not reinforce society’s cry that school and learning is an imposition or something to be disdained–something you HAVE to do. Instead, encourage your kids by being enthusiastic about the fact that they not only GET to go to school, if you choose public school, they GET to go for free for 13 years! Teach them to be thankful for the blessing of learning and the abilities they have to do so. This is, in all honesty, a blessing that is not enjoyed by all children in the world.