Thursday, January 28, 2010

She Finished Semester 1

My daughter is finishing her first Semester of high school. I'm really proud of her. She is learning so much and is handling a little more each day. I can't believe that this is our 7th year of home schooling. It isn't always the easiest decision for her or for me, but it's the decision that we both have made, and it's been a good one.

She still loves to socialize. She attends an early morning religion class four days a week. But once those students leave the class, some of them are back in public school mode and promptly turn on their potty mouths and bad attitude. Some of them may even retain the attitude for Seminary. I know. I taught it for three years. I can appreciate the sacrifice of the teachers in preparing to teach a daily lesson and the effort that they put forth to provide the students with a good start to each day. Hats off to her teacher; my daughter loves her class and leaves energized and happy about life.

She has enjoyed visting with her friends after Seminary, but she has noticed that most of the teens she has seen on their way to the high school do not seem happy. They are swallowed up by their hoodies and walk with head down in a dejected fashion. Some have ipod connections in their ears, closing themselves to the world around them. And this is how they face a day of education.

I've heard stories from my other children about the things that happen at school each day. I'm glad that they didn't participate in all the alternative educations that are provided in the public school setting. But I am sad, too, that they had to be exposed to such promiscuity, indulgence, and wickedness. Unfortunately, it is our generation that has exposed them to it and made it so readily available. And so children are continually sent to public schools, and all of them are learning; it is just a question of what they are learning.

My children have had some wonderful teachers. If your children are fortunate enough to qualify for G.A.T.E. and honor's classes, they tend to be among other top students that come from homes where parents actively care. So their learning environment is a cut above what is available to most of the student population. Teachers like to blame the students and their home environments for their lack of progress; parents like to blame the teachers and the poor environment provided by the schools. But there is never enough real care about improving the problems. That would require too much work. It would require more time from teachers and more time from parents. It would require working together. It would require the schools allowing the parents to own the roles of teaching and disciplining and the teachers the roles of teaching and informing the parents of the child's progress, or lack of it, and the child's behavior and attitudes. More money will never fix public school problems any more than a bandaid would stop a puctured artery from bleeding.

On-campus suspensions are useless. The schools want to punish, not help the student, and they want to retain each day of funding they can in connection with each pupil they can. If there is a proper reason for suspension, the child should not be on school property.

Lunch detentions and after school detentions are a lame excuse at obtaining total control. The students are given so many detentions before a parent is required to attend a conference. Although, if there are problems with a child not finishing work or having behavioral problems, the parents should be promptly informed so that some solutions can be sought and some goals made. Instead, the school would like to continue to punish children, sometimes just for being children. It makes me wonder why some educators chose their profession.

These are things that I have observed first hand, not things that I am making up. My oldest son had to serve an after school detention when he was 6-years-old because he forgot to sit on a bench outside while all the other children were playing. Ridiculous? Yes. Unfortunately, I allowed it. Parents, we need to take back the responsibility of our children's well-being and not allow the schools to take over our job of parenting. My son was "benched" during recess. I don't remember why. (But just to inform you, workers are given two fifteen minute breaks during the day and at least one 1/2 hour lunch. Our children are entitled to the same thing....EVERY day. It really is against the law to take away recesses.) Anyway, I don't know if he knew that being benched meant a time out, or if he knew he was required to stay there the entire recess. When he heard a bell, he got up. Recess wasn't over though; there were still children playing, so he joined them. And because of that, he was given an after school detention.

I just wanted to let you know that you do not have to sign every form that the schools give you at the beginning of the year. For instance, if you disagree with detentions, write that you disagree with them on the form, and then sign that. If you disagree that the adults at the school should be absolved of any responsibility for what your child views on a school computer, write that you disagree on that form and then sign to that. If you aren't at the school, you cannot monitor everything you child does. The public schools consistently want to hold our children to a higher standard than they are willing to accept for themselves.

I just noticed that I took a large detour from my original purpose. I am proud of my youngest daughter. I am proud that she has done well in our home environment, and that I have chosen to put her education first in my life. I am also proud that she has accepted the challenge and has blossomed and excelled and done extremely well with a highly demanding curricla. Home schooling is a wonderful opportunity and a huge challenge. If it is done correctly, it is anything but easy. I'd appreciate you never telling a home schooled child how easy they have it. And I'd apppreciate it if you never asked the parent if they'll ever let the child go to school. My child is in school. I guarantee it.

I am also proud of my four survivors from public school. I wish that I had been more aware of what was going on and had intervened more diligently on their behalf. I did once I learned. I am also proud that they were all good students and that they chose to forsake the many alternative educations they were exposed to constantly by other children, teachers, and other school personel. I'm glad that they have gone on to do good things with their lives, and that they are continually making good choices.

Whether your children are schooled in public or private school or at home, make sure that you know what is going on in their education, and make sure that you support them in the things that they are doing. Know what is going on. If you listen, they will tell you. Believe them. And let them all know that you are proud of them and that you love them. Education should be a positive thing.

Back to the beginning. We are at the end of the first Semester of high school. Daughter, you did fantastic!

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