I am passionate about education. My greatest joy in life has been watching my children learn and sharing in that experience, and learning right along with them. Watching a child’s eyes light up when he learns something new, especially when he is sharing with you what he learned, is an incredible experience. Parents who think that they are not smart enough to teach their own children are WRONG. Parents, of necessity and by right, are their children’s first teachers; and, you are their most important teachers, along with the Holy Ghost. You must teach your children to recognize the Spirit so that they can learn truth for themselves.
Living in today’s world is a huge plus for education. There is so much light and truth and goodness, and there are so many resources available for teaching and learning. Never, at any time, have we been blessed with so much light and learning available. Also, never, at any time, have we been bombarded with so much darkness and potentially corruptive material. In most places in the world today, parents have the choice on how and where to educate their children. Ultimately, parents are responsible for the teaching and training of their children, and they should be supportive and involved in the educational path of their choosing. If they aren't, it is time to make a new choice and then be involved.
In ages past, many communities had families, churches, and schools all working together to help children become moral and productive members of society. Today the schools blame parents for all societal ills, and parents blame schools; and, most leave religion and God out of the equation. Without our children being taught about God, His love for them, and what He expects of them being first and central in their training and education, they are NOT receiving the education that they need most--the path and plan that can lead us all back to our Heavenly Father’s presence. Parents cannot rely on schools to teach their children to live godly lives; neither, can they be dependent upon churches to do so. In the same breath, I must say that parents cannot rely on outside sources to solely educate their children in the three R's and beyond. It is ultimately the parents' responsibility to follow through and make certain that their children are learning. Sometimes this requires extra help from outside sources; all the time, there should be parental support and involvement.
You cannot know what is happening in your child’s education, if you are not present. Your young child lacks the necessary skills to impart to you what is going on at school. Also, he has most likely been taught at home and at school to have respect for adult authority; and, therefore, if he is belittled or reprimanded at school inappropriately, he most likely will not tell you about it, because he is confused and fearful. I can personally attest to many incidences where my own children were treated inappropriately at school; and, as a result, they were confused as to what exactly is appropriate. In saying this, I am no way claiming that nothing inappropriate ever happens in the home; but, in the home, there is usually constant love, and acceptance, forgiveness, redirection, and respect for a child’s age, learning style, and learning capacity. I also am not saying that all educators lack respect and the desire for our children’s best good. You, as parents, just need to be involved; be alert, be watchful, and know what is going on in your child’s school. If you are present and seek to establish rapport with the teachers and school staff, you can become a necessary link as a mediator in your child’s educational experience. If you don’t think you have time to do so, you better rearrange your priorities and make time.
If you are not passionate about education, change your mind and your heart, and become passionate. Assess the pros and cons of each educational choice. Why do you want your children to attend public school? Why do you want them to go to a private school? Why have you chosen to school at home? Are you are sending your children to public school merely because you think that this is the best environment for socialization? Think it through again. You should be aware with whom your children socialize and how they are being socialized. Are you sending your child to private school because you think there are fewer problems there than in public school? Think it through again. Have you thoroughly checked out the school your student attends, with your presence, and assessed its strengths and weaknesses? Have you checked out the private school to see if it has anything better to offer? Sometimes parents move children with extra disciplinary needs to private schools. Are you schooling at home? What is your motivation to do so? I believe that if you are going to teach your children at home, you should be doing so for some extremely good reasons. Do you want your children to have a cutting edge in the world? Do you want your children to be taught correct Christian principles all throughout the day? Do you want your children to be able to do extracurricular activities that do not extend their workday into many additional hours beyond the regular 6 ½ hour school day? Do you want more productive and bonding family time? Are you listening to what your child wants, plus teaching him to make his choices through prayer and the power of the Holy Ghost? Are you also seeking the Holy Ghost’s guidance in relation to your family’s educational choices? Most importantly, you must realize that you can make your own choices about education and you should rely on the Holy Ghost to direct you in doing so. You do not have to send your child to a brick-and-mortar school just because it’s a tradition. Follow what is best for your child and your family.
My children all learned how to read at home and how to enjoy learning. I guess I'm selfish that way. Why would I want someone else to hear my child read his first words? That would be like having someone else watch him take his first steps. If you must send your children to public school, you needn't let them take away the bonding moments of joy that rightfully belong in the home. Read everything with them: scriptures, fairy tales, library books, etc. Sing with them; talk with them; discuss everything; listen, love, learn together. One of my adult daughters gave Bob and me the greatest compliment. She said that we had a humanitarian house, because it has been filled with good books and music and parents and children that shared these things together on a regular basis. In other words, realize that you must become home-schooling parents even if you send your children away to school for 6 ½ hours every day.
While I am passionate about education, I am also passionate about agency—the right to choose. This right to choose properly belongs with the parents and the families. We should all respect each other’s rights in choosing our educational paths, and we should realize that most parents love their children and want what’s best for them.
My four oldest children attended public school, but that does not mean that they were not schooled at home. We always had magazines and workbooks that interested them. We took advantage of the year-round-school schedule and had many fieldtrip days filled with fun and learning. The month periods where they were off-track always helped to put our family back on track. Overall, these four had a great educational experience at home and in the public school. They were all honor students, and two of them were Valedictorians. Even so, there were some tragic happenings along the way that were not consistent with our beliefs or methods. And many times, our children were not afforded due process that should have been their right as U.S. citizens.
Our youngest attended public school for Kindergarten and 2nd grade; she skipped first. Since she was the youngest, I was extremely involved at her school. Here I observed “the good, the bad, and the ugly.” She had two really fine teachers. But, when she began 3rd grade, and because of the year-round-schedule, she hadn’t turned 7 yet, it became apparent that this was not the educational environment that she needed or that was best suited to her learning style. Her 3rd grade teacher is a wonderful lady, but we decided to school our daughter at home. It was the best decision. (By the way, her principal and many teachers also told us that they thought it was a great decision.)
My daughter just graduated high school this past June. She graduated as a Valedictorian from California Virtual Academy’s 2013 Class. Since 7th grade (and maybe earlier), I have asked her what she wanted to do at the end of every school year concerning the upcoming year. She chose to continue schooling at home, and she was happy doing so. This afforded her the opportunity of volunteering two mornings a week at the environmental learning center in a library close by. She wouldn't have been able to do that had she been in regular public school. She was also in a church youth group. So she had plenty of socialization. Do I regret that she didn't have some of the positive experiences I had, or my other children had, in public school? Of course, I do. But she may not have had any of them anyhow. Am I glad for the extra family time and bonding and moral teaching that were available to her in our home? Yes. That counters any negative.
My children all attended an early morning religion class throughout high school as well. I am thankful that they had the opportunity for spiritual instruction and were empowered thereby to deal with the battles that they faced in high school. I believe that if you choose to send your children to public school, you must be diligent in supplying them with the tools that they need to fight the battles of the day. You must also develop great communication skills so that your children will be able to tell you what is happening in their lives. You might find it necessary to take time to try to undo the things that shouldn't be taught or happening at your children’s school. In other words, know what is going on in your child's life. You must be intimately involved in his or her education, whether that takes place at home or in a building we call school.
I think that too often we think that we can change the system while we are molding ourselves to the system. It doesn't work well. So you need to know your values, stand up for your values, teach your children your values, and teach them to stand up for their values. More than anything, whether you send your child to school or school at home, realize that you must be a home-schooling parent! You MUST. Also, realize that you must take a lead in the proper socialization of your children. Pay attention to the friends they choose from the time they are small, and help them make good choices. Build your own co-op of support with your adult friends and their families. Take your children to church and help to strengthen your own family and other families. Wherever your child attends school, wherever your child goes, be involved. Be a teacher. Be a parent.
Post Note, prompted by discussions during the day:
I have a whole lot of respect for those who have attained college degrees, and professional degrees in education. So many wonderful teachers, counselors, and school personnel have influenced my life, the life of my husband, and the lives of our children. Two of my children actually have degrees in education. Cathy is one of them; John is the other. John's wife is also a teacher. I believe that we can all be passionate about education without thinking it's my way or the highway. We should all make educated choices about our educational paths and those of our children. When we study out what is best and seek the companionship of the Holy Ghost, we will know how to best meet the needs of our own children. And we should not feel inclined to patronize those who choose differently than we do, nor diminish the positive educational experiences we have received, because of a few bad encounters. Like I said in the above post, I am passionate about both education and agency.
Yet in my own experience, I often said when my four oldest were small, if things got worse, I would homeschool. Well, things got worse, so I did. It was the right choice for our family.