Saturday, November 15, 2014

Is School More Important Than Your Child?

Is school more important than your child? 

This may seem like a ridiculous question, but it seems that many people view school, grades, and academic success as more important than their child's health and well being. I'll admit that once upon a time I fell into this category. I would have denied it vehemently, but I made my crying 7 year old get onto the bus more than once. It was horrible, I felt bad about it at the time, but she needed to go to school, school was important. But was it really more important than her mental and emotional health?  

Is school more important than your relationship with your child?

Again, you are probably shaking your head and saying, "Of course not!" And again I will point at myself and tell you that as much as I said I loved my kids and that they were more important than anything else, I let school damage our relationships. Do you think my crying 7 year old felt loved and cherished when I made her get onto the bus? Do you really think this strengthened her trust in me as a mom who would protect her and take care of her? 

Parents send their kids to school even when they know their kid is being bullied. Parents make their kids go to school even when they know their child is bored because the work is too easy or struggling because they aren't cognitively ready to meet the benchmarks created by someone in an office building somewhere. Parents punish their kids for getting poor grades or not doing their homework. Parents push their kids to do more and do it better, because, they tell you, they want their child to be successful. Parents feel like they don't have a choice, it's what the school expects from them as the parent.
“By far the most important predictor of adult life-satisfaction 
is emotional health, 
both in childhood and subsequently. 
We find that the intellectual performance of a child 
is the least important childhood predictor 
of life-satisfaction as an adult.”

School isn't more important than your child. School isn't more important than your relationship with your child. You do have a choice, you don't have to be the homework enforcer. You don't have to send your child to school.

Think I'm crazy? 
Read Alfie Kohn's article, "Rethinking Homework," or better yet, his book, The Homework Myth, to learn more about why homework isn't necessary or even beneficial. And as for sending your kid to school, you really don't have to! Homeschooling is legal in every state. And if you think homeschooling means mom or dad hovering over their kids, who are sitting at the kitchen table working through workbooks, think again! Homeschooling can mean visiting museums, going to the zoo, meeting up with friends at the park on a sunny September afternoon, or playing computer games. The options for educating your child at home continue to expand at an incredible rate, look around, there is probably an option that will work for you and your kid. And remember, the academics aren't the important part of homeschooling, having a chance to support your child's mental and emotional well being, getting to explore the world together, those are the important parts. 

Think you can't homeschool because you have to go to work? Get creative! Find another homeschooling family that would be happy to have your kid spend his days with them. Ask the grandparents if they would enjoy having company during the day. You might also consider the educational options in your community, maybe there are charter schools, magnet schools, learning cooperatives, private schools, or internships that would be a better place for your child. 

We took all three of our children out of school 6 years ago. Setting ourselves free from the school system has made a huge difference in our kids and in our relationships. Am I worried about them getting into college or being successful? No. If they choose to go to college I have no doubt that they will be able to meet the requirements for admission. And as for success? For our family success is wrapped up in knowing who you are and what you love to do. If my kids follow their passions and end up doing something they love, that's what is important, that's what will create life-satisfaction when they are adults. For us, school has no part in our exploration of the world and we are all mentally and emotionally healthier as a result. 

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