“I feel like I’m messing them up because in school there are grades and punishment and competition…” Have you ever felt this way?
First of all I just want to say, you are not alone! There are so many choices to make in parenting and many of the choices we make can leave us feeling lesser than. This is true especially for the education path we choose for our children. We may not want to homeschool and may even feel ok with a progressive education model but have no Waldorf, Montessori or other progressive schools nearby. Or, even if they are nearby, perhaps they are too expensive. We constantly get the message that public education is not ok and will possibly even damage our kids. But, if we are in a position where sending our kids to school makes more sense and is our only real option, we can be left feeling like we are messing up.
So, should you push yourself out of your comfort zone financially, socially, emotionally, in order to meet some externalized dogmatic standard of how you need to be raising your children?
NO! Your kids need you to feel capable, adjusted, managing your life and even happy, healthy, and abundant, so much more than they need any particular educational style or parenting approach.
That’s why I always tell parents, if you can’t sleep well when co-sleeping, don’t co-sleep (checkout the blog post and podcast episode on that). If breastfeeding is not working for you or you are ready to stop, then don’t do it anymore (for tips on how to wean gently click here). If baby wearing is hurting your back, put the baby in the stroller.
And, if you can’t afford to homeschool, don’t. Sometimes you can be creative and solve these problems and make it work for you. Sometimes one of our ideals isn’t working out because we need a better solution to our problem. Once we find that solution we can get back on the track and still do it. But sometimes we can’t. Or sometimes we just don’t want to and that is ok too. You only get one life. This is it, you’re living it right now. Why not live it in accordance to your desires?
If you don’t have the desire to homeschool when you take into consideration your finances, your day to day life or the options around you, then why would you pursue that goal? I have that desire, at least currently, which is why I am pursuing it. I also believe in a more progressive educational model. I wish all children had an education that included things like no age segregation and project based child-led learning. A learning environment that was warm and empathetic. In an ideal world, there would be no forced education. But we live in reality and we have to work within the confines of that reality.
To help me out on this one I called up one of my most esteemed colleagues, mentors, and I’m proud to say friends, Dr. Shefali Tsabary.
While Dr. Shefali admits the education system is quantitative, rigid, reductionistic, and one-size fits all she also explains that her own child goes there. When Dr. Shefali enrolled her daughter in school she wasn’t wealthy enough to afford private school and she also wasn’t wealthy or flexible enough to have her be home schooled.
The key here, Dr. Shefali accepted her context. Within her context the public education system was the best option.I encourage parents to respect the milieu that they are within. Not to ascribe to something that they can't do. - Dr. Shefali Tsabary @DrShefalivia @ParentingJunkieTweet This
We need to accept our reality and realize that we are no lesser than any other parent because of that reality. In this Instagram world we live in, you can see other moms doing it differently and easily get sidetracked thinking you need to do and be the same. But, you aren’t in their reality, you are in yours. They are at a different starting point than you, no better, no worse, just different. So within your own situation you need to make decisions that are attuned with what your family needs.
In addition to accepting our reality we also need to be grateful for what we do have. Sure your school may not be the ideal education you had envisioned for your children but find something within that context you can be grateful for. Perhaps it’s teaching your kids a lot of important things, or is a great place for them to make friends. Or if you struggle to find something positive about the school itself what about being grateful for what it allows your family to do? You can be grateful that the school has your children during the day so you can work and provide for your family.
There’s always a silver lining and often with a little bit of reframing we realize that our situation is great blessing. Many people around the world have died to have the right to go to school and get educated so let’s be grateful that our children have the right to go.
Another thing that helps is to detach from the school. Just because your kid is enrolled in a school doesn’t mean that you have to buy into its ideology. If the school is administering too much homework, you can push back on that. You can say “Mommy doesn’t think you should be spending more than an hour a day on homework and we’re not gonna do that” and accept the consequences that come with that or have a conversation with the teacher about it. You don’t have to abide by all the policies and rules. It can even benefit your children to see you push back, or at a minimum detach from the things you disagree with the school on.
When I was a kid, my parents didn’t pay very much attention to grades at all. They never asked me about homework. They left it entirely up to me. I’m very grateful for their approach to school. Their detachment from my achievement in school meant that it was all up to me. It was my own experience, it was kind of a child-led experience within a mainstream school because I wasn’t doing it to perform for my parents. I knew that they didn’t care that much about grades either way, they weren’t that interested. They were much more interested to know if I was trying, if I was putting in the effort, if I was trying to learn? I think this is a big lesson for us all, if we do have to send our kids to school what is our parental attitude.
Whatever consciousness and vibration you bring to the conversation about school with your kids is really going to determine their inner story. So, even if at school, achievements, competition, and grades is really important, if at home it isn’t, your child will internalize that in a very powerful way. You can detach a little bit from the school and claim your power as a thought leader within your family.
Finally, you can always look for ways to change the school as well. Change will be more possible when it comes from a place of gratitude and acceptance. Maybe you’re in a situation where your child has to go to public school but you can work with administrators, teachers, or fellow parents to make it a more friendly environment. You can appeal to the principal or board about the types of curriculum, the approach to social and emotional development, the homework policy, etc.
Overall, don’t idealize anyone else’s lives. Every single choice we make has pros and cons. Every circumstance has its beauty. Don’t put a damper on your and your child’s life by feeling down or lesser than in your circumstances every day. It’s from the energy of feeling grateful and accepting where you’re at that you might also invite in some healthy changes for the future.
To hear more on this topic and why I believe the dogmatic approach that all parents should homeschool or unschool is unhelpful checkout the related podcast episode podcast episode here.
To learn more about how your children actually learn listen to this episode 🎧
I’d love to hear from you! Are you homeschooling or sending your children to a traditional school? How do you feel about your choice? If it’s a traditional school how do you feel about the school? Are there ways you have already tried to make a change for the better within your school? Please leave your comments below or over in our (free & awesome) FB community Love Parenting with Avital
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