Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Why I am Happy to Send Our Girls to Our Public School

Today kicks off my short Back to School series!  

I don't intend at all for this to ruffle feathers or make people feel bad, but today I am writing about...



Disclaimers:

  • I am not against homeschooling.  It's just not what we think is best for our family.  I applaud families who make that choice and do it well. 
  • I would not be good at homeschooling.  I know that if that's what would be best for our family, that God would give me what I needed when I needed it.  
  • Please note that I said I am happy to send OUR girls to OUR public school.  Our daughters are "typical" children, in that they don't have dramatic allergies or needs that we would deem incompatible with the public school.  Our schools are amazing; I've seen it first hand.  The teachers work SO hard and care SO much.  I have no doubt that our daughters are getting a great education.  
So, this isn't against homeschooling or private schooling...this is about the positive points about sending our daughters to our public school.  Some of the things I say are/could be true about other schooling options.

Don't get mad at me, OK?

OK!

Plus, I'm putting in random cute pictures of Leah's first year of school :) And, I'm limiting myself to 3 reasons!

Their teachers are awesome!
Due to the flexibility of Aaron's schedule, I'm able to volunteer in the classroom once a week. I can only think of good/wonderful things to say about any of Leah's teachers!  

I've seen them deal with wildly difficult students while maintaining their composure and grace and kindness.  

I've seen their enthusiasm and interest in not only my daughter, but in other students.  Leah is an "easy" kid.  She is a rule follower who is bright, learns quickly, and is excited to be in the classroom.  I've seen her teachers love the kids who aren't easy.  I've seen them pour energy and thought and creativity in to how to help kids who are hard to reach.  

One of my dear friends is a teacher, so I've seen the commitment she has to teaching.  Being a teacher is much, MUCH more than an 8-3:30 job with the summers off.  She goes in on the weekend, brings work home, and thinks and prays over her students when they are not together.  


Being a Light.
You know the kids who can be hard to reach?  They are hard to reach for a reason.  There was a little girl in Leah's class whose home life (from what I could surmise as a mommy observer) literally made me weep.  My friend and I would volunteer in their class (at different times) and she would cling to us.  I don't know the details of her family, but it didn't take a lot of guessing to infer that it wasn't pretty.

There aren't kids like that at our church.  Which may beg the question, "Why aren't we seeking out people who need Jesus?" but that's not the point of this...maybe another day.  But, by having our daughters in the public school, we can be Light to people who need Jesus. When I see her classmates, I talk to them, ask them questions, treat them like the important people they are, and pray for them.  I don't have that opportunity if my girls aren't in school.

Our girls don't know very many people who are different than them.  Being in school gives them a chance to have friends of different races, different socioeconomic levels, and different family types.  I've seen this help Leah grow in understanding and compassion.  

Plus, I get to be friends with, or at least have conversations with, the parents of all sorts of different kids.  It's a great opportunity for not just our girls, but for Aaron and me, too!


Learning Life Lessons
Just because we have our daughters in public school certainly doesn't mean that we send them in with our eyes closed.  

There's more drama at recess than in the classroom, so we talk about those interpersonal things...how to include kids, how to be okay playing by yourself (or in Leah's case, going along with someone else's idea as long as it isn't naughty), how to stand up for a friend.

I also know that there will come a time when some of the things she learns won't line up with a Biblical worldview.  We will talk about that.  I would rather have them be mildly exposed to these things when they already talk to me about eeeeeeevvvvvvvveeeeeeeeeerrrryyyyyything and see me and Aaron as the holder-of-truth... i.e. she believes me and not her peers.  

Also, we get updates on what they are talking about in their guidance time.  This has led to conversations about good touching vs. bad touching, how to handle our feelings, etc.  As a parent, I really want to talk to our daughters about these things, but I'm not always sure when or how to do it.  They give me the opportunity, and I am very grateful for it.

And, yes, there might be a time when we don't appreciate the topics that come up in guidance, but we'll talk about them and bring things back to Scripture.

We have our eyes and ears open to what our girls are seeing and hearing at school and we talk and talk and talk.  We bring Jesus into the equation, which is kind of silly to say, because He's already in the midst of it anyway.  We really just need to pray for eyes to see what He's doing.



So, are you the mommy who is homeschooling?  Press on, friend!  What you are doing is certainly not for the faint of heart!  Your job requires such patience and creativity and perseverance.  You are a light in your homeschool group or 4H group or activity classes.  

Are you the mommy sending your kiddos to public school?  Jesus is sending you on mission to your school community.  Be the Salt and Light!  Love your child's classmates, love their parents, love their teachers.  Have your eyes and ears open, not only to what you kids are learning, but to what the people around you need.  How can you represent Jesus well?

Are you the teacher?  I applaud you... a little standing ovation in my heart :)  You work long hours, you likely don't get paid enough, you spend some of your own money on your classroom, and you give bits of your heart to each little friend who comes into your class. You are a hero.


Oh, and if you're interested, here is a link to an Aaron-edited version of an article by Tim Challies which explains some of the reasons we have for choosing public schools for our family.

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