Recommendations for Parents Who Choose Public School (Thoughts on Public School – part 2)

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Yesterday, I wrote about some wrong assumptions I had about public schools (you can read that HERE). Today, from my limited perspective, I would like to give advice to myself (six years ago). Knowing what I know now and what I've experience, this is what I would have told myself six years ago before my oldest entered the public school system:

  • Be as involved as possible. Join the PTA, volunteer for field trips, volunteer to drive when they need parents to drive kids, volunteer for the bake sale, bake for the bake sale, give your husband extras from the bake sale (oh, that's a bonus), help with book fairs, be part of teacher appreciation day. Do whatever they will let you do. Having a "stay-at-home" mom (in my opinion) is pretty essential – especially in the elementary years. Parents might need to ask what lifestyle issues they are willing to give up to do this well (including downscaling the house). Be as involved as possible! Sacrifice as much as possible to do so. You won't regret it.
  • When you are as involved as possible – teachers and administrators will know you are "on their team" and "on their side" and you can have HUGE influence! This is easier in the elementary years. As they reach Jr. High – they keep parents a bit more separated from the "action" but there are still plenty of ways to be involved. 
  • Beyond the volunteering – show up at open houses, informational meetings, and observation days. It shows you are interested and every teacher loves interested parents. And it gives you a voice with those teachers and administrators. If something does go wrong, you already have credibility when you come to talk about a difficult subject.
  • Just because teachers, administrators, and staff aren't all devoted to Christ, doesn't mean they don't want what is best academically, morally, and in character for my children. It is hypocritical when Christians condemn the morality of our nation, but then act like having moral teachers who don't know Christ is a terrible thing. I'm thankful!
  • Don't worry. There are a lot of Christian teachers and staff. For some reason, I had heard and assumed the worst about public schools. I'm ashamed of that now. I would have told myself to chill out. God has a huge presence through believers at these schools.
  • Don't let your first interactions with any teacher be a complaint or what you don't like. As a rule, if there haven't been at least three positive interactions, keep your criticism to yourself. I haven't violated this, but I sure have been tempted to.
  • If your child gets in trouble or gets a low grade, don't assume they are a victim of some unreasonable teacher who hates your child. That makes you look like an unreasonable parent. Assume the teacher is fair, right, and likes your child. (And this certainly isn't just a public school issue. It happened at our Christian school with teachers a lot!)
  • Ask questions of your child – every night… questions like… "Anything that disagrees with what we've taught you?" "Anything that made you think?" "Anything that you loved learning about?" I haven't done this as well as I wished I would have.
  • Ask a lot of questions about their "out of class time" too. You will learn a lot: "How as lunch?" "Who did you eat with?" "What did you talk about?" "Anything happen in lunch, study hall or between classes that was hard?" "What is that friend like?" "Why do you like them?" (A lot of that just gives you an inside look at their friendships.)
  • Don't back away from what you believe – just do it in respectful ways. They aren't as unreasonable as those who fear public school will make you believe.

Just some advice I'd give myself if I started over with my kids in public school and advice I would offer to any parent considering public school education.

 

 

4 comments
  1. Thank you. Our oldest will head to full day (public) Kindergarten this fall and these articles are perfect for us. One of our biggest concerns is knowing what she is being taught so we can discuss it at home as well. Lots of insight here. Thank you again!!

  2. I appreciate the advice information as I will be starting my oldest in public school in 2014. I do however take issue with your brief and very broad statement about moms working prior to their children entering junior high. There are numerous reasons that women choose to work, and many do so despite it not being their first choice. Many working moms carry a lot of guilt, and reading your statement today was very discouraging to me. Your comment about downgrading lifestyle without expanding upon the topic makes it seem as though working moms are choosing material goods over their families, and that stay-at-home moms are somehow more sacrificial than working moms. I do not want people trying out our church to think that it is an unfriendly environment to working moms because it is not. The topic of working vs. staying at home is very personal to myself and many of my peers and deserves a longer discussion. Brief comments about such a hot topic not fully expanded upon can be taken the wrong way and can be very hurtful.

  3. Erin – 

    I apologize. Im not trying to be hurtful. Yet Im trying to be honest about a mom sending her children to a school that will teach a worldview that is opposed to the Bible – and mom not being as available with boots on the ground in the school and not have as much availability after school to talk through it. 

    I am not saying it is sinful. I just think it is really, really hard, and we likely wouldnt have put our kids in public school if Sue werent able to be home before they leave and when they get back from school. Im just giving advice to myself on the blog. Those are the things I would have told myself… Im certainly not trying to rub a wound that is already painful for you and others for whom there seems to be no option.

    Of course that is a longer conversation, but I didnt feel I should leave it out either.

    Im sorry that was painful. Perhaps a longer dialogue at another time would be helpful. 

  4. Great thoughts Dave. There is some good advice for parents sending children to any school…public or private.

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