There’s a “Hackschooling” TedTalk that keeps showing up on my Facebook news feed. It’s given by a thirteen-year-old boy named Logan LaPlante, who talks about how he “hacks” his education, tailoring it to suit his interests, and to cultivate a practice of being happy, healthy, and creative. Another great TedTalk is Ken Robinson’s “How Schools Kill Creativity.” They make good points about how important creativity is, and that the educational system’s current goal of making kids college- and career-ready simply isn’t enough.
I’ve been attending meetings at my son’s school about the Common Core Curriculum State Standards that all of the states have recently adopted. I’m glad that addresses skills my kids will need to get into and to do well in college, but I’m aware that they still need other classes and experiences to provide a well-rounded education.
I take my kids to zoos, museums, and theatrical performances. Zach studies a martial art, Kaylee takes dance lessons, and they both take swim lessons. If I did this full-time and completely home-schooled them, I’m fairly sure they would become really extraordinary individuals.
Instead, I choose to put them in public school. Zach is in first grade, and Kaylee will start kindergarten in a year and a half. We’re lucky that we got into a “choice” program in our district that’s dual immersion, where the kids learn in Spanish and English. It still follows the same curriculum as other schools in the district, but what really sets the school apart is the community of families, teachers, and administrators.
There are over 600 families, about half of whom are in the dual immersion program, the other half has traditional English-only instruction. We got a new principal and vice principal this year, and their message consistently is that they’re working to ensure every single child in the school, whether they’re a native English speaker, an English language learner, in the dual immersion program, or in the traditional program, gets a quality education.
I know that my kids could get a better education if I home-schooled them, but I’ve realized that I’m not interested in educating only my kids. I want to help all the kids at the school. It only helps the larger community to teach all of the kids as much as we can. I want all the kids in my community to benefit from the fact that I’m a stay-at-home mom and can take time to read with them, to set up cultural events like Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), and to chaperone their field trips to the local zoo, farms, and the library.
I don’t begrudge any of the families who do home-school. Kids learn in many different ways, and not all kids can do well at traditional schools. I’m glad home-schooling is an available option. I suspect that families who home-school have their own frustrations and challenges.
Overall though, I’m just really grateful that families are working to educate kids, in whatever way works for their families. Like my friend at My Migraine Family wrote, even though we may parent differently, “We can support each other, even in the face of different opinions.”
How do you feel about the education your kids are receiving?