Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Children and Schools

We have had a variety of schooling experiences over our 21+ years of raising children.

Just to give you a picture of where we are right now, we have:
1 Senior in college
1 Freshman in college
1 Senior in high school
1 Sophomore in high school
1 8th grader
1 6th grader
AND a husband who is a professional student....

We have had children in public schools in 4 states, and have homeschooled in 2 states.  Jason and I never attended public schools...we were both products of private Christian schools.

While our children have been in public schools, we have experienced a LOT. We have seen schools that ranked among some of the best in the nation, AND schools ranked as some of the worst.  We had a child attacked and permanent damage done, for which no one was held accountable.  We had schools on lockdown.  We had some exceptional teachers, and some that were not-so-good.  We had a teacher proposing to meet with a teenaged child in her apartment, alone {she was fired}.  Our children were exposed to other children on drugs, children who were abused, and children who were abandoned.  Our children have also experienced a high quality education, musical and sports opportunities, for which there has been a high level of support on all levels of the schools.

Our children have been able to take languages - Japanese, Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, German, Italian, and French, as well as Latin.

All of our children have had musical opportunities as fit their giftings - one plays the flute and piccolo, and is learning guitar; one plays all brass, percussion, and saxophone; another plays flute, piccolo, keyboard, and saxophone; one plays French horn/mellophone; and 4 have been in singing groups.

One of those children is going on to study music on a college level, and has thought about going back and teaching music on a middle school and high school level.

I have been thinking recently about the opportunities our children have had, at relatively little cost to us.

Our oldest child was in public school in South Carolina for Kindergarten (when she took Japanese) and for most of her 1st grade year, and then we moved a second time within that year, and started homeschooling.

There was a point in time where homeschooling was the only option I was comfortable with using.  I bought into the thought-process that if *I* did everything right (homeschool, no TV, no R-rated or PG-13 movies, limited vaccines, correctly disciplined, memorized enough Scripture, attend AWANA, attend the right church, etc.), my children would turn out "right".  Yeah, that turns out to have been [at least] misleading, and likely blatantly false.

We eventually put our children back into public schools, first in Montana, and then when we moved to Virginia, and now in Massachusetts.  I was petrified.  I had never had much exposure to how public schools worked, or what was expected of parents.

For the most part, life with children in public schools has been good.  The school system in Virginia Beach offered opportunities that we really benefited academy system within the district, with specialty schools, International Baccalaureate middle and high schools, GREAT band programs, peripheral music programs, exposure to students from a WIDE variety of backgrounds and countries, and a host of really good kids that our kids became good friends with.

So far, our experiences with the schools in Massachusetts have been positive, as well.  The schools are much smaller than those we experienced in Virginia, with a much lower student:teacher ratio, more money for special things like iPads for all of the kids 6th grade and up, and no band fees for involvement in the band and guard programs.  We have also not had to purchase school supplies, which is a VERY welcome break from our experiences in Virginia, Montana, and South Carolina.

Back when we had our first child, and I thought about sending her off to school, the thought was overwhelming, and I couldn't see very far into the future.  Now that child is a college senior, and is putting together funding to take her GRE and apply to grad school.  I don't know what the future holds, for any of my kids, but I know that God is in control of that just as much now as He was way back when I thought *I* was the one determining how well they turned out in the end, and I am very grateful for that!!  I am also grateful that our country provides for the education of its citizens, and for the variety available within the public school system.

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