Let me warn you! My ideas about school and education are anything but conventional...
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How are your kids doing in school? Do they excel in their studies? Are they given attention for what they need to improve? Do they fit in? Are they HAPPY in school? Do they even like it?
These are just a few of the questions I would ask a parent who feels their child is “struggling” in some aspect of their education. What I have learned is that we decide how our child is doing based on a certain set of criteria that includes societal paradigms about how education should work and our personal expectations of our kids. We also (at times) throw in some shame around how our child reflects back on US as parents. I beg you to stop for a moment and ask, “What is education for anyway?”
Well, here in the United States of America, our public school system was created in a time of industrial revolution. The schools were charged with the duty of teaching and turning out “people” who would be prepared to stand in a factory line all day and piece together some kind of cog. In addition, we were taught that this was a good outcome to education, to get a J-O-B that we could stay in for 40-50 years so that someday we might receive some compensation for living out our “golden years” in style.
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That model was useful for that generation. But NOT ANYMORE. Our world and way of living has changed exponentially! Yet our educational system’s goal is still to turn out factory workers, people who will follow directions given them, who can sit still all day and NOT think outside the box. In fact, when a child does not CONFORM to the way a standard classroom is run, he or she is labeled as learning disordered, a trouble maker or just ignored altogether.
If a boy has so much energy that he cannot sit still in class no matter how many times the teacher tells him, bribes him, and punishes him, he is said to have an attention deficit disorder and is sent to a doctor for medication. There is no protocol for recognizing a gift or genius in WHY that child acts the way he does. He doesn’t fit the model, so he is ostracized and made to feel “different”. He is given the message that he is “bad” or simply doesn’t fit in. Or worse, he isn’t acceptable unless he is medicated!
In a country that claims to favor diversity and individuality, our school system attempts to make everyone the same.
So, what is the answer? I have recommendations.
GET TO KNOW YOUR CHILD’S LEARNING STYLE.
When my daughter was in third grade, I made the decision to do a free homeschool charter program with her and my son who was a first grader. Let me just tell you that ever since my daughter was born (up until that point), I truly believed that she was a brilliant genius! Her verbal skills were off the charts and she seemed to learn quickly. She was also highly creative and loved any kind of art. I really had created the idea that ALL things in school would come easily to her.