Starting School: The Year to Year Dilemma

How is it possible that summer is ending and school starts in a week? Where did the time go?

My kids have been at the same private school for 2 years now after my daughter had a less than desirable experience in our public school for Kindergarten.

For me, being raised in the Chicago public school system and being proud to have graduated with over 400 students, it was mentally difficult to wrap my head around sending my daughter into a class of less than 20, much less at a private school.

But years ago, before my kids were even school age, a mentor told me how important it was to individually evaluate your child’s school situation year to year. For instance, what works for them one year may not be the best decision for them the next. And she should know…as the daughter of a public school principle and licensed psychotherapist, she educated her two children through Public, Private AND Homeschool methods over their educational careers. (She also wrote an amazing book I highly recommend, Regret Free Parenting: Raise Good Kids and Know You’re Doing It Right )

She also made another profound statement when it comes to kids’ schooling that I’ll never forget. It went something like this:
“Kids are very resilient; they can withstand one bad year…you just have to make sure they don’t have two bad years in a row.”

Not endorsing hand-picking every teacher, coach and authority figure in your child’s life, Catherine always told me kids can learn a lot about character when it comes to working through a school year or season with a challenging teacher. But in order to keep balance, you want to do your best to make sure their individual needs are met when it comes to their education.

We didn’t want to teach Kariss is was ok to give up or quit just because things were difficult with her teacher in Kindergarten, so we left her in the class, but began looking for new options about halfway through the school year.

Even though we were VERY strapped financially at the time, we looked at ALL possible options, not wanting to put God in a box. We knew He alone could make anything possible, so we toured a slew of public & private schools, and even looked into Homeschool tutorials.

We felt most comfortable and called to a small private school about 30 minutes away from us at the time. When we found it, the school was in its first year of existence and shared a building with a church. It was unassuming and very balanced. Growing up in a Montessori atmosphere, I wanted something very hands-on, and we found that here. I also communicated that I wasn’t as concerned about my kids learning to read (for I knew that would come) as I was about them being balanced, well-adjusted, compassionate, caring and aware kids.

They understood completely.

Through a series of prayer, testing, interviews, financial aid and carpooling, we were able to make private school work…and it’s been a wonderful decision for both of our children the past two years.

So you can imagine my surprise when this year, just a week before school starts, my daughter casually mentioned to me from the backseat, “Mom, I want to be homeschooled this year.”

I tried not to slam into the car in front of me. As casually as possible, I replied, “But Angel, you love school…why would you say that?”

Turns out, she was afraid she hadn’t done enough work over the summer and she would be behind her classmates when it came to the essentials of third grade, specifically multiplication.

Not wanting to immediately crush her either way, I informed her that we’d already committed to this year and if she felt that strongly about it, we could look into it for next year.

Fast forward to this week when we ended up at school for my son’s football camp (so stink’ cute, by the way, to see a bunch of 6 year olds chasing after a football with their shirts off in the summer sun!). After camp, we went into their new building to use the restroom and ending up running into ALL of their teachers setting up for the school year.

She saw the desks. She found her name. She hugged her new teacher. She was sold.

We communicated her concerns to both her 2nd grade and new 3rd grae teachers and they immediately re-assured her of not only her capabilities, but of how everyone was in the same boat she was and how they’d be spending ample time reviewing old concepts.

Of course, at the same time, my son was already busy plotting out where each of his friend’s would be sitting and how he fell into the mix.

All was right with the world.

We know we can’t control our kids and we certainly know we can’t control the world around them. But what we can do is try our best to understand who they are, how they’ll thrive and then create that environment for them.

What I’ve learned in the short four years I’ve had school aged children is not to underestimate their abilities. Especially watching the Summer Olympics, the one thing that resonates when athletes are interviewed is how grateful they were for their parents’ support and encouragement. I suppose that’s one reason I love the book Live to Give: Let God Turn Your Talents into Miracles so much. It’s the story of a young man who didn’t let his age get in the way of his God-given passion.

So what choices will you make for your children’s schooling this year
? I’d love to hear how you make that decision with each of your kids!

With a passion for teaching and mentoring others as her inspiration, Sami Cone began blogging in 2009 to encourage others to live their dream life and pursue their passions. A published author and seminar speaker, she draws on her experiences as a writer, editor, university professor, performer, professional athlete, and pageant winner to help women realize their full potential in life. Sami appears regularly on TV & Radio as a Frugal Expert and has been blogging for Tommy Nelson since 2010. Sami and her husband of seven years, Rick, thrive in Nashville with their two children.