Monday, August 23, 2010

the right decision?

Do you ever have one of those days where you really stop and wonder if you're making the right choices for your family? Ninety-nine percent of the time I feel like our family situation and the paths we choose for our kids and our future are the right ones. Every once in awhile when it seems like you're swimming against the rest of the world's stream, you start doubting yourself and wondering if maybe you're only seeing what you want to see out of life and maybe everyone else has the right idea. Or do they?

Public school started today in our county. I was inundated with photos of smiling, uniformed, backpack-laden children of friends on my facebook feed this morning. I read tales of bus rides, tearful and not-so-tearful goodbyes, and kids (and parents) ready for the first day back at school. We've always homeschooled so that's never been an experience for us. It seems like the whole world is sending their kids off to school today, including good friends who used to homeschool and friends who always swore that they would. So does that make me really dedicated, or really stupid?

I have some really, really *great* memories of going to public school when I was a kid. I was always a teacher's pet, and school was easy for me. As an elementary-aged student I don't think there was ever a day that I dreaded going to school (wait, I take that back - 5th grade measles shot day was not fun!) I think I can even still recall the names of all of my teachers. We got to do all sorts of fun activities, had recess on great playgrounds, had time to eat lunch, played games outside in P.E. We had art classes, and music, and we played fun games like Heads Up, Seven Up. I went to school in very small southern towns for grades 2-8, and I think that made a big difference in how we were taught.

It's really hard to look back at my childhood and not want that experience for my kids. Unfortunately I don't think that experience is the reality of public school anymore. I know my family and friends have kids in school here (or are teachers here) and the kids are taught in four, 90-minute session blocks of math, reading, science, and social studies every day. They have 25 minutes for lunch, one 15-minute structured recess (i.e. what used to be called PE, which was an hour when I was a kid), and that's that. There's no money left for music, or art; there's no time left for recess, or PE, or time to actually eat lunch. Kids are taught solely for the purpose of passing the FCAT and if it isn't on the FCAT it isn't being taught. Kids in the first grade are coming home with an hour or more of homework every night.

But that doesn't mean I still always feel like I'm doing the right thing. It's hard to go against the grain.

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