I was a model student and so it wasn’t until I had my own child in the system that I started to question the rationale behind it all.
I’m blessed with a wonderfully creative child who hasn’t fit into the mold of traditional education and I saw by 1st grade how his awareness of his perceived shortcomings was changing his sweet little personality.
During Christmas break, my precious six year old asked me, “Mom, why am I stupid?” It took some questioning but we finally traced his statement to a reading level chart visible in his classroom. His dot was behind the girls in his class and so he internalized that he must be the stupid kid in class.
When we talked with his school, they had very little to say. They could offer no additional help for him until he was failing. I became keenly aware of how the marginal kids are left to fall between the cracks. Many of these are active boys, creative thinkers or children with learning disabilities too mild to get a diagnosis.
Enter Common Core curriculum changes, especially with math, and we had a perfect storm. One of my gifts is the ability to put my mind on fast forward and see where a path will lead. I didn’t like this picture at all. I knew my child was better than that, and I knew he was worth me fighting for him. I also recognized that as a parent I have ONLY ONE WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY for my child to get his early education.
By second grade, he was enrolled in a private school and it was night and day. A smaller environment that was not bound by bureaucratic nonsense made a huge difference.
Still, as a creative, right brain thinker, he struggles with two-dimensional learning. He wants to be immersed in learning and he needs more engagement than a white board and a workbook.
After some online research, I was enlightened by a website written by a mother who has a similar right brained child. Her book and site are called The Right Side of Normal.
It was liberating to read that 1) other kids have these experiences and learning styles that are not in sync with traditional education and 2) the other side of their brain kicks in around age 12 to catch up. We also took him to a educational center called Brain Balance.
They confirmed he is a very strong right brained child and we did see some improvements as their techniques worked to open up the left side of his brain.
Probably the best thing we did was talk openly to our son about how his brain works. He needed to know that being different didn’t mean there was anything wrong with him. We talked about Albert Einstein, a right brained thinker who did not do well in traditional school. It’s so easy for kids to feel inferior if they don’t do the same as other students in class. Our private school does a good job of celebrating the gifts of each child, but I’m sure many schools do not.
Each child deserves to know his unique gifts are valued in a school environment.
And it’s up to the parents to make sure the child grows up not being defined by the classroom.
There were several times last year that I said, “You can do 3rd grade math. Just because you don’t do it their way doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you,” and “These tests don’t measure your abilities. These tests measure only one way and it’s not your way. And that’s okay with us.”
I’ve also become very aware and involved with the varying treatment of genders in the traditional classroom. This will be another blog on another day, except to say that most drop outs are male and most children drugged on ADHD medications are boys.
And then there’s the whole PE/recess issue that we have covered and discussed before. Kids, especially boys, need to move during the day. Sitting in a desk all day long does them no favors.
Together, these changes in education are creating stressed out kids. They have their whole lives to endure stress. They deserve to be children while they are children.
Today, I came across another blog post from an author who shares many of my perspectives. She included this list of how to help your child survive the traditional classroom. This is a fantastic list for parents and worth the time to read! In the end, as parents we are responsible for how our child grows up and receives an education.
What can you do if your child is in the System?
I am certainly not saying that we should take our children out of schools or not put them there to begin with. I am saying that if we must send our kids to traditional schools, at the very least we should tell them the truth in a way that is empowering and freeing. We should not allow the System to raise our precious children for us.
If your child is in the traditional school system, it is imperative that you be a strong parent and resist the pressure of teachers and school officials who try to tell you how to parent.
- Take back your power as a parent.
- Take a stand for your children.
- Stop caring what others say about you or your children.
- Don’t be bullied by school authority figures who want you to bully your own children.
- Support your children in thinking for themselves.
- Overcome your own fears of breaking free.
- Find other parents who think like you.
- Form support groups for parents, and for the children.
Creating Better Lives for Our Children
Instead of teaching children how to get along in a dysfunctional world, why don’t we teach our kids how to create their lives based on their highest values? Whether you are a parent or a school teacher, you have the power and ability to teach children to:
- Trust inner guidance.
- Make positive choices.
- Use their imagination.
- Be able to say no and set boundaries.
- Think for themselves.
- Experience inner power.
- Develop intuition.
- Acquire skills for self-learning.
- Gain high self-esteem.
- Express inner confidence.
- Master communication skills.
- Experience and process emotions in healthy ways.
– See more from that post at Pathways to Family Wellness: Raising awake children in a broken school system.