WHEN PARENTS AND CHILDREN ARE LET DOWN BY THE PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM - Education And Frustration
The Fork In The Road.....
So here I am a mother with two children who has experienced many schools in our neighborhood and also in Los Angeles as well as internationally. I have always been inspired by the idea that school is a great place and a fun way to learn things as well as meet new friends and more. Both of my children have been in and out of private schools and various public schools since pre-school. They also both went to school in England for a year. I grew up in the public school system in Los Angeles.
This article will not be a comparison of "private" vs "public" school because I want to write about something that is much more important. What I have learned this year is listening to your child is the best thing that you can do. I saw early signs of my sons unhappiness in the school system many years ago but ignored them. He tried to tell me after we returned from the UK and was about to graduate from elementary school that after our return when he had entered 3rd grade, he never learned anything new. He graduated 6th grade behind his honors group that he had been with for years because he simply lost interest. I often think about what he said when he was twelve. "Mom, I have been learning the same exact thing for three years." I heard him but then I told him to try to find a way to stay interested. Deep down I was hoping he was motivated enough to keep his grades up. I mean this was a kid that was building 1,000 piece Lego sets by the time he was three years old and working a Mac computer before he turned four. By the age of seven he was able to catch up in one of the top schools in England by the first quarter.
The last few years the classrooms in the public schools have gotten even more crowded. Some classes have 30-40 kids to one teacher and some mix two grades in one room. I saw my son struggling during middle school and he tried to turn things around over and over again. I encouraged him to keep going because I always wanted to get into a good well respected Ivy league school like Harvard or Princeton. I was never able to get in one of those schools because my grades were not quite good enough to get a break in tuition or a scholarship. As parents we all want the best for our kids because we want them to win in this world and get the best chances that they can. My son was an honor student by the time he was nine and also excelled at a top school in England, but he just wasn't motivated anymore. What is a parent to do when you get to this point?
I realized that the public school system failed me when it came to myself and my children. Now a days the schools even have less money then they did when I went, but the difference is that many kids get lost in the system. I never did but I do realize now that I did not get enough of what I needed way back then. I needed to be heard, I was bored, I could do my homework in my sleep, I was really bright and I needed to learn much more then I was getting in school. I was desperate to get inspired by someone besides people at my home. I asked my son as he entered the 9th grade how everything was going with his teachers. He always seemed to respond with negative statements like "he isn't available" and "I tried to talk to him." Over the course of his last year, he struggled a lot with assignments in quite a few of his classes. I asked him why and he said that he was not motivated because he felt like he was force fed information for hours and hours that he could learn on the computer in less time. Simply put, he was forced to sit in a classroom and learn things that he had already learned on the internet over the weekend. I will have to say that my son has gotten a PHD in on-line studies already and he isn't even 16 years old yet. Well, maybe not a degree on paper, but definitely in other ways.
What To Do Next...
So here I am with my son who is no longer happy at school. He has aspirations to code and design things on the computer. He is frustrated with the new integrative math they are giving him and he has decided that he will learn Algebra 1 again in the standard way on-line so he does not miss anything. His school decided to change the math after he had learned it a certain way most of his life. I asked myself, wouldn't it be better to change the math after my son's age group graduates? Not right when they enter their first year in high school?
So what does a parent do when it gets to this point and you also know that private school will not get a better result? This is the question. My neighborhood is a small community and it has eleven schools (public and private, one of the top private high schools in the country) and also on-line homeschool programs also. Between both of my kids they have gone to six of these schools for various reasons. The public schools failed my younger daughter because they did not have enough staff on the yard during breaks to control bullying issues and I had no choice but to pull her out. This is what is happening in public schools now. Less funding means less protection for kids when they are not under adult supervision.
I'm not going to conclude what a parent should do with their kid in this article because every kid and family is different. The secret is to listen and find the right choice for your child. Listen to them. If they are in pain, it is important to make changes before they venture into other ways of numbing themselves or escaping like drinking and drugs. Having open communication with your children is "key."