Three Avenues To Look At Before Enrolling Your Child Into School

Choosing a learning path for your child is not so black and white for parents as you might think.
what educational programs are best for your child
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A lot of us believe that what is comfortable for us,  must be right for our children as well. Some of us blindly follow society, are rule-bound and system players. We believe our children can not succeed if they are not in the system in which society directs us to. We all think that our child must go to school, and get good grades. They must get a degree in order to succeed and have a good career in order to be happy later in life. This belief system is ingrained in many of us from the get-go.

We also are taught that the public system is the cheapest and most accessible way to receive an education. This causes many parents to not look into the options available to them when enrolling their child in schools; like the private sector, homeschooling as well as public schools within the education system.

When my husband and I started the education journey with our children I didn't put much thought into it I'm ashamed to admit. I myself was an educational assistant working in our public school system. My husband was adamant of a certain educational route as being the best and only way for his children, and because I didn't have a strong opinion one way or the other I didn't question his ideals. In retrospect I wish I had done my research and looked into all the amazing options there are for children. 

As I watched my oldest child enter school I saw a very bright child. Funny enough her vocabulary was out of this world. What 5 years old sees a four-legged creature with antlers and instead of yelling "Deer!" says "Caribou! Oh, Mother how wonderful." This beautiful soul never had any doubts about herself or her abilities. I'm super proud to say she still has a strength within her 13-year-old self that remains from those younger days.

However, as she gets older and older and the school gets tougher and tougher, I can see her struggles increasing. Both my husband and I are rethinking our decisions. She has the most wonderful loving supportive and kind group of friends, let me remind you she is a grade 8 girl, you remember grade 8 don't you? This is something everyone wants for their child, so this is our biggest scare about putting her into a different placement for her learning. How can we even contemplate taking her away from this support group? Oh, the worries of a parent. I wish I knew the right answer. At any rate, my oldest's journey has caused me to question everything I thought I knew about education and flipped it on its head. 

Do your own investigation. There may be some really cool options available in your area that are not available in other parts of the world. As parents, you know your child best, where their strengths and their talents lie. 

Here are few options that you must consider before enrolling your child in a nearby school: 

1. Enrolling your child in Public Education System

The public system of education is funded publicly and regulated through the government by utilizing a set curriculum and measuring learning through standardized testing. Although the public education system appears to be steady across the entire system, here are some alternative programs within the system that may be available to you. 

  • The curriculum taught in alternative methods such as through art, or science-based instruction may be available. This will be unique to your area
  • Schools specializing in behavioral or specific areas of support. Schools Tailored to those children who struggle with certain learning challenges, mental health issues, or trauma. 
  • An all-boys or all-girls school could be an option available to you
  • A religious alternative teaching method in accordance with the curriculum

2. Considering Private Schools

Private education is not funded publicly. These schools generally require a tuition fee and other specific requirements in order to attend. Because they aren't government-run they can set their own unique curriculum and learning agendas. This opens up a wide variety of styles and philosophies in regard to education. It is important to know what you believe regarding education when examining what is available in your area. Find a philosophy and method of teaching that resonates and is in alignment with your family's beliefs.

  • Specialized schools offering more specific learning modes such as art, science, or music. 
  • Schools that are religion-based.
  • Waldorf schools were created by Rudolph Steiner around the 1920s. He believed learning takes place when you engage the child's minds, heart, and hands- or rather when they are thinking, feeling, and doing. Waldorf teachers focus on nurturing and engaging each child by integrating academics, arts, and practical skills.
  • Emilio Regio is a philosophy that is primarily child-led, where the teacher facilitates and encourages the child to follow their own wonder and curiosity to engage them in learning. 
  • Montessori programs are based on the holistic philosophy of  Maria Montessori who believed in developing physical, social, emotional, and cognitive aspects of children at their own pace. 
  • Forestry or Nature-based schools take the learning outdoors and focus on environmental and sensory stimuli. Each school is unique in its programming and range from learning blacksmithing and leathercrafting to herbal wildcrafting.

3. Homeschooling Your Child

Homeschooling is when the parents take control to direct their child's learning. There are homeschooling groups that you can join that help facilitate and guide the parent in this process. Homeschooling is done outside of a school and can take place anywhere the parent chooses. It is done on their own schedule. Many families who choose to homeschool blend a few philosophies together when considering a method of teaching. Many of those methods already mentioned such as Waldorf and Montessori, but there are a few more to look at.

  • Charlotte Mason is a homeschooling philosophy that encompasses literature or 'living books', art, and handicrafts such as needlepoint. It believes in something they call natural learning, meaning they focus on the child making their own connections to the world around them. 
  • Wildschooling stems from the value of conscious parenting and is sometimes referred to as unschooling. There is no particular structure or specific plan as it is child-led. It focuses on building resiliency, empathy, and creativity in our children over academics or specific curriculums.
  • Online forums, such as Outschool for example, are endless and worth looking into to supplement homeschooling.
  • Many parents who homeschool have created home-based businesses where they publish or share their curriculum and lesson plans. Some are nature-based, some academic, and others such as wild and free offer many ideas and suggestions surrounding homeschooling life.

This is by no means a detailed or exhaustive list of what's out there. It may shock you to know just how many options are available and could get you to view your child's entrance into their learning years in a different light.

There is no right or wrong way to educate your child. At the end of the day, it's your child who is going to make their own decisions about their future. They will find a way if they want to and become entrepreneurs, or corporate ladder climbers and follow their own paths. If they want to go to University, they will. If they want to stay at home parents and raise children, they will. It's not our job to give them the path to travel but to help them find their footing to take the path of their own choosing.

We want to give them a well-rounded education but at the same time, we don't want to force something on them that might later on make them feel inadequate or less of a person, that stifles their creativity or dims their spark. There is no human on the planet that is good at absolutely everything. Do the digging and the investigating.

Look for that sweet spot where your child will flourish. I promise you it will pay off in the end. If you make a mistake and find your choice was perhaps the wrong one and your child is faltering, remember you too are human. We are not omniscient. Go back to that place of love and reassess.

Mother of four. Nature lover, Gardener, crafter, and certified soul coach.

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