Facing the Stereotypes: Brittany’s Story
Scene: Walking home from dropping the boys off at school. I stopped to chat with a fellow mom.
Other mom: Hey there! Are you on Facebook?
Me: (thinking, Who isn’t??? I LOVE FACEBOOK!) Yes!
OM: You should join our new group, the Perrymont Parent. It has the picture of the school as the profile pic.
Me: Awesome! I’ll join.
OM: Great! By the way, we are looking for parents to write a brief note about their child’s teacher, what you like about them, or whatever, to put in the school newsletter.
Me: I love my kids’ teachers! I’ll be sure to write a little something.
And I did. I joined the FB group and I spent 7 minutes composing a short love note for each Pre-K teacher for my twins. Because I do love their teachers. I love their school!
I love their Public School.
And the fact that I love their Public School is a little surprising to me. Here’s why:
As a former homeschool student, the prevailing thought was that all public schools were “bad.” Public school students were only “a number” in the classroom, would get lost in the crowd, and would therefore get a “bad” education. Public school kids were a “bad” influence because of their “worldliness” and bad attitudes. All the teachers were some combination of atheist/evolutionist/Marxist/liberal/lesbian/tree hugger and that was “very bad.”
Growing up, I was deathly afraid of public school.
Fast forward 20+ years and I am much smarter, wiser, more logical, and less silly.
I also have twin boys who are school age.
Last year when I launched my blog series about Adult Homeschoolers, the drive behind the project was my overwhelming, agonizing, paralyzing decision about whether or not to homeschool or send my kids to public school (private school wasn’t an option). All those fears from my childhood were blunging my brain, making my stomach cramp, and keeping me awake at night.
So I dove into exploring my educational past, and the educational experiences of so many other homeschool students. I talked the ears off my husband (who went to public school) and my best friend (who went to private school). I accosted to every mom I came in contact with (friends, strangers–whatever!) who happened to mention that she had school age children and threw out that loaded question: “So, public school?….how do you like it? Have you had a good experience?”
And, amazingly(!), all of those moms who sent their kids to public school answered, “YES!”
I had to face my fears with Truth:
My husband, a product of that “bad” public school system, turned out perfectly fine. In fact, as far as I’m concerned, way better than “fine.”
Through writing my homeschool series, I realized that I, as my children’s parent, will still be the #1 influence in their lives. I could still have a great relationship with my boys. I could still teach them about God and having a relationship with Him. I could still raise them to be respectful, grateful, loving men.
Even if I choose not to homeschool.
Even if I sent them to Public School.
So, we enrolled them in the small neighborhood Public School that is literally right across the street from us. I nervously asked my husband, “So, what is registration?” and then filled out all the forms, crossed all the T’s, dotted all the i’s. And they started school in August.
They loved it.
A few weeks later, I nervously asked my husband, “So, what is a ‘parent/teacher conference’? What do I say? What do they say?” and then went to have a one-on-one with my sons’ Public School teachers.
And I loved them.
They are wonderful women: kind, patient, creative, loving, and darn good educators. My children are learning so much in a loving, creative environment. My husband and I are constantly saying that each teacher is perfect for the personality and learning style of each of our sons. During one of our parent/teacher conferences, I told one teacher that she had been an “answer to my prayers.” She then shared about her relationship with the Lord.
Yep, the public school teacher.
The uncharted waters of Public School have been far from “bad.” They have been good, so good for our family.
I do know that all the stereotypes that I encountered as a homeschool student were probably not completely unfounded. Many parents have had justifiably bad experiences with public school classrooms, teachers, and their child’s peers.
However, stereotypes are just that: stereotypes. They are not true in every instance, or even most cases. And after our experience in the Public School system, I now take those stereotypes with a healthy grain of salt. As a former homeschooler, I am more than happy to shed my fears and add “Public School” to the list of viable options for my children as my husband and I continue to make conscience decisions about what is best for their education.