Why I'm choosing to send my kid to public school

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

In three weeks, I will be watching my first born child, wearing his little backpack and that sideways grin walk out this door and start his thirteen year journey through school.  Our first child, our first day of school ever.

Kindergarten looms, friends.

Let's be serious, I'll cry.  I'll get that hot, tight, can't-swallow feeling and my eyes will get all red and blurry but I'll paste a huge smile on my face in case our Kinder looks at me for encouragement.  And then I'll probably sob at the real goodbye.  And maybe catch myself in far off stares of melancholy for the rest of the day.

Mostly though I'll cry because it will mark the beginning of a new era for us.  One that we were just discussing will run over the next twenty years of our life; the our-year-runs-on-school-year-calendar-time.  The one where nine months of the year has it's own schedule and then the glorious summer months.  The schedule that makes the years go by at blink pace.  The next twenty years!!  Can you imagine what life will look like over the course of the next twenty years - but at the pace of one blink for each one.  no.  crying forever, goodbye.

Lots of people send their kids to public school, I know this, and I'm not out of the status quo in terms of the general populous, nor my physical community...sending their kids to public school is just what people do.  Is this an actual decision or just what happens?

I know I am blessed in my life as a stay at home mom that this is an actual decision.  I have the time and means to choose other options if I wanted.  That alone is a reminder that I am firmly located on the side of the fence that is blessed and fortunate.

And I have no shortage of amazing examples of homeschooling mamas within my blogging community, who I admire, learn from, and appreciate.  They are doing incredible things and I'm inspired (usually on the daily) by all that they do to provide, love, and nourish their kids' minds.

And now, since I'm no novice in the world of the internet, let's air some common sense because if there's one thing that erases common sense from people it is public comment sections on the internet, right?

The thing that's tricky about supplying a rationale to any decision is that it somehow then automatically asserts that you are then 'against' the other choice. Let me be clear, Internet, this is not always the case.  Yes, there are lot of people (at least with the shield and muscles of the internet to boost them) that claim to have no gray area in their hearts and minds.  People that proclaim wholeheartedly that they believe in only one way to do any one thing and that's it.

Let me assure you, I am definitely not one of those hard border line people.  I see gray everywhere, I see a thousand ways to do any one thing, even if I don't choose to do it the way you're doing it.  You do you, and I'll do me and let's just be nice to each other while we each do our own, okay?

I don't think this means I lack a backbone - I think it means my first instinct is empathy.  but that's a post for another day.  But for today, let's get on with it, shall we?

Why I'm choosing to send my kid to public school

I, as they say, believe in public education.  As a former teacher and armed with a passion for education, I hold high hopes and expectations about public education.  I care deeply about not only how my kids' school is doing, but how the neighboring town's school is doing as well.  I believe that every child deserves access to an excellent education, every child includes my children, and your children, and their children.  All of OUR children.  I am eager and excited to see how having a child in the school system will bring deeper awareness to me about what education feels like today - for my kid.  for all our kids.

I want their world to look like THE world.
  The world can be a pretty weird, scary, mean place sometimes. And we've created a fairly idyllic bubble over here for our kids for the last five years, we don't even say the word stupid in our  house.  That bubble is about to pop in a big way and I'm okay with that.   I believe (hope) we've done the nurturing and guiding so far (and will continue to do so) to help our kids grow up into kind, empathetic, and compassionate kids despite the ugly in the world.

  The world can also be vastly beautiful and interesting.  I've grown the most when placed into a situation in which was uncomfortable or unfamiliar.  When your world is bigger, your heart and mind have to get bigger and I cannot wait to see how much our world grows as our kids bring new people, experiences, challenges, and LIFE through their years in school.

I want our kids to be accountable for themselves.  We are big on independence already and encourage our kids to be responsible for themselves, their siblings, and their friends (as appropriate).  We know the world doesn't revolve around them and strive that they recognize that too.  "If they want to be extraordinary, they need to actually be extraordinary."  If they see or experience problems, we already respond with, "find a solution." This is their own life, we're just lucky enough to be along for the ride; waiting in the wings to answer questions and guide while sitting in painful patience as they fall on their face, dust off, and try again a trillion times.

We want our kids to benefit from a whole network of people that care about them.  We've created a circle of support around them already; us, grandparents, godparents, aunts, uncles, close friends.  But with public school that's going to expand further; teachers, coaches, their friends' parents...so many more people that can inspire, support, and encourage our kids.  It takes a village and we'd prefer the village is the whole world.

We believe, however naive or narcissistic it might be, that the world will benefit from our kids, too.  Their ideas, their kindness, their empathy, the way they stand up for others, their curiosity, their problem-solving, their leadership...What can our kids do for their friends, for their community, for the world?

I cannot wait to watch and encourage and guide and support.  Because our job isn't even close to being over.  We aren't viewing the introduction of formal education as a chance to tap out.  No.

We will be the anchor.

The tether to the ground.  The place where they can go to rest, think, and get back together.  A place to be encouraged when it feels too hard, cheered when it's going great, and comforted when it feels like everything is falling apart.  A place that is safe when it's scary but will remind them it's okay to let the line out and test the waters.  Always there, not to hold back, but to hold steady in the foundation that we hope is flourishing in the root of their character.

We have a lot to learn and experience coming up in this journey through public school.  But we're going at it with intention, open minds and hearts, and with the firm belief that it's what is best for our kids, for us.  

So, here's to the start of a new school year, whatever that might look like for you and your family:) xxoxxo


  1. Good post, Tab. Schooling seems to have become such a touchy subject and I'm just like you: be at peace with your decision and that's cool with me, whatever it may be. We chose homeschooling for a ton of different reasons and it's working beautifully for us right now. But who knows what the future holds? We are totally okay with them attending a brick and mortar school in the future, if that's what's best. We just take one school year at a time.

    Good luck with those first day of school mama emotions. When M went to first grade, I was a mess the second he was on the school bus and couldn't stop thinking about him until he got home. :)

    1. Thank you Ashley, it means so much to me to have you voice in on this. I am seriously surrounded by so many amazing homeschooling mommas (you and Shelly included) here on my internet community and I am so blessed to have views of all the beautiful and inspiring ways kids can learn and grow. You are spot on - peace with the decision and (so like you & me) intention with that decision is what is most important.

      In the past few days, I've caught myself daydreaming about the first week of kinder and i catch myself holding my breath. oh goodness. so excited. also so sad. being a mumma is the hardest.

    2. You are also so lucky to be in such a great, close-knit community too! I think that does wonders when it comes to public school as well, you know? Parents AND educators who are involved and passionate about what's best for the kids are so important. I think that aspect is lacking a bit where I live.

  2. Both my boys go to public school for many reasons. 1 - we already pay taxes for them to attend so why spend extra money for private or homeschooling. 2 - gives them opportunity to expand friends and become their own person away from parents/family. 3 - Both my hubby and I went to public school and turned out just fine. 4 - to be honest I just couldn't be around my kids teaching them the way they need to learn for school. HAHA!

    1. hahhaa, brandon and I are also in the lucky category of having gone to public school and done fine (more than fine, we loved it) so we're right there with you. Grey definitely would benefit too from learning from someone else...he's already moving into the 'that's not cool simply because you're my mom' phase. help me. HAH.

  3. Loved reading this, Tab, and will be sending my sister this way to read your thoughts. She, too, is sending her first born off to kindergarten this year and is also suffering "lump-in-the-throat" syndrome!

    Many people ask if I will "homeschool forever" and I tell them we just take it year by year. I agree with both you and Ashley that you have to have peace with your decision. I feel that homeschooling this year (despite Josh being gone and another baby on the way) is absolutely the right thing for the boys. Next year, that could all change, and I'm fine with that!

    I am sending you hugs & encouragement for all the "anchoring" you will be doing the next few weeks as you settle into a routine with him away at school. Such an exciting time!!!