Wednesday, March 17, 2010

On the Issue of Education

I grew up in Brazil.  My education path was dictated by the social expectations of my culture.  Children from middle class families were expected to attend private school in order to attain a good enough basis to pass the very important college entrance examination for the coveted public educational system.  Pretty much all of our lives were geared towards passing this test.  Our parents and families made sacrifices on a daily basis in order to afford this type of education.  We all took it very seriously.

My son is one and a half and I'm a stay at home mom in Texas.  March is all but gone. Two of my preferred mother's day out schools have already closed their entrance application windows. April is approaching and the private school offering a program for my young child will be willing to accept my money for Fall enrollment, if I act swiftly. 

A private education is very costly.  Specially since it won't stop at the end of high school, like mine did.  The hook and bait that the local accredited schools have is that they teach one grade level ahead.  Once I make the decision to go public, changing him to a premier private school should prove to be quite difficult.  Perhaps impossible? 

This may sound delusional, but I want the best education for the little guy.  I am seriously considering enrolling him in riding lessons as soon as they will let me so as to get him playing Polo.  You see, Polo players have a better chance of getting accepted in an Ivy League school than any other sports program.  I have been losing sleep over this.

Should a young child, whose age is still being counted in months, be sent to school in order to adapt quickly to our educational system as well as develop the social skills necessary in order to become successful members of our society?  Should I, as an eager parent, foster his independence even when I am not yet ready to let him go?

It is very safe to say that most of you are very educated, outstanding members of your communities.  Many of you have children.  Probably more than one.  You all had to make some sort of call on your kids' education.  I would love to hear your thoughts on this issue.

Thank you for sharing.


nkp said...

Ugh, such a sticky issue. I understand your dilemma as there is so much pressure in our society to have our children learn in an academic setting from such an early age, but I can tell you that at 18 months old not one of my three children were ready for school. Truth be told, I never even considered sending them to school at that age. In my opinion, they were simply too young, my youngest was still nursing at 18 months and then there's the fact that I was not ready to part with my babies.

However, that said, I was lucky to be in the position to stay home with my boys who are now 10, 8, and 4 and this is the first year that they are all in school. None of my boys started preschool before they were three years old and because of their birth dates they were almost four. At this age, I think school is almost more vital for socialization- learning how to act amongst peers, to share, follow directions and instruction from an adult other than a parent, than it is for actual academic learning.

I think your gut instinct will lead you in the right direction, Catherine. He will be all grown up before you know it. I can't believe that I have a ten year old, seriously, it seems preschool was just yesterday. And if you're worried about having him learn from as early an age as possible, consider this- my oldest didn't start reading until he was six and now he is reading at a 12th grade level, which presents an entirely different set of problems. And all of my children are completely different in their learning styles and and their academic strengths and weaknesses. I'll stop rambling now, but coming from someone with many years of education and a small slew of children, my advice would be don't rush things and don't sweat it. But all that said, you know your little guy best. :0)

Hope that helps.

The Shiny Pebble said...

Oh Nelya, thank you so much for taking the time and sharing. This is one of the wonderful little gifts of the blog world that non bloggers don't get. People, with a rich background of experiences, who are willing to share their knowledge.
I am having a harder time with this I guess because most of his little playtime peers have already started some sort of organized education program.
It is so nice to know that people that I admire, such as yourself, feel the way I do.
Thank you for taking the time. :)

Hope Chella said...

I think you should foremost raise him to be a good person that is respectful of others and curious about the world around him. Let him try out many different activities, READ to him a lot, enroll him in art classes when he is ready (if he has an interest)...Just let him be a child who loves to learn, has down time to be creative and daydream and who doesn't feel pressured to perform for a grade, but rather because it is something they want to know and be proud to share. The importance of grades will become much more important in middle and high school.

Teach him to be kind to other children and adults. He will build social skills as he grows up, heads to school and starts playing sports.

The greatest gift I think any parent can give their child is that of building resilience in a world where you can't always get what you want and having the ability to love and accept love in return.

I teach in public school. My sister is a middle school English teacher in a private school. This decision really comes down to where you live, economics and your individual child. He might flourish in public school and this will enable you to be happier without worrying about money and saving for college. Or maybe private school is better for you, affordable and might put you more at ease with the smaller class sizes and additional course offerings. Talk to principals and parents-and TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS. I think parents KNOW BEST about what works and doesn’t work for EACH of their children.

When I was young, my mom worked part-time and M-Friday stayed home with us kids. It was great getting to be a kid without having to get up early and go to day care...Of course, I am not a mother yet, but from my educational standpoint, there is no need for rushing anything or keeping up with the Joneses...

Simply, if he has good self-esteem, can handle what life at throws him and has the want to learn, he'll have a better chance at creating a better future for himself, whatever directions he takes.

The Shiny Pebble said...

Hi Hope Chella,
Gosh, thank you so much for this wonderfully thoughtout answer. I became a mom for the first time way later in life, and never even imagined I was ever going to be one. So all of these thoughts never even crossed my mind. I hope one day you choose to become a mother, you will be a wonderful one! Thanks again for the insightful information. Wonder answer.


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