things I love about public education
coffee…essential for all school parents
It seems that we’re bombarded with bad stories about public education, doesn’t it? Naplan, bullying, dissatisfied teachers, unmotivated students…and the list goes on.
Right now, across Australia, there are thousands of parents readying their kids for school, attending kindergarten orientation and standing at the very beginning of a 13 year journey. I’ve had a few emails lately from mums worried about sending their little ones into the public school system and I’ve bumped into friends who are angst-ridden about what school to choose.
And because I’ve been there I know this: at the very heart of this dilemma is a simple yet heart-wrenching fact – regardless of what school you choose, you’re sending your child further into the world and cutting the metaphorical cord once again. It’s not so much about the school but about the growing up and letting go.
It’s daunting, anxiety-inducing heart stuff. And as far as parenting goes, it’s just the beginning of the daunting, anxiety-inducing heart stuff.
My kids attended the local Montessori where they spent a few years in a delightful bubble of gardening and paints and imaginative play. When it came time to send them off to school, the local public school was the best option for us, despite my palpable angst.
Perhaps you’ve got a similar story. For whatever reason – location, finances, family circumstances – a small, independent or alternative school isn’t an option for you and therefore you’re about to enter the public school system. Everything is unknown and you’re worried. You’re worried that there won’t be enough art classes (their probably won’t be), you’re anxious about your little one finding his way around the somewhat enormous school and you’re concerned that all the rules will take the fun out of learning.
But what if the school you become a part of is actually quite beautiful?
A few things I’ve learnt as a public school mum:
- kindergarten is a very gentle transition : I have the upmost respect for kindergarten teachers and the way they gently guide our little ones into school life. The first year of school is all about fostering independence, encouraging socialisation and learning to read and write in the funnest way possible.
- school magnifies the haves and have nots : school is the perfect introduction to the bigger, wider world complete with confrontation and challenge. Your child may be confronted by what other kids have and subsequently they’ll challenging your parenting choices.
- life lessons abound : your child doesn’t like their teacher? Welcome to real life – you’re not going to get along with every single person you meet. Your child doesn’t understand why you’re angry about yet another lost hat? It’s time to be responsible for your belongings. You had a baby in the same month that a mammoth rainforest project was due and your child didn’t get full marks? The baby is a fabulous excuse. But really, the project is your child’s responsibility (I refuse to do projects).
- mindfulness is practised and celebrated : school these days is all about outlining personal best goals and working to achieve them, respecting yourself and being responsible for your actions. Our kids are encouraged to be mindful of their words and actions in every aspect of their school and home life.
- teachers work really hard : volunteer to help in the classroom and you’ll soon discover that teachers do so much to guide and support our kids. Hats off to them for their passion, wisdom, patience and kindness.
- an open conversation is vital : if you want your child to have a positive experience at school you must be willing to have an open dialogue with your child’s teacher. Introduce yourself in the first week, go to the information nights, check in every few weeks and read the notes (there’s so many notes!).
Keen to read more? You might like my School Series.