Resolved: To Be Happy with How We Do School

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– A post from LifeasMOM contributor, JessieLeigh –

As 2011 rolls on in, I am resolving to be happy. Happy about my home. Happy about my job. Happy about all the amazing blessings I’ve been entrusted with.

I’m also happy about the schooling choice we’ve made for our family. And I think that’s what it really comes down to is this:

Are we truly happy with the choices we’ve made? Can we find contentment on our own paths? I truly believe we can – and should!

In our quest to navigate this minefield we call motherhood, it can be all too easy to feel attacked, no matter what choices we’ve made. It is a judgmental world, and there are always those who will find fault with the decisions you make for your family. Unfortunately, we cannot change all the world’s perception, but we CAN resolve to be happy with our own choices when it comes to how we do school.

For my family, in our particular situation, I am finding contentment in our decision to send our children to public school. I am loving the opportunities that this affords them. From forging strong, meaningful relationships with amazing teachers to getting to ride that big yellow bus, they’re getting to do some joyful things. They are learning about tolerance and diversity as part of their day-to-day lives and these are good lessons.

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More important than all that, to my mind? They are happy. They go off to school with gleeful anticipation and return to me with smiles of delight. That matters to me.

For myself, I am learning about politics.Β And advocating. Those are not bad skills either.

I’m also enjoying the one-on-one time with my youngest child, so easy to achieve while my older two are off at school. It is certainly possible to have quality one-on-one time with our children no matter how we choose to do school, but this certainly makes it easy for me. With my first two born less than eleven months apart, it is a bit of a novelty to me too!

I am part of a team- a team that consists of teachers, therapists, and administrators- and, while this means that I do have to work through those aforementioned politics, it also means that I get to collaborate with some great minds and benefit from group brain-storming sessions. I am a social creature and I enjoy interacting as a team.

For our family, I have seen wonderful things develop for my children as a result of having many people striving to find the very best program and fit for them.

While I am not blind to the benefits of homeschooling or choosing private education, I am completely confident in and content with the way we do school. As we embark on this new year, I am resolving to continue to be happy with my choice. I am also resolving to be happy for those of you who have found a different, equally well-determined choice.

May 2011 be a year where we can continue to learn from each other!

What elements of your schooling choice would you like to celebrate in the new year?

— JessieLeigh is the mother of a former 24-week micropreemie and two full-term blessings as well. She is a determined advocate for the tiniest of babies, including the unborn, and a firm believer in faith and miracles. She shares about raising such a precious, tiny baby over at Parenting the Tiniest of Miracles.

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  1. Several months ago, I had to do this exact same thing, make a choice to be happy. I have one 17 month old and a second due to arrive in 11 weeks. I went from being a hs teacher/triathlete to a sahm when baby 1 was bored. I spent the first year of her life wishing I was still working, resenting the house work, and the lack of sleep. My hubs as great as he is had a hard time with my general unhappiness. Then, my hubs and I got into a large argument (details aren’t important, just that I was totally in the wrong) and I kind of saw my life flash before my eyes. Meaning, what if I didn’t have him, how could I drop her at daycare from 7-4 daily, and I got a totally new perpective. I just made the decision to be happy with the choice to stay home. After all, it was my choice. So, on days like today when I get up and go in to the kitchen where a bunch of dishes are sitting on the counter or the bedroom where the laundry abounds, I don’t let myself get mad or pine for a different life. Doesn’t mean I’m thrilled to go scrub dishes this morning, just means I understand that it’s part of my job. So, today I’m going to be happy to be able to watch cartoons with my baby, join the other moms at the park for stroller strides, and to have dinner ready for the hubs when he returns home. I know this, my hubs and I have fought less and enjoyed more since I made the switch to being happy.

    1. Yeah! Heather, what a great place to be. And I think you’ll find that it does get easier as you get your groove. Give yourself a lot of grace over the next year as you add a second little one into the fold.

  2. great post! this is year 2 of public school for my kids. they are in a dual language program that will have them bilingual, bi literate by 5th grade in english and spanish. i am fortunate that they have an opportunity to learn a second language in a public school in grade school. at the same time, i often get concerned about their progress in the second language, wondering if they are missing content or literacy opportunities because they have 2 languages to contend with. i just decided to let my concerns go. my kids may not achieve fluency and literacy in the second language on my time table, but i do believe that in time, they will get there. there may be trade-offs to a dual language education, but the academics that are slower to develop are replaced with academic capabilities that other kids in a single language program don’t have.

    i am not so resolved to be happy with the school food issue. i hate that my kids desire to eat the hot lunch at school. i hate that the teachers give out candy as rewards, then scratch their heads as to why kids can’t concentrate and focus on lessons when they have petroleum based food colorings attacking their brains.

    i wish i could chill about the junk that kids get at school, but I know far too much about what chemical additives do to a developing child.

    i have a plan for that though, i’m active in our student health advisory council and intend to create a wellness policy that will educate teachers and students about food colorings and how the wreak havoc in the classroom. hopefully this will reduce the amount of snacks and candy in the classroom that contain food coloring.

    1. @jenna Food WIth Kid Appeal, Good for you for taking action about the foods your children are being given in their school! Mine are small yet (only 5) and have half days so, at this point, they still eat lunch at home. Our school system became super vigilant about snack guidelines in recent years too, so that helps quite a bit. (There’s no candy at all- wait, that’s not true… they each got a candy cane at Christmastime. ;)) Even with all that, school lunches can definitely leave a lot to be desired, that’s for sure, and you raise an excellent point. How cool is it that your children are learning in two languages, though? I think that’s fantastic and, really, it’s so much smarter to introduce foreign languages earlier rather than later!

  3. Way to go! I think deciding to be happy is such a huge part of actually being happy.
    My oldest isn’t in school yet, but all you mom’s know that doesn’t mean he isn’t learning. And I’m deciding to be happy that we’ve chosen for me to stay home and be his primary teacher during these crucial first few years. I love helping him learn to say new words, watching him graps onto a new word in baby sign language, and get so excited about playing outside in the the sunshine or snow. My husband loves that he is getting care from someone who loves him more than anyone else and that our life is fairly simple and sweet right now.
    Yeah, I think we’re happy.
    I think we’re all happy.

    1. @Steph (The Cheapskate Cook), Oh, SO much wonderful learning happens at home! Those first years are both critical and wondrous, I do believe. πŸ™‚ That “at-home” learning gets to carry on in new and exciting ways as they get older, too. It can be such a privilege to be Mommy.

  4. I love this article. So many times as Moms we get caught up in what we think is the ideal situation or what we think we *should* be doing and we tend to forget the most important thing is to find what works for our family. Choosing to be happy with our choices makes such a huge difference. What an encouraging article!

    1. @Beth, You nailed, it Beth. It’s way too easy to beat ourselves up by creating all sorts of comparisons that, oftentimes, aren’t even valid! It’s so much more productive to find joy in doing what works for our own household, isn’t it? Thanks for your comment!

  5. I love this. I think that judgment is passed too frequently between moms over how we choose to educate our children, and I feel that the criticism is even higher among Christan moms. I am learning more and more about how I need to just choose to be content with what I feel is best for my child, my family, and my life, comparing myself only to the standards of the Lord, not men–or women! Thanks for this piece. One of my favorites on Life as Mom. So simple and so true.

  6. Thanks I needed that! My oldest is going to kindergarten in the fall and we have been pondering between public and Catholic schools. Due to the money issue, I had been trying to come to grips of sending him to public school but my heart was not in it. I went to Catholic school and I want him to have the same experience. My husband and I decided to follow our hearts and cut out some luxuries so we can send him to Catholic school. It has made me so happy!

    1. @Kelly Hess, I don’t think you’ll regret it, Kelly- when something is so important to you, I definitely think it’s worth making some sacrifices. I’m so happy you’ve found a choice that you can be confident about and content with- that’s what really matters!

  7. I agree so much. We made the decision to let our oldest go to public school because he could not play school sports and be homeschooled. This was a hard decision for our family seeings though I had homeschooled him since Kindergarten. He is now in the 7th grade. We struggled a little at the beginning and its was a big adjustment for hi, but he is doing wonderful. He loves sports and is having a good time. He was already popular before he got there. He had no problem making friends because alot of the school kids come to our church on Wednesday nights. He fit right in the first day of school. I also felt comfortable sending him to our local school because alot of the teachers I go to church with or are from our sister church. The Principle allows alot of Christian activities. This has made me really comfortable. His Science teacher is my Sunday School teacher. Do I always agree with what they do, NO, but I dont agree with alot of things they will face in real life if they dont learn it now.
    I have been getting myself ready for next yr. because our youngest wants to go now to public school. He is in the 2nd grade at this time, and I have had him one on one this yr. I have been able to concentrate on his weaknesses and help him with them. It is good that he will go next yr because it starts him early to face the same things that big brother has to deal with now and big brother always helps him with issues. When our oldest comes home in the evenings, I can concentrate on helping him with homework or study for a test. But sometimes he is happy calling a friend and studying together on the phone. Hey, which ever works for him., as long as he learns and passes. My study habits may not be whats right for him, he has learned to develop his own study habits this way and they help each other.
    I dont know what I will do with my time next year, but we will cross that bridge when we get there.
    Tracy Dixon

    1. @Tracy Dixon, TN, Thanks for taking the time to comment, Tracy! I commend you for paying attention to the needs of your children as they grow and change. One thing I’ve learned is that these lives we’re given are full of seasons and sometimes you have to bend and adapt as you make your way. πŸ™‚ For your family, it sounds like you’ve found a great schooling situation for the time being and I think that’s fantastic.

  8. Thanks to Jessica for having this guest post. Reading blog after blog after blog by homeschooling moms, I get the impression that many think if you don’t homeschool then you are not a good mom or that homeschooling is the superior method of educating children. I commend Jessica, a homeschooler herself to allow other views to be presented. We are a public school family, and while I understand the benefits of homeschooling, I also know the benefits of other types of schooling. I wish everyone saw it that way.

    1. @Michele, (Your comment wasn’t about me at all, Michele, but I just want to say that I totally agree that Jessica does a fantastic job of showing different elements of our paths of motherhood. It’s so refreshing!)

  9. @Tracy Dixon, TN, As a mother of 3, each new year has brought a time of decision for my husband and I of whether or not to homeschool or send our children to public school. This year we have one in ninth grade and one in second grade, and we have homeschooled all but one year. I certainly can’t judge others’ decisions on how they school their children, but one thing I have observed among the “church kids ” I grew up with is by far the ones that went to public school have not walked with God in their adult life. I truly believe a Christian mother can have more of a lasting influence on her children if they are in a Christian environment such as homeschooling.

    1. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. We have homeschooled our six children from the beginning and it has proven to be a wonderful experience for our family. While I agree with you that homeschooling is a wonderful choice, I think that there is room for other options in the lives of Christians. Homeschooling, after all, is not mandated in Scripture.

      I don’t know if you intended this to come across in your comment, but it could be read that you don’t think PS kids will walk with God. I would have to disagree with this as a “rule of thumb.”

      I was public schooled and born of non-believing, public school teaching parents. And I love Him with all my heart. The same goes for my husband and most of our friends.

      While homeschooling is a wonderful thing and I will fight to the death to keep my homeschooling rights, I don’t think it’s fair or accurate to say that it promises to produce adults who love the Lord. Nor is it fair to say that families who public school don’t/won’t follow God.

      God is way bigger than any school system. And He calls people to different things.

      1. @Jessica Fisher, I agree, Jessica, God’s will takes many different paths. My husband went to public school also, and he is a Godly inspiration to me daily. I guess my intent was simply to encourage those that might be on the fence about homeschooling. I have observed that it can provide a significant spiritual foundation.