Thursday, July 8, 2010

5 simple rules for ensuring a good education

One of my biggest "fears" of parenthood is ensuring my children receive a good education outside my home. I know I can go to great lengths to supplement their learning, and I can send them into the school system with a head start on basic reading and math skills. But it is still just so scary to me that I have to trust some 50 other adults to properly educate my child over the course of 13 years.

I'd imagine these fears are common amongst many parents, so while my own childhood school experience isn't a far gone memory and my work as an educator is still fresh, I feel like I need to come up with a list of playing rules to make sure I feel comforted when the time comes for me to send my little ones off into the world. I thought this might be an interesting thing to share.

1. Public schools -- I can't reiterate how important I think the whole public school experience is to a child's learning. Besides, why spend money on the chance that teachers and curriculum somewhere else will be just as bad? (and trust me, many of my catholic school raised colleagues will tell you it can be just as bad)

2. Be involved at the school. PTA, classroom mom, supply donor, school board member, field trip chaperon, or whatever I'm capable of; it is easy to know what the school is like on the inside without being overbearing (another good reason to enroll in public schools). Also, always take time to go to Parent-Teacher conferences! Even if it's for a straight A student, much can be learned at these conferences. Take a list of questions or concerns (preferably only two or three though -- teachers only have about 3 to 5 minutes per parent).

3. Know the course of study at all times. Most teachers (at secondary levels) offer sylabi, and if they don't, ask for one, better yet demand one. All teachers (el ed and sec ed alike) teach themed units that run anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks. It is easy to find out what these units are and what sort of standards of learning will be taught during them. Knowing these units offers the best opportunity to add to the classroom experience at home.

4. Don't be afraid of censorship. This one worries me a little. I hate to imagine myself as the squeaky wheel parent, but if something is not age appropriate* you better believe I'll demand the teacher give my child something else to study.
*Please note, I don't think any literature is not age appropriate once a child reaches 11th and 12th grade. I'm talking about reading Caged Bird in the 8th grade. That's really the only example I can think of off the top of my head, so I'd imagine this little rule will never be useful for me. But it's in place, just in case.

5. Take IB over AP. Parents faced with this choice have no idea how lucky they really are. If an IB program is ever an option, take it! IB programs offer the best learning experience for any child -- college bound or drop out, liberal or conservative, religious or agnostic, white or minority -- IB truly offers the most well rounded and rigorous learning experience any kid could have in order to prepare them for the real world. Not to mention, to graduate with an IB diploma a student must complete 100 hours (maybe even 200) of community service. What's not to love about that! In fact, if I follow rule #2 closely enough you better believe I will work on implementing rule #5 at the local school level. I think the IB option at High School level should be as readily available as AP.


Riki Lee said...

I like this post and couldn't agree more. Thanks for the rules - very helpful.

in love said...

This is good. I don't know much about educational systems and since they only had one high school in my home town you took what you could get. I like the IB system. I had never heard of it. We're planning on living in a bigger metro area than where we both grew up so it's definitely good to know what to look for when we decide where to buy a house, etc.

Polly Blevins said...

I have no idea what IB is...But community service is always good even for felons. Great post. I agree comepletely especially with involving yourself with the school as much as possible and being aware of what is being taught.

Scott and Claudia said...

Of course you know your pa has to chime in with his two bits worth. Your #1 rule is #1. What helped make America great was the public education system. No other country can equal our system, though many have tried. Most other countries cater to the elite and the average and below average student doesn't have a chance to prove him/herself.
Now that we have charters and more and more private and home schools than ever before in our nation's history, we're getting away from a common education. We are catering to the elite and many of the charter and public schools are idealogically flawed promoting one view of the world and not all. That type of indoctrination is what brought about WWII. While public education is not without its problems, it remains far and beyond the best choice for keeping America strong and great.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...