Choosing a school
Updated: Dec 9, 2022
It is August 2019. I have wrestled with this decision for over a year. For most, it isn’t even a decision to make; it’s just something that we do, a natural part to our lives. There is no wondering, no questioning, just doing. My children, as well as countless others, have led me to begin questioning school. As I sit on yet another precipice of a new school year, it is nagging at me again.
Three years ago, our oldest son started Kindergarten. (To read more about this, see the Our School Story blog.) We began at a small public school but quickly realized it was doing more harm to our son and our family than we could bear. We moved back to our private school in which he attended preschool and found some success. He exhibited a lot of the same ‘problems’ but with the familiar surroundings, small class sizes, and faith-filled school, he was met with love and kindness.
He is now to be starting third grade and his younger brother will begin first. Our youngest boy is four and eager to be like his brothers and go to school. While it is cute that he wants to be like his brothers, I’m not sure ‘school’ is what he really is going to want to do.
We are not unhappy at our current school. The teachers and staff are kind, they know our children very well and they also know our family. They want our children to find success, our boys get to go outside and play three times a day, and they have found beautiful friends. But yet, I have this nagging feeling.
While my own boys have taught me so much about school and brought its problems to the forefront, I am not alone in this. My journey is mine but I read about so many others’ experiences as well as see the problems with the system. We are moving forward and making changes but it is slow. We have built a system on compliance and ensuring everyone gets the same education, same learning, the same information. But the world has changed and our system is no longer necessary. We know this; yet we persist in our ways. Hence my feeling sticks in my stomach and will not go away.
I feel there is still a better way. A way in which they may find their strengths early on and feel valued for whatever they end up being good at. A place where they can truly be children, where mistakes are encouraged to grow and learn from. A place where they are not measured on their compliance and where love is fostered instead of fear.
A place like this exists but it continuously feels just out of reach. The Innovation School holds the promise of all these things. I have done my research; I have read so many books on new schools and ways to ‘fix’ our system I think I could write my own. I do not believe we need new schools to fix our system but because I do not know exactly what is needed and I do not want my own children to miss out while we educators figure it out, we continue to discuss sending our boys to this school.. I have spent time at The Innovation School and my children have done a shadow day. I have spent countless hours with the director, picking her brain, learning from her, admiring her tenacity. Her beliefs and curiosity match my own. While I know all this and believe in the ideas of this new school, I wonder.
I wonder how we can pay for this opportunity that lies before us. Last year, we committed to attending The Innovation School. But faith alone couldn’t make it work. After budgeting and crunching, we felt too constrained. We backed out.
This year, our school tuition has increased to reach the same amount as The Innovation School. The Universe felt the need to show us this is not a real barrier.
But now I wonder how we can make all the logistics work. There is no after school care. The drop off time is 15 minutes later than our current school. They do not begin school until after Labor Day. So while I continue to fit all the puzzle pieces together, I know we have to take a risk. The Universe has shown us there is no barrier too large to overcome.
We are going to take the risk. Because I often wonder, what am I risking by not taking action, by keeping them in a school system I no longer believe in? Sometimes inaction is worst of all.
So while it will be difficult to get all the puzzle pieces to fit, we believe they will. We believe in the big picture, The Innovation School, the future and possibilities. We believe our children will be able to experience something different in this school and in themselves.