Sunday, August 19, 2012

Choosing the Right School for Your Child, A Wish List

In just a few short weeks, I will be sending my child to kindergarten.  Most parents select a home for the schools, and I was no exception; however, she will not be attending the school in our neighborhood after all.  Our zoned school is, by all accounts, a "good" school, as is the school she is going to attend.  But, what exactly is a good school?  Does it mean good standardized test scores?  For some people a good school means that children are exposed to many different experiences and are allowed to explore their creativity and develop their interests.  To others it means a comforting, safe community where their child feels loved and welcome.  Many helicopter parents want their schools to prepare kids for the ubercompetitive world and give them the upper hand against their peers.  Others, like me, just want my child to be able to play and laugh, dance and make music, imagine, make friends, color and do things children do.  Youth is all too fleeting, and she can jostle and wrestle when she's older.

I wish we lived in simpler times, where we could educate our child by working with them day-to-day and show them the skills they'd need to survive.  But, if I lived in simpler times, I would not have a dishwasher or a grocery store, so that's out.  I wish I could teach my daughter in the school of life by visiting exotic lands and meeting interesting, creative people and visit world-class museums and view all types of architecture.  But, if we did that, we'd be living hand-to-mouth, and have to forgo health care and contract parasites, so that's really not an option. 

I really do not know to what type of school I am sending my daughter.  Her kindergarten group will only be the second graduating class of her school.  There is one cohort a year ahead of her, and that is all.  So, by almost all of the measures of a "good" school listed above, there is no surety that the school will provide any of those things.  And even I, with ten years now in the education field, know very little about what makes a school top-tier.  The most illustrious schools don't teach civics or manners or the things that makes a culture bearable to inhabit.  Our country is far too afraid of offending someone that we dare not teach children what is and what is not acceptable behavior.   And parents have abandoned raising their children, allowing the electronic babysitter to form their children's minds. 

It all becomes...
...a vicious cycle

It seems that parents have to select whether they want their child to be considerate, thoughtful, enterprising and, as a result of these characteristics, an outcast.  What will she have to offer in a conversation about The Kardashians or about the latest pop star's attempt at getting more naked than the last pop star?  I am sending her to a gifted and talented school, and in doing so, I hope that we will find similar parents that have that renounced the easy way, and choose to raise their children in the old-fashioned, time-intensive manner.


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