Monday, August 15, 2011

Education -- and the Best Choice for YOUR Family

I admire Meagan Francis. She's a mom of five kids, a writer, an author, a blogger and an all-around happy person. Her latest book (and blog), The Happiest Mom, is designed to help moms enjoy life and motherhood. As Meagan says," Happy. Mother. You really can use both words in the same sentence."

Her latest blog post, though, hit me in a way that few posts ever do. In "School Choices and the Ideal Mother," Meagan details her struggles to find the "perfect education" for her children, and gives moms everywhere the right to make the decision that best suits their family.

From the responses she's been receiving, it seems that a lot of parents need to hear that message.

If you've been reading this blog for awhile, you may know that I'm a big proponent of homeschooling. But that doesn't mean that I think institutional education is evil. I think that each family needs to make the choices that best fit the needs of that family. Note that I said "family," and not "children." One of Meagan's major points is that the health and needs of the parents need to be considered also.

That can be a radical message for some parents. It's really, really easy to lose sightof your needs in your quest to satify your children's. But it's not only OK to consider your needs; it's absolutely essential.

And here's the other thing: The "right" educational choice can evolve over time as a family's needs change. Educating your family isn't a matter of choosing homeschooling over institutional schooling or private school vs. public school. No matter how carefully you make your decision, it's entirely likely that your child -- and your family -- will experience a variety of educational settings before the children take their place in the adult world.

In other words: It's OK to homeschool now. And to enroll your kid in school in a few years if that's what makes sense for you and your family. It's even OK to decide to homeshool him again later for his last year of high school, if that's what works.

Of course, the reverse remains true as well. It's OK to start your child in school, and then pull him out later if school isn't working for some reason. It's also OK to homeschool one kid and enroll the rest in school.

The bottom line is that you (and your spouse or partner, if you have one) are the only person who can decide at any given point in time what educational option is "best" for your family. My opinion doesn't matter. (Although I'm more than happy to provide information and resources!) Meagan's opinion doesn't matter. Neither does your mother-in-law's or the school prinicpal's or your local politician's.

So as this school year approaches, I enourage you to think long and hard about the educational choices available to your family. Then take a moment, if you will, to express some silent gratitude for those choices.

Finally, relieve the pressure. Let go of any lingering guilt. The educational choices you make this year -- this week, or next, or even next month -- are not permanent. You make a choice, you live with it, you see how it goes. It if works, great! If not, make another choice -- but don't beat yourself up for Choice #1. The best any of us can do is to respond to situations as they arise.

What educational choices are you making this year? Any changes from years past?


  1. Jennifer, I just finished a post about launching a homeschool year with my third-grader. It is at once exhilarating and terrifying (the idea of homeschooling, not the post). How lovely to be reminded that we are not shackled to our decisions, whatever they may be. Thank you.

  2. I can't wait to jump over and read this post. Even though I've been a classroom teacher for years, I wholeheartedly agree with you -- it is a choice, a parental one, and we must all make our own informed one with a mind that's open to the future.

  3. Very nice, especially the bit about being receptive to making changes down the road.

    In homeschooling as in life, it's really best to focus on the present rather than worrying about tomorrow. Plus, if you aren't happy with your situation, make adaptations!