Click to Read Part 1 of Roxanne's article.
It fit the needs of our family and our child. What about his moral development? That was our dilemma. Being in the public school system as children and teachers, we were all too knowledgeable of what could happen. But we had seen the same things happening to kids in the private and homeschooling sector—just delayed until after they left their parents’ houses. And so the discussion began…
My husband thought he would rather have our children deal with those kinds of struggles while they were still in our house so we could help them process and respond appropriately to them. But my mothering heart screamed, “But not if they aren’t ready!” While I could see the wisdom in what he was saying, I didn’t want those struggles to rob my children of their childhood. I didn’t want to “throw them to the wolves” without making sure they had the weapons necessary to survive. And the discussion continued…
We finally agreed to wait. In our waiting, we continued our normal routines and trainings hoping for some spotlight to show us the way. And one day, it came. It was the day I allowed my son the freedom to fail. He was out playing and suddenly came bursting into the house. “MOM!” he shouted. And for the first time, I was able to see what my son was really made of. “Can I have a popsicle?” he asked. You see, every kid in the neighborhood was outside sitting on the lawn, and eating popsicles. Instead of going with the crowd, my son came to ask first! As simple as it seems, it showed me that he was prepared to begin using the lessons we had worked on instilling in his heart.
Deciding to go public can be a daunting task for Christian parents. I know it has been for us. When we chose to go public, we wanted to know our school. We wanted to know the teachers and staff. We wanted to know what was happening in the classroom. But mostly, we wanted to know how our son was responding to it all. So I decided to get involved.
Find A Good School
Before school started, we moved into a new district. This school district has a great reputation for academics, community involvement and support, and financial stewardship. And I love that the district breaks up into small neighborhood schools. My husband and I are originally from small towns, so our current school fits us perfectly! It belongs to a “desirable” district so it has the money necessary to equip my son, but its small size provides a “hometown” feel and welcomes volunteers. Maybe you don’t have the option that a large district brings, but you can still find a good school for your child. When the School Choice Law went into effect a few years back, it gave parents the right to choose their child’s school regardless of district associations. ( http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2011/08/school-choice-in-america-2011-educational-opportunity-reaches-new-heights )
As I mentioned earlier, my husband and I wanted to know what was happening at school. But I wanted more than just “Room-Mother” or “Field-Trip-Monitor” status; I wanted to see what my son was learning and how he was responding in the classroom. The only way I could really do that was to be in the classroom. After making arrangements for my other children, I began volunteering in my son’s classroom once a week. I would go in for a few hours and help the teacher with projects, progress testing, drills, or whatever. This way, I was able to see my son in action; i.e., what children he was gravitating toward (and possibly redirect him), see what social situations he was struggling with, and know what character development we still needed to work on. Of course, being in the classroom also helped me reinforce the academic stuff too! Word to the wise: If you are interested in becoming a school volunteer, start the process as early as possible. Process? Yes. You’ll need to sign-up at your school, complete paperwork for the district (including a background check and fingerprint file), and notify your child’s teacher of your availability before you can begin.
In addition to volunteering in the classroom, you can get involved in PTO/PTA groups (which help raise and distribute funds for your school), Accountability groups (that monitor schools’ progress and conformity to national/state laws), and School Boards (which help create bylaws to run entire districts, and aid in the hiring/firing of personnel).
Remember the Basics
Never forget, YOU are your child’s first and most important teacher. It is not the responsibility of the school to educate your child, just like it is not the church’s responsibility to nurture the development of your child’s spiritual walk. God has given you the great gift of being a mom. He trusts you to do the job well, which means He must have equipped you to do it!