11 March 2013

Thoughts On Our Way to D.C.

Lorin, Miranda, and I took a trip to Washington D.C. this past Friday and Saturday. I like long road trips with Lorin because they give us the opportunity to have long talks about life. The big topics for this road trip were our plans for Miranda's education and American education in general. I know kindergarten is still in the distant future, but it's nice to explore our options now. We talked about homeschooling, charter schools, and public schooling. Lorin and I hashed out the advantages and disadvantages of each one.

We seemed to hit public schooling pretty hard. We talked about how the good teachers were underpaid and underappreciated, how poor teachers were allowed to keep teaching, and how standardized testing does not reflect students' true abilities in all subjects (especially in writing—don't get me started on this one). We talked about different ways public schooling could improve if America just did this or America just did that. 

However, there was a turn in our conversation when we realized the root reason why students are failing.

Lack of family support. 

Lorin and I thought about our own K-12 education. We both did very well in elementary and high school. Both of us had some awesome and inspiring teachers, and we also had teachers who just didn't care. But more than anything else, our parents helped us with homework, read to us, went to parent-teacher conferences, drove us to extra-curricular activities, and were actively involved in our lives. This made the difference in our education.

I'm curious what would happen if America put more of a focus on family rather than more and more tests and programs to help students improve. 

I'm not saying that kids who lack family support cannot succeed; in fact, I've known lots of people who have become successful in their education, despite their difficult family circumstances. However, not all people have this kind of motivation. This is why there needs to be a focus on family.

I know I'm not the first person to think of this, and I know things are probably a lot more complicated than I think. So, what do Lorin and I do about this? 

We make education important in our own home. 

We still haven't decided what we are going to do when Miranda is ready for kindergarten; however, one thing we have decided is to be actively involved in Miranda's education.

What do you do to support your child/children in their education?

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  1. I love D.C. I went there as a senior in high school. I know what you mean about education. Parker could start this fall, but I think since he is borderline with the cut-off date, we will probably wait until next year. We also are pretty certain we will entertain the idea of homeschooling through online classes and video classrooms. It looks pretty fun actually. A lot of hands on individual time. It would be very involving for me as a mom and that I also enjoy thinking about. I would be present and aware of all that my child was being taught. Anyway. Just a thought. =)

    1. That is really cool, Ashley. I really think we will end up homeschooling Miranda at some point, if even for only a couple years. I really feel like we could give her a better education than any elementary school or Jr. high. Same thing with you and Richard. Your kids have parents who specialized in the subjects that they need to know about. They will pretty much be geniuses with you guys as teachers.

  2. I think most of our country's problems stem from lack of family values (hence the emphasis from the Church). People see the symptoms of this and want to fix them but in the end it's the home that needs mending.

    As for what you can do, reading to kids is the best thing to start with- which I saw both you and Lorin doing for Miranda on Sunday at church so you're well on your way! When I was a pre-k teacher we had children who were under-privileged and special needs and never had books read to them. They drank it up at school. They were so sweet but started at a severe disadvantage. Great insights, Sarah!

    1. Thanks Brooke! I completely agree that the problems stem from family values. Lorin and I talked a lot about that on our trip. On the topic of reading, I had an interesting experience at the Wake County Health Department about a month ago. Miranda and I are enrolled in the WIC program here, and as part of the program, I had to go to a class that instructed me on how to take care of my 9-month-old. I was with a group of about 15 other women. The WIC instructor talked about how important it is to read to our child and asked us individually if we make it a point to read to our child every day. I was SO surprised at how many mothers said that they do not read to their child. There was even one mom who said she doesn't read to her child because her child likes watching TV better. I'm just glad that this instruction was mandatory because some people just don't understand how important reading is.

  3. Food for thought.....
    Birth to 1 year old just 1 book a day = 365 books
    x 5 years before Kindergarten = 1825 books
    x 2 books a day = 3650
    x 3 books a day = 5475
    x 4 books a day = 7300
    If mom & dad each read 2 books a day to their child from birth to 5, through small and simple things, great things can be accomplished. Imagine the background in the alphabet, concepts of print, sentence structure, sight words, comprehension, etc. that this child enters school with compared to their classmates. Parents please never underestimate how important you are as the original teachers and give your child the gift of literacy from the very first day. Yes Sarah, your mom and dad the kindergarten teachers appreciate you and Lorin giving our granddaughter a marvelous foundation no matter what you decide to do when she turns 5.

  4. As a mom of three....my oldest being 14....these are my thoughts:

    Public school in a good area can work. Both my husband and I are products of public school education and we are both professionals (although I stay at home now). My oldest is now apply for a magnet school in our area (fingers crossed) but if you stay on top of them and make sure they excel in their current school....the opportunities will be there.

    Reading is a must in my family. I stress the importance of reading to my children all the time and I think it works. I can often find my children reading when they shouldn't be....I do forced "down time" from electronics tv/computers/smartphones/etc, which makes them turn to the books for entertainment. So far so good!


What are your thoughts, my friends?

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