I’ve been mostly silent for the last few months on our experiences in the public school. Sometimes my silence actually speaks loudly, because in my silence is when my heart is pondering deeply, so deeply that I can’t bring it out until it comes out on its own. But as we near the end of the school year, I think I’m ready to start digesting this new experience and talking about it. Bear with me as I just barely touch the surface of this vast conversation, with all of its nuances. And please remember, these are my personal thoughts and experiences, completely empty of statistics or lists of facts, just one mom’s observations as it pertains to me and my family. Everyone’s story and circumstances are different, not everyone has access to a great school district, not everyone can do this public school thing, and that’s okay. And believe me, sometimes I hesitate to even post anything because I know there are so many variables in this whole conversation for people, and sometimes I feel like my experience isn’t valid because we’re in a “good” school district. But I have to realize that sometimes it helps to hear one person’s story on the matter just to round out your understanding a bit, so I hope you know that I realize my story or experience may look very different than other people’s. Our struggles, joys, good experiences, bad experiences might be way different than yours, but this is where we are, where God has us for now, this is what I have to share, and if it can encourage anyone at all than it’s worth sharing and I’m thankful.
I’ve had several friends call me lately to ask me how it’s been going, since they are trying to decide what next school year holds for them. I’ve enjoyed hashing things out with them, giving them my own personal experience. And the common theme I hear myself sharing is that this year has been hugely wonderful and surprisingly pleasant and sweet.
It’s not that I expected it to be terrible and difficult; mostly I just didn’t know. We went through so much sweat and tears trying to decide what to do for school this past school year, that when we finally made the decision last summer I had to just sit back and watch God work, having no idea what might unfold. And the truth is, there have been so many affirmations that this choice was His choice for us, for now.
A major reason we decided to chose the public school route was because of our heart to get to know more of our neighbors and to feel a sense of community. We want to walk where they walk, figure out our common interests, learn how to enjoy them and serve them. And of course, speak Gospel truth as we relate to them because God is so wonderful and delightful that we can’t keep it to ourselves. It’s a slow and long term process but we have found that indeed, our school is a huge and central way to meeting people in our community.
As we come to the end of our first year, I’ve been amazed to see that God has truly been allowing this to happen. I know more people, and see and recognize more people in our local haunts. We have more connections on the soccer team and in our neighborhood. We have been blessed to meet some amazing people, many of whom live in our neighborhood, which is a pleasant affirmation that for now, this is where God wants us. People all over are looking for a place to belong, a sense of community, because God created us to live in relationship with other people. And it has been exciting to see how this might develop over time as we have more opportunities to relate to our neighbors and make new friends.
*Next time, I’ll discuss how I as a mom have been able to get involved at school.
*Then, how my children have adjusted, the pros and the cons to this new choice, specifically in academics and in relationships…
*And after that, dealing with worry and anxiety in the midst of mothering public school children…
*And then, how I compare this experience with our homeschool experience…some observations about homeschooling, including some thoughts you might not hear very often.
*And then some practical things you can do as a first step into deciding whether or not your public school is right for your family…(from a total non-expert)
*And who knows what else will come to my mind…this conversation could go on and on (I say conversation because I hope you will join in and dialogue with me about this stuff!)