17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.
 

Friday, December 29, 2006

School

I grew up in Naperville, Illinois (look at number 2 on this list) from third grade on. It was a great place to grow up because of the low crime rate, beautiful downtown area, large number of church-goers, and the education. In fact, I would argue that my educational experience there was probably the most defining of any other experiences that I had while living there.

I spent this past Christmas there, with my family, and my husband and I reflected on how many people we know that choose to live/work/raise their families in the same towns that they grew up in, and why this would happen. We decided there are two reasons for this: 1. Family is close and 2. Growing up their was a positive experience--why fix it when it ain't broke?

The next question then is, why aren't we choosing to do the same?

Okay now stay with me here as I veer a little...

My 4 1/2-year-old daughter just got accepted to a school in Manhattan. No, it's not our local public school, it's a public school that requires a bit of a process to get in. It is the school of my dreams, and I hope it turns out to be the same for her. My DH and I were BEYOND thrilled when we heard the news last week. We then started telling my parents about it.

Upper West Side of Manhattan
K-12
15 kids per grade, not class, GRADE
20% of curriculum is specialized

As we were describing this education my Dad said: "What if she wants to be a cheerleader?" My DH of course backfired with: "Since when is there a sports team to cheer for?" And I said: "Obviously, each year we will reevaluate whether or not this school/program is right for her...we want her to thrive, so if it's not working out, then we make a new plan."

Then I started thinking. I started comparing my experience to hers. Things in common:
staying in the same place, same friends, same school, same system

Things different:
specialized programs from a very young age, I started with that in high school.
Her graduating class in what 2019? will be 15. Mine was 750.
Urban environment (as opposed to my suburban environment)
Probably going to be the only Mormon kid.
She will probably get to school by subway.
More of a private school feel, than a public school feel, even though it is public, and there are no uniform requirements.

So then I started thinking back to how I had a positive experience growing up and it seems as if I am drastically changing it for my own kin. I liked having a BUNCH of kids at my school, and different classes coming together at recess to play, and walking home from school, and running in a competitive race for parts in the school play or student council president. And even though I never thought once about being a cheerleader (even though I have a few BFFS that are former CLs), there were definitely those at my school too.

And this is my struggle. I think this opportunity for her is amazing, unique, outstanding, stupendous, totally rad, and completely different from my own.

Is it ok to raise my kids in what seems to be a completely different way then the way I was raised? Does anyone else think about high school graduation day when the first day of Kindergarten is still 9 long months away (the time it takes to grow a human baby for crying out loud!) I keep telling myself to just take it one day at a time, one grade at a time, one year at a time, but I want to be certain this is the right path for her when she starts to have test anxiety, to hate herself and everyone around her, to get zits, to apply for college, and to find her way in the world...


9 Comments:

  • Oh, Kage, you are not wrong for worrying about this. I think all parents struggle to know what is good for their children --education at the top of the list.

    I think you hit it on the head when you said that you would re-evaluate her situation in the years to come and make decisions based on how well it's working or not working. Don't parents with children in LARGE public schools do the same thing? Or try to?

    And who knows? Maybe in 5 years, you and your family may find yourselves moving somewhere else...or changing jobs, or situations, and then the school thing will have to be revisited.

    BTW, congrats! That's great that she got into a school that seems very hard to get into...
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 12/29/2006 06:39:00 PM  



  • that sounds like a cool school. I homeschool but if there was something like that available...

    we're doing things rather differently too. Neither of us were raised as urban feminist Mormon homeschooling entrepreneurs. So that's a lot of differences.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 12/29/2006 07:44:00 PM  



  • We're different too- also a public school, but admission is selective and we were lucky to get in- more of a charter school, if you will. We also live far from family, mostly though because buying a home in the Bay Area on one income is darn near impossible.

    It's normal as a parent to worry if we're doing the right thing, but just because we are departing from what we know doesn't mean it's wrong.
    posted by Blogger tracy m at 12/29/2006 08:05:00 PM  



  • Why do you feel the need to replicate your experience? It was great for you, and it may be great for your kids, but you would probably have thrived in many circumstances, as will your kids. Just try to choose the best of those available.

    As a teacher and a parent I feel that the single most important variable in education is the student. Focus on her or him, the rest just doesn't matter that much.
    posted by Blogger a spectator at 12/30/2006 11:49:00 AM  



  • This is off topic but Kage are you in a birth control commercial?
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 12/30/2006 02:28:00 PM  



  • I think it has a lot to do with nostalgia. We are kind of nostalgic for our own experiences (that is assuming they were good ones). Our own children will be nostalgic for THEIR specific experiences, whether they be similar to ours or not. DD doesn't have your suburban, big school memories to live up to. She will be creating her own city school, small classroom experience. That's what she will look back on and feel nostalgic for.

    And I agree w/you & Cheryl... re-evaluate DD's experience each year and make sure she's still in the right place.
    posted by Blogger Beth at 12/30/2006 04:28:00 PM  



  • First of all, congratulations to your DD. This is wonderful news! And I've been meaning to tell you that. The school looks amazing.

    We have enrolled MJ in a Spanish immersion school. We found out a few days before school started that she had gotten in from the waiting list we had placed her on when we moved here. Because we had only a short time to decide, we talked with a lot of parents who had their children in similar programs. We wanted to get a sense of what exactly we would be getting into, the specifics of how children do compared to regular schools, etc. We were really fired up about the opportunity for her, but when we told various family members, they were dubious about a program like this. so, then, of course, we started to wonder if it would be the best thing for her. The thing that sealed it for me was a conversation with a mother who had a child, now a 1st grader, in the same school. She told me that if it didn't work after a year, we could change schools. There wouldn't be much of a cost to it if we needed to change her. I realized that I didn't need to worry about the implications of this decision for the rest of her educational career, which I had been weighing. It's obvious and seems simple, but it made a difference for me.

    I think one of the hardest things about being a parent is balancing between my desires for my child and their interests and agency. I really want my daughter to learn Spanish and love reading. I am going to place her in situations where she can do that. It's easy where her interests coincide with my desires. But what happens if/when she wants to pursue something that is not so obvious to me or something I don't want her to do? (There's a mother I know that won't let her son play sports that she thinks are dangerous, even though he wants to). I hope that I will be able to help her in changing her circumstances so that she can grow her talents and fulfill her potential in whatever areas they may be. I hope there will be some similarities to what I love and how my childhood was, but in other ways, I think it will be quite different.
    posted by Blogger Michelle at 12/31/2006 07:29:00 PM  



  • michelle, when I lived near Silver Spring, MD I SO wanted my not-even-conceived baby to go to the spanish immersion school there. I thought it was an amazing educational opportunity. Now if it came down to it and I could have her in a spanish immersion program or the program she got into, I would pick this one b/c her interest/passion lies less in spanish and more in music...

    So...your comments helped me to realize that even though this is my dream for her, she is totally interested in the subject as well.

    Now I just need to make sure that I treat my second daughter for her individual talents/abilities and not force her down the same path as big sis, if that is not where her passion/talents lie. And since it looks like she is an animal whisperer, that is going to be hard for this fur-wearing, meat-eating mother of hers...thanks for your comments.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 1/01/2007 05:01:00 AM  



  • I think you hit it on the head when you tell yourself to just take it one day at a time, one grade at a time, one year at a time. Although it is easier said than done. I am also struggling with school decisions right now and the more I think about Princess years down the road, the more anxiety I feel. The good thing is that you are able to get her off on a great start. Whether the path changes down the road, I am confident (even if you might not be) that you will be able to see where she needs to go and when.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 1/03/2007 05:06:00 PM  



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