Sunday, September 19, 2010


School. It plays a big part in the life of the Reeds. Between Aaron teaching full time, me teaching part-time and Bryn in school, I spend a lot of time working schedules around or thinking about things related to school. And anyone who knows me knows that I am more than a little obsessed with my kids' education. I probably spend far too much time fretting about/planning/overseeing things related to Bryn's schooling. Many days I worry that I am too involved. And then I worry that I am not involved enough. But most of all, I worry that I and/or the educational system is going to fail to provide what my daughter needs to live up to her full potential.

I am not sure exactly when I lost faith in the ability of anyone (including myself as I have not chosen to homeschool) to properly educate my child. It could have started when quite a few people I knew in college who couldn't make the grades in their chosen major or who couldn't decide on a major at all settled on Elementary Ed. (Disclaimer: I realize there are many wonderful, intelligent people who major in Education and who are teachers. I know many of them. But I also know some people who majored in Education who are downright scary and I wouldn't wish them on my worst enemy's kid for an entire school year). It hasn't helped that Aaron and I have run into many completely incompetent college students who couldn't write a complete sentence, much less a thoughtful essay if their life depended on it. It really hasn't helped that we have run into even more students who don't give a rat's ass about learning anything in college and expect to earn A's and B's just because they bother to show up to class. Never mind actually doing well on those pesky tests or on actual classwork - they think they deserve a grade just because they tried and did their best (and believe me when I say that their definition of "tried hard" is far different than the one your grandparents would have given you). It does not inspire confidence in the educational system that many of these kids passed 8th grade, much less earned a high school diploma.

I know there are a million and one reasons why kids don't do well in school and not all of them can be blamed on the school or the teachers or the textbooks. I also don't think it can all be blamed on parents or lack of money or No Child Left Behind either. Frankly, I don't really care who or what is to blame - I just need to figure out how to get my child(ren) through it, around it, under it, over it - whatever!

No matter how hard I ponder and how much info I collect, I just can't seem to find the right solution for Bryn and our family. I don't think my kid is a genius, but the work they are doing in her class is not keeping her challenged. I don't even think it has so much to do with the fact that she already knows most of the things they are doing, it is just that she doesn't need 2 weeks to grasp a new concept. I realize that one teacher can't individualize a lesson plan for each student, but I do know it doesn't seem to be working for my kid. And I doubt she is the only one. I don't know how to fix it, but teaching to the middle leaves kids out on both ends of the spectrum. And throwing her in a "gifted" program for less than 2 hours a week as the solution to the problem is almost insulting.

Moving Bryn to the public school does not seem to be a good solution at this point. Their curriculum is even farther behind - not by a lot, but for us, it would just be going in the wrong direction.

Which leaves homeschooling. This would be a bad idea for us on so many levels. It would not be easy for me to do with a 2 year old at home. Bryn and I don't work terribly well together as she is argumentative and I am overly critical. She would REALLY miss her friends and the social side of school. I know she would have plenty of activities and social outlets, but being home with me all day is not he same as being at recess with 10 other little girlfriends.

Sigh. I have to figure it out. I (and Aaron, of course, but he is less obsessive than I am) have to be Bryn's advocate because no one cares about her education as much as I do. If I don't look out for her and make sure she gets the best that can be provided, no one else will. It is up to me, and I cannot fail.


Rhonda said...

You don't have to worry...take a deep breath and know that you and Aaron are fabulous parents and great teachers. You will continue to provide Bryn with the supplemental education that you find benefits Bryn (and Grant). I KNOW that Griffin is not being challenged at school. I KNOW that he is getting forgotten in a class of 20+, but what are the options? Send him to the public school, homeschool or move?? Humm...there are negatives to all of the options. I don't know what the right answer is, but I do know that our kids have a leg up on other kids who have parents who don't give a rats ass.

Debi said...

If it makes you feel any better, you're SO NOT ALONE. I think there are so many parents out there who go through all of this, Kara. And bottom line is, there just aren't any easy answers! I'm not sure if it ever gets easier. Ever. I know we made the right decision (though it was an agonizing decision to make) to homeschool Annie, but that doesn't mean it's perfect. It's just the best solution available to us. And now we're at that same point with Gray...the "is public school really the best thing for this sweet child, because things just aren't right here" stage?!! And with Gray we not only have the "he's not being challenged" component, but also the social issues and the bullying and the complete squashing of his gentle, creative spirit.

I'm sorry, I don't mean to go on and on here...this whole thing has been so on my mind so very much lately. I couldn't even post "first day of school" pictures for Gray, because all the pictures I got of him that morning show him fighting back tears...and frankly, they just break my heart.

But here's the real point I wanted to make despite all my babbling...Bryn is just so incredibly blessed. She's going to be better than fine!!!! Because you really care, because you never get complacent about her education and assume someone else can judge what she needs better than your own family can. I'm going to have to guess that no one in this entire world gets a "perfect" education...that's an entity that simply doesn't exist. But Kara, you and Aaron are both intelligent, sensible, compassionate people...and I've NO DOUBT whatsoever that you are raising your children to be the same.

There are so many times when I wish I could channel that beautiful Kara confidence. I have to admit that we so often feel like persona non grata no matter where we are because of our education choices. So many "public school families" seem to think we're complete wackos for homeschooling Annie. And a lot of "homeschooling families" treat us even worse--acting as if we don't care about our children because Gray and Max are in public school. I don't understand either of those viewpoints at all! All children are NOT the same! So why do people think that there should be one and only one correct way to educate every single child?!! And we are constantly reevaluating, trying to improve what we can for them. Like you said--no one cares more about Bryn's education than you do. It's also true that no one knows her strengths and weaknesses better, knows how she best learns, and certainly no one loves her more. Don't worry, my dear friend, you are NOT going to fail her!!! She is one of the luckiest children on the planet...she really is.

And Kara, by saying that Bryn is going to be better than fine because she is in such good hands, I don't mean to minimize what you're going through. Not at all. Quite the opposite, in fact. I know this hard, and it likely won't get any easier. But you're doing what you need to do...even though there are no easy answers. And honestly, sweetie, the fact that you care, that you don't take her education for granted, well, that alone gives Bryn a step up on a lot kiddos.

*hugs hugs hugs*

Cagey (Kelli Oliver George) said...

The more I read about school experiences, the more I dread sending my own kid into the system. Homeschooling is not an option for us - my husband is vehemently against it and I do not have the personality for it. Still, I worry about how school has changed so drastically since I was in it.

kreed said...

I have decided that I must have a subconscious motivation to blog because of all the lovely strokes my ego receives! I truly appreciate the kind words and encouragement. It is all just so frustrating to me - my personality is to find the problem, research solutions and FIX IT NOW! So when I come up against a problem like this that seems to have no truly good solution, I get wildly frustrated and discouraged.

Rhonda - I know you struggle with the same issues we have. I am hoping that if I can come up with some ideas, there may be a way to benefit other kids in the class, too. And you know me - it is unlikely I am going to give up until I find SOMETHING to make things at least a little better!

Debi- I can't tell you how often I think of you, knowing that you have been down this same road with Annie and also knowing how much trouble Gray has at school. I can't imagine how heartbreaking it is as a parent to see your child struggle and know that there isn't really any way to fix it. And all of those wonderful things you said go right back at you and Rich - your kids will no doubt be better than fine because of the people you and Rich are. I have always admired how dedicated you are to your children and their education and how discerning you are when it comes to evaluating what is right for each of your kids individually.

Kelli - I should probably be more positive here, but if I based on my experiences, you should be very afraid.