I’ve had a child or 4 in school for the past 24 years! It seems like yesterday that my first born was entering William Harding School as a “rising 5”. I can see him in his little uniform, combed hair and gappy teeth, all smiles and excitement. Back then we walked to school, up the road and under the train tunnel, lunch box swinging and always with my second son in tow.
On my actual yesterday, I dropped off my last baby for her very last “first day of school” and found myself quite emotional and not only because it was 6:45 AM.
Holy cow, 24 years is a lot! 24 years of, uniform shopping, permission slips, field trips and registration papers. 24 years of late night assignments and parent teacher conferences. We’ve gone from, sign up to register on day one only, to paperwork every year, to everything done online. My kids have taken classes from Art, Theatre and foreign language to Radio Broadcasting and Digital Marketing. We’ve gone from talking to a teacher twice a year at parent night, to online daily updates of all grades, assignments and upcoming info. I no longer dread that face to face time because I already know exactly what’s going to be said. For the most part, I got the same message, “They’re awesome! I love having them in my class but they need to turn their work in on time.” Grades and performance became less of a draw for me as I realized that raising good humans was my ultimate goal and in that , I feel successful. My kids are all damn good people.
I always thought graduating high school was a given and I used to harass my kids about getting good grades. I paid rewards for A’s because money bribes seem to work in my house but have since been told I’m cheap now and should up the stakes. I’m stoked to have 3/4 of my kids graduated because the truth is, it’s a lot of work and if you struggle with a learning difficulty or any mental health issues at all then school is not even a place you want to be.
In a school with almost 4,000 students, 800 graduated with my first son, it’s hard to not feel completely alone in a crowd. It’s like being in London and knowing the chances of bumping into anyone you know is slim to none. My daughter attends a much smaller Charter School, that’s still a publicly funded school but with a parent advisory board that controls a specific curriculum. The number of kids that could graduate this year is under 100 and the principle will drive the school bus to meets and competitions when needed. Whilst they still have teams and clubs that most all kids can attend, they don’t have the massive football stadiums and state of the art auditoriums. They also don’t have 40+ kids in a class room or uber competitive tryouts and auditions that leave incredibly talented kids no longer playing the game they’ve loved for the last 10 years because there’s just too many kids.
A lot has changed in 24 years in the education system but learning how to learn is still an absolute basic life skill needed.
I love that education, whilst provided mostly for free, by the government, is very much in the hands of the student and parent now. There are many options for learning both in traditional massive facilities as well as at home from your own PC. I mean, your kid can just roll out of bed or into the closest school, they’ll even bus them there if it’s over walking distance but there are a lot of kids who are just lost in that world.
My four kids have experienced it all, The 5A largest in state school, the private school, the charter school with additional specialty tutoring and the online adult learning. In the end, each worked out for them.
As an experienced school Mum I will say, get to know what’s out there, get involved, volunteer. I promise you , there are so many options and they all want your child to succeed. Figure out how to support your student, and be the best advocate for them. It makes “back to school” days so much better.
Shout Out to Providence Hall High School, Dyslexia Center of Utah and South Point Academy. You changed my kids lives for the better.