What's your bottom line for your children's education?
If I asked you "what are the top three things you want your child(ren) to take away from their initial education" (I'm talking K-12), what would they be? Independence? Free thinker? A good citizen? Excellent grades? A certain religious/ethical outlook? An athlete on scholarship?
I've thought a lot about it...particularly since we're struggled between our local public school district, school of choice options, and homeschooling to find the right fit for our family.
Fortunately, I've relied on my husband's input, prayer and trusted my "momma gut" and we are completely thrilled with Flicka's school where she completed kindergarten and will soon complete first grade.
However, as usual, I'm going against the flow and the decision of nearly all my fellow momma friends who chose our neighborhood schools. So, I get asked ALOT to explain over and over and over again the choice we made. Plus, I think my teacher training and experience makes me a little different type of "consumer" when it came to what I was looking for from an educational system.
Most of the time, I've felt defensive when questioned. Mostly because I couldn't really put my emotions, concerns, and "momma gut" into words that made it understandable to someone else.
But, finally, it dawned on me the other day when I was talking with a mom who was very concerned about the way her district went about doing their standardized testing at the lower elementary grades. That district, according to her, tests the kids immediately upon returning from summer vacation, re-tests second semester, and then touts their excellent improvements.
Doesn't seem like a particularly fair assessment to me - and it didn't seem that way to her either. And, I mentioned that (particularly with conferences last week) I really appreciated how Flicka's school seems to rely on smaller, more frequent assessments more for her teacher to see where they are and where to go next as opposed to focusing on standardized testing and its results.
And, the clouds parted and the angels sang! LOL
It occurred to me and my little rebel brain...I DON'T CARE HOW FLICKA DOES IN STANDARDIZED TESTING! *gasp*
While it's wonderful to see improvement through her teacher's assessments and Flicka's work from one quarter to the next, I DON'T CARE IF SHE'S AT GRADE LEVEL AT THIS POINT! *double gasp*
The overall reason I wanted a different situation for Flicka was that I was looking for someone who would work with me to create a LIFELONG LEARNER, not a good test taker.
While I was a good test taker, my comprehension and retention often weren't the best thanks to my ADD. Meanwhile, Mike never has found test-taking particularly easy or worthwhile but because he's crazy smart and eternally curious, he can blow the doors off just about any challenge he tackles.
I want Flicka to LOVE LEARNING because it feels AWESOME to learn something new and hit that A-HA moment! I want THAT type of magic and innocence to last as long as possible before the testing becomes necessary.
Thankfully, Flicka's teacher agrees with me wholeheartedly.
"Beth, we don't 'teach' kids to speak. They're immersed in it. They try, they fail, they adjust, they figure it out. Reading is much the same way. Keep her immersed in reading and writing and her reading skills will increase in leaps and bounds."
That's MY bottom line. So, what is YOURS?