The time of year is approaching when many families have to start visiting schools, choosing one … It is a process that for many is going to be very simple, as they have it very clear. They know the school they want, there are places and there is not much else to think about.
For many other families, however, it is a real headache. The school they like is far or too expensive or there is no place or there is some other impediment.
Which to choose? How? What to prioritize?
In this article I am not going to give you any specific answer, because I precisely believe that there is no universal option or answer that works well for everyone. Each family, each child and each situation is different.
My only intention is to share with you some reflections that have helped me over the years. Learnings that I have been putting in my backpack and that, perhaps, will help you feel more accompanied in this process.
To make this article easier to read, I am going to mention some of the main concerns that you always mention to me and my opinion about them. Shall we start?
WHAT IS THE IDEAL SCHOOL LIKE? A SCHOOL FOR THE CHILD OR FOR THE FAMILY?
There is a school for each child, but also for each family. All family members have to be okay with that choice.
There are no perfect solutions. Perhaps you find the ideal school but it is so far from home or it is so expensive that for the whole family it is a great burden, either in terms of time or money.
All members of the family are important. How are parents going to be if we make that effort? Do we like to do it or not? Can we afford it or is it going to be a very big burden that makes us feel bad on a day-to-day basis?
It is important to answer honestly, from the self. Because afterwards it is a reality that affects us on a day-to-day basis and can be hard. Sometimes motivated by illusion or by seeking the best for our children, we assume those efforts (of displacement or money) that later make us feel bad.
Sure, not everything is predictable. Perhaps we see it manageable and then it becomes difficult for us. It is natural and human, nothing happens .
Something that has helped me a lot is to focus on what needs a certain project covers and see what “efforts” it implies . Does it compensate or not? How is the scale?
We have been moving for many years, from the 2-something we started to go to the shared education group. There have been days of thinking that so much travel made me very heavy, of course, but after meeting my tribe, with the rest of the families with whom we have shared upbringing and laughter, seeing the little one free, happy and wild … All that It has more than covered the travel headaches.
But that is my balance of pros and cons, perhaps in your case it is different. Perhaps for others traveling is too heavy, or the economic expense that it entails (and that of course affects us in other areas, in our case, less trips and vacations) do not compensate you. And it’s perfect.
A school close to home can also be a luxury, even if it doesn’t seem perfect to you . It can mean less expense and fatigue and that afterwards you can invest a lot of energy with the children every afternoon . Or perhaps with the money saved you can do wonderful trainings to better accompany your children, etc. Who says this is not better than the other? Maybe for you it is the perfect option.
SCHOOL NEAR OR FAR
I have already begun to outline this issue in the previous point … And the truth is that it is not an easy decision. Choose between a school that we apparently love, but that is far away, or stay close to home, even if we like it less.
As I said, it is important to assess how that decision will make you feel in your day to day. Do you like to do those trips? Even move?
Constanza Echevarría told us recently, in a Nonviolent Communication workshop, about Marshall Rosenberg’s own experience. He took his children to a Montessori school and those trips were very tiresome.
At that moment, she connected with “why” she took her children there, with the needs that this project covered, the values that she wanted her children to have, and she saw that yes, that was positive. And from there he did it with pleasure and love.
But perhaps in your case you value that the trips are too heavy and that it is more valuable to be with more energy and less fatigue in the afternoons, for example. And it’s perfect.
Not moving or not moving allows us to be closer to our roots or our close environment and develop life there. How important is this to you?
CONVENTIONAL SCHOOL OR ALTERNATIVE SCHOOL
This is a question that you share with me often and I think that it can help you a lot to decide what you want for the education of your children. I leave you some questions that may help you to position yourself:
- Is it important for you that it is an official or approved school or not?
- Is it important to follow the school curriculum closely or not?
- Do you care if they learn to read, write, math or English quickly? What rush are you in to acquire this knowledge?
- Is it important for you that your children learn the subjects when their interest arises? At their own pace?
- Do you want them to play all day if that is their interest? Or do they also do academic activities?
- Is it important for you that the adaptation / bonding period is as long as your child needs?
- How do you value free movement?
There are many other questions to assess or ask the center, but I frame these because they are usually important aspects that can help you decide.
There is no judgment in the questions or in the answers. But depending on what you answer, you will be able to see more clearly what type of school is more in line with your feelings.
SCHOOL TO RESERVE A PLACE OR WAIT
This is one of the star themes. There are many families that do not really want to go to school at 2 or 3 years old or do not want to do it in a certain center but are aware that not doing it in P3 will mean that in the future it will be very difficult for their child to go to that school.
I have been constantly repeating that there are no perfect solutions and if you see it clear to point it in P3 to that school although idyllically you would prefer to wait… go ahead.
For those of you who have serious doubts … What has always helped me is thinking about the present . Think about the immediate now because that is the reality that I know how it is. Where will we be from here 3 years? Or what will we want? That is already more difficult to determine so in our personal case we choose to follow our feelings in the present moment without conjecturing too much about future schools or their possible places.
In addition, in my close environment I have often seen that those who have struggled to enter a certain school later have succeeded. Of course, it has not been easy. It has involved hours of queues and struggles in the corresponding department but it has been argued that what that school offers is what is wanted and that it is not offered in another. All children should have the right to schools that respect children in their being .
On the other hand … I also tell you that I know families who attend a school early to have a place in the future … and when they enter it they realize that the school does not meet expectations. That reaffirms me even more in this idea of looking for the right place in the present moment, not thinking about what will happen a few years from now.
ADULT FEAR OF CHANGING SCHOOL
Many times we are also afraid of school changes. Will it be good for me to do early childhood education in an alternative or more respectful school if I know that at 6 I will have to go to a more conventional place? I wrote about it a long time ago, in this article , but I will quickly comment again that for me it is positive that, especially in the early years, children can go to a center where they are fully respected, where the game has the place and importance it deserves, where you have the freedom to be yourself and develop at your own pace.
I make a small paragraph to emphasize that when I speak of alternative schools I am not referring to any specific type of school, but to any center (public or private) that respects the child in his being and his needs.
The first seven years is very important for the development of the personality and it is also a stage in which the child may not be able to express everything that happens to him, so putting special care in this stage is essential.
As soon as elementary school begins, they will have more tools to face schooling and, in addition, they will be able to verbalize and express at home much more and better everything that happens in the day to day of school.
MY CHILD DOES NOT WANT TO CHANGE SCHOOL EVEN THOUGH I FEEL THAT THE CHANGE IS GOOD
Sometimes you have also commented to me that you, the parents, see very clearly that you do not like school, that it causes suffering in the child in one way or another … But that he has his group of friends there, for example, and does not want to change.
I don’t have the magic answer to that situation, of course not. Depending on the child, the situation, the school, your feelings … the path may be one or the other.
But it does come to my mind to tell you that you know better than anyone what educational options you have, what “benefits” each center can bring… And that the child’s fear of the unknown or of change is perfectly normal. Also, you can’t choose an option that you don’t know about.
If you bet on change to find a better school… I support and encourage you. Now the children are in the full stage of training and being able to go to a school that respects them, values their own initiative, etc. etc. it is a gift of life that will remain forever in them .
BE GUIDED BY YOUR INSTINCT
I have been writing about the choice of school for a while, trying to bring you reflections and questions that can guide you in that process. But when you finish reading (and perhaps reflect on all of it…) forget everything and stop and think how you feel about the chosen school.
What first sensation did it give you? Do you trust the center or the educators? Is there something that doesn’t suit you?
Our feelings and our intuition are very powerful. If something doesn’t suit you … don’t overlook it. Make more visits, more questions, soak up the school a bit by talking to the management, with families who are already there… So you can resolve your concerns and look a little more closely if the school suits you.
In my personal case … on more than one occasion I have thought that if I had paid more attention to my intuition about a school … we would have saved ourselves the odd annoyance.
SOME LATEST IDEAS
As you can see, each child, family, process and school decision is unique. And whatever you choose is going to be perfect, even if you’re wrong . You learn from everything and a school that you do not like can be the perfect opportunity to reflect on what you want for the education of your children and go there.
Also, do not forget that we can all be agents of change . We can get involved in the chosen project, contribute ideas, lead by example. Request to spend more time adapting (bonding) if your child needs it. Sometimes things are done one way because no other is known.
We can enlighten other families or teachers with our way of doing , showing that a child may need a longer time with mom or dad at school and perhaps after that, from that security, they move like a fish in water; We can contribute ideas, proposals for activities, offer our help to make more excursions, outings to a nearby forest or a long list of ideas that have no end, because the possibilities are endless, as are the ways of being of each child. And because we must not forget that the responsibility for the education of our children is ultimately ours .
And this is all I wanted to tell you. Perhaps to many of you it sounds like Chinese and you don’t understand why I am writing this. In that case … great, because you have the decision or the chosen school quite clear.
To those who resonate with these words … I hope they bring you some light … but above all a lot of love and warmth. We all want the best for our children and we are on that path.
MORE TOPICS ON PARENTING
- 63 Sweet Parenting Quotes to Dedicate to Dads
- The effect of nature on children. 7 positive changes
- How to react to a child’s drawing?
- Getting dirty is good for children’s development and learning
- Why respect children’s observation and (self) learning without interrupting their processes
- Do children really don’t know how to play anymore? Ideas to promote free play at home
- The importance of play as a stimulus for creative thinking
- How to encourage children to play constructions. 9 ideas and resources.
- Are baby swings suitable? And swing the children? More appropriate alternatives.
- Nature: Why is it the ideal place to play for children?
- Why Cardboard Materials Free Children’s Imaginations
- The importance of risk in gambling and how to properly accompany it
- A conscious look at the accompaniment of the understanding of time in childhood
- The importance of respecting the sensory stimulation threshold of each child
- 6 benefits of playing with large building blocks and promoting spatial thinking
- Discover the benefits for children of going barefoot and how to favor it at home and at school
- The importance of the environment for a healthy and positive boredom
- Why do children transform objects into play materials?
- Back to the blog … Earth in your hands
- Not sure which school to choose? Reflections to help you in this process
- Children innately need risk and adventure in play