Warning Signs That Your Child Needs to Change Schools: Alternatives to Public School
Mom, dad, the education landscape has changed since you were in K-12. Seriously, it has changed a lot.
If your child is withering under the educational approach of their current school (I use that term “school” quite loosely), there are plenty of available options. This isn’t just an issue of your child being miserable at school. Your child’s K-12 education is hugely influential in the development of the person they will be throughout adulthood.
Before getting started, I want to make it very clear that I am not trying to bash any particular form of education or school. I believe that education should be as individualized as possible. Accepting that no single mold can encompass every student anticipates that some pupils will excel in public school, while others will suffer. And just because one student is the perfect candidate for boarding school or homeschool does not mean either style is a ‘holy grail’ of education.
Furthermore, the education landscape has changed to such an extent that blanket statements about one particular school type are often hollow.
Watch for signs that your child needs a different educational approach
If you are involved in your child’s education, you will notice red flags. If you’re already on the watch for school struggles—that's great! But in most cases, big red flags only begin to wave as conveyors of obvious symptoms resulting from long undiagnosed problems.
How do I know when it’s time to change schools? When should I look for an alternative education solution? When is it time to stop paying exorbitant fees for a private school that isn’t providing a better learning environment for my kid?
There are several signs that your child, or children, may need a different educational approach.
Signs you should change schools (or educational approaches).
1. Your child has said, "I hate school."
You should never, ever, hear these words come out of a child’s mouth. Education should be exciting, fun, interesting, and something your kids love.
If your child's love for learning is squashed at an early age, it could be incredibly difficult for them to engage in self-directed learning once they graduate high school or college. At best, they will likely look back and regret all the time they wasted and K-12 education.
Childhood and young adulthood are unique times. Arguably, they are the only times when one's primary (and sometimes sole) responsibilities are to learn. As an adult, that sounds so wonderful!!!
2. Your child has experienced a decrease or loss of interest in creative arts.
In many education systems, arts, dance, theater, music, and other creative outlets are valued as "lesser academic pursuits." Devaluation of these subjects at an early age can have similar effects as the first point (hating school).
3. Your child no longer engages in academics for fun.
Did your daughter enjoy reading books last year, but not anymore? Did your son’s love for journaling fizzle out entirely? Have your children stopped voluntarily looking up answers to curiosity questions in the encyclopedia/dictionary/Google?
If your child has stopped, or shown a decreased interest in, doing “academic related” activities for fun, it is a definite sign that their school is not encouraging, or supporting, spontaneous and interest based learning.
Consequently, such an environment will cajole your child into an increasingly apathetic state toward interests they were once passionate and enthusiastic about. I think that the potential for a school to kill a child's creativity is the biggest danger students face.
4. Your child has complained about bullying or conflicts.
Conflict resolution that is not student centered and based on communication usually results in unsolved conflict. Most often, schools solve problems with decisive adult directed consequences. With all aspects of problem-solving removed from the students' grasps, they are completely unable to discuss, address, or work out their situation.
5. Your child is learning to procrastinate.
Although there are some fascinating benefits of procrastination, and I am not trying to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Increased procrastination at an early age is a sign that busywork and memorization are filling up too much of your child's time. Once again, their needs are not being met.
6. A school employee suggested your child may have a disease like ADHD.
Without sounding like a conspiracy theorist, school curriculum is, at the very least, designed with behavioral control in mind.
While ADD/ADHD is certainly a spectrum, most "normal" kids will struggle to sit for 6+ hours a day with very little one-on-one interaction. That is because a "traditional" classroom setting is extremely unnatural. But, this is not the time, nor the place, to discuss attention deficit in detail.
7. When your child arrives home, he or she doesn't talk about exciting events of the day.
Nothing exciting is happening? This is a clear sign that your child might not be engaged or enjoying school. An involved kid should have plenty to share and talk about after a stimulating day in school.
8. Your child is obsessed with friends and imitating fashion.
This symptom arises from an educational system that is emphasizing a superficial means of comparison, instead of emphasizing deeper values.
Of course, the educational system may not be encouraging these external values, but a lack of emphasis or direction allows students to gravitate towards reliance on easy external judgments of value.
In lots of scenarios, the “warning sign” boils down to noticing a steady decrease in educational appetite.
I think it is only fair to disclose a bit more information into my bias. I am a firm believer in individualized education. I believe that there is no comparison. And most people will agree with me! But they will disagree that it is realistic to implement it in practice.
Indeed, it's hard to provide a truly individualized education for your child if there isn’t any one-on-one instruction. But it can be done. And if your child is suffering, there is no excuse for ignoring educational alternatives.
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