As parents around the country celebrate graduation, everyone relives the good, bad, and funny moments of high school. But what are the benefits of attending public schools? There are more than you might think.
My son recently graduated from public school. The graduation ceremony brought tears to our eyes. We were proud of his accomplishments. Graduation is a milestone moment in the lives of parents and children. We remember when they were born and marvel about how they have grown. But what are the benefits of attending public schools, especially when there are so many viable educational choices?
Daily Interaction with Peers and Adults
Each day, kids interact with their peers and various adults including administrators, teachers, and monitors. There are conflicts along the way. Sometimes adults and peers are wrong. Others times, your child is wrong. These interactive lessons stay with the kids into adulthood. They learn how to deal with conflict in relationships and at the workplace. Lifelong friendships develop that enhance our lives. One of my best friends from high school is still a source of joy and inspiration. My son learned to speak Spanish fluently from one of his closest friends.
Many public schools have diverse populations. This variety gives kids firsthand knowledge about other cultures and religions. Children associate with people from different financial situations and backgrounds. Some kids get free lunch, and others have money to buy anything. There are kids with lovingly packed lunchboxes. All of them share one lunchroom. What do they learn? Some embrace a different lifestyle and others appreciate the one they have at home more. Either way, they have the freedom to make their own choices.
Boundless Opportunities for Learning and Growing
Another one of the benefits of attending public schools is the myriad of possibilities for learning and growing. From marching band to sports to DECA, kids can try many activities. Students quit some activities, others become hobbies, and sometimes a child finds his or her lifelong passion. Plus, these group activities teach kids about teamwork and disappointment. Everyone might not win or get a trophy. But they discover the value of having experiences that are uniquely their own. These are treasured memories that will last a lifetime.
Mean People Exist
Bullying is a major downside at public schools. The buses, hallways, and lunchrooms can become dreaded zones for students dealing with bullies. But mean people exist. Our children will grow up and meet them someday. Facing bullies builds character. My kids have dealt with bullies and some terrible situations. But they tell me it has made them stronger and more resilient. We live in a world filled with conflict. Learning how to handle bullies is an important life lesson.
Accountability and Specialization
There are incompetent teachers and administrators in the public school system. But the bottom line is public school teachers are accountable. And public school teachers’ certifications and qualifications must be verified. Most specialize in teaching children based on age or subject. Children know who to ask when they have questions about science, math, and other subjects. Parent feel reassured teachers are well-educated in a certain field of study. Many schools offer no-cost or low-cost tutoring for students who need it. Some refer to it as extra help, which is a significant advantage for kids with borderline grades. And all of us can remember that caring teacher or two who helped change the course of our lives.
Explore the Future
Public schools offer information about the future. Colleges visit public schools to discuss options for high school students. Kids can also talk to military recruiters, vocational training educators, athletic representatives, and local workplaces looking for young talent. These interactions open up a world of possibilities. Having these educational expos encourages dialogue between teens about the future. These discussions help teens figure out what they want. My son discovered his dream of going into the military, like his father and grandfathers, might not be the best fit. Instead, he is college bound this fall.
The Quandary of Standardized Testing
We were not initial supporters of the Common Core and signed our children out of these tests. Many parents and educators believe standardized testing is an inadequate measure of a child’s abilities. But the mere act of taking these tests helps prepare kids for the SAT, ACT, college application testing, and workplace skills testing. Good or bad, taking tests is a part of moving forward in life. Tests are inevitable for students to face for years to come. Practicing can reduce test anxiety in the future or determine which students have difficulty with formalized tests.
My Daughter and Dealing with Challenges
My daughter is still in public school. She has faced tough situations, including a recent hospitalization. While she recovered, the school provided tutoring in conjunction with my homeschooling. She successfully fulfilled her requirements. But when I asked if this is something she wants to continue in the fall, she said she wanted to return to public school. I probed to find out why. She told me, “It is more challenging than an isolated learning environment.” The variety of classes, personalities, and situations make it her preferred choice.
What About Detention and Suspension?
When a kid skips class, he or she receives detention or in-school suspension. This punishment supports a parents’ position of respect and accountability. Suddenly, it’s not just parents who administer discipline. The rest of the world has expectations, too. Detention and suspension teach kids there are entities other than their parents who can and will punish them. Kids must be accountable for their actions. After all, adults who do the wrong thing could go to jail. I feel it often does take a village to raise and teach kids.
What About the Government?
My son opposed a public school policy during a heated discussion in his social studies class. He was given an in-school suspension for being insubordinate. However, he stands by his opinion and felt it was worth the punishment. Protestors against government policies have felt the same way. The school is a government entity. Often people oppose public schooling for this exact reason. Parents might not want “the man” to control their kids. But we can still teach them to have their own opinions and express them. My son discovered the ramifications of speaking up could be severe. But we live in a free country, and he exercised his freedom of speech. In the future, he will be more articulate and less argumentative, so the point is not lost.
The Benefits of Attending Public Schools for My Son
My son acknowledges the pitfalls and benefits of attending public schools. There were hard times and good ones. He said public school taught him to accept his neighborhood, circumstances, and curriculum for what they were. According to my son, it was an invaluable lesson in learning how to deal with what we have in life and make the most of it.
As a parent, I have watched him grow up. For a time, I thought he was growing away. But ultimately, he has embraced our fundamental principles for a healthy and productive life. He is the head usher at our church and has a job to pay for some of his expenses. But he also has viewpoints and preferences of his own. Sometimes that leads to conflict. But other times, I learn from him. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Written by Stacey Doyle and published by Emax Health ~ July 3, 2017.
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