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Public School: The Unpardonable Sin

Public School Moms Don’t Care

There was a time in my life when I was judgemental of moms who sent their kids to public school. Moms who didn’t “care enough” or “enjoy their children enough” to homeschool them. Of moms who couldn’t wait to put them on the school bus and suffered through summer vacation. Of moms who “weren’t willing” to sacrifice and pour themselves into their children. Of moms who didn’t want to breastfeed. And who let their two-year-olds watch TV.

Having  a houseful of children is a humbling experience on many levels. Sort of like this morning at MomSpot (where moms from our church meet for coffee, breakfast, a speaker and craft). My friend, Stacy, from With Great Joy spoke about praying for our children and there was a craft to go along with it.

Popscicle stick prayers while the kids are at school

Popsicle Stick Prayers

The ladies were decorating jars and were given popsicle sticks to write the names of people and things to pray for. Stacy shared that she and her children do this at each meal. Lovely, right?

You notice, though,  I said “the ladies” were doing the craft. As in, not me. Why, you ask? Because I know better. Had I made this lovely little prayer jar, my children would have been having sword fights with the popsicle sticks in the van on the way home. Not only that, but once we arrived at home , I guarantee someone would have ripped off the ribbon (which I would have found later on the floor- or  binding up an innocent teddy bear) and would have used the jar as a drinking glass.

That’s just how we roll over  here.

I’m Not Always Right

Anyway, one thing I have learned in my eighteen years of mothering is, I’m not always right. And my choices aren’t the only right choices out there.

This morning after MomSpot, I headed to the bank, filled the van with gas, dropped Tilly off to buy Canadian bacon (pizza night!) and took Apollo the lab for a blood draw. After that we headed home where Jubilee make quesadillas for lunch and I headed right off to Parent Teacher conferences at Mordecai and Avi’s school.Avi is thriving in school

The Unpardonable Sin

I have committed what in some circles, in some of my circles, is practically considered the unpardonable sin: I put two of our children in public school.

*gasp*

Last year, of course, we had five children enrolled while we took Apollo to Texas for surgery and focused on his many medical needs. This year is Avi’s second year of school and Mordecai’s third. Over the last few years I’ve taken flack from two (opposing) groups of people: my staunch homeschooling friends and groups who hate homeschooling. From one group, I am judged for sticking my kids in school at all. From the other, for sticking my adopted kids in school and homeschooling the rest.

Now let me share what has come of my children being in public school. Avi and Mordecai can both read now. Due to their learning disabilities, I wasn’t able to teach either child to read (despite my experience with “typical” kids).  Mordecai knows his multiplication tables. He tripled his test scores in writing this year. Both kids are doing as well, even better, than can be expected given their special needs.

Even if we could afford to send them to private school (which we can’t) it is unlikely they would get as much help as they do in public school (due to the public school’s requirements to provide “free and appropriate education”).

School for some reason, has improved Avi’s social skills more than her years at home all day with us. The positive peer pressure, other adults supporting and encouraging her. Whatever it is, it’s working. School also gives Avi and Mordecai a chance to shine away from their same-age siblings. Ten years ago, I never could have imagined what it would be like to be raising our virtual twins (Mordecai & Jubilee and Avi&Tucker) and how hard it would be for them to constantly be behind their “twin” academically.

When You’re Too Busy to Judge

Now, I also have a tube-fed son who gets FORMULA. Corn syrup-filled liquid that helps him to grow. This from a mom who breastfed her adopted babies. Nope, I don’t judge moms by how they feed their babies or where their children go to school anymore.

In fact, I’m too busy with my own brood to be paying much attention to what others are doing with theirs.

It’s a good place to be, actually.

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26 Comments

  1. Melissa

    I work in an AMAZING charter school that does a TON to get low income students caught up with peers and into four year universities. We give tons of individualized attention and have great results. Of course, parents want to get their kids into our program. And I would tell any parent of a special-needs student: don’t. Send them to mainstream, public school. Many public schools have so many resources for special needs that homeschools, private schools, and charter schools don’t have. There might be a lot wrong with public education right now, but I was amazed at watching how they help the kids who need some special attention. I’m so glad your kids are benefiting!

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      Thanks for sharing this! It isn’t perfect, but it IS working better than homeschooling was.

  2. Stacy B

    Amen Renee, I think that unless a person is actually walking in someone else’s shoes literally in the same circumstances there is no room or place for judgement because there is no way one would know how it feels unless there in it.

  3. Jess Guest

    My profound mothering advice is always “do what works while it works and when it stops working, change it”. I am a tubie Mum who creates a beautiful blenderised diet that my daughter thrives on – and gives her corn syrupy formula overnight. I am a homeschooling Mum whose oldest child is gifted, doing highschool chem at age 9, I founded and run our local homeschool group and all the kids are doing well – and I am considering putting them in public school for a year next year so I can focus on therapies and renovations. I breastfed all my kids until they self-weaned except for my tubie – I gave up pumping when she was 8 months old. At the end of the day, it’s not a group of friends or my in-laws or a philosophy I will be accountable to, it’s God and my kids.

  4. mammaof5

    followed you from the beginning when Avi was cutting her hair and running around in her undies (just like my littles)…I now have a child who will be schooling because his needs exceed my experience, education and understanding. I expect to take flack but too am too busy to care. Praying for Apollo. I have a friend whose sweet baby was switched from corn syrup formula and steroids to raw foods because of a diet known as G.A.P.S.

    • Eva

      “because his needs exceed my experience, education and understanding.”

      It’s actually pretty fantastic of you to recognize and admit this. More people should be like you. I think many people are biased against homeschooling because they only have experience with homeschooling parents who believe they can provide everything their children need, always, no matter what, and they refuse to admit that sometimes it’s just not possible.

  5. Vivian

    good for you Renee…things change everyday and we all have to learn to go with the flow! you are an amazing women..oh and Chuck does pretty good too ha ha!!

  6. Maddy

    I work in a special education public school classroom as a volunteer while I’m getting my degree to teach special ed. I have seen and heard horror stories of ‘typical’ students getting left in the dust, teachers who couldn’t and wouldn’t accommodate them properly. Teachers who were down right cold hearted to these children.

    It is so very different in a special education classroom. In a room where social skills are so valued that they are put in an IEP (Like Avi’s). Where having a child get on the bus at the end of the day in the same pants they arrived in is a massive victory. These are not just victories for the students and parents, but they are massively celebrated by the teacher, para-pros, aids, and volunteers alike.

    It is the most inspiring place I can imagine, a place where children like yours can thrive. To be wholly accepted by not only the teacher and aids but by their fellow classmates. As you stated, you weren’t able to do it yourself. It is hard work and often times there are months of trial and error with certain students before we find a way of teaching something that clicks with them. But when you finally get a student who is in 4th grade potty trained, or a student in 2nd grade reading when they were previously non verbal it is an amazing day.

    I am so glad you appreciate the work they do for your exceptional children, because not everyone does. I have followed your blog long enough to have been here when Mordecai wasn’t in public school. To us (Special ed teachers, para-pros) your children are our children. We bond to them on a very deep level, and vice-a-versa. The teacher I have been shadowing this year is paid to teach Special Education, but I often times arrive to see him talking with parents, hearing their stories about what happened over the week end that are bothering them. Hearing their troubles and worries, maybe about money, or their child, or their ex husband, etc. If a family is having financial trouble you bet he’s bringing over dinner for them. If one of the mom’s is going through surgery you bet he’s visiting the hospital with flowers. And I guarantee you we are praying for those families every night.

    It is something that wouldn’t normally be acceptable if your child was only in our class for a year, but we get them all of elementary school. We develop life long bonds with your children and you.

    To summarize, I am so glad you like their teacher and are pleased with their progress 🙂

  7. Ellen

    If I had a nickel for every person who told me I should quit nursing, let them cry-it-out, nurse longer, send them to pre-school, not send them to pre-school, not sleep with us, etc., etc., etc. I would be financially set! Bottom line is that NOBODY knows your kids as well as you do. Trust your instincts – it has served you well (and your kids!) this far! And just so you know, I think you rock!

  8. Elizabeth

    Lovely thoughts. I have had those judgments, not even being a mom! I have found myself making a full circle when it comes to the school system and involving other people in your child’s care, especially in regards to ‘special needs.’ (After reading similar experiences like yours and having 3 younger siblings from a ‘hard place.’) How is Mordecai’s class going? You’d previously expressed some lack of understanding on the teacher’s part to Mordecai’s needs.

  9. Anne Calhoun

    As a mom of 5 with one exceptionally gifted and 2 In Special Ed, one medically fragile… I relate so much to your post. Thank you! I would love to homeschool my children but the truth is, that public school is the absolute best place right now. Yes, there is the influence of peers etc but we are blessed with terrific Professionals that love our children and provide much more than I am possible of at this point. I refuse to feel like a failure of a mom but I continually reevaluate their needs and if I could provide the same or better I would keep them home. With PT, OT, ST and other services provided at school it would be terrible to miss this opportunity. And honestly my twins are also 100% tube fed and 1 has seizures, it’s not healthy for me to care 24/7 and not take a breath. I’ve had judgement from well meaning friends at church who only believe in homeschool. They don’t walk my families jouney. Thanks for the positive post! I am sorry to ramble 😉

  10. Tammy

    Thank you so much for that. I have felt that black and white mentality from both sides. I have come to the conclusion that we are the parents of these children for a reason. We will decide what path is best for us and them. That path may not be the same for each child or for every year. But it took me a lot of time agonizing and praying over that to truly find that freedom. I am so glad you have found what works best for you kiddos.

  11. Melpub

    You obviously know what you’re doing–oh, how I can relate to the sword fights–but what I like the most is that damned-if-ya-do, damned-if-ya-don’t feeling others give you when you are doing what’s best for your kids!

  12. Grace

    Thanks for posting! I was also one of those moms who said she’d never put any of her children in public school. Now, my adopted, virtual twin son, Noah is in public school and it’s the best place for him right now. I do hope that at some point Noah’s education might continue at home but if it doesn’t that’s okay too. I really just want the best for him, whatever that looks like 🙂

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      Yes, and I have come to realize how much I wanted the “homeschool mom” identity. And how much I wanted to be able to say, “None of my kids *ever* went to school” but that’s simply not what’s best for them.

  13. Penny

    A mom’s gotta do what’s best for her children and not cave to the peer pressure. Good for you for looking for solutions instead of assuming there’s only one way!

  14. Angel

    I agree that the more kids you have the more you realize you can’t judge other moms and the more you are too busy to do so anyway! I got to the point of some serious depression because I thought it I did everything “right” my kids would look/act a certain way – like all the kids in the “homeschool mommy” books. First of all, I couldn’t do everything “right,” second, no matter what I did, my kids didn’t act like “those” kids, because they AREN”T those kids… and they never will be. We are real people living on this real planet, and we all have struggles. Grace… we all need grace and room to grow.

  15. jessilee82

    I remember being so judgy of other moms with my first child. I’ll never do… I’ll always….
    My mother looked at me and said “You’re a perfect parent until you have to face that challenge.”
    It’s amazing how right from birth our plans get shifted. I had a birth plan and then nature decided it had it’s own plan. It’s all a roller coaster from there!

  16. Amy S.

    My mantra is that whatever works for you and your family is what’s right. And your family is absolutely lovely, so obviously you’re doing exactly what is best for them. YOU GO MOM!

  17. dianthe

    “In fact, I’m too busy with my own brood to be paying much attention to what others are doing with theirs.”

    This sums up my entire parenting philosophy!! Well, this and “I do what’s easiest for ME”! I taught my daughter to read the summer before she started her 4 year old pre-school class. I could never homeschool. I don’t have the patience. I’m much better at reinforcing what she learns from people who enjoy teaching!!

    Kudos to you for doing what’s best for each of your children and for your entire family!!

  18. Nancy

    I feel honored to have been Avi’s teacher in first grade. I applaud you, Renee, for your choices to put the needs of your kids first, rather than the image you had hoped to project. I know there is room for much improvement in public education, but I also know that the decisions made at Harmony are in the best interest of the kids we serve.

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