We start school a week from today. This is the fun time of year. Fresh pencils and paper. Jackson has a Darth Vader lunch box and backpack. First grade is gonna be epic.
A friend who doesn’t have children asked me the other day why parents freak out so much about which schools their kids go to at such a young age. She wasn’t being ugly, just trying to wrap her mind around it. “It’s not like the perfect third-grade teacher is going to get you into an Ivy League college. And is that even the goal?”
Now I don’t claim to speak for every parent, because I don’t know what their goals are. But I’ll tell you why I care what school my kid goes to, and why all kids should go to school in palaces and teachers should be treated like NBA stars.
My kid has a bit of fine motor delay. In the big scheme of life, it’s not that big of a deal, but it’s incredibly frustrating *to him.* Doing any writing on paper takes a really long time. Tying his shoes is hard. His Kindergarten teacher recognized how upset it was making him. She brought it to our attention. We’re doing some occupational therapy. He’s working through it.
What we also noticed with him was when his frustration reached a certain point, rather than explode or act out, he just drifted off in his head. He would start daydreaming and go somewhere much more pleasant than where he was sitting that wasn’t going well.
So say his teacher doesn’t pick up on this pretty subtle thing. Then we don’t address it while it’s not that big of a deal. Then he starts falling behind, starts daydreaming more, then by third grade, he’s totally checked out of school. By sixth grade, he’s a discipline problem. After that, who knows? But it doesn’t look good.
Elementary school matters because whatever in my son’s head that he is supposed to be in the world, an artist, scientist, engineer, or writer, whatever that is, could stay in his head locked up forever because handwriting was hard for him in Kindergarten and he checked out mentally from school. It happens all the time.
Then not only is he not living the life that he could, he’s not contributing to his community the way that he’s supposed to. Everyone loses.
Maybe one day his path takes him to an Ivy League school. It’s not for me to say. Maybe it takes him to art or engineering or medical school. I have no idea who he’s going to be. And he doesn’t either yet.
For me, this is why Jackson goes to the school he goes to. They are able to start the process of peeling back the onion layers to help him learn who he is.
It’s why some of my friends home school. They believe they can access the best in their children. I respect them immensely for that, knowing full well my kid and I would physically harm one another if we tried that. For other families, they’ve chosen other schools that make sense for their kids, based on their needs.
The point is, it’s not my job to pick some path for my kid and push him down it. It’s my job to give him the resources to determine his path and remove as many stumbling blocks as possible along the way.
And that’s why school matters. Even this early.