It’s not like he’s going to the Ivy League or something…

Darth Vader backpack

When he tried on his backpack the first time, he STRUTTED around the kitchen in a way that made me want to burst with pride and into tears at the same time.

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.


2 thoughts on “It’s not like he’s going to the Ivy League or something…

  1. You are SO RIGHT…I speak to you with grateful tears of youngest son starts MEDICAL SCHOOL tomorrow…ALL of his teachers were hand picked ,when possible, by me. I was his advocate from the GET GO…this was what he wanted to be from a very small boy. He worked SO HARD to get to this day..he studied when his friends were playing…we all sacrificed for this goal, monetarily and otherwise. We paid a bloody fortune for his private school that assured us their students would be accepted into the TOP 25 Universities in the USA…and they did…but…I scrutinized over every one of those teachers…even made changes twice when a teacher was not a great match (hey, it happens). You are right to see this as a challenge that must be met…I was a stay at home Mom of 3 boys…it was a fultime job.
    I wish you and your son all the best.

  2. Great post! My son is almost 36. I remember making sure that he got the best educational experience possible. It is so important and it helped my son to appreciate the value of learning for its own sake. He is instilling that same value in his children. That to me is the purpose of making sure that your children get a good education so that they enjoy learning. The schools you choose can make all of the difference in someone who is into lifelong learning and someone with the outlook of a cypress stump. You are on the right track. Great job!

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