Michaels: Forging ahead with an angst ridden educational plan

I still believe in public education, but I'm petrified about what my own little human will encounter...

My little human turns three this year, which has put me in the market for a preschool.

I’ve been researching Maria Montessori, contemplating play based education  and wishing for more Waldorf.

There’s a lot to know about these programs for tots because, apparently, they are the laying the groundwork for entry into grade school, which is the track to higher learning and everything that follows.

This research has also caused me to contemplate public education in a way I’d never done before.

If you asked me three years ago, I’d simply say I fundamentally believe access to a high quality public education system is a right of all Canadians, and we should all do what we can to support that system.

When programs and funding are sliced and diced, and conditions get worse, parents with means shouldn’t pull their children from flagging schools in favour of their private counterparts, which the government only has to fund at half the rate. They should fight for improvements, vote with understanding of the issues at hand and do whatever they can to protect the system.

Now I’m a mother, however, that simple stand has been shaken.

I still believe in public education, but I’m petrified about what my own little human, who is gentle, sweet and happy, will encounter in a system that sounds like a nightmare of bulging class rosters and varying challenges.

How will he get the foundation he needs when there are a handful of kids in a class of 30 acting like maniacs, and no educational assistants to be found?

What if he has his own educational challenges, in the future? What are the odds they will be spotted and addressed in the way they need to be?

When the teachers strike was going on last year, I was told bluntly by teachers in the know that students don’t get the same access to help that they used to.

If you live in a good neighbourhood, good for you. If you live in a poorer area, well, you get what you get. Teachers care. They try. But superheroes they ain’t.

Exacerbating my growing concern, is that I can’t help but ask people questions. This week I was at a lovely little backyard dinner party, and I asked the teacher sitting near me, what advice he would give a parent to a three year old.

He said home schooling and public school combined.

I really want to capitalize the words “home-schooling,” because they’re ringing through my head at top volume, but it flies in the face of newspaper convention to write words in all caps.

His rationale was that there are a lot of good home schooling programs in specific subjects that allow students to flourish. Kids still need to be socialized, however, so some public school is required.

Sounds great, but the trouble is I love working and I love getting a paycheque even more. I need a paycheque until the lottery gods see fit to bestow riches upon me.

So, what do I do?

It seems that the only shot I have is to vote judiciously in the provincial election and cross my fingers that education in B.C. improves or convert to Catholicism, which apparently has good schools.

My soul is not too big a price to pay for the apple of my eye, I suppose.

Now back to the question at hand… toys, or learning stations?

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