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Public School

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
I live in a pretty good school district. It's not no. 1 for test scores but it's ok. We live in the suburbs and the general population is not what you'd call progressive or really even open-minded. There are rich kids, poor kids, every different color of kid. Most of the kids graduate and it's not violent. It's a big district. I haven't actually decided what to do about school yet. Every time I see these kids whose parents just suck and then I think my daughter is going to have to go to school with them I just get terrified. She will probably have to find friends within this pool of children. If she doesn't, she may be outcast and that may effect her. I can't really afford private school and I don't know if I can even afford homeschooling. I just found out that my school district has full day kindergarten and I was really hoping for half day. I just don't know if I want to put my daughter in that situation, with all those other kids who aren't like the kids she knows... I wonder what she's going to think when the other girls have cinderella shoes. Will they think she's weird because she likes "boy stuff" and has no idea what a disney princess really is? If she's still nursing, will they find out and think she's weird? Will our atheism be a problem? Will she have any food to eat at the cafeteria or will she be thought of as weird because she's a vegetarian? Will she be made fun of if I have to talk withh the teacher about the way things happen if we have a problem or before there is a problem? Will the differences between us and the rest of the kids cause a rift at home? If you have kids in public school, can you tell me what it's like. Tell me something. Or give me advice or alternatives. I am considering cyber charter, but I really am totally up in the air.
post #2 of 28
You know, I think the thing to do is go spend some time at the school. See if they will let you visit a class or hang out at lunch or recess. A lot of what you said describes our school. But what I didn't know before spending time there is how much emphasis the whole school puts on kindness and respect. These are the number one lessons the kids are learning a lot of the time and I feel great about that.

Not to say there are no issues. Our son is very strong academically and he's a bit underchallenged. He's an unusual kid, but that hasn't mattered much. His best friend is a girl and also a bit unusual. Right now, I think it's harder for her because our son likes Star Wars, legos, super heros, running around, drawing pictures, etc. He doesn't really know the rules of football or baseball but he's pretty good at soccer. All this gives him enough knowledge of kid culture that he's good to go. His best friend doesn't like Hannah Montana and Co. and sees right through all the crappy mainstream girl stuff and she's having a harder time connecting to the other kids. But they have each other and one really good friend makes a big difference.

Our vegetarianism has turned out to be no big deal at all. There are other vegetarians. Being TV-free has also not mattered at all. We do enough DVDs that DS is in the loop in terms of having some idea about Star Wars and stuff like that, but even this is very minimal.

Go hang out a bit. See what kind of vibe the place has. Tell the principal some of your worries and see how they react.
post #3 of 28
I would suggest just to sit back and see what happens first, before you worry. Yet I do understand that that is easier said than done!

My dd just started public school this year. My worries were mainly academic. DD loves to do math, we've done a lot of math at home with her and she loves to add, subtract, etc., and she's entering an academically-poor school, I really think she is more advanced than the first graders. Yet after agaonizing over it, we are just going to see.

Culturally, we are also the odd-ones out. DD has an unusual name, DH is the only asian in our town, etc., but these things don't worry me as much as the academics do. try to just watch and see what happens, at first. Kindergarten is such a young age, there will still be lots of time to intervene, if needed.
post #4 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by HikeMama View Post
I live in a pretty good school district. It's not no. 1 for test scores but it's ok. We live in the suburbs and the general population is not what you'd call progressive or really even open-minded. There are rich kids, poor kids, every different color of kid. Most of the kids graduate and it's not violent. It's a big district. I haven't actually decided what to do about school yet. Every time I see these kids whose parents just suck and then I think my daughter is going to have to go to school with them I just get terrified. She will probably have to find friends within this pool of children. If she doesn't, she may be outcast and that may effect her. I can't really afford private school and I don't know if I can even afford homeschooling. I just found out that my school district has full day kindergarten and I was really hoping for half day. I just don't know if I want to put my daughter in that situation, with all those other kids who aren't like the kids she knows... I wonder what she's going to think when the other girls have cinderella shoes. Will they think she's weird because she likes "boy stuff" and has no idea what a disney princess really is? If she's still nursing, will they find out and think she's weird? Will our atheism be a problem? Will she have any food to eat at the cafeteria or will she be thought of as weird because she's a vegetarian? Will she be made fun of if I have to talk withh the teacher about the way things happen if we have a problem or before there is a problem? Will the differences between us and the rest of the kids cause a rift at home? If you have kids in public school, can you tell me what it's like. Tell me something. Or give me advice or alternatives. I am considering cyber charter, but I really am totally up in the air.
I think the only problem is that you are really wanting acceptance of your lifestyle but aren't willing to offer the same to others. You've essentially said you're terrified that your dd will have to be friends with these other kids and that the other parents suck. Why? Because they aren't vegeterians or aren't all extended nursers? Because they allow their girls to play with Disney toys? You have every right to chose how you live and also to have concerns about fitting in, but so does everybody else. But you are judging people you don't even know for their lifestyle choices while expressing concerns that you will be judged. Can you see the irony in that? If you and your child have trouble fitting in I'd say it would be for the holier-than-thou attitude you are expressing and your condemnation of others rather than your actual lifestyle choices.
post #5 of 28
I think if you are different the "norm" you describe, it's smart to be concerned. I have a 5th grader and a 2nd grader in public school and have seen a lot and been through a lot. It all depends on what your core belief and intentions are. Is it more important to you to teach your children to succeed and be who they are in a less-than-ideal environment, or is it your desire to create a more nurturing, protective environment for them?
post #6 of 28
We moved from an area with GREAT public schools and a fairly progressive population to an area with ok schools and a very conservative population.

It's been fine. No, I don't encounter a ton of parents I immediately click with. No, most people don't have the same belief systems we do. But it's fine. We're not vegetarian, but DS1 takes his lunch every day anyway because cafeteria food is junk. Yes, sometimes I do talk to his teacher about something that concerns me, but that has never been a problem.

You can only do the best you can. If you think the public schools are the best option available to you, give it a try. See what happens.
post #7 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by HikeMama View Post
I live in a pretty good school district. It's not no. 1 for test scores but it's ok. We live in the suburbs and the general population is not what you'd call progressive or really even open-minded. There are rich kids, poor kids, every different color of kid. Most of the kids graduate and it's not violent. It's a big district. I haven't actually decided what to do about school yet. Every time I see these kids whose parents just suck and then I think my daughter is going to have to go to school with them I just get terrified. She will probably have to find friends within this pool of children. If she doesn't, she may be outcast and that may effect her. I can't really afford private school and I don't know if I can even afford homeschooling. I just found out that my school district has full day kindergarten and I was really hoping for half day. I just don't know if I want to put my daughter in that situation, with all those other kids who aren't like the kids she knows... I wonder what she's going to think when the other girls have cinderella shoes. Will they think she's weird because she likes "boy stuff" and has no idea what a disney princess really is? If she's still nursing, will they find out and think she's weird? Will our atheism be a problem? Will she have any food to eat at the cafeteria or will she be thought of as weird because she's a vegetarian? Will she be made fun of if I have to talk withh the teacher about the way things happen if we have a problem or before there is a problem? Will the differences between us and the rest of the kids cause a rift at home? If you have kids in public school, can you tell me what it's like. Tell me something. Or give me advice or alternatives. I am considering cyber charter, but I really am totally up in the air.
this was me and my family and my non-school friends growing up. i lived in a school distrcit exactly like you are describing. i was the weird one. my whole famliy was cause i thought all moms were LLL leaders, and of course i saw mybrothers born at home, doesn't everyone? sure i like to play with boys stuff, who says it isn't girl stuff? no i didn't like barbie, oh, that's a problem too? some of these issues have lasted till even now. what helped the most was that i was close to people at my summer camp, so at least in the summer i had a place where i wasn't the only kid crushing poke berries to paint my face. i had some great friends, though they were few and didn't necessarily offset the crummy kids who made me feel wierd cause i didn't listen to their music or wear their clothes. i never talked about it to my parents cause it wasn't bullying, and i liked the academic part of school, and honestly, i didn't think there was anything anyone could do about not fitting in. that was all it was- i didn't fit in and didn't like the social part of school at all.
the funny thing is, i have known lots of kids like me as adults, they had often been ap'd as kids and i think that made them interact differently and have trouble fitting in with the norm. i think they also ( a function of an ap family)were encouraged to be themselves and to try different things, not jsut go along with the crowd. and so i think it is hard to have that at home and then the strong push to conform that is at school.
i don't think that it affected me as an adult in terms of relationship and such, i have had and do have some great friends, but it wasn't pleasant at all and really made me dislike school.
but i still feel like an automatic outsider wheneve i am in a new group of people and i unconcioiusly assume i won't fit in. i have to conciously remind myself that we are all new to each other, etc.
i know that my brothers also had this issue, and other family friends cause we all talked about how much we hated school and how we hated the kids. i will say though, that the early elementary school years we easier, it didn't get hard till 3rd grade and up. but i didn't really notice anything till then.
i'm sorry if this worries you. it was, though, my experience.
post #8 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by mama1803 View Post
I think the only problem is that you are really wanting acceptance of your lifestyle but aren't willing to offer the same to others. You've essentially said you're terrified that your dd will have to be friends with these other kids and that the other parents suck. Why? Because they aren't vegeterians or aren't all extended nursers? Because they allow their girls to play with Disney toys? You have every right to chose how you live and also to have concerns about fitting in, but so does everybody else. But you are judging people you don't even know for their lifestyle choices while expressing concerns that you will be judged. Can you see the irony in that? If you and your child have trouble fitting in I'd say it would be for the holier-than-thou attitude you are expressing and your condemnation of others rather than your actual lifestyle choices.
This exactly.

We use public school. Having my kids educated in a diverse enviroment is a strength for me. We are more mainstream than you are, but we are much more crunchy and contrarian than most of the families in the district. We're not vegetarians and my kids have (gasp) been to Disney World a couple of times. But we're atheists, we limit screen time, we don't buy the kids every electronic gizmo, and we push back with the school occasionally when they do something idiotic or illegal.


I think it's just fine for my kids to have friends whose families have different values or lifestyles than we do. Some of those kids and families are very nice people, and in fact, don't "suck."

I don't think you are going to be able to surround your kids with families just like yours in any public or charter schools. Most private schools, with perhaps the exception of Waldorf schools, have rules that parents must agree with, but they are related to following school regulations and aren't anything concerned with the type of lifestyle decisions that seem to annoy you. I would think homeschooling would be your only choice.
post #9 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by mama1803 View Post
I think the only problem is that you are really wanting acceptance of your lifestyle but aren't willing to offer the same to others. You've essentially said you're terrified that your dd will have to be friends with these other kids and that the other parents suck. Why? Because they aren't vegeterians or aren't all extended nursers? Because they allow their girls to play with Disney toys? You have every right to chose how you live and also to have concerns about fitting in, but so does everybody else. But you are judging people you don't even know for their lifestyle choices while expressing concerns that you will be judged. Can you see the irony in that? If you and your child have trouble fitting in I'd say it would be for the holier-than-thou attitude you are expressing and your condemnation of others rather than your actual lifestyle choices.
Not to pile on, but I agree...

We're pretty mainstream in a lot of ways...my kids do watch TV, play Wii, eat the occasional bit of junk food (and lots of meat), but I would argue that I'm just as thoughtful in my parenting as someone else who does no TV, etc. My kids aren't glued to the TV...they play outside, they're both voracious readers, they play instruments and my DD participates in a professional children's choir. We eat pretty healthfully and I'm super involved in their lives. On the surface, you might think you wouldn't want your kid to be friends with mine (b/c in K my DD loved Disney Princesses and my DS can quote any Phineas and Ferb episode), but keep an open mind. Our suburb elementary school might be closer to the higher end in terms of test scores (income wise we skew middle class, but have some pretty wealthy families too), so maybe it's not a perfect corollary for what you're looking at, but honestly I think it's so important to keep an open mind and realize that many of the other families have a lot to offer. We have lots of friends who are "crunchier" than us...nursed longer, etc., but we both value each other and don't judge...it works.
post #10 of 28
The dynamics in any group are going to depend on that group. There are NFL/AP groups that are awful and so-called mainstream groups that are great. This applies to kindergarten classes as well.

I wouldn't pass judgment on a whole group of people based on their clothing or even their interactions at the playground from time to time.

I would try to see opportunity rather than challenges. Sure, there probably will be moments where your kid either doesn't get some cultural reference or the other kids make comments. As long as it's not a pattern, but just a social bump, it's fine. This is how we learn to interact with people who are different from us. I love having my son learning from other families and kids. Sure he learns a few things I'd rather he didn't, but wow, is it great.
post #11 of 28
My kids attended public school for a while (we've also homeschooled and they currently attend a private school). You are seeing the other kids/parents as a homogeneous group, and it's just not true. They are all different from each other.

We meet some WONDERFUL families through public school.

And no matter what option you choose, there will be people who eat differently than you and dress differently than you and all that -- neither homeschooling nor private school will make that go away. Unless you move to a cave and put a rock in front of it, she's going to meet children who are different from her.

(your DD would fit in better in our public school, where diversity is considered a good thing, than in our local homeschool group, which is VERY closed minded)
post #12 of 28
I have a 2nd grader in public school and a kindergartner in private school. My oldest was homeschooled until 1st grade. He was also a vegetarian until around then but started eating chicken before 1st grade. He takes his lunch to school and begs to take sushi, pad thai, etc. He nursed until 5 and saw his siblings born at home. We don't allow sugary drinks and limit screen time to 30 minutes a day. They don't have clothes, toys, or food with characters. We're atheists (although the kids are a little too outspoken about it, IMO). We're an interracial family.

Despite all this, my kids have made friends easily in school. One of the reasons we moved to Louisville (from Ann Arbor, where most people are kind of "like us") was so that the kids would be exposed to diversity. They have picked up things from school (like their love of Lady Gaga) but they're happy, their friends are, for the most part, nice kids, and they still live by our rules and values.

Basically, I think you're worrying too much.
post #13 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by HikeMama View Post
I live in a pretty good school district. It's not no. 1 for test scores but it's ok. We live in the suburbs and the general population is not what you'd call progressive or really even open-minded. There are rich kids, poor kids, every different color of kid. Most of the kids graduate and it's not violent. It's a big district. I haven't actually decided what to do about school yet. Every time I see these kids whose parents just suck and then I think my daughter is going to have to go to school with them I just get terrified. She will probably have to find friends within this pool of children. If she doesn't, she may be outcast and that may effect her. I can't really afford private school and I don't know if I can even afford homeschooling. I just found out that my school district has full day kindergarten and I was really hoping for half day. I just don't know if I want to put my daughter in that situation, with all those other kids who aren't like the kids she knows... I wonder what she's going to think when the other girls have cinderella shoes. Will they think she's weird because she likes "boy stuff" and has no idea what a disney princess really is? If she's still nursing, will they find out and think she's weird? Will our atheism be a problem? Will she have any food to eat at the cafeteria or will she be thought of as weird because she's a vegetarian? Will she be made fun of if I have to talk withh the teacher about the way things happen if we have a problem or before there is a problem? Will the differences between us and the rest of the kids cause a rift at home? If you have kids in public school, can you tell me what it's like. Tell me something. Or give me advice or alternatives. I am considering cyber charter, but I really am totally up in the air.
I strongly believe that diversity is one of the greatest strengths of the public school system. I want my children to meet others who are not like us and who believe in different things than we believe. I want them to practice tolerance and understanding, not just preach it. I want them to be open-minded and welcome differences.

I've always been confident that we've instilled our values and can trust our children to maintain their own identities and beliefs even when confronted with different ideas. I'm not concerned that being exposed to others will undermine those values or damage them.

That doesn't mean I don't expect some arguments, teasing, or outright bullying to happen. Children (and adults) who want to find a difference to pick on will always be able to find something. It doesn't have to be dress or religion or vegetarianism or anything in particular. I think it can happen in any social group though, so if your child doesn't confront it in school, there is still the playground or sports team or camp. It's more important to prepare your children and coach them on how to deal with it if it happens.

My children (now teens) have attended schools in various cities, some more economically, ethnically and culturally diverse than others. Their school friends are from various religions (one of my kids is agnostic, the other Christian - their friends are Jewish, Christian, Hindu, and Buddhist), friends with different food requirements (kosher, vegetarian, allergy-specific) and friends of different political persuasions (a few socialists, a few anarchists, not too many right-wing conservatives though!). My dc have also homeschooled. In fact, I just offered again to my DD to homeschool, for academic reasons. They both adamantly prefer to attend school.

The advice from pp to visit your local schools and decide whether you and your children would be comfortable there is excellent. Finding a school that is a good fit is important. It's hard to know what options are available to you - cyber charters, homeschooling, alternative schools in the public system. It's good to be aware of all the options. I try to make my decisions based on the best interests of my children, not out of my own fears.
post #14 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mama1803 View Post
I think the only problem is that you are really wanting acceptance of your lifestyle but aren't willing to offer the same to others. You've essentially said you're terrified that your dd will have to be friends with these other kids and that the other parents suck. Why? Because they aren't vegeterians or aren't all extended nursers? Because they allow their girls to play with Disney toys? You have every right to chose how you live and also to have concerns about fitting in, but so does everybody else. But you are judging people you don't even know for their lifestyle choices while expressing concerns that you will be judged. Can you see the irony in that? If you and your child have trouble fitting in I'd say it would be for the holier-than-thou attitude you are expressing and your condemnation of others rather than your actual lifestyle choices.
I didn't say why I thought they sucked. I also didn't mean to come across as holier than thou. You don't know me so obviously you don't have the full story and can't tell where I'm coming from. Anyway, it's a big school. I see good parenting practice and I also sometimes see crap. I think some of the parents suck because I see them scream all the time and they feed their kids junk and they are racist. They are not all that way- I just see that and it scares me that she would be around kids who were raised to believe that all day. I see kids who hit and holler. I worry about these sorts of things having an affect on my daughter. And I also worry that even though there might be some great kids, she might be outcast because she doesn't follow the same pop culture they do. I think these are all legitimate concerns and I suppose my phrasing really put you off.
post #15 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by rachel_eva View Post
this was me and my family and my non-school friends growing up. i lived in a school distrcit exactly like you are describing. i was the weird one. my whole famliy was cause i thought all moms were LLL leaders, and of course i saw mybrothers born at home, doesn't everyone? sure i like to play with boys stuff, who says it isn't girl stuff? no i didn't like barbie, oh, that's a problem too? some of these issues have lasted till even now. what helped the most was that i was close to people at my summer camp, so at least in the summer i had a place where i wasn't the only kid crushing poke berries to paint my face. i had some great friends, though they were few and didn't necessarily offset the crummy kids who made me feel wierd cause i didn't listen to their music or wear their clothes. i never talked about it to my parents cause it wasn't bullying, and i liked the academic part of school, and honestly, i didn't think there was anything anyone could do about not fitting in. that was all it was- i didn't fit in and didn't like the social part of school at all.
the funny thing is, i have known lots of kids like me as adults, they had often been ap'd as kids and i think that made them interact differently and have trouble fitting in with the norm. i think they also ( a function of an ap family)were encouraged to be themselves and to try different things, not jsut go along with the crowd. and so i think it is hard to have that at home and then the strong push to conform that is at school.
i don't think that it affected me as an adult in terms of relationship and such, i have had and do have some great friends, but it wasn't pleasant at all and really made me dislike school.
but i still feel like an automatic outsider wheneve i am in a new group of people and i unconcioiusly assume i won't fit in. i have to conciously remind myself that we are all new to each other, etc.
i know that my brothers also had this issue, and other family friends cause we all talked about how much we hated school and how we hated the kids. i will say though, that the early elementary school years we easier, it didn't get hard till 3rd grade and up. but i didn't really notice anything till then.
i'm sorry if this worries you. it was, though, my experience.
Thank you for this. It was very helpful.
post #16 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jen in co View Post
Not to pile on, but I agree...

We're pretty mainstream in a lot of ways...my kids do watch TV, play Wii, eat the occasional bit of junk food (and lots of meat), but I would argue that I'm just as thoughtful in my parenting as someone else who does no TV, etc. My kids aren't glued to the TV...they play outside, they're both voracious readers, they play instruments and my DD participates in a professional children's choir. We eat pretty healthfully and I'm super involved in their lives. On the surface, you might think you wouldn't want your kid to be friends with mine (b/c in K my DD loved Disney Princesses and my DS can quote any Phineas and Ferb episode), but keep an open mind. Our suburb elementary school might be closer to the higher end in terms of test scores (income wise we skew middle class, but have some pretty wealthy families too), so maybe it's not a perfect corollary for what you're looking at, but honestly I think it's so important to keep an open mind and realize that many of the other families have a lot to offer. We have lots of friends who are "crunchier" than us...nursed longer, etc., but we both value each other and don't judge...it works.

Well thanks for wording this more nicely than your quoted post but Geez. I really think you have me pegged incorrectly. I have lots of friends who love Disney and eat meat and are religious, etc. I didn't say anything negative about Disney or meateaters- just that we don't and that I am worried about her/our family being ostracized because of it and feeling pressure to conform to these norms to fit in. I have seen really horrid parenting and behavior, and by that I didn't mean that they ate meat or watched tv. I'm sure everyone has seen it somewhere. It just worried me. Probably too much, but it did. I don't mean to generalize like all the parents suck and that I'm awesome- I just didn't know how else to articulate my fears of her being surrounded without me in a new environment where some people might have scewed values and think that it's ok to not be nice and to turn that on her.
post #17 of 28
Thread Starter 
Very helpful. I totally agree about group dynamics. I am determined to wrap my head around this and see this positively. One of my major issues is that our school only has full day kindergarten and that would feel so abrupt to me because I am only planning on preschool for a year and it was only a 3 day/week half days program. I am thinking of doing the 5 day/half days program now instead if I can't find a private half-day kindergarten. It's just so complicated because being concerned about all this is one thing and then I'm also concerned about how she'll deal being away from me. If I can get her used to it and make sure she's feeling good about it then it'll be a lot easier for me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GuildJenn View Post
The dynamics in any group are going to depend on that group. There are NFL/AP groups that are awful and so-called mainstream groups that are great. This applies to kindergarten classes as well.

I wouldn't pass judgment on a whole group of people based on their clothing or even their interactions at the playground from time to time.

I would try to see opportunity rather than challenges. Sure, there probably will be moments where your kid either doesn't get some cultural reference or the other kids make comments. As long as it's not a pattern, but just a social bump, it's fine. This is how we learn to interact with people who are different from us. I love having my son learning from other families and kids. Sure he learns a few things I'd rather he didn't, but wow, is it great.
post #18 of 28
Thread Starter 
Ok I posted individual thank yous but that would just be too much at this point- there have been so many helpful posts and I feel better about this. I think I was worrying too much and that I could only see the bad. (It doesn't help that we live by a park where some riff raff happens.) I think that as long as she has a good home-base she'll be centered and be able to see it through. In one of the posts someone mentioned that they were outcast and did hate school. We have made a backup plan to cyber charter if we feel the experience is detrimental, but we really want to give it a worthy shot first. After this advice, I really feel like we can do this and it will be a positive experience for her.
post #19 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by HikeMama View Post
After this advice, I really feel like we can do this and it will be a positive experience for her.
Good for you! We met so many nice families through public school that we never would have met otherwise. I hope you have the same experience.
post #20 of 28
Just an FYI - just because a parent allows their children to eat junk food does not mean that they suck. Not sure how you can lump both "racist" and " junk food feeding" into the same sentence as to why you dislike these parents who you may not have even met yet.
I have found in the 4 years that my daughters have attended public school that the way that the parents choose to raise their kids does not always translate into what their kids are like.
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