Straw, Sticks, or Bricks?

Nearly the moment shock wore off that we were expecting our first child, my instant thought was to education. What could I do now, and in the future until school age to not only prepare my child, and future children for education, but give them the best education we can.

I know, odd right? Not too many parents actually think about that the moment the two lines appear on the stick. I did, and I still do. Most start to plan for a baby, getting baby items, checking things off of their needs and wants list. Don’t get me wrong, I had my pregnant hormonal times of I NEED to get these things to get them checked off of our needs/wants list! Every mother goes through it, it’s sort of like a right of passage, so to speak.

Education is big with me. I fully believe that a child’s best chance at life is education. Let me back that up a bit though. Everything starts at home with the parents first and foremost. The parents set the ground work, and the structure. They set the expectations and rules. They start to teach their child at an early age, don’t do this, you can do that, don’t touch this, this is why, etc. We teach our children without even realize we are teaching them! Just wait until they start picking up words and become these little sponges and regurgitate EVERY little thing yous say! Don’t believe me, well you would have LOVED to see my face, when my son lovingly told my in laws that “Mommies and daddies play time is at night after we go night night.” Yep….. Hubby was teasing me about giving him some loving that night, and you betcha, my son heard it, and repeated it, not to mention, he thought it was cute, and appropriate to start saying, “give me some loving.” Yes, innocent, and cute, but if it weren’t for him being so young, could TOTALLY be taken the wrong way.

The ground work you set at home, is the structure they take to school with them. The school you send to them, is what completes the structure. Which piggy are you going to be like? The one that builds the rest of the structure from Hay, Straw or Brick? I don’t know about you, but Hay and Straw fall down, and crumble. Sure they can be re-built, and maybe even chose to use different materials the second, third, fourth, etc time around. However, why¬† not start them off strong to begin with? Why NOT start with brick? Will it cost more? Um, yes, yes it will. Will it be harder to assemble? Most certainly it will. Will it take more time, absolutely! There lies the problem! Some parents, don’t want to, or say they can’t/don’t have the time to set them up with brick from the beginning. A lifestyle is more important for some.

I agonized over that very thing when we found out we were expecting our oldest son. I cried many times, had many sleepless nights. I hated myself for doing and not doing. I was miserable. Why? I wanted to set them up with brick, but brick takes money (mostly), and yet it doesn’t. I was faced with a decision, to work outside of the home, and let others care for them, while I made enough money to cover day care costs and maybe have some extra? (Certainly not enough for a better education or a private one for that matter.) Or do I stay home, and build that foundation, until they were school aged and I could work at least part time to help pay for that better education, that brick?

Sounds like my decision should have been easy, right? Nope, it wasn’t. I factored in what was best for my child and future children, but I didn’t factor in what was best for ME yet. I’m a highly motivated person, a go getter, I have a great college education, yet thanks to the economy tank in 2008, I’ll never be able to use that degree, I could if I wanted to now, however, I don’t want to put my life in harms way, possibly taking the mother away from my children. I had a great career, and was going somewhere fast, climbing up that ladder. I’m a very independent women! I love my independence, I love my freedom, and I love providing! So for me, leaving the working field, made me feel as if I would be losing a part of me, losing my independence, and losing my say on how to spend money. This was something I did not want to give up. I had a VERY difficult time giving this up, and making my decision final.

Eventually it became clear to me, that for now, I’d leave the work field to build that foundation with my children, and trust God, and ultimately trust my husband, another person to provide for me; when I have been providing for myself since I was 15 years old. It has been a VERY difficult road for me. During which time I have used to go back to school to get into a career I love, and can do while being an involved mommy once my children are school aged.

Leaving the work field was temporarily, not permanent, it was a gateway to something bigger and better, an is enabling me to be that mommy I want to be, the involved mommy, the one that attends PTA meetings, helps with school carnivals, attends meet the teacher nights, brings baked goods to school on their birthdays, attends football games and band performances, etc.

So once I was “okay” with that, and getting more and more content with it, I have been able to refocus my attention on the type of education to provide for my children. There is no doubt about it, and there is no way around it, schools are under performing these days due to budget cut backs, and the lack of funding, in relation to under paid and under qualified/educated teachers.

I start the foundation at home, and schools/teachers they continue the work I do. I want my children to go to a school that shares the same values, the same hard work, the same amount of dedication. That will tell me when one of my boys is being a fool at school, or failing. I don’t agree with this “no child left behind” shenanigans. If my child is failing to get a concept, or subject, I WANT, no, I NEED to know this so I can take appropriate measures to rectify it. In addition to that, a school MUST have the extra circulars like sports, PE, Art, Music, special interest clubs, because that is what makes children well rounded. They are JUST as important in the social and real world as math, reading, writing, history, etc.

Budget cuts, and funding cuts have forced schools to dissolve these programs. They no longer exist in many schools, and the schools that do offer them, they are poorly funded, and poorly guided. We have math teachers who have no interest in swing club basically baby sitting the club for a mere few more cents on their check. When I was in school, we had teachers who had HIGH interest in the clubs, and made every effort to make the clubs shine and be productive, and they were handsomely rewarded. They are not today. Sad, but true. Public schools don’t have the funding. Sadly this is why I will be going back to work once my children are all school aged. I will have to pay a privately funded school to send them to to get all of this. Where they are rigorously encouraged to be better, do better, and accomplish. Where they will have the opportunities and chances to perform in after school activities/programs such as the above mentioned. Where school officials will contact me, to let me know of issues that we can rectify together.

Yes, I’m laying brick for their foundation and their structure, because it wont topple over as easily, the big bad wolf can’t blow it down. Is it going to cost me? Yes, it will likely cost me a fortune in money to send them there, and cost me a great deal of time, to help them during their studies, and activities, however, in the end, worth every drop of time and money when I get to look on three little boys who grew up to be three great independent, well mannered, well rounded respectful men.

I’m not trying to put down public schools, or those who send their children to public schools. I’m not putting down public school teachers. I’m simply stating that in this day and age, due to budget and funding cutbacks, I simply want more of my children’s educations than what they have to offer right now. Until the public school system can fix these issues, I will pay out the nose and do what ever it takes for a better education.

So, straw, sticks, or brick? How is your child’s education stacking up?