One Size Fits Some Education


I have completely lost my mind. I do have a good excuse though, I swear. As of the start of 2017, I will have six children attending six different schools. My children’s education in the past few months has become my primary focus in a way it has rarely been before. When I was growing up I attended a few different schools over the years, not because we moved homes but because the learning environment was less than ideal. Incompetent to straight out abusive teachers,  persistent bullying from other students,  a stagnant curriculum, I ran into it all. From 7th grade through high school, I had an outstanding educational experience that was the right fit for me, and I thrived. My  brother and I did not attend the same high school or college because the best learning environment for each of us was different and my parents, who were teachers themselves, wanted us to have the best individual school experience we could.
When I first became a parent, I made school choices for my son, and found good fits for him. When it came time for my second child to attend school, I assumed she would just follow in her brother’s footsteps, no problem. But when she started kindergarten at the Catholic school my son attended, her class was extremely and dangerously overcrowded. When we parents complained, our concerns fell on deaf ears, so we decided to move our children to a more accommodating school. The problem was, our son was succeeding and didn’t want to leave. After much soul searching, we moved our daughter to the public school and let our son stay where he was. They were both happy and progressing well, so we made it work. We moved to a new state, and found new schools. Our school age children were all at the same place for two years, but, in a case of twisted déjà vu’, now our oldest was struggling. Once he started middle school things fell apart for him, and we knew we needed to make a change. We did a lot of research and finally found a school where we thought he could reach his full potential, and over the next six years that is exactly what he did. We allowed our other children to remain where they were happy and thriving, because, while the school was not a good fit for one, it was a great fit for the others.

Over the years, more decisions have been made. Our daughter chose a high school where she felt the most connected. While our third child followed in his sister’s footsteps, our current eighth grader is leaning toward a different high school. It makes sense as she is a very different person in terms of both personality and learning style. When our oldest chose a college path, it took him to a large university that had the exact program he wanted. Our daughter felt overwhelmed when she visited the same college, and decided to find a much smaller school in a different state where she has found happiness. That explains two of the schools. Our next oldest is the only one currently in high school, so he obviously can’t attend the same school as his younger or older siblings right now. The three youngest kids have been at the same school since kindergarten, and are now in sixth and eighth grade. Without going into all the gory details, their school environment has changed this year, and they were no longer all thriving. There were days it was a struggle to work through their tears in the morning to get them to go to school. So we knew, once again, a change had to be made. Our eighth grader will be finishing out the year online with my help and supervision every day. One of the sixth graders will remain where he is, but the other has already started at a new school, the same school where my oldest found so much success at the same age. So six kids, six different schools. Many would say I should just make them adapt and deal with their problems, but we tried that and it didn’t work. A child cannot learn in an environment where they don’t feel safe or understood, and not every teacher understands every student, understands that they may not learn in the same way as the rest of the class. It makes perfect sense to me that my children would be succeeding in six different learning environments because I have six very unique children. They don’t all have the exact same history or experiences, they don’t all have the same brain development or learning style, so we’ve done our best to find the best fit for each child so they can be as successful as possible. I will continue to follow in my parents’ very wise footsteps and always try to find the best fit for my children to find success, even if it makes my life an even crazier mess that it already has been over the years. I was my children’s first teacher, I am their biggest advocate, and I will always find the people and the places that will help them be the absolute best they can be.