A Whole Page For Informed Decisions

It’s here, it’s here, it’s here!

The last few months I’ve been writing articles on different types of schools you can choose as a parent. The choice can be so overwhelming, with many different options and many different choices within those options.

The choice seemed overwhelming to me, so I sought out to help others make their decision easier by researching the different schools and lining out the facts. I tried to stray from a pro/con list because there are some facts about these schools that can be a pro for one family, and a con for another family.

So here it is! A page where you can read more about each school.

Informed Decisions For Different Types of Schools

The Benefits Of Independent Play

Last week I wrote down some of my thoughts about independent play and how it took time for my daughter to learn how to play. Play is not just something kids do for fun. It’s actual work. It is how their brains put together new experiences and learn to interact with the world. And while I was trying to push my daughter towards more independent play so that I could have a few minutes alone to work on what I needed, there are also many other benefits you can find from independent play. 

  • It fosters imagination. It gives them time to explore a whole new world that has yet to be created. 
  • It aids in problem-solving. When someone else isn’t there helping them solve their problems of blocks not fitting together right or the tower not stacking properly, they start relying on themselves and their own problem-solving skills. 
  • It boosts confidence! Allowing them the opportunity to utilize their own toys and manipulate them in the way they want can create confidence in themselves that otherwise may not be there if there is someone else present playing with them. 
  • Independent play can be a great way to prepare them for school. Working independently is a part of anyone’s education, and learning how to do this through play can prove to be more beneficial in the long run. 
  • It teaches them about alone time. Yes, as a parent you are given a few minutes of alone time to accomplish what you need to, but it’s also teaching your child how to have alone time and use it to recharge or accomplish what they need to. 

The next time you feel bad telling your kids to “go play”, you don’t need to! Allowing them independent playtime can be great for many reasons. Keep your eye out over the next few weeks for my post on how you can foster independent play for your own kids that may not do well with playing on their own. 

Play Is A Learned Trait: It’s Not Always Natural For Kids

Play, play, play! 

If you throw the word “play” up in the search bar of this particular blog, you’ll find a plethora of articles on children and play. 

Here’s a full page with my play articles somewhat organized.

But there’s another point I want to touch on when it comes to play. This article comes from a time a few years ago when my oldest child  was almost two years old. I was trying to make dinner and the typical battle of trying to either keep her busy in the kitchen, or distract her with toys outside of the kitchen ensued. I generally love cooking, but have such a hard time with it when I have a kid standing right at my feet demanding attention! 

I kept saying the same thing over and over to her- 

“Go play! Please! Go find some toys and play!” 

This battle continued for days and weeks on end. Nothing ever worked! 

I started researching online ways I could get my daughter to play on her own, and there were some great ideas out there. However, I read one piece of advice that I so badly wished I would have saved so I could reference! But the article stated this- 

Play is not something that just comes naturally to every kid, it’s a learned skill they all need to develop over time. 

It was such simple advice, yet it was still advice that changed my whole perspective! I was a great parent at pulling out a sensory bin or whipping up a quick color match activity. However, I was never a parent that pulled out the blocks and showed my daughter how to build. Or drive the toy cars. We never played pretend with the baby dolls or made the plastic animals move. If no one ever showed her how to play with the toys, why should I have expected her to know what to do with them? 

Over the next several weeks we spent time down on the floor together building towers and rocking babies to sleep. And then it was a slow transition to “invitations to play” where I would leave out a small set up to spark my daughter’s imagination and I would let her take it from there. 

Eventually, she learned the skill of play, and making dinner became so much easier! We continued to practice playing together and she continued to practice it by herself when I needed the time to be alone. It wasn’t perfect, but it was a start in the right direction. 

My hope is that if you’re struggling with getting your child to play by themselves as well, this article can be eye-opening for you as well. 

Tell me in the comments how you helped your child learn the art of play! 

Choosing A Montessori School: Is It Right For You?

Let’s talk about Montessori schools! The term Montessori is thrown around a lot, especially recently, it’s become a very popular method among schools, caretakers, and parents. But what is the Montessori method? Here’s a quick introduction. 

Maria Montessori developed her method of learning as an Italian physician in the early 1900s. Her work focuses on children being independent in their learning and that they have a natural tendency for inquiry in learning. With the proper tools and set up, the child can be independent in their learning. The typical tools in a Montessori classroom are wooden, simple, and always at a child’s level.

Her work was never trademarked, so any school or center can tag “Montessori” onto their title and claim they teach Montessori method, but may not actually follow exactly what Maria developed. This is important to remember when looking into a Montessori school! 

A few facts about a Montessori school: 

If choosing a Montessori education, you may have to change your expectations of what school will look like for your children. They most likely will not be sitting in desks at any point in the day, but instead wandering and exploring and learning at their pace. 

Because the Montessori method is not a trademarked learning style, it is important to do research on specific schools to watch how they are learning and what the school’s style is to see if it meets the needs you are seeking. 

The Montessori method was well developed for elementary aged students, but Maria never created a curriculum for middle or high school students. Some schools have taken the Montessori principles and adjusted them to a high school level, creating a Montessori secondary education program, however, they may be few and far between. 

If you have chosen a Montessori program for your kids, how did you come to the conclusion that it was the right choice? 

Cover photo from thetot.com

Online School: Is It Right For You?

Online school is all the rage right now! Given current technology and a global pandemic, it only seems fitting. Online “school” can be a loose term, because it can mean partially online, partially in the classroom. It can mean some of your classes are online and some are in person. And it can also mean that your entire education is solely online. 

Here are some facts about an online school. I won’t list them out as pros/ cons because some of these points will be a positive thing for one person, but a negative for others. 

You typically can set your schedule. When the coursework is online, you can set your own pace and complete work around your schedule. 

Can have little in-person social interaction because it is all online. Some online programs may have in-person meet-up options, but it’s not typical. 

Books and course material can be cheaper since they are not spending the resources printing everything. 

You can work remotely, giving you the freedom to live in different places. Or even travel while going to school! 

It takes a lot of self-driven work because of the flexibility of time.  

Office hours with instructors typically are over video call or email, which can make it difficult when you are struggling with the material. 

Typically more affordable. 

WIFI has a big effect on your success. If you do not have good, reliable WIFI, it can cause a lot of stress and complications with your schooling. 

As a parent with a child in an online school, it can take more involvement from you to help with learning material. 

Online school can be incredibly convenient and stressful all in the same breath. There are a lot of factors to consider when trying to choose an online school! If you chose an online school for you or your child, how did you decide it was the right path for you? 

What We Can And Cannot Control

I know the majority of people are familiar with the graphics or the exercises where you write down two different categories. 

Things I can control. 

Things I cannot control. 

You then list out everything on one side of the things that are in your control. Your thoughts, your attitude, your opinions, your actions. 

On the other side, you write down the things you cannot control. Others opinions, thoughts, comments. The traffic, the weather, politics, etc. 

It can be very therapeutic to take some time writing these down so that we can realize what is in our control and what is out of our control. 

However, I think we oftentimes only associate these things with other adults in our lives. We are thinking about our colleagues and neighbors. However, as teachers and parents, we often do not apply this principle to our students and kids. And I know that it’s true because I also felt like I was above it all and could control my children. In fact, I felt like I had control of my children. But do I really have control over their thoughts and actions? Absolutely not. 

So what do I have then? Boundaries. Influence.

Because I cannot control my children’s actions and thoughts, I have to set clear, firm boundaries for them to act within. I have the responsibility to teach and influence them.

For example. My daughter and I often play in the front yard, but we live on a road just busy enough that she cannot ride her bike or play in the street because there are too many cars. I cannot control how my daughter moves her body, what thoughts she has on the road, or her desire to see what it’s like out there. These are all completely up to her. 

However, I can have a good influence on her by teaching her the safety of the road, letting her know what the dangers are, and setting a physical boundary for her so that she cannot cross into the road. 

I still have no control over her thoughts or actions, but I’ve taken the proper precautionary steps to keep her safe! 

The same goes for when you’re teaching in a kindergarten classroom. If a child throws a huge tantrum and starts throwing objects across the room, can you control her emotions, actions, or decisions? No. You really do not have control over those. 

Can you influence her, show support, set boundaries, and control your own actions and emotions? YES! 

I’ve been using this strategy with friends and family when unwanted and unsolicited comments arise, by reminding myself that these individuals have the right to act, think, and say what they want, but it’s my responsibility to control my own thoughts and actions in response. It was a mind-blowing revelation that it can also be applied to younger children as well! 

Yes, we do need to set boundaries and stay a good influence because that’s what a good teacher, parent, or role model does. However, it’s relieving to know that these children’s actions and thoughts are not a reflection of you. They are not your responsibility to control, they are just your responsibility to react in a professional way to guide them to safety. 

Have you had this revelation of control with your class and kids? Did it help you while teaching to have a sense of self-awareness when it comes to control? 

Private Schools

Let’s talk about private schools. First, what is a private school? These schools, unlike public and charter, are not funded by the government. They are independently funded, usually on tuition fees and donations from sponsors. 

Here are some facts: 

Private schools can have different purposes behind them. Such as a Montessori school, religion-specific school, a boarding school for arts or sports, a language immersion school, or a special education school. 

Since private schools do not have the same regulations under the government as public schools, their curriculum is able to be spread how and where they want. This can mean they may lack instruction in certain areas, or excel and go beyond the curriculum in other areas. 

Teachers in a private school are still held to the standard of teaching certification and background check, just like a private school. It’s common for some private schools to require higher education in their teachers, or specific training in the subject matter. 

Private schools do not have geographic boundaries like public schools, so often times private schools will have kids attending from many different towns in the area. 

Bus systems for children attending private schools are not guaranteed, therefore committing to a private school may mean committing to a commute every day to get your child to school. 

Because private schools are funded on tuition, which is an amount they set themselves, they can have more resources for the students as far as technology, special education materials, and more. 

So how do you know if a private school is for you? It’s a very personal decision! Some of these facts could be a pro for one family, while it could be a con for another family. The best way is to make an informed decision and research different types of schools to see which would be the best fit for your family! 

Has your family chosen a private school for your kids? How did you come to the decision that it was best for them?