(contributed article)

The one place in a child’s life that is going to have a huge impact on them is their school. This is where they will learn to interact with people on their own level, gain the basics of an education to get them through exams and subsequent college entry, and where they will learn how to handle themselves in a variety of situations. Of course, choosing to home educate doesn’t mean that they won’t get that same treatment, but the school environment has a huge influence on our children and their future. The question that you must always ask yourself as a parent is whether that influence is a positive one or not.

Schools tend to err on the side of exams and statistics. They outline the curriculum based on what children need to know, with parental support for the practical side of education and the more “common sense” items that we all learn as we go through life. At school, children will be taught to sit at desks or tables and focus, to sit still and to be quiet while the teacher is talking. It’s the way most schools have always been run, and it’s what can often put too much pressure on some children.

Children do not all absorb the information in the same way; and while many schools praise children who have a good memory for things like multiplication facts and historical dates, there is more to learning than this memorization approach. Yes, children will need to know their basic arithmetic facts, and yes, there’s a lot of positives for learning good phrases & creative writing words in English class. The lessons themselves are not usually the problem; often, it’s the expectations put upon the children that is the main issue. Many schools may not take into account that three out of four children could be great at “desk learning”, but that one in four may need some visual aids or movement to retain the information. It really depends on children’s learning style. Schools are often not equipped to handle too many different learning styles because budgets are stretched enough as it is.

As a parent, having a  close relationship with your child’s school is helpful, so that you can ascertain whether your child is struggling under pressure or not. If they are, then you could start to assess whether the school environment is the right one for your child. Some children do far better when home educated; it’s more relaxed, more concentrated on what the child is interested in and offers your child the chance to meet different people from all walks of life.

School determines so many factors in life – from the college that they attend to the job they have eventually – but it’s not the only way to learn. Sometimes, the school environment puts pressure on our children unnecessarily, and it’s going to be your job to make the world of learning exciting for your kids when this happens. Understanding the signs of undue stress can help you to decide whether your child is managing okay at school or not.

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