When You Are Worried About Sending Your Kids to School
In a couple weeks, I’ll be sending my 5 children, who span in age from 6 to 19 years old, to 5 different schools — elementary, middle, special education, high school, and culinary school.
Since I have children with special needs (medical, behavioral, and gifted), I’ve done IEP and 504 meetings, goal setting meetings, teacher meetings, school therapist meetings, medical review meetings and others I am forgetting.
I offer my experiences as a mom who has done the “parent of a kid” thing for a long time, across many educational experiences.
When You Are Worried About Sending Your Kids to School
After years of experience, here is some of my best advice for when you are worried about sending your kids to school.
- We all need to get over the homeschool is better/public school is better/private school is better deal. We parents tend to be judgmental of each other for our school choice decisions for our children. It’s similar to the working moms/stay-at-home-moms issues, which in my personal world seem to be improving. These days a lot of moms are blending the two, moving back and forth, and mishmashing those roles. I like that. I think we are judgmental about school decisions because none of us are totally 100% comfortable with our own choices. I know I fall into that camp. That makes sense because there is no 100% ideal school situation for your child.Stop looking for it.
- Recognize your worry about sending your child to school. Then do something about it. It is valid to have concerns about sending our kids into the world, even if it is a protected school situation. Having children with significant emotional and medical issues, I have had a few times of near panic before school days. I’ve had some panic days about my typical kids, too. Here is the deep question I had to face very honestly: Who do I really think I am? Do I consider myself to be the ultimate protector of my child? If I do, I am seriously kidding myself and am setting myself to be a mini-god. No person can totally protect and control another human being, even a little one. I have to remember that God is in ultimate control.
Could something bad happen to your child while he or she is at school? Yes, it could. Something bad could happen to your child while he or she is at home with you also. If you have been telling yourself that your children are totally safe and protected when they are with you, you are lying to yourself. That expectation is generating more worry and fear (because deep in your heart you know it’s not true) plus creating a tremendous burden on your shoulders.
I have to remember God loves my children more than I do. He is their ultimate protector.
- Parents of special needs kids, let’s huddle for a minute.I know your heart. I know your fears, relief, and guilt for feeling relief. If your child was born with special needs or identified for awhile, you have all the tools in your parenting toolbox you need, like how to advocate, how to research, and how to find other parents like you. As your child grows, the need for advocacy grows along with him. You continue to advocate, and you teach your child to speak up for himself or herself, too.
Keep at it. I know this speaking up gets exhausting at times. Do not lose faith. What you are doing is totally worth it. Our son’s therapist told me just a few days ago, “Your advocating for him is just as important as your parenting of him.”
- For all parents: Create an ongoing, working relationship.One of the biggest parts of education, and in my opinion honestly way more important than the academics, is learning to get along, work within a system, and cooperate with all different types of people. Teach your kids cooperation and teamwork by example.Show respect. Appreciate. I know a few bad (or more likely, worn out) apples are in the bin, but by and large teachers are the most awesome bunch of people you will find. They are going to love on your kid all year long like nobody’s business.
One of my goals when I talk with my kids’ teachers (and in all areas of life, actually) is to get to know something about their lives. Anything, really. Their kids. Their hobby. Their favorite food or a book they are reading. The next time we email or talk, I try to start the conversation with that. Everyone is a person first, not just what they can do for me. Look at the person in front of you and see her as a person with her own life, joys and needs. I know this sounds simple and basic, but it’s so gosh dang easy to forget! See the teachers and staff as people who want to partner with you to give your child a great year. You’ll have an awesome relationship with your school team. It won’t be perfect, but it will go far. I see how well loved and cared for my kids are at school — what a blessing!
Our children’s teachers have become their allies, supporters, champions, and mentors. They have become my friends. Together we are a team surrounding my children and growing them into the people they are created to be.
That, my friends, is a place worth working toward.
What has helped you have a good relationship with your child’s school team? Teachers: What advice do you have for parents?
About Sara Borgstede: Sara is a triathlete, speaker, and writer. She has been maintaining a 100 lb weight loss for 10 years, and runs an online faith and fitness program for women, www.faithfulfinishlines.com. She is mom to 5 kids through birth and special needs adoption, and she and her husband Mike, were foster parents to 35 children.
Sara takes a lot of power naps. Find her at her website, The Holy Mess, at www.saraborgstede.com, and on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.
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