Q and A: If my child is not flourishing in a traditional school, should we jump ship?

I was at ExpoMom last Saturday and bumped into an old friend. When we got to talk about what I do, she told me that her fourth grader who attends a traditional boys school is having a hard time — his grades were dropping, he wasn’t interested in the activities, etc.

Another friend texted me about the same situation with his 9-year-old daughter who studies in an exclusive girls school. She was bored and disinterested.

Because of this, they wanted to check out a progressive school for their children. Should they jump ship?

As a progressive school advocate, my automatic answer should have been, “Yes!” However, several factors need to be considered.

It is easy to think of jumping ship when there’s another ship to jump into. Years ago, parents did not have a choice but to go to traditional schools. If their children do not do well, then there’s the guidance counselor’s office or worse, they are tagged to be “slow” or “distracted” which then evolves to the tag “lazy.”

Going to a progressive school will not be the solution. It may only be part of it. The first step is find out what’s going on with your child.

The first factor to consider is age. When you check the ages of the children in my examples, they fall in that usually ignored gap called “Tween” or Between Childhood and Teenage years.  A study that I read showed that this age-range has the least amount of literature to read about. Mainly because, theorists don’t know what to do with them.

If you think about it, even when you enter the department stores, it’s also hard to buy clothes for them. Are they in the Children section or the Teens section? If you’re confused, imagine how confused they are!

This is the time when their hormones are about to rush into their brains, when they don’t understand what’s happening to their bodies and when they suddenly like the opposite sex but don’t know what to do about it. To use their language, they’re EMO (or emotional). Activities easily bore them. People easily bore them. And since they’re in school most of the time, school bores them. They want to get a rush from something they can’t put their finger on.

My suggestion is to give them an extra-curricular activity that they really like. My friend’s son was into origami and I suggested a class in the Nihongo Center.

Furthermore, if they’re in this age, it’s hard to transfer schools in the middle of elementary. So think about another factor before jumping ship..

Electronic Life. This is the stone in every teacher’s shoe. Believe me, teachers know when their students are too doped up with TV, PSP, Wii and all other abbreviations that need to be short because students can’t spell them anymore! How can school NOT be boring when the counterpart is playing computer games on a 4×6 console which has wifi capabilities and can be brought around anywhere?

How often is your child in front of an electronic gadget? It’s time to pull him out of cyberzone when the grades are slipping.

School Curriculum. What worried me when I was talking to my friend was when they had a school meeting, a lot of parents had the same problem with their children. There is strength in numbers. I suggested that they can meet with the school and inquire if there was any change in the curriculum. I strongly believe in voicing out your issues with the school because it cultivates a better parent-school relationship and it will definitely improve the school curriculum and services.I just pray that the school has open minds and hearts to listen and to realize that changes need to be made.

There’s nothing wrong in checking out progressive schools if you feel that your child is not happy in his present school. However, before doing that, check your child first. Talk to him. Then talk to the administrator of your present school. You may find out that the ship you’re in now just needs minor repairs.

After talking with your child and your child’s school, then you can check out progressive schools. Use this blog to ask questions. Then post your stories here. Talk to you soon!