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A fish out of water

Water is my element. I love the ocean. I love to swim. Water feeds my soul in a way that no other element of nature does. I take long showers (I know, not environmentally correct but psychologically necessary). When I was at my saddest I spent hours swimming and playing in the water with my boys. Living 2,000 miles away from the ocean, we bought a house that is walking distance from a small lake.

A klutz on land, I always feel graceful in the water. When I am in shape I am a strong swimmer and even out of shape I can beat my marathon running husband across the pool. In the water I can dive, flip, float, tread water, and body surf. I can swim the crawl stroke, backstroke, and breaststroke (butterfly always alluded me – again I’m not the most coordinated individual). On land I have sprained ankles, stubbed toes, and broken toes just while walking (note the plurals). I’ve stumbled, tripped, slipped, fallen up the stairs as well as down the stairs, and collapsed to the ground for seemingly no reason. Cobblestones are a minefield for me. I really do not think I can walk and chew gum at the same time.

I am a fish out of water.

Occasionally I have a student in my class who seems like a fish out of water as well.

The school where I teach is a “Back to Basics” school which means we teach with whole class instruction, use a reading program that is strong on phonics, our math program emphasizes memorizing math facts, and science, history, and geography are an important part of our day.  Many people do not agree with our philosophy, but many kids thrive in it.

Over the years I’ve watched children struggle in my class due to possible learning disabilities. I’ve seen children struggle because they do not have support at home. But the saddest to watch is a child struggling because the environment is not a good fit for them.

Colorado has school choice which I think is great. I teach in a charter school and so every one of our students was enrolled by parents who chose us.  They chose our curriculum, our standards, our learning environment. Parents want to enroll their children in our school because it fits their definition of a good school.

In fact, I chose the school for my own two boys. The curriculum and learning environment are perfect for my children. They love to learn, especially science and history. They are flourishing in a ways I never imagined. They are a joy to watch.

We are a great school (in my opinion), but our philosophy and learning environment are not suitable for everyone. There are students who need a more hands-on approach to learning. Students who need to move around more. Students who need more flexibility and independence in their learning.

Sure some students who need a different learning style or require more movement and hands-on activities may learn to adapt, but others flounder. They do not develop a love of learning. On the contrary, they begin to feel bad about themselves and hate school. It is heart-breaking to watch.

Having the ability to choose your child’s school is a gift, but one that needs some careful thought and research. It’s important to remember that the school is for the child not the parent. Sure that Montessori school might have been the ideal school for you as a child, but if your daughter is not self-motivated then it might not be the best option.

Here’s another water analogy to ponder. What happens to the beautiful salt water fish when it’s placed in fresh water?

Exactly.

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There are lots of websites on the internet that provide information about school choice and the variety of options.

For those of you who would like more informations, GreatSchools.org might be a good place to start.

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