Author: Karen Copeland
Recently, this article came across my twitter feed: Why are so many parents opting out of B.C.’s renowned public schools?
To say the article is relevant to our family situation would be an understatement. We have struggled for years within the public system trying to support our son and his learning style. We have had a couple good years and small successes, but these are tempered with much frustration, discouragement and a lot of hard advocacy work.
As time has gone on, we have resigned ourselves to the fact that our son just does not fit in the public system in its current state. I want to be clear that we have had some amazing people working within the school with our son over the past year, however it is just not enough. We have done our job as parents, attending multiple meetings, participating in consultations, discussions and plans. We have diligently accessed outside services in order to get support for our son and our family. But the reality is he does not fit the system, no matter how much we try.
Lately I have been reflecting on the idea of failure – and the value of failure as a learning tool. And I do believe in this idea – in fact, my best learning has come from the times I have failed and then reflected on what I could do differently. But I wonder. What happens when we are not experiencing at least an equal amount or more success in our lives? What if most of it is failure and frustration? What might we be learning then?
When our son was younger, we were encouraged to register him in group activities. He would go, but the support that he would require would not be implemented nor understood, resulting in challenging experiences. If you enter into an activity and regularly have negative experiences, what does this do to your motivation to return and try again? And what might happen to your self-concept if these negative experiences are permitted to build up over time?
We “opted out” of these group experiences and chose to create opportunities where he would be successful. We worked with a wonderful mentor, Chris, who took the time to build a trusting relationship with our son – met him where he was at, before pushing him to do things he was anxious about doing. We saw a beautiful thing happen. We saw more smiles come across our son’s face. We heard him ask excitedly “Is Chris coming today?” We are so thankful for what Chris was able to accomplish in his year and a bit of mentoring with our son. We began to see confidence in our son, and a bit more willingness to try activities instead of saying “no” outright.
And thus, after the above reflection…
We are faced with the choice of keeping him in public school where his emotional wellness becomes further compromised, or find another option. Honestly, I don’t feel like we have much of a choice in this.
We are moving on. We are “opting out”.
Perhaps we will find a “Chris” in our new educational adventures. It is worth a try.
Wondering how we are doing? Read my follow up post Absolutely Yes