Monday, February 28, 2011

how I learned to stop worrying and love the school

There they go
Today's the first day of school here in Panama.  Since having children I've noticed that one of the most recurrent topics of discussion with other mothers is school.  When to send them?  Or  maybe homeschooling would be better?  Which school is best?  Should they go to a bilingual school?  Or maybe they should just stick to English, or maybe Italian, or Chinese...  I used to fret about these things.  I worried that school was too conservative, that they would teach too much religion (this is Latin America), and that my brilliant, creative children would be warped.  I don't really worry about any of this anymore.

I send my kids to a bilingual school that is connected to a church.  It is academic, conservative and pretty old-fashioned.  The kids study both an American curriculum and the Panamanian one.  There is homework everyday; there are a lot of tests. When we first moved to Panama, my kids went to a less traditional school.  There were many things I loved about that school, but I was not satisfied with the education they were receiving.  I realized I wanted more for them.  To my surprise, strong academics were more important to me than a non-traditional environment.

My kids are smart, and I want them to be challenged, even pushed a little.  My kids need to learn structure and organization at school because they probably won't learn that from me (I wish it weren't so, but I'm kinda all over the place).  They also need to learn how to act around the spiffy people.  They don't have to be spiffy people, but they don't need to be intimidated by them.  I can give them the other stuff: travel, and adventure, and scope for imagination, heaps of books to read, homemade chocolate chip cookies, messiness and a repertoire of fart jokes (I have a lot to offer in all of these areas!).  Yes, my kids go to school where their skirts need to be past their knees and good manners have a high value, but I'm cool with it.

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