“And I’m FREE! Free fallin’!” belts Tom Petty (or John Mayer in the softer rendition if that’s your thing) in one of my favorite jams.
Make no mistake. I so, so love this song, but I’m going to argue against this Tom Petty lifestyle choice of stumbling down his own path into the future. As he free falls “out into nothin,” where does he head in his teen and young adult years? Onto which path does he enter?
As for being free, well, let’s be honest here. America allows us to have freedom of speech, and I’m about to rock that.
Public school is free in America. When something is free, we as humans, take it for granted, and that’s the reality for many in our public school system. While it’s a gift that school is free for us, I want to remind you that there are children throughout the world who would give anything to be educated and that many children in the world travel great distances through dangerous terrain in order to be educated. Although this statement is true, it's probably not motivational to your teen. So, how can we make something that is free to us something that is valued? Let’s dive into this.
In elementary school, children are provided with a smaller learning environment and a sense of belonging with their individual class. At this age, kids are often pleasers. They want to please their teachers, and they want to please their parents, even if they are acting out in order to receive attention. Attention is communication, and children want to be loved. If your child does not value school at this age, there is a lot you can do to get them on board with the fun of education. Bring joy into learning through studying like a game. Even if school is challenging for your child, you still have that sense of belonging. As parents, nurture that belonging. Nurture those big feelings and big lessons that are so very real for your little one. Love on your child. Listen to your child. Collaborate with the teacher to bring school home because I assure you that your child is bringing home to school. I would love for a small learning community to continue into the middle school and high school years; however, things generally get increasingly complicated and increasingly large once middle school hits. Fasten your seat belts, folks.