Last week there was another mass shooting at a school. An elementary school. 19 children were murdered. Two teachers were murdered. It’s not okay. I have a lot of anger and frustration around that. And a shit ton of sadness. But I’m also determined.
I’m determined to do what I can to take action. Donations, emails, phone calls, petitions. Done. What else? All of those actions rely on someone else to do something. What can I do?
One thing that most of us can do is to take part in a nationwide walk out. Not just a one day event, but a week, a month, a year. As long as it takes until action is taken against the rampant gun sales in this country.
And yes, there are so many other gigantic contributing issues to address: mental health services, bullying, individualism, and more
But beyond all of these actions of doing, I want to offer something to you.
This week, I want to take some time to speak about safety and its impact on education.
If we think about the Hierarchy of Needs (I learned Maslow’s originally, but then found out that Indigenous people have taught very similar hierarchies long before Maslow), the concept is simple: we have to have some basic needs met in order to have space in our lives to access the best of ourselves.
If our children are not fed, rested, and feeling safe, they can not learn. Schools in California (and I’m sure not just California) now offer free breakfast and lunch to every child (no proof of poverty necessary). Schools encourage parents to send children to bed early. Schools provide mental health services at higher rates now than ever before. Schools are trying to step in when parents can’t provide these things to their children.
And that is why I love and support public schools. Public schools are desperately trying to save the world, one child at a time. The public school system may very well be broken, behind the times, and far too bureaucratic, but it’s also never been better (imo). It is also there to serve children, and offer them the best it can.
But this episode isn’t really about public schools, because this podcast is aimed at parents and how parents can support their child’s education.
To support your child’s education, you need to be sure that their needs are met. So let’s cover the easiest stuff first, the stuff that is so obvious it shouldn’t need to be said, but since we are in it daily we might need that gentle reminder:
Make sure your kid is getting adequate sleep.
Make sure your kid is getting fed adequately.
Make sure your kid feels seen, loved, understood.
Make sure your kid is clean, and dressed comfortably.
A little less obvious: Make sure your kid’s sensory needs are met. Are they sensitive to light or sound or certain textures? Do they need pressure? Do they need movement?
Any of these things can distract your child from being able to focus on their education- whether they are homeschooled or schooled with others.
But because we are relational beings, the needs of others will impact your child as well. A cranky first grader might ruin your child’s day because that kid didn’t get enough sleep and your child was standing too close to them at lunch. A sullen 5th grader may bully your child daily because they feel so inadequate themselves, and because empathy was never instilled in them.
When we support public schools, we support our society. Right now, public schools are under attack. And everyone is being harmed by these attacks.
If you want to support your child’s education, you need to support your local public schools. Ask what they need in regard to what you are able to offer: volunteer time, money, supply donations, organizational skills. Stand up for them when others criticize unfairly. Post support of teachers, who are trying their best to be the best for our country’s children.
Again, schools have a lot that needs to be fixed. Teachers are often not taught what they most need to learn to be a truly good teacher. There is still a disgusting obsession with behaviorism in schools. I have many complaints, but the people are loving and deserve support. The concept of free education should be expanded, not attacked.
Beyond supporting public schools, support your community. Maybe you can let the schools know that if someone seems to have trouble with drop-offs and pick-ups, that they can reach out to you and you’ll help. Maybe you can volunteer in whatever area is a good fit for you: animal shelter, food pantry, hospital, library, etc.
Now, I would also encourage you to advocate for your kid and others: teenagers have different rhythms than young kids. They are biologically wired (and technology makes this way worse) to stay up later and sleep in later. They need their schools to start later. Go to your school board and fight for later start times. Early start times are impacting their education.
Representation matters. What our children are taught matters. Be vocal in your support of all children feeling seen and validated.
Kids from families that are black, brown, gay, transgender, muslim, atheist, and everything else all need to know they are not the only ones. And the other kids need to know that too!
Representation improves the emotional and social well being of all children.
And of course- we need to stop the mass shootings that make all of us fearful. Vote, call, write, and make your voice heard.
Okay, I’m pretty sure my rant might never end if I didn’t force it. So here I am, ending it for today!
Reach out, let me know what you think. What would you add?