Recently, however, I was talking to a mother of a high school senior in our district. She did have some complaints about the school; it doesn't prepare students for college and it doesn't provide enough experiences and opportunities for students.
I have to disagree with her 1st point. The school DOES prepare students for college. Last year's seniors included a pre-med major and an student who is in the engineering program at Purdue this year. A state senator can also boast of being a recent graduate of our little high school. I believe my friend's son's problem isn't that he isn't prepared for college but that he doesn't know what he wants to do when he gets there.
But the fact that this particular senior boy doesn't know what he wants to major in could be from lack of experiences. Of course our high school, of 100 students, has sports, band and an academic team. But there is no FFA program, which I hold in hig regard for its ability to instill leadership qualities in high school students. Like any school our students go on field trips but honestly, destinations are limited. For our students to have the opportunity to visit a museum of the same caliber as those in Chicago or Indianapolis would require an overnight trip.
I'm an advocate of the importance of a well rounded education, not just in school but at home as well. If the school can't provide the experiences that my kids need then I see it's DR and my job to provide them.
If you've read my blog routinely you know DR and I take road trips...a lot. Amarillo, Taos, Ft. Larned, Colorado. It's not just about our family seeing new places but experiencing new things and learning about people and places outside their community. DR and I have been discussing visiting a military base because Yap wants to be a soldier. I'm not pushing Yap to be a soldier if he changes his mind in the future but this is his interest now and I feel it's important to provide support and experiences for my kids' interests at any age.
We also read....a LOT in our home. Books, magazines, newspapers....it's not uncommon for my kids to be on the floor surrounded by books before they go to school. DR and I both are constantly on the lookout for new and interesting reading material for our kids.
Rural living is wonderful but it does have drawbacks. Isolation and lack of broad educational experiences is one of those obstacles we face out here in SW Kansas. For some the solution would be homeschooling. NOT ME! Overall, the school does a MUCH better job that I ever could on my own. Right now my job is to supplement my kids' educations with road trips, reading or whatever...but I know I could do better.
So, my question to those of you living in very rural America, how do you provide educational experiences for your children outside of those offered in your rural school?