by Ingrid Shultz, Open School parent
March 14, 2017
Being a parent sometimes involves a lot of worry. You worry about your child’s future, their safety, their eating habits, their dirty fingernails, and especially their emotional well-being. When our daughter is at The Open School every day, I often think about her, but I honestly don’t worry about her.
Our daughter loves to talk, and talk, and talk some more. She processes new information through talking about it, and loves to share that information with other people. She asks A LOT of questions about everything.
She has an incredibly logical mind and has very strong opinions. Sometimes she can sit still for long stretches when something holds her interest, but sometimes she cannot stop moving, especially when talking or telling a story.
When we were looking at education options, one of our biggest fears was that she would have to change who she was to “make it” in a standard school or would be one of those kids who is constantly in trouble for talking too much, not being able to sit still or for having fierce emotions and opinions.
We did not want her to be “labeled” or “tracked” in a particular way. We wanted her to learn, mature and grow, while still staying who she was and who she wanted to be. I remember searching and searching for a school until we found out about The Open School and democratic education, and then breathing that sigh of relief, “This is the place.”
At The Open School she can go outside when she has the wiggles, play when she wants, and sit still and work on a project for as long as she wants. She can participate in her community and express her strong opinions, in committees and at the School Meeting. She can apply her logic and help make the rules for the school.
In two years at school she has not had to change who she is. She still has the same fire and spark and desire to learn new things. But she has grown in unexpected ways.
I recently found out that she is on the new Emotional Welfare Committee that helps other children at the school. I would never have predicted that two years ago. Her care and empathy for others is growing so much along with her general knowledge and life skills.
No school and no life is perfect. I know there will be some days with issues or disagreements with friends or schoolmates, some days with amazing field trips, some days where she is bored, some days where everything is magical and amazing, and some days where things do not go the way she wants them to.
But I know that overall she will be OK and that her emotional well-being will be intact. I know this because The Open School is her place, her school, and it gives her the freedom and space to be herself and become whoever she wants to become.