We were raised by our maternal grandmother. Our mother was young and spent most of her time working. Of course, she loved us but she didn’t have to do the hard part of child-rearing. Mama, did it all. We never experienced daycare because our grandmother took care of us. Although she worked parttime cleaning apartments for a group of mutal friends, much like my Aunt who has cleaned house for one family for years, we were always well cared for. Now decades later, I am realizing that it is this love and presence that seems to play a bigger role in a child’s life than I first imagined.
Before I go any further let me say that I do not avocate for anyone to stay home nor go to work, when you have small children. I have done both for a number of years and only an individual can decide what works best for their family. And what works best may change as the children grow. But I am at home now and so I have to speak to what I know.
My weekly paper didn’t come in the mail yesterday and I was disappointed since I couldn’t read the next installment in the series on education. But that’s okay, I’ll pick a paper up from the grocery store today. Besides, I’m still reeling from an article where I found out which high school in our county has the highest SAT scores. It turned out to be a high school in the more rural part of our county which is also less diverse.
I’m totally familiar with how minority scores tend to “bring down the average” as they’ll politely put it when being trounced by the competition. Didn’t make it any better to know that the high school with the lowest SAT scores was in fact in the most diverse and most economically disadvantated part of our county —if you can say there is such when salaries here are the highest anywhere. But here was the shocker, in the part of the county where salaries are highest and resources seemed better, the kids still didn’t fair as well as those in the more rural area. This perplexed me as I was taught that having more money pretty much guaranteed a better education. After reading the article, I don’t think this is entirely true.
The SAT is culturally biased and I could easily state this as the sole reason that African-American students scored the lowest out of everyone who took the test, Hispanic and Native-Americans included—since most minorities except Asians typically score lower than whites. In this report, even Asians came in third. Harder to pinpoint is discovering what other issues can bring scores down. In communties where it seems most of the cultural slant should be nearly level, it is not. Or is it simply that the nature of working hard to make ends meet has overridden our time and attention for our children?
It seems to me that the children in the area with higher salaries do not have as much parent participation or accessibility. So although they, like their career focused parents, are extremely intelligent, the scores aren’t as high as one would think. In contrast, the schools in the more rural area boasts a lower cost of living and more parents, ie. mothers that stay home. These mothers tend to volunteer in their children’s classrooms and perhaps are more accessible to their child than the parents who work themselves silly to afford to live in the more expensive areas. I know about the mothers volunteering because a member of our mothers’ group is a teacher in the school district with the best scores. As a whole our county’s schools are overcrowded and with budget cuts coming, it just getting worse. So when the calls go out for help from parents, those that can help actually do. This frees up time for teachers to do more with all the kids in the classroom. Couple that with parents who can actually help children with homework or just be there when they need or want attention and you could be staring at the reason for higher scores on the SAT. And as our friend noted, this parental involvement begins early in the children’s education.
I’m not 100% sure this is the reason for some children outperforming others, but it certainly makes me wonder. There are all manner of other factors that could change things, for sure. Still, I ponder how do you effectively, affect your children for good when you are at home and have the time to invest in them. I mean, I don’t want to waste the opportunity while I have it. And perhaps more important, what do you do when it’s time to go back to work? It’s simply mind-boggling!
For now I resolve to do freelance writing, but if it doesn’t pay well enough I want to be an elementary school teacher. Overall, I want a flexible schedule so I can be more involved in my children’s lives. And that’s with or without higher SAT scores. I’d love more family time and quality of life over earning a six figure engineer’s salary. Might sound crazy but raising children is a huge job. I might as well give it a huge effort. What’s your take?