The Path Is Not Linear
One thing that strikes me every September, without fail, is the significance and impact of the season. September is not just another month, but rather marks the start of the autumnal equinox - the start of the fall season, as warm summer days turn into crisp Fall mornings. It is also a season symbolic of new beginnings: the start of a new grade, a new school, friends being reunited after a summer full of exciting new experiences, as well as new friends joining the neighbourhood and school classrooms. Whether we recognize it or not, September brings much hope, promise and anticipation of fulfilment of good things to come. However, for all the things that make September an invigorating and re-energizing reset for most, are the same things that have a tendency to throw our children - and their families - back into a cycle of fear, dysregulation, and ultimately crisis.
One topic that frequently comes up in the month of September with families is educational choices. With all of the changes that September brings, it doesn’t matter what path you have chosen for your child’s education - home learning, public school, private school, hybrid or other specialized programs - the transition back to a new routine is challenging. Often families struggle with the question of “what is the right choice for my child’s education?”. They often query whether they should pull them out of the public school and homeschool. Whether there might be a better private school option. Or perhaps whether unschooling is what is the right choice. All of these thought processes and decisions also come with some pretty heavy emotions, and parents wondering if they are making the correct choice, and how that might affect the child’s future.
But here is the secret: there is no right choice, and more importantly, the path does not have to be linear! Often times, we are thinking through scenarios that are hundreds of steps ahead of our current situation. We are trying to place pieces into a puzzle that don’t even exist yet, rather than focussing on the pieces that are right in front of us. Just because we choose to move one piece of the puzzle into place now, doesn’t mean we cannot go back and place another piece in a different section later. If a parent feels that the best decision in the moment is to homeschool their child, that does not preclude them from ever going back to a brick and mortar school and being successful there. Similarly, if they decide that a specialized educational program is the right path for the child at the current time, that does not mean that the child will be at the specialized school for the remainder of the educational days. In fact, sometimes we need the departure from our linear path for our children to be able to learn, and grow, and ultimately thrive when they come back to the environment that they previously did not have success in. The decision you make about your child’s schooling today, does not have to be the same decision you will make next term, or next school year, or 3 years from now.
My best words of wisdom for parents struggling with these decisions is to trust their instincts, and have confidence in themselves and their abilities to guide their children through all of their stages of growth, on whatever path that takes them. Have trust in the process, knowing that the path might not be what you had envisioned, and that taking tangential paths are just one more variation of normal. Your child will gain confidence from you in your ability to lead them through these challenges and obstacles presented, and ultimately you will both emerge stronger than ever. Put your trust in yourself - you’ve got this!