I am of the opinion that parents should be willing to go ‘naked’ so that their children can wear clothes. What I mean by that is that there is no such thing as too big a sacrifice when it comes to ensuring that our children enjoy the best of the best.

However, let us fact it – there are times when our very best feels substandard and inadequate. Now, this matter of sub-standard brings to mind the issue of education. I was recently discussing with a mom who was quite expressive about the gaps she had discovered in her child’s school. She would have loved to switch schools but she couldn’t afford the rates which the better schools went by. So, she had to make do with the ‘faulty’ school.

This mom is not alone. There are so many times when I have heard parents complain about issues with their children’s schools ranging from ‘curriculum and teaching methods’, ‘attitude of teachers and staff in general’, ‘absence of basic etiquette’ etc. These moms are dissatisfied but cannot make a switch because the next best school is way out of their budget.
Unfortunately, many of such moms either react by ‘grumbling and wishing’ or ‘resigning themselves to their fate’. Let’s face it, neither approach is result oriented and in the long run, it is the children who will ‘suffer’.
Hence, if you find yourself in such shoes, I would implore you to follow my numbered train of thoughts as we try to come up with a solution…

1. Remember that the grass always appears greener on the other side. So, before making the big change, be sure that what is absent in your child’s school but claimed to be obtainable in that other school is in reality, actually obtainable.

2. Carry out a wholesome comparison. For example, you cannot say that your child’s school is inferior because it does not offer ballet lessons while all other schools in the area make provision for ballet. You simply cannot base your decision on that one thing alone. Look at the whole picture, find out what makes for a wholesome education and then draw up your conclusion on which grass is actually greener.

3. Okay, without a doubt, it has been concluded that the grass is indeed greener in the other more expensive school. But, are you absolutely sure the school is outside your budget? If you stopped eating out at work and got a cheaper but decent tailor and opt for a cheaper salon and more affordable weaves and changed your dstv subscription from premium to compact and…., would you then be able to afford and sustain the new fees? Is the issue really the price or the fact that this better school is off your path to work? Hence, getting there will require more effort? These are just things you need to honestly look into?

4. Okay, you have no choice but to stay put in the faulty school because you honestly cannot afford the better alternative. However, my big question is this – Is the school’s issue really beyond repair. I know there are many times schools stubbornly insist on their dysfunctional culture. However, there are also times when parents can initiate change? Have you made your complaints to the right authorities? Have you followed up on your complaints? Have you rallied like-minded fellow parents so that you take it up at the PTA? Bottom line, have you kept quiet or done something? Even if you have the money to pull your child out, sometimes (not all the time), it may even be better to initiate change rather than run away. You may just be surprised that the school will be open to the change and you will have touched not just the live of your child, but that of other children as well.

5. Let’s imagine that change has been impossible but in all fairness, the school is not that bad. You know, it just has these little hiccups that matter to you. Or should we say these big hiccups that are deal breakers to you. Well, if that is the case supplement. I will explain what I mean by this with an example. I had always been friendly with a particular mom who had two children. Now, if you meet her children you would imagine that they attend one of the state’s posh schools where etiquette is stressed on and extracurricular activities is a must. Yes, these children sounded both smart and sophisticated. By sophisticated I don’t mean they had adopted a foreign accent and acted fake. What I mean is that they spoke really well, had impeccable manners, were awfully smart and were just fit to have lunch with princes and inventors. Then, one day, I happened to have a long chat with their mom and when she told me what school her children had attended, I had to hurriedly mask my shock. As in, it was just one ordinary cheap school located somewhere on the mainland.
Now, even though the school was supposedly a no-name, it had the basic standard which stood as a deal breaker for the mom. However, when it came to the ‘extras’ she wanted, she had to supplement at home because she couldn’t afford the more expensive schools which included them in their package.

Let’s face it – This ‘supplementing’ is something which virtually all parents have to do. Even if your child does go to one of the high-brow, next-to-perfect schools out there, one of the ways you may (not necessarily all the time!!!) have to supplement is by keeping the child’s ground on the feet after spending all day interacting with children who float in the skies.
A friend of mine told me about the school her child attends. The child is making great academic progress but shouts when she talks because even on the assembly ground, the children and their teachers scream their rhymes and in the classroom, they scream their letters and numbers. My friend decided to keep her child in the school but is at home, working on her child’s speaking voice. This also means that my friend has to do less shouting herself, even when upset with the maid, etc.
Another friend whose child’s school offers very arcade extra-curricular activities decided to enrol her children for music lessons on Saturdays because this will be more affordable than switching schools altogether.

So, what am I saying? If your deal breaker is still in place but you are still not happy with the school, try change. If change is still not working, take matters into your hands and supplement. Also note that no matter how perfect a school is, some level of supplementing and parental involvement will still have to come in at the home front. Bottom line, irrespective of what school you can afford or cannot afford, you have to do whatever it takes to ensure that your child comes out well-rounded and not lopsided because the world is competitive on so many levels.

Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net