Once we become parents we are constantly faced with watershed moments when we have to trust our instincts and make the best decision that we can for our child—even if it means deviating from the expected path. Most parents agree that when we are faced with these moments, the answers aren’t always crystal clear and, in the end, they aren’t always perfect. After sorting through well-meaning solicited and unsolicited advice, we benefit by listening to our own inner voice.
Teachers and parents have an amazing opportunity to trust their instincts, think outside the box, and work together to guide children along their education journey. This can even happen in a standards-oriented, test-oriented school environment. In the public school where I was a teacher, a beloved art teacher suggested that we invite one of my students to explore his engineering talents by attending an extra session of art. This young boy who had been a reluctant writer, enthusiastically put pencil to paper and wrote about his inventions—and wrote more than he had all year. I watched a highly capable, reserved third grade student find her strong, leadership voice after she worked as an art class assistant. Another student failed a written science test, but received 100% when the test was administered verbally. And when teachers transformed a dull states research project requirement into a choose-your-own-topic report and presentation, student motivation soared.
So here’s my advice. When that parent voice inside your head keeps you up at night whispering that something doesn’t feel right for your child, listen to it. Then talk to your child’s teacher, like Pamela and Bill did. There is a good chance your child’s teacher is your ally. Work together—teacher, parent and child—to explore the possibilities both inside and outside of the classroom. If, like Pamela and Bill, you are still searching for the answers you need, remember that you can always color outside of the lines. In other words, allow yourself to be open to unconventional solutions.