What does the perfect education look like?

 About a year ago when I started realizing that public school might not be a great fit for Winston, I started devouring books on education and alternatives to the traditional options. There are two that I would recommend to EVERY parent.

1. The Smartest Kids in the World and How They Got that Way by Amanda Ripley
2. Rethinking School: How to Take Charge of your Child's Education by Susan Wise Bauer

These totally opened my eyes to what is actually important to look for in a good school (*hint* it's not the school with the newest iPads or Computers) and combined with Evan's knowledge from his PhD in education, they helped me formulate a very clear picture of what I want in my children's education. I know every family is different, but education is basically number one in my book. I mean God is really number one but I consider education to be a spiritual responsibility so its kind of one in the same in my mind. An exercise Susan Wise Bauer had us do in her book was to imagine that all boundaries and restrictions are completely eliminated- the sky is the limit. Now create the perfect education for your child. Here's what mine looked like:

1. Diverse student body exposing my kids to people of many different races, nationalities, cultures, and economic backgrounds
2. Individualized lesson plans that allowed them to go out their own pace regardless of what "grade" they were in or calendar year they were born
3. Integration of God/Jesus Christ into subject matter
4. Appreciation of outdoors including a garden, animals, hiking, etc
5. Well educated and compassionate teachers who are patient and gentle
6. Inclusion of arts, music, sports, baking, STEM, and many different skills, basically appreciation of many different types of intelligence not just the traditional reading/math/science
7. Specific emphasis on critical thinking: teach them to be curious and ask questions, to thirst for education and never stop learning
8. Evaluations should be project and competency based (rather than testing based) and should be three fold- a written evaluation, a presentation of some kind (oral, create a movie,etc) and a physical model or craft
9.  Homework should be minimal for elementary, about an hour for junior high, and two hours max for high school
10. Very hands on, field trips and experiments to allow them to experience and participate in the learning not just hear about it
11. Multi age classrooms so they understand that the world is not all on the same level
12.  Involves continual service given to nursing homes and other places appropriate for children to help

 Now all this being said... its impossible for one school to check ALL these boxes for many different reasons, BUT the goal is to find the school that most nearly meets that vision. For us here in Indiana, this place was the Montessori School of Greater Lafayette. 10/12 is pretty darn near perfect! I love that Winston and Cosette got to be in the same classroom in the mornings, that was a fun perk too. Although it has only been 4 months, my heart is bursting with gratitude that my children got this experience and we will miss this school terribly. Winston's teacher gave him a book of all the world flags as a going away gift and wrote the sweetest note in it about how he is so encouraging and compassionate towards his fellow classmates and such a joy to have in the classroom. We'll cherish it forever!