Last week, families across the country had the chance to reflect on the many great school choices options that are available during National School Choice Week. In Wyoming, we are lucky to have educational options. But we can’t rest on our laurels – we need to keep fighting for and protecting choice to ensure that parents will always be trusted to make the best decisions about their children’s education, not bureaucrats.
Empowered parents are a force to be reckoned with because we know our children better than anyone. When we as parents are trusted with choice it means a better chance of success for our children, because even within the same family children learn differently. We know what educational environment will work best for their individual learning needs.
The educational option that works best for my family is virtual school.
There are many reasons why I am thankful for this choice. First, my children won’t have their academic pace set by the rest of the classroom. If they grasp a concept, we move on and learn more, removing distractions that can occur when students are bored in traditional classroom settings. On the contrary, if they are struggling with a certain lesson, we can spend extra time understanding and practicing concepts before moving on to the next lesson.
Second, my children are learning valuable, everyday life skills. In their virtual school, they multitask, set goals and prioritize their work. In addition to traditional subjects, they are also learning practical skills like gardening, home repair, grocery shopping, and cooking.
Finally, our virtual classroom supports my children asking as many questions as needed. With upwards of 30 students in some traditional classrooms, there is not always enough time to answer questions from each student. With this option, my children can ask as many questions as they need, leading them to have a better understanding of what they’re learning. When my children better understand and master what they’re learning, they become more confident students.
Fortunately for my family, lawmakers in Wyoming – in each level of government – trust parents to choose the best school option for their children. Wyoming families have a full menu of school settings to choose from and I hope that is stays that way for good. We also need to be grateful for this.
As a mom who has taken advantage of the options provided to my family, I encourage you to do the same. Ask families to share their school choice stories with you, and feel empowered to advocate for your sons and daughters. The one-size-fits-all model that our generation experienced is no longer the norm, nor should it be. Every child learns differently, even within the same family. School choice options will ensure every child has the best chance for success.
Michelle Rayburn is a virtual school parent from Cheyenne and a parent leader with the Wyoming Chapter of PublicSchoolOptions.org, which supports and defends parents’ rights to access the best public school options for their children.