Help! My Child Hates School. An Awakened parents guide to action.
Note: we had some major interruptions in our conversation as we started to talk about the major problems in education and what we can do about it. A storm was brewing outside and we both agree in the world of education as well.
Great Quotes from Mara
“If your child hates school…..the kid is telling us – something doesn’t feel right. Help me figure out how to make it feel better… and that it’s actually an opportunity and a blessing to have your child speak up and say that something is not working.”
“Kids have an inner BS detector that’s fully intact.”
Mara was a public school educator for over 20 years. She taught at an amazing inner city Magnet school for 17 of those years, slowly moving up the chain of command. She obtained her doctoral degree in instructional technology because she decided she wanted to do more and reach more. She was hired by a regional education organization that supported school districts in implementing state mandates and legislation and wrote a grant for arts educators before she became a district level administrator. After quite a few years because of downsizing she lost her job. This lead her to soul searching and she realized that what she thought she knew about education wasn’t the whole story and that the old model no longer really works. She realized that:
Mara didn’t realize she’d come out so boldly and say “if your kid hates school- it’s not that big of a deal”. It is an important statement because “there is nothing wrong with your kid”. What kids are really saying is “I need you to see who I am, I need you to hear me that something isn’t working. Will you figure out what that is with me. Can we go find something that feels better”. It’s actually an opportunity to have your child speak up, say that something is not working and ask for help. To support families in this journey Mara wrote the book Help! My Child Hates School.
Help! My Child Hates School is a how-to guide for parents. The book shows how to find the best educational setting for your family so that your kids are really happy and thriving.
She details the logical process to figure out who your kid is, what they like, what they might want to be doing educationally, and fitting that for the parent financially and logistically.
She realized that she was writing the book for herself, for the kid that she was and is. Not happy in school, not challenged and not allowed to be the creative kid she wanted to be. Help! My Child Hates School is just as much about the inner child of the parents that she is in service to as well as their kids. Did you hate school or struggle in school? Did you not get the support that would have benefitted you? If that was the case, how can you support your child ?
Help! My Child Hates School was her response that teachers are a help but in the end the parents are really the ones who can help make a change.
It is also an advocacy piece for books and works like “The Awakened Family” by Dr. Shefali Tsabary– spiritual parents with spiritual kids. In fact Mara’s work is a similar vision to Dr. Shefali’s Tsabary’s but Mara’s focus is on education.
After losing her job and being separated from the education system Mara began to see how indoctrinated she became after being in the education sector for so many years. She started to see things differently.
Mara is a consultant and supporter of the Micro Schools Movement. (Micro Schools – Small group of multi-aged students with a teacher or learning facilitator that has a theme that is co-created by parents in a community along with (sometimes) professional educators. It is an alternative to bigger, traditional schools. It is a way for families to come together and let their kids be more creative and self directed.) For families and communities that want to create their own alternative, Micro Schools are a more feasible, easier way than creating a private or charter school.
She now works with parents that want to find a better option for their kids and who are interested in starting their own small school in their community.
Micro Schools are ideal because she has found many people that are trying to build things that are their own, that are their own ideologies and that meet the needs of their kids. Mara later talks about the difference between homeschooling and Micro schools and the different unique opportunities that each provides for families.
Mara talks about creating educational models that play to kid’s strengths and how she does this as a professional educator. One example is inquiry based learning. What she likes with inquiry based learning:
Mara talks about kids and specific skill sets and attitudes. She explains that some kids are here to be disrupters. They are the mirror for the things that are not working.
Have a dialogue with your kid about what they are there to do and open up the communication for them to come back to you when or if it is not working. In this way we are helping change the system where we can.
The book is a progressive scale of things you can do. Parents are using it as a guideline to take action or as a place to reach out to her for further help. Mara explains why it’s an important book for parents: “parents are the best teachers”.
AERO Alternative Education Resource Organization