Private, Public, Home? How does a family choose?

April 1, 2013 in education,homeschoooling

pamDear Friends, It’s been a while, but I have a few mentor mom posts for you in the next weeks. First, welcome back Pam from An Artful Mom. She’s tackling the issue of school choice with grace today. Her kids are 18 and 22 now so she has the perspective of time on her side. (My blog is having issues this morning and the spacing looks perfect in the post editor but won’t add any spaces my actual post…sorry)

School choice—Ah, that is a familiar topic to me. Private school? We did that. Public school? Did that too. Homeschool? Yep. And just about every combination possible.   School choice can tend to be a divisive subject. Unfortunately, stereotypes about school choices are common, which you already know if you’ve ever heard such comments as “Homeschoolers don’t get enough socialization.” Or “Public school kids drink alcohol.” Obviously, those are unfair stereotypes.

Our family’s educational journey has been more varied than most, so our perspective is kind of unique. Both of our kids were homeschooled for most of their school years, with some school attendance as well. When they both became chronically ill in middle school, homeschooling again became the most practical option, and remained so. We were fortunate to have local homeschool classes available that helped teach more difficult subjects like Algebra, Biology, etc. If I had the chance to start over, I would homeschool from the beginning and never look back.

There were things I liked about our little local public school that my kids attended for a while. There was diversity–racial diversity, socioeconomic diversity, learning diversity. The school was close by. The physical education and music departments were amazing. There were also things I didn’t like–the curriculum at our particular public school was taught to the middle of that diverse range of abilities–so it wasn’t as challenging as we might have needed. The worldview that was represented often didn’t match our own.

There were also many things I liked about the private schools my kids attended—the high standards, the worldview that mirrored our own, the structure. And there were things I didn’t like–the lack of flexibility, the large amounts of homework (which was particularly intrusive into family time and other extra activities.)

If you’re struggling with school choice, examine yourself. Do you love education? Does browsing in a teacher store fill you with delight? Do you enjoy being with your kids a lot? Do you tend to think a bit “outside the box?” Do you have opinions about the ways your kids should learn? If so, homeschooling could be a good fit. But it’s not for everyone.

There are also a lot of ways to get involved if you choose a traditional school path. Try to be present at field trips, class parties. Communicate with and support the teacher. If your child is in sports, could you or your spouse help coach? Make sure your child is reading a lot and knows how to pursue knowledge on her own.

From a mom “raising girls” perspective, it’s been a joy having my daughter home with me, to talk about life, books, and attitudes, to take pictures, to make crafts, and to organize our home together. (If you are are a reader of my blog, you can see how many of the ideas I blog about come from my daughter!) We are both shy, yet opinionated females, and our conversations become lively at times! She and my son are now 18 and 22 year old young adults, who made excellent ACT scores and, more importantly, are independent learners who think critically. My son will graduate from college this April.

Prayerfully evaluate the school options, and dive in wholeheartedly in the direction you are led.

For more wisdom from Pam, check out Parenting Advice I Actually Used (with scripture to pray for your kids)

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Tamara April 1, 2013 at 6:14 pm

I like that you give a few perspectives, and also that you’ve lived them! I have a baby right now and a three-year-old. Choosing a preschool was very hard but we’re very happy where we are right now. We live in a place that really values education, especially higher ed, as we live in a heavy college/university area. Kindergarten is a year and a half away but I think we’ll choose the public school route to start. It’s in walking distance from our house and has a good reputation. We shall see!

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Chris Carter April 1, 2013 at 7:22 pm

I love all your wisdom and insight! It truly is a decision based on each parent and child’s unique life situation and values. I love that there truly is a perfect path for each child, and each choice is worthy of prayerful discernment. Each year, I take the time to evaluate and pray over this important part of their life journey.

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Pam April 2, 2013 at 1:35 pm

Thanks so much Tamara and Chris. I wish you the best as you make school decisions.

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Michelle April 4, 2013 at 11:34 am

School choice is definitely a decision based on the parent and child’s needs. We’ve got 2 kids in public school and one in private high school. The one in private school made that decision because he wanted smaller class sizes, and he’s much happier with that decision. I have another heading to high school next year and she entertained the thought of private school briefly but then decided against it. The challenge now is family time and the difference in vacation schedules!!

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pruningprincesses April 4, 2013 at 12:09 pm

Michelle, I applaud you for letting your kids make decisions which make family life less convenient. You obviously know that different kids have different needs and therefore fit better into different schooling options. Sounds like you have schooling decision thing under control!

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