My daughter will start kindergarten next year, and we have started the process of trying to decide which school she will go to (and thus where we will move – hope to sell our house next spring). As we’ve been discussing this, I’ve been thinking alot about the benefits and drawbacks of public, private, and homeschool. Here are my thoughts:
Homeschooling – I have several friends who homeschool, and there are some attractive things about it. You can go into more depth with what you’re studying than you could in a school setting. Schools usually have to go for breadth rather than depth. You would not be confined to a particular curriculum. In addition, you would have more time for field trips and special activities. You would also be able to give your kids the religious education you want them to have. However, your kids would have limited social experience and classroom experience. For me, I know keeping a schedule would be challenging. And the kids would miss out on fun stuff related to school life – ball games, homecomings, dances, clubs, sports, drama, etc. While some of this could still be a part of their lives through community sports or classes, it would not be with their school friends that they see every day. Ultimately, homeschooling is not an option for me because I work and probably always will work. Speculatively, when I think about my children, my daughter is a social butterfly and loves her friends and school. I do not think homeschooling would ever work out for her because of that. In addition, she and I are so alike that we would drive each other crazy. My son might be a different story. He’s a Mama’s boy, so we would have to wait and see how he matured by age five.
Public – I am a public school teacher and I spent first through fifth grade at a public school. I do support public schools and I feel like they have a lot to offer. It is the cheapest of the three options, and public schools typically try to offer activities for all interests (particularly in high school) through leveled classes (honors and AP), organizations, clubs, and sports. Of course, there will be all kinds of influences at public schools, but Steven and I feel like we can teach our children what we believe and how they are to act and treat others. Nevertheless, there is a lot of peer pressure, lots of drugs, alcohol, sex, etc. (I know – I work at a high school.) That said, the elementary school that the kids are zoned to right now is awesome. We are already involved with that school as the kids go to daycare there. It is a positive environment and I have seen Madeleine’s knowledge and skills grow by leaps and bounds there. They have good test scores and I would have no problem sending her there.
Private – Private schools can offer a greater academic focus than public school while at the same time offering a Christian environment. One thing I like about private schools is that although they are costly – the most expensive choice – , I feel like putting the money into education up front will help my kids get scholarships to college so that we don’t have to put up the money for college. I also like that they are more rigorous with regards to both behavior and academics. I like that they have uniforms. (I am a huge proponent of uniforms and believe they solve a lot of problems.) I also think that they offer more opportunities such as trips, mission opportunities, and more extra-curricular activities at the elementary level. In addition, I will know that the teachers are Christian and will (or should) treat my children with love and compassion. Steven teaches at a private Christian school, and they teach Spanish at the elementary level and have their own dance academy so my daughter could take dance after school right at the school. I am concerned that what she might get taught faith-wise may not perfectly line up with our Orthodox beliefs, but if we make sure she knows what she believes and keep open conversation with her about what she learns and school, then I think it would be fine.
So right now private school is looking good, especially since Steven can get a discount and they have a daycare for 3 and 4 year olds. It would be pretty expensive the first two years because there is no discount on the daycare, so we would be looking at $400 more per month in childcare/tuition than we are paying for childcare now. That would only last two years though, until Ephraim started kindergarten, and then we would get a better discount. However, we really feel like private school is a yes for middle and high school, but a maybe for elementary. There are a lot of good elementary public schools out there. In addition, we definitely need to get out of this 1250 square foot house! We just have to decide where to move. We can stay in the town we’re in, just move to a bigger place, or we can move to the town that Steven works in. (Both are close to Nashville.) We’ve also talked about moving into Nashville. Lots of big decisions to make!