Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Schooling Decisions: Public, Private, or Home School?

I put my foot in my mouth the other week.  I do this fairly often.  You would think I would either learn avoid doing it or at least not let it bother me so much.  But,  as always, I was so embarrassed.  And, then, I wondered if it was better to go back to that person & apologize for what I considered quite the snafu or to just let it go.  I'm pretty sure I analyze things more than the average joe.

Anyway, our son Joseph attends preschool two days a week at a really awesome small private Christian school.  He LOVES preschool and we've had a really wonderful experience there.  There's a wonderful sense of community in that school.  And, part of me wishes we could afford to send all our boys there.

We received a call from the admissions director wondering what our plans were for Kindergarten for Joseph.  We explained that he'll be attending Kindergarten at the same public school that his brothers go to.  But, I told her how happy we've been with them and how much Joseph has enjoyed preschool.  Like any good  admissions director, she asked what went into our decision process about where to send him.  They like to have a sense of what families are looking for.

I explained that the main deterrent to private school for us was the cost.  She explained a bit about their scholarship programs.  And, she inquired about any other reasons we may have.   What if money weren't an issue, were there other considerations?  I told her we are actually quite happy with our district and that it's an awesome public school.

She dug a little deeper.  Was there anything else?  And, here's where I stuck my foot in my mouth.  This is not something in a million years that I normally would have shared with the admissions director at a private school.  But, it seemed like she could sense that there was even more behind our decision.  And, she was right, there was.  And, she SEEMED to really want to know.  So, I told her.

I told her how I had once heard someone I respect say, that if all Christian families pull their children from the public school system to either homeschool or attend private school, who was going to be left to shine a light in our public schools?  And this has kind of stuck with me.

And, I told her this.

There was a pause.  A silence that told me I said too much.  I immediately regretted it.  She, of course, being very professional regained her footing and said something very diplomatic like 'I can certainly respect that.'  But, I felt so foolish.  Like I mentioned, this normally wouldn't have come out of my mouth.  But, somehow it did anyway.

Because, here's the thing.  I absolutely believe that each family is called in different ways.  Some are called to homeschool.  Some to private school.  Some to public.  One is not 'more right' than another.  I DO respect each families individual choice about schooling their children.  It's just that for us, public school seems to be the right choice.

When I had my first son, I almost immediately began reading up on the whole home-schooling movement.  I have my degree in elementary & early childhood education, so I thought this could be  the thing for me.  In fact, I had become so convinced from all the things I was reading, that I was pretty sure it should be the right thing for everyone!

Then, I had my second son....and my third.  By the time, my oldest had reached Kindergarten age, I had three children age 5 and under and I was tapped out!  I couldn't even begin to fathom how I would add homeschooling into the mix.   So, we enrolled him in public school.  But, homeschooling was still in the back of my mind.

We also liked the idea of private Christian school. My husband had attended a Christian school for all but one of his years in school.   But, we had even less money then to work with than we do now.  It wasn't financially feasible. We knew that John's parent's had sacrificed a LOT so they could send their four children to Christian school.  But, we already felt like we were living as frugally as we could.  We didn't see what else we could sacrifice.   So that idea got placed on an even further back shelf.

Now here we are with four boys.  Wyatt's in 6th grade.  Edison's in 4th. Charlie's in 1st.  And, Joseph is in preschool.  I've learned a few things about myself as a mother.   I've learned that as much as I ADORE my children, I do better when I have a bit of a break from them during the day.  I don't think I could efficiently & effectively carry out the role of both mom & teacher.

I have some friends who DO fulfill both roles & SHINE.  Some have decided to homeschool because their children have special learning needs & they have found they are better able to meet those needs in their own home.  Others just have such a gift for making the home a place of enrichment & incredible learning.  I admire each of my home-schooling friends immensely!  I also know that I just don't have the same gifting.

And the thing is, we LOVE our elementary school.  And, we LOVE our district.  We know we've got a fabulous situation that most parents would love to have.  Our school has a true sense of community.  The teachers, staff, & parents all work together closely and truly have the children's best interests at heart.  We have many Christian teachers at our school.  Our principal is a Christian.  And, there are many Christian community members on our school board.

For us, there's really no reason to leave.  In fact, we've considered purchasing a different home some time in the future.  But, the fact is, we really want to stay in our district & at our school.

And, our school has pulled together through some very difficult times...some very tragic times.

A young boy named Jaden in the 5th grade is battling cancer.  Our school has been involved in fundraising for him.  And, tshirts were given to each child at the school that show support for him.  On a school-level & district-wide they continue to encourage and support Jaden.

And, even more sadly, in December one of our 6th grade teachers was brutally murdered in her own home.  Miss Mathewson was my son's math teacher this year.  The entire school was just completely rocked & shaken by this horrific event.  It was even more devastating to learn that of the two young men arrested in her murder (part of a random home invasion) one was 24 and one was only 16.

But, I want to tell you that our school amazed me even more during this time.  Even though the teachers & staff themselves were absolutely devastated, they put the children of the school first and foremeost.  They did everything possible to offer counseling & guidance through the maze of emotions.  They protected our children from the media firestorm.

And, parents pulled together to show our support for the school.  Meals were brought in for teachers.  Cards, letters, emails came from far and wide.  We all came together as a family.  And, while the loss of Miss Mathewson wounded us all deeply, as a school and as a community we all came out stronger.

I never in a million years would have guessed something like this would have happened at our school, to one of my son's own teachers.  This is not the kind of circumstance anyone ever wants to experience.  But, it solidified in my mind that we were where we belonged.  Our children were in excellent hands.  And, I trust our school & our district completely.

And, going back to the comment I made to the admissions director about Christian families shining their light in the public school....I hope that our family is able to do that.  I hope that our children bless those around them with kindness and the love of Jesus.  I hope that as parents we do the same.

So, what are some things that have gone into your schooling decisions for your children?

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