First, let me start by saying how you parent and school your children is up to you. I’m not trying to say you’re doing it wrong and I’m right. By all means I’m no expert on parenting, I’m just doing my best like everyone else. I’m doing what is best for my family, likewise you should do what is best or your family.
Here’s a little background on our schooling history, we’ve done private schools, homeschool and public school. We’ve had success and failures with each but as of right now public school is the best option for our family and here’s why…
Public School offers my children extra support areas in where they struggle. My 7 year old has always struggled with reading and while he hasn’t officially been diagnosed with dyslexia, I think it will come up soon. When I first started to teach him to read when we were homeschooling I was at a complete loss as to how to help him. Thankfully, the public school he is in now offers amazing reading resource teachers that have training and experience working with children that have reading difficulties. As soon as he started his reading group I noticed an improvement in his reading. Additionally, my kindergartner has some speech problems and thankfully his school has a speech therapist that is able to help him. Finally, my oldest has constantly struggled with social skills and this year he has a wonderful teacher that is tender towards his needs and guides him through hard social situations. (Full disclosure: his teacher last year was not as accommodating, however he did learn a lot of valuable social lessons from being in that class.)
Public School is a great place for my children to practice compassion and giving. Our whole family is involved in their school life. I participate in the PTA, volunteer at the school and am supportive of the school’s community outreach. There are many opportunities for us as a family to help those that are less fortunate than we are. Our school is title 1 school which means many of the children at their school have great need. We are not wealthy by any means but we have more than enough and I think school is a great practical place for my children to put into practice their heart of giving.
We can afford public school. I know many private schools offer scholarships and financial aid but eventually we’ll have 4 kids in school and it just adds up. I know there are often academic benefits that private schools can offer that public school’s cannot. However, I’ve yet to see a long term benefit for my children that would justify the financial adjustment for our family. I always thought private schools offered a better education and a safer environment for students but this just isn’t the case. Everyone learns differently and while some may benefit from a specific type of education a private school offers, others may not.
Private school does not equal safety for your children. I attended a private school and was exposed to just as many scary things as friends at public school. Kids are still mean and despite stricter rules some will eventually find a way to break the rules. In all honesty, the only thing private school did for me in terms of “protecting me” was shelter me from reality. I want to protect my children but from what exactly am I protecting them. So far, my kids haven’t encountered anything that has shocked me and made me worry. But we are constantly talking about making good decisions in the little things, being a friend to those that are different and speaking up when we see something that isn’t right. As a Christian, I know this is a tough area for parents to let go, like somehow it’s too much for children to bear. Yes, life is too hard for all of us to bear but it isn’t too much for God. We pray with our children, we remind them that God is with them and that He is our helper.
Community, I’ve found great community at our school. We have teachers, parents and other students that truly care for our family. Recently when Noah broke his arm and needed surgery, one of his teachers stopped by the hospital and offered help for our family. Last week I met with Jude’s teacher and to see the amount of love and compassion she has for her students almost brought me to tears. I’ve met new friends and people to love on through my children’s school. The school is a part of our community and given the opportunity to love on people in our community and to let them love our children is amazing.
We are all in this together. A lot of people that go to public school don’t have any other option. Maybe they can’t afford private school. Maybe they need the resources that are offered freely at public schools. Private schools aren’t required and often can’t afford all of the special programs that public schools offer like special education, literacy intervention, counseling, speech therapy, language support, reduced lunches, before and after care, etc.. Maybe there is a single parent that has to work and can’t home school their child. Maybe they didn’t receive a full education and struggle to help their child with their homework. Maybe they have a child that they have trouble parenting. Maybe they have a difficult home life and the community support offered through the school is the only support they know. There are so many loving and caring people that work at public schools for the very purpose of helping all of these people and I want to be right there with them. I want my children to witness this kind of love. I want my boys to know that there is no shame in needing help from your community and you should always help those in need. It is truly a gift that I get to let other people love on my children. It’s a blessing to me, to them and to my children.
So that is why we are currently loving our public school. Our circumstances right now are telling me that public school is the place for us. Now, I don’t regret sending Jude to private school, his kindergarten teacher was a huge blessing to our family. And I don’t regret home schooling Jude, I learned so much about his learning style and what makes his brain work. I also learned that Noah needs additional support from someone that isn’t me. And I don’t resent going to private school. I have learned from all of these types of education. But right now, I feel completely at peace with our decision to send our boys to public school. And you as the parent of your children should feel confident in whatever decision you make as to how you educate your children.
One of the hardest parts in making the decision to send my kids to public school was allowing myself to get over the stigma that I had toward public school. Don’t let family, friends, the media, religion or anyone else make you feel bad for doing what you need to do to parent your children in a way that is best for your family. As a parent, you know what is best for your unique child.