This collection has been created to shed light and answer questions surrounding different types of schooling and education. We are not trying to compare, but rather educate you on the differences. Each family will need to make their own decision regarding what works best for their child and family. There are no "right" answers. It is an individual decision that needs to be made based on your student's individual needs, learning style, abilities, and resources.
Our goal of this Education Options collection is to allow you to dive a little deeper into the possibilities and opportunities around you!
Since Shari and I both send our children to public schools, we decided to share our personal experiences with you! Our decision to send our children to public school was not one that we took lightly, and it is something that we continue to evaluate and consider on a regular basis. Hopefully our answers below will give you some insight into how we came to our decisions!
Public schools are no-fee schools that are funded and operated by the government. Overall they have their pros and cons just like any other form of education, and they can differ greatly depending on your location and school district. Part of our decisions to send our children to public schools is that we both chose to live in areas that have great public school districts. We were very intentional about these decisions, and we know that it can be a huge factor for families. We both feel lucky to have great options and resources for our children in the public school setting!
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Q: What are some of the things that you considered when choosing public school?
I was homeschooled for most of my school career, which meant that I had never attended a public elementary school myself! However, my husband had a very good experience within the public school system; & we knew that the district that we moved into had great school options. There were so many small pieces that went into making this decision, but the main reasons were:
- Great school. I have been blown away by the administration and the teachers are my son's elementary school! They do an incredible job there and have education down to a science.
- Family dynamics. My son and I have a great relationship, which means that he is very comfortable with me. I love this part of our relationship, but it also means that he does not perform to his potential when I ask him to do things. He will always rise to the occasion when it is a teacher or coach asking him to try something, but if it's mom... he doesn't feel the need to put in as much effort.
- Career. My husband and I both have careers that we really enjoy, and while I work from home, I still need quiet time and space to get my work done. It is great for everyone that we all get to go do our own "jobs" and then regroup back at home for fun, family time.
- Friends. It is amazing for me to see the relationships that my son has built in his few short years of school. He loves spending time with his friends, and they get so excited to see each other when we are at community events or just at the park.
- Resources. The public school system does have great resources at their disposal, and while you may need to jump through some hoops to get there, they also want what's best for your child. Simply having guidance counselors and education experts on your team is an incredible resource.
- Finances. Education is extremely important, and it is not something to pinch pennies over; but... free public school doesn't always mean that it is a less valuable option. I feel that some of our local public schools deliver a far better and well-balanced education than some private schools.
I grew up attending private Christian schools from Kindergarten through 9th grade before switching to a public school. Since both offered great experiences, it was a very difficult decision when choosing where to send our first child. All of the reasons that Shari mentioned were also our reasons for sending our daughter to our local public elementary. The only additional reason that I would add is convenience, although you should never make a decision solely based on this!
When purchasing our home, we chose a highly rated public school district, and a neighborhood that is zoned for a very sought after elementary school which is less than 3 miles down the road.
The other reason I would add is structure. Our children attended a Montessori school for preschool. And while they all enjoyed it and had a wonderful experience, I realized that our daughter needed more structure. Our son who loves to explore why/how things work did very well with this form of teaching, but our daughter needs more guidance throughout the day.
Q: How does this form of education benefit your children?
I remember being so surprised at how much my son learned in his first year of Kindergarten. He went from my toddler to this incredible, young kid that could read and do math problems. At every grade, I love to see how they use well-thought-out curriculum to teach skills that continue to build upon each other. I don't know how these teachers manage to fit in so much education into each and every school day, but my son is thriving in that environment. Sure, there are certain pieces of school that he doesn't always love, but as a whole... it's been a great experience for him - both academically and socially.
Again, I will completely agree with Shari's answer. And what I appreciate most about our public school district is their teachers and learning support staff - they are truly amazing!
Our daughter has dyslexia. While I am sure that most schools offer extra learning support, ours seems to be top-notch. I believe that there is value in a formal way of evaluating, communicating and implementing a learning plan; that I have very much appreciated. For our school, it's very routine. They did a great job of figuring out our daughter's exact needs, and focusing on her strengths. Together we worked to create an IEP - an Individualized Education Plan for her. And periodically we have team meetings with all of her teachers to asses where she is at, what we need to work on, and how we can give her extra support. Together we all share the same goals - to help her feel as confident as possible, to love school, and to enjoy learning.
But I also believe that we have had so much success because we choose to partner with our school for all of this. Because they are public, they have these extra resources. And because we are involved, we know that everyone is staying on top of her needs. There is consistency and routine in both her school day, and in the way we help with homework in the evening. So for our daughter's learning style and needs, this really has seemed to work best for all of us.
Q: What does a day in the life of your children look like?
As a previous homeschooler, this is one of the areas that I struggle with the most when it comes to public education. I hate that I have to wake up my child early in the morning to rush and get him ready for school. I don't like that he might spend part of his school day bored or wasting time. But... these things don't outweigh the positives at the moment. My son's school goes from 8:00am to 2:30pm. We drive him into school each morning, and he rides the bus home after school. It is nice to have him home by 3:00pm each afternoon! During his school day, he has his main class; he has separate teachers for reading, math, and specials; he has a gifted support teacher; and he, of course, has lunch and one 15 minute recess. He gets to do gym, art, music, computer, and library on a rotating schedule, which helps to round out his education.
My children are in school each day from 9am - 3:40pm. While I like the later start, it does feel like our afternoons are very short. Till they get home and settled it is usually close to 4:00. But they always come home happy and excited to tell me about their day which consists of reading, math, writing, social studies, a fun special, and is filled with lots of new learning facts.
While I am not crazy about the common core standards, I do find value in my kids learning each subject in a traditional structured environment. Each day is pretty routine, which is good for my son who sometimes gets anxiety in new situations. It's comforting to always know what's coming next. And this is where the amazing teachers become the best part - their days on paper may seem similar, but somehow they have the ability to make each day truly special and fun!
Even though public schools are required to teach the same curriculum, their school environments can differ greatly from school to school. Before making a decision on what type of education would be best for your child, I strongly encourage you to do your research, explore your options, and visit as many schools as you can in person