Chances are when you were growing up, where you went to school was a no brainer decision for your parents. You probably went the grade school just around the block from your house or maybe even the religious school that was just a short bus ride away. The choices today are not so simple.
The topic of education has become a complex, national dialogue with questions about policies for bullies, accountability, standardized testing, curriculum, class size, and teacher training. Regardless of whether the school you went to was good enough for you when you were a child, it’s now time to consider where your child will go; and it is one of the largest decisions you will make as a parent. There are several things to consider, can you afford private education, is the curriculum what you are looking for, what about the values and morals being taught? How involved can I be?
What are the benefits of public education?
When my daughter entered into Kindergarten, she went to school two blocks from our home. This ensured she would play on the playground she had always played on and would interact with kids she knew. This relieved anxiety for her and mom!
You Get to Know Everyone
Public schools generally have a range of children from all socioeconomic classes and a wide variety of backgrounds. This is the type of community that most people occupy as adults, and public school is an opportunity to meet and learn to negotiate with other points of view and understand people with diverse backgrounds and values.
Public schools are funded by our tax dollars and government; generally speaking, the more kids, the more opportunities for extra activities like art programs, field trips, science fairs and more. These types of opportunities expose your child to an array of situations, people, and often help your child discover and develop her own hobbies. This means your child also has the opportunity to try different things like sports teams, cheerleading, theatre, singing, hockey and more.
We began considering private education when we felt our daughter’s needs were not being met in the classroom. At the time, our bright and exuberant daughter became more like a wallflower in the classroom and on the playground. She was struggling with reading, speech, and had to wear an eye patch. Not wanting her to fall behind in her education or risk her social development, we turned to private education and kicked ourselves for not doing it sooner. What we found suprised us. She recieved the attention she needed and began to excel in her studies.
Private education often means smaller class sizes and more attention. On average, private schools have a student-teacher ratio of 9:1 as opposed to about 17:1 in public schools. When Cheyenne entered her new private school, she was given the attention and breathing room she needed to work on her reading skills. At the time she was entering third grade and could barely recognize key words, by the time she finished her first year, she was reading short chapter books at a 4th grade level.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics Study, private schools tend to be half the size of public schools. Many experts feel that children are less likely to get lost in the shuffle if they attend a smaller school, which naturally nurtures a sense of community and belonging. On average, private schools have a student-teacher ratio of 9:1 as opposed to about 17:1 in public schools.
Strong Character Building
Regardless of whether your family is religious or not, many private schools focus on core Biblical values, which in turn raise great kids. In a world where the motto is, do what feels right for you, private schools teach the Golden Rule among other core values. Studies have shown students with stronger values make wiser choices in High School and College versus their public counterparts. Private schools tend to teach children to look outside themselves and how they can serve others. This includes community projects and giving. Students in this class setting become an asset to the community later on in life because they know the value of being in a community and respect others.
Strong Parental Involvement
One of the most annoying conversations every mom on the planet has goes something like this:
“How was your day?”
“What did you do?”
Granted I still have that conversation with my son, but there are more hands on parental involvement at his school. Parents whose children are in private schools are generally more involved. This is because parents are asked to volunteer at some level, either for fund-raising, being a Teacher’s aide, or some other role.
Not only do parents volunteer, but parents are in closer communication with their children’s teachers. This means parents know if their child had a rough morning, whether new concepts are frustrating the child or their child is learning to curb his attitude. Not only do private schools encourage parents’ participation, but it’s also true that the parents of private school students tend to be extremely committed to having a say in their child’s education.
The educational opportunities are endless these days between public and private schools. My kids are benefiting from both as my oldest enters 8th grade in public school and my son enters first grade in private school. Ultimately the decision comes down to what is best for your child. In the end, no matter what school you choose, what’s most important to remember is that you, the parent, will have an enormous influence on your child’s educational outcome.