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Monday, April 11, 2011

Public VS Private School: A Decision I Never Thought I'd Make

Before my boys were born, I was a public school teacher.  A big believer that the biggest difference in a child's school experience comes from the parents: if  child has an involved parent and the family values education, then you can have a positive experience at almost any school.

I still do believe that. 

But, it's not as simple as that.

My Bear will be old enough to go to kindergarten in the fall.  We had gone back and forth over the decision to send him or wait a year, since he will still be a young 5.

At this point, we think we're going to send him.  His teacher always says how smart he is- it's not a matter of academic-readiness, it's a matter of emotional and behavioral.  While some of these concerns are probably normal for any boy his age, our biggest concerns are the complications he has from lead poisoning.

Will he be okay in a public school classroom?

One that might very well be over-crowded, like my oldest's was at the beginning of this year- he started the year with almost 30 kindergarteners in his class.  That lasted about a month or so, until they added another kindergarten teacher.  But, a month is a long time and the first month of school is such a crucial one for a child's adjustment to school.

Will they be able to give him the special assistance that he needs? While there is a special education program at the school, how quickly he would be serviced and if it would be enough have me concerned.

Sometimes a mama has to go with her gut and my gut is telling me that my Bear would drown in the public kindergarten.

So, we are looking at the Christian school, where he would be in a small class.  We're also looking at the Montessori school, with its child-centered approach.

I've realized that just like the rest of the choices that we've had to make for our children, it's not really about a generalization like "Public schools are the way to go!" but about what each individual child needs.

Do you send your children to public or private school? How did you make that choice?

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Blogger Kim said...

Our schools aren't separated like this - except for Montessori. You are so right - it is all about the child. Keep us posted.

April 11, 2011 at 7:09 AM  
Blogger Cristina said...

good for you for going with your gut feeling.. our town has great public schools, so our boys will be going there.
but like yours, my little guy will be a very young five when entering K... my gut feeling was telling me that we should wait another year even though his preschool teachers were telling me he is ready... it took some time for me to trust myself and my mommy instincts and we have decided to put him in a K readiness program which we didn't know our town offered.. I feel so relieved that there we have this option...

April 11, 2011 at 7:11 AM  
Blogger RottenMom said...

Go with your gut feeling! My experience is that a Mama should trust her intuition.

Although we are very fortunate to have been able to move into a school district that meets the needs of ALL students and has smaller class sizes, it wasn't that way when my kids were younger. At one point one child was in private school while one was being home schooled and the youngest was still attached to my hip!

Trust your inner Mom voice!

April 11, 2011 at 7:21 AM  
Blogger myevil3yearold said...

Public but maybe we are lucky. We have an amazing public school system here.

April 11, 2011 at 7:35 AM  
Blogger Sorta Southern Single Mom said...

Go with your gut. My children go to public school, but that's because, financially, I have no other option. Even if I were to teach at a private school and get a break on tuition, it still wouldn't be doable, so I can't honestly say what I'd do if I were able to explore other options.

That said, I did hold The Boy a year, as he too would have been a young 5. Even at almost 6, he would have drowned in a Kindergarten with 30 kids. He was too shy, timid, and overwhelmed that first month.

My only concern with private would making sure they have the means to meet any IEP goals, but it sounds like you're doing your homework, so go with your gut. You'll find the best place for your Bear.

April 11, 2011 at 7:41 AM  
Blogger BNM said...

I went to both schools. I went to the public school for most of my education then during 7th and 8th grade i went to a private christian school and then went back to public school until I graduated. I did well in both settings, had just about the same social experiences, etc. I agree with what you said I think a child's family & his first teacher's attitudes and views on education can greatly influence a child.

April 11, 2011 at 7:42 AM  
Blogger Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

Well, it doesn't have to be all or nothing. You could always do private, with the idea of reassessing his needs each year. Or vice versa. I hope his transition to school goes smoothly :-)

April 11, 2011 at 7:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our 3 kids went both public and private. One is special needs.

Beware the public schools and special needs. Due to budget problems schools do not want to find any problems because if they do they have to remediate them. Private schools have a different problem; the public school has to provide the testing and IEP or 504. The system requires that the child fail before a teacher can request testing; this uses up 6 months time. Then they have 30 days to create the IEP or 504 and see if the child benefits. Even though an IEP or 504 is created, schools usually ignore the hard requirements or totally ignore them even though its the law. If you have outside testing done, the school will try to reject them as tainted because you paid for the results even though the school results are even more tainted. They usually can't afford to find a problem because they would have to offer remediation. WE found that our local Children't Hospital gave us the most accurate picture of all the problems. It was expensive, not covered by insurance, and required a pediatrician's referal. Don't tell the school that you are having your child tested at Children's Hospital and compare it to the school's testing. You will be shocked at the difference. Do not allow your young child to have IQ testing done at this young age. It is unreliable at this age but the system will use it against you. If he does not score well on his IQ test, they will deny services because he has already reached his potential. You can opt out of the IQ test portion but you have to opt out in writing prior to the testing.

I am concerned about your child's young age. If he is going to struggle in any way I would strongly suggest holding him back until he is almost 6. As a special needs child he need to be able to advocate for himself. He will have more transtitions than most children due to the pull out programs for special needs. He will have less free time to interact with the other children. Local sports teams are based on grade levels; the extra year makes a huge difference. All 3 of our children have late summer birthdays. The first started school at 5. It caught up with her around grade 5. We finally pulled her out of public school and put her into private school and had her repeat grade 8. She wasn't failing but she definately was not thriving. It was a good decision that she appreciates now. The boys were started at age 6.

Good luck to you.

April 11, 2011 at 8:03 AM  
Blogger Elena Wollborg said...

I think you're so right in saying you have to go with your gut. That's so important when making decisions like this. We are sending our oldest to public school next fall, but we did spend a lot of time discussing the situation. For us, my son has a September birthday our biggest conversation was whether to do 3yr o4 4yr preschool (he will be 4 in September). We went with 3yr and I keep hoping I made the right decision!

April 11, 2011 at 8:09 AM  
Blogger Merri Ann said...

I, too, have one entering Kindergarten this fall. We made the decision last year to hold her back. Our preschool was surprised because she was clearly ready to go. Our bottom line ... we want her to be the more mature one when she is a teenager ... we are way less concerned about right now.

Everyone we consulted about this last year ended with basically the same comment, "We have never met any parents who have regretted holding their child back but we have met plenty who have regretted not doing it ..."

Since the decision as made, we have moved to a new state. One which has some of the worst schools in the country (from a state that had some of the best). We just a few weeks ago learned that her Kindergarten class will have 30-40 students and will only be 3 hours a day ... now we are on hunt for a private school.

I can't imagine any child doing well with one teacher and that many 5 year olds ... even the best teacher would be challenged given those odds.

Does this parenting business EVER get any easier? :))

April 11, 2011 at 8:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with Lisa - something you could re-visit every year.

We will do public no matter which school district we end up in until at least the jr high school level. Then we will re-visit the idea of Catholic school. I agree that family values and involvement have a big effect on the child's education, but some cases have special circumstances that need to be evaluated from a different point of view.

April 11, 2011 at 8:16 AM  
Blogger Natalie said...

The schools in my area have such a huge difference between public & private. It's completely absurd, but I won't get on that soap box right now. ALthough, I'm sure we'll discuss it in following emails. : )

My boys STARTED in a private school. I think it made all the difference in my oldest. He struggled, had speech delays, learning issues & needed extra attention. He blossomed.

The middle one has been predominately educated by the public school system. And while I've been mostly pleased, I still see a HUGE discrepancy in the way gifted children are dealt with. Again- another soapbox.
Now that they are both in middle school, I wish I could afford to send them to private schools. Cost is such a huge thing around here though. Many of them are higher than local universitites.

The youngest will be starting kindergarten in the fall. We struggled about sending her last year or not because her birthay falls 2 weeks after the cut off. SInce she's my baby, I opted with keeping her home but I'm afraid she will be bored. I only hope we get a good teacher that can handle it.

April 11, 2011 at 8:16 AM  
Blogger McKenna said...

It is tough to decide. My children have very different learning styles and needs too and, while I thought they would all be in school together that may not be realistic. I think it is great you are looking at things for him as an individual and, because of that, you will make the right decision. Good luck!

April 11, 2011 at 8:21 AM  
Blogger Rochelle@AFamilyofLooneys said...

My girl goes to public school. Last year she went to a private pre-k. We loved her school. I have to say I really miss it. I missed the one on one attention she got. I missed how her teacher really interacted with her. I feel like she does not get that where she is now. If we had the money to spend I would send her to private school.

April 11, 2011 at 8:31 AM  
Blogger Amethystmoon said...

I say each child is an individual and just as they don't all wear the same clothes, or eat the same food, they also don't all have the same needs. Go with your gut!

Mine both went to Public school, but there have been moments with #2 that I've questioned that decision because she just isn't a traditional school kid, so she may have done better in a magnet school program (performing arts.)

April 11, 2011 at 8:53 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

The public schools in my area ARE good. But, I still think we're leaning toward private school.

Husband and I both have parents who have taught for decades in the public education system. And, our problem is not with the individual educators. Not at all.

However, the more I think about it, the more I want my child in a system that isn't afraid of getting sued over simply reprimanding, or a system that doesn't feel obligated to teach to the test. That's not to say we won't change our mind ... just my very early thoughts on the matter. Good thing we have a few years!

Good luck to you. You have to make the best choice for each individual child ... and there is nobody better to do that than a parent!

April 11, 2011 at 8:58 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I agree with you, it needs to be based on each child individually. If I could, I would send R and T to the private Christian school near us. Problem is, it's 30 minutes away and gets out when I am already at work. Of course, Dave works 30 minutes in the opposite direction! So public school it is for us, purely out of logistics. I'm not looking forward to it, as someone who as experienced students having every teacher in the local public school. If I could hand pick each teacher, then I'd have no problems.

Maybe going with your little one to check out each school would help make the decision easier? He might have a really strong opinion!

April 11, 2011 at 9:01 AM  
Blogger Sara said...

Since I have no kids, and I think I am not really qualified to have an opinion on this. BUT, I do think that as a former teacher, you have the knowledge to be able to trust your instincts on this one.

I am however, looking into boarding school for my dog...

April 11, 2011 at 9:04 AM  
Blogger Erica@PLRH said...

You are so right in that you must do what's best for your son. We're very lucky in that the public school system is excellent. Our eldest son is exceptionally gifted and was able to advance a grade when needed and participate in the gifted program in elementary and middle school. Even the local high school has a diverse AP class schedule.

Our youngest son required speech therapy and it was provided through the public preschool program. By kindergarten he was ready for mainstream classes.

With both children, I followed my instincts and I'm glad I did.

April 11, 2011 at 9:10 AM  
Blogger Evonne said...

My kids go to public school. I consider us lucky because the school is amazing!

I think you need to go with your gut. You know your child better than anyone else.

I know parents here who have pulled their kids from private school and gone public. The private school just didn't have the money to have the special programs their kids need.

From things you've talked about with Bear, if private or Montessori schools can offer additional help, he might do better with the smaller class size. Either way you go, you can always see how he does in Kindergarten and re-evaluate the situation at the end of the year.

April 11, 2011 at 9:11 AM  
Blogger The Random Blogette said...

I think that it really depends on the individual school itself (not necessarily if it is private or public). We were concerned about sending Peanut to Kindergarten (public school & her bday is Aug 27th) so early but she seemed mature enough to go. Also, we were able to request our son's previous kindergarten teacher and we knew that she was an amazing teacher and that she cares about everyone of her students. We made the right decision. And I know this because she was just moved into the highest reading group last week! It was a very proud moment for the youngest kid in the class!

If it had been any other school I may not have been so sure. We also could not afford any of the private schools in our area. I think that if you do some research and even address your concerns with both schools it will help.

April 11, 2011 at 9:16 AM  
Blogger Oka said...

There are so many things to consider when choosing to place your child. Your child's needs, your child's desires, your financial situation...

Currently, I have three in public schools. I will not brag that they are the best schools ever. I will say they try really hard and do rank well all around. Yet, they do struggle to meet some of my expectations.

This year, I will be looking into a private school for my youngest to attend kindergarten in 2012. I have a feeling my youngest will go back to public school in 1st, but his needs for kindergarten (routine) will not be met at public. I am also considering private school for my daughter, who is currently in 1st grade.

I don't think I could consider private school for my 10 year old. He is very competitive academically and in sports. Most of our local private schools lack in the sports department. Since he seems to be doing well academically, I won't waiver on the sports.

April 11, 2011 at 9:20 AM  
Blogger Alex@LateEnough said...

I always thought we'd do public school. I went to public school and I hate the idea of public school being only for those who can't afford better.

However, when I had children, I realized how close-minded I was being. Each children has different needs and learning styles and a public school may not be able to meet those needs. We had to be open to Montessori, Christian schools, private day schools, and public school so we could make the best decision for our children. Not just for my ideals.

The other idea that helped was that spending a few years in private school (or public school) and transferring is fine. It doesn't have to be a lifelong decision. (even though it FEELS like that).

Good luck with yours! It sounds like you are on the right track!

April 11, 2011 at 9:26 AM  
Blogger kc said...

I went public school...kindergarten was a nightmare! Doodles hated school, felt his teacher hated him and spent more time in the principals office than getting the help he needed.

For first grade I really struggled with the decision on what to do public or private...since I was moving I looked at the 2 school districts and interviewed them & the private school and laid all my cards on the table. I pretty much asked them what they could do for Doodles with his issues...I choose the public school. Doodles is doing awesome. He loves school (with a few minor blips of course).

I really think its about the initial interview - what can the school do for Bear. You are all on the same team...if the public school cannot offer what he needs, then it makes the decision a little easier. Good luck Shell!!! I know how hard this decision is.

April 11, 2011 at 9:31 AM  
Blogger John said...

I'm a huge believer in public schools. I believe they're actually what makes America great (you look at any of the "rising powers," and you see that kids who chose to go to school need to make herculean efforts in order to do so - we teach anyone, and we do so proudly).

That said, looking at what's going on in Wisconsin, and New Jersey, and now in my own state (PA), I'm not so sure I want my kids going to public schools. It really seems that the focus for taxpayer money is going further & further away from supporting childhood education. It both saddens & angers me . . . but, I'll admit that, in 4 years when I'm looking at sending my oldest to school, I can't say that I'm certain that I'll chose public school.

I may talk my wife into heading back to teach - find a private school where she do what she does, and then send my children there so that we might not have to pay just as much. We'll see how that goes . . . I cannot imagine a kindergarten of 30+ kids, and I really fear that becoming the norm.

April 11, 2011 at 9:33 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

When we moved we picked the town we did because of the school system. It is really great. Baby Girl started Kindergarten last fall and so far I've only had minimal complaints (I mean you can't really love everything). Thankfully both of my children are pretty average so at this point I don't think I have to be concerned about learning disabilities or the gift and talented program. As they get older something may crop up, but for now we are good with public school. Which is a good thing because one of the largest private schools in our area just closed.

April 11, 2011 at 9:35 AM  
Blogger Liz said...

I grew up in public schools as did Craig. Where we live currently has fabulous public schools, HOWEVER, Memphis City just surrendered their school charter, and with the way the laws are written, the county system is required to consolidate with them. The Memphis City Schools are riddled with problems, poor performance, etc., and making one GIANT system is essentially going to ruin our county system. Like Natalie mentioned (we live about 10 minutes apart), even the least expensive private schools are comparable in cost to universities.

I hate the thought of me returning to work full time purely to pay for 2 kids to go to private school. But we parents gotta do what we feel is best for our kids.

April 11, 2011 at 9:37 AM  
Blogger Dazee Dreamer said...

My grandkids go to a charter school. Its not private, so they don't have to pay tuition, but only 25 kids max per class and only 3 classes per grade. I love their curriculam and they do really cool field trips. My grandkids are thriving in this school. It's their first year and they are doing so much better than at the public school.

April 11, 2011 at 9:48 AM  
Blogger Tiff said...

I have been homeschooling my son, but this fall he will be attending Christian school when we move. Christian school wasn't an option for where we are now (too expensive) but when we move the tuition is paid for so we're excited for the opportunity he will have!

April 11, 2011 at 9:55 AM  
Blogger Suniverse said...

Like you, I am a big believer in public schools. My daughter went to public school through middle school, and I have been involved every step of the way.

Next year? She's going to private school, because that's the best option for her.

I think you have to go with what's best for each child. Otherwise, you do them a disservice.

April 11, 2011 at 10:01 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

I went to private school my whole life because the public schools in the area were not great.

However, the suburban public schools here actually are BETTER for kids in situations like Bear's. So if it was me, I would go private, because of that. But you make whatever decision is best for you and Bear.

April 11, 2011 at 10:08 AM  
Blogger Kmama said...

I always went to public school, so it was what I had planned for my kids. My husband went to private (catholic) school for his first 5 years and then switched to public. We both had good experiences, and the school districts we went to (and live in now) are good, so we chose public for our kids. I've always been a big believe in the public school system. Do you have any charter schools in your area? I'm not a huge charter school fan because of the fact that they use public funds...but I have heard that sometimes they are more accommodating for children with special situations.

April 11, 2011 at 10:25 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

My children go to private & with the third one starting in the fall, we are starting to feel the financial pinch.

But neither of the public school systems near us, I don't feel are very good. Well, as good as the education & personal attention they are receiving now. They have small class sizes (@ 15 kids) & since Sass has a learning disability, she receives extra attention & help.

My only concern for you is the extent of special ed bear needs. Most private schools don't have "special ed programs", but what Sass has & that's just one-on-one extra help (kind of like tutoring). But from talking with you about him this may be all he needs as well.

April 11, 2011 at 10:26 AM  
Blogger Amber said...

Teddy's starting Kindergarten in the fall as well and, while I know that the school system here in Nashville leaves a LOT to be desired, the elementary schools are pretty good. It's when he hits middle school that I'm a bit worried.

The school he's starting at is a good one, but it's also the biggest in the county. There are 10 kindergarten classes this year. It blows my mind. I don't worry so much about him getting lost in the classes - he's smart, friendly and middle-of-the-road age-wise with a February birthday. But 10 classes... that just seems like a lot.

Unfortunately, while there are a few of the private schools that I'd consider sending him to, they just aren't in the budget. $7000 for a year is just outside what we can afford right now.

I'm thinking of the home schooling option, depending on how he handles school next year. It has me a bit nervous, because I'm not sure how well I'd do with it. So I guess all of it is a wait and see.

As for your decision, good for you! It's good to remember that not everything is the same for everyone.

Good luck with Bear in school in the fall!

April 11, 2011 at 10:34 AM  
Anonymous Making It Work Mom said...

It is very complicated. It is easy to think black and white on an issue before it effects you. My two oldest went to a private Kindergarten. My job pays for the private kindergarten. The private K set them up hugely for success (think a group of 20 children with 2 qualified teachers - huge difference). In first grade they started at the local Public School and no they had no trouble at all making friends - they were 6 and when you are 6 friends just happen. This year we moved them to a different public school as part of a school choice program - so we drive them and pick them up everyday (about 20 minutes each way). We did this not so much because of the academics (the schools were comparable), but because of the athletic programs. Both of my older children are huge athletes and are local PS did not offer much in the way of competitive athletic programs (they have an awesome music program). We opted to switch them now because my oldest was starting Middle School and we felt that that was a good transition year for her and because we were told that if we waited until High School their is a School Choice Wait List.
My youngest starts K in September. Initially we considered moving her to the School Choice PS so at least they would all be in the same area - even though still 3 different schools. In the end, though, I couldn't do it. She will be a young Kindergartener (June birthday) and even though it would be more convenient I could not put her in the PS. I really wanted her to have that one last year in a cozy/comfortable environment where I check in with the teachers every day.
Yup - lots of hard decisions. Always trust your mommy gut.

April 11, 2011 at 10:38 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

You are so right to go with your gut!
I think the most important thing for any parent is that you have to be the advocate for your child no matter where you are. You are bascially going to have to be "that mom". You know the one that the teachers talk about and cringe when they hear you are calling - well maybe not to that extreme, but you as a parent have more rights then you realize! If you want something for your child and they have an IEP (indivudualized Educational Plan) then put it in that IEP and it will be LAW!
I've taught special ed for many many years so if you have questions let me know!
Just a little aside - I would put your son in a young fives program first and then kindergarten the next year. From what I have experienced it is always better to be one of the older ones in your class especially if you are a boy - good for maturity and sports - just my two cents :)

April 11, 2011 at 10:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First of all-GREAT topic!

My two oldest kids are in public school...always have been. Though many times a private school setting crosses my mind. When they were young, the option to send them to a private school wasn't an option...now as my youngest nears Kindergarten...I start to really put more thought into it. Not because I have a grudge against public school...I just don't think ANY school is equipped to hold him. ;)

I think you just gotta follow your heart...a mom always knows whats best!

April 11, 2011 at 10:53 AM  
Blogger Eternal Lizdom said...

Teagan started preschool at a school that offered great before and after care and that also has a private kindergarten. We love her school. We love it enough that we chose to keep her there. Part of that was because the school knows her so well already. Part of that was so she had a strong foundation. Part of that was because we love that kindergarten teacher so much.

And we made the right choice. We dealt with some unanticipated behavior issues that I think would have gone unchecked and been a lot worse in a public setting.

Teagan will start public school for first grade in the fall.

Zach... we wait and see. He's got at least 2 years of preschool left before we have to make any decisions.

I have to admit that we are a little scared about public school now. It's just overwhelming because where T is now... we're just so comfortable and we trust them so much. I wish the school's owner could expand the school to elementary or at least offer an aftercare program or something. And we've looked at some private schools online but... we bought our house in a district with a fantastic school system and it's part of why we chose to live here! So she'll go public next year.

April 11, 2011 at 11:07 AM  
Blogger Melanie said...

Well, we've got a blend. We send our two older boys to a public Montessori school (the only one in our city) and so far, the child-centered approach is working.

Though the Kindergartner, at times tends to need more structure since he gets so easily distracted due to sensitivity to noises, lights and crowds - an issue in a Montessori setting since the children are allowed to move independently throughout the classroom - the Montessori approach has helped him in fostering independence and has been a good fit.

Hubby likes the fact that it's overseen by the public school district so the school has to follow the same standard of the majority of schools where we live.

Our decision was based on the needs of our Kindergartner. We felt like because of his constant movement, he wouldn't flourish in a public school setting but we also said if we found the Montessori method didn't work for him, we would pull him out and try the traditional public school setting or another alternative.

I wholeheartedly believe in putting the needs of your child first when selecting schools instead of just going along with what is popular or what the rest of the neighborhood is doing.

April 11, 2011 at 11:15 AM  
Blogger T said...

My oldest girl has been in private school thus far. My youngest is starting in private this fall. We have the same problems at our school that we expected from the public school in our area. So this fall we are switching to a different school and will see how it goes. We just wanted a solid Christian education for our girls and felt that a private school was best. But we are taking it year by year and seeing how it goes. Growing up, my parents had to separate my sister and I. I did just fine in public school, but my sister had nothing but problems, so she went to private school. They had to look at what was best for each of us and do what they felt was best.

April 11, 2011 at 11:30 AM  
Blogger Nicole said...

Ohhhh. I could say so much about this that I could write a whole post. Maybe I will and link to you. I send my kids to a public school, which has a dual stream. They are in the regular program, and there is a Montessori stream as well. I find parents want a label, they want their kids going to a special school. They don't want regular public anymore, and that is a shame. A terrible shame. I am a real advocate for community schools. Anyway, I'm going to think on this and give you a more rounded, intellectual answer!

April 11, 2011 at 11:32 AM  
Blogger Emmy said...

I highly considered a Montessori school for my son just because I thought it would be such a great match for his learning style and interests but in the end we went with the public school and he is doing great! But he is also older now, we started him last year (he was turning 5) but after a week pulled him out and put him preschool for a year. That was the best decision ever as I think he would have struggled the entire time last year and now is doing awesome.

April 11, 2011 at 11:36 AM  
Blogger Macey said...

We are in public school right now but we are always always cognizant of how the kids and teachers are working together...even homeschooling isn't off the table.

April 11, 2011 at 11:45 AM  
Blogger Lourie said...

My son got thrown into kindergarten because he was too old for the headstart program and we couldn't afford preschool. He struggled for the first few months, but he is doing worlds better now. It's really a tough decision to make. Go with your gut. You still have time to think about it and see how he progresses.

April 11, 2011 at 11:57 AM  
Blogger Jen said...

As a previous commenter said, "Go with your gut! It's never wrong." My kids go to public school, but we don't live in a very large city. I LOVE our elementary school and the teachers there, but it's what is best for YOUR kids that matters. Good luck.

April 11, 2011 at 12:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

We assumed our kids would be public schooled just because we were. Then I had to go back to work, so we really didnt have any other options. Kat is in 2nd grade this year, and while I love her teacher, I am not impressed with the teacher she would have next year, or the district admin as a whole.

We will be homeschooling all the kids next year. I will be home, and since I have a teaching degree, it seemed kind of silly for me not to use it with my own kids. We may enroll them in the Christian middle school when we are old enough, but we will just have to see. I will not have them in the public middle or high school - too many issues for me to feel like my kids are safe.

Great topic, by the way!

April 11, 2011 at 12:01 PM  
Blogger Amanda @ It's Blogworthy said...

I know we're years from this, but it's still a topic of conversation with my husband & I because he's a teacher at a Christian school. I think you're totally right...you can make the best of any school you send your child to as long as the parents are involved. I think I'd go with a public school because I look at the kids who grad from his school and they are very sheltered. On the other hand, they haven't been around some of the negative influences in the public school. so it's really a toss up and depends on the child definitely!

April 11, 2011 at 12:01 PM  
Blogger diane rene said...

my kids have all been in private kindergarten. I prefer the small class sizes and the biggest pull?? public kindergarten (in my area) is only half day. my girls gave up naps at 2 and could easily handle a full day of school. and, having a first grade teacher as a close friend? she told me half the class falls asleep after lunch - uh, no way.

all my girls attended public school from first grade on. I have no regrets, especially after seeing how some of the private schools in the area 'work'.

but it is such a personal choice. I see your concerns and I think the class sizes are only going to get worse before they get better :/

April 11, 2011 at 12:09 PM  
Anonymous tracy said...

Ugh, we agonized over our oldest and ended up sending her to private for kindy - but moving her to public for first grade. We loved the safe environment of the private, Christian school - but found it lacked resources on both ends of the spectrum - for gifted services and special needs. As much as we were nervous about the big, public school - she has flourished there and we love it. Our middle is now in kindy in a public Montessori. It is such a great environment for her. We are lucky to have public choices here where my kids will probably always be in different schools as they are such different kids.
Good luck with your decision, mama. It is not easy xoxo

April 11, 2011 at 12:16 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I think every child needs different things. I know people who made different decisions for each child and each one was right for them.

April 11, 2011 at 12:27 PM  
Anonymous Ado said...

Well since this it the Things I Can't Say blog I'm going to say that I have a real bias toward private school. There I said it. It's v. politically incorrect but I will be honest, there is no way I would send my children to public school. I know this is a really unpopular thing to say and as I write this I feel like I should apologize for in advance because I do not speak of these things usually.

I went to private school as a child and my husband grew up in Ireland - we live in the US and really had no idea what public schools were like so we did some research. My best friend (her father was a physician) went to the local public school and the differences between us by the sixth grade were huge: she was exposed to alcohol and smoking pot and had boyfriends starting in 6th grade. I was still playing with dolls until I was 12. Her father enrolled her in my school finally for high school and she and her friends were kicked out for drinking/bad behavior that we did not see in our school at all.

Another reason we feel strongly about private school probably has to do w. the fact that we are big fans of AMI Montessori - so our children go to an AMI Montessori that continues up through elementary school. Montessori uses the "follow the child" approach. The public school model is based on the traditional method of education, which was historically based on the industrial revolution's idea of the factory worker. So in public school every child pretty much learns the same thing at the same time according to what the teacher says, and also the teachers have to "teach to the test" so cannot veer from the day's lesson if needed - then when the bell rings - whether or not they've completed their work - they must move onto the next topic. In Montessori the kids are following their interest - there is freedom within limits. It doesn't work for everybody but from my perspective, it is amazing as these kids are really learning advanced concepts with manipulatives they can touch and feel. I just see a whole lot of time wasted in the traditional model of school, kids waiting around, lining up, preferring recess over reading a book or math.

The other thing that I like about private school is the sheltered environment we are in - children are children, bullying is nonexistent because this stuff is completely snuffed out by the culture of the school and the involved parents. Sure there are downsides to private schools including the cost and other things.

Anyway this is just my (very strong) opinion. I know that there are many wonderful public schools there and also charter schools too, but for our family it's definitely private.

April 11, 2011 at 12:42 PM  
Blogger Ginny Marie said...

This was a very hard decision for us, since my husband and I both went to Lutheran schools and received an excellent education. But because of distance and finances, we finally decided to send our girls to our neighborhood public school.

April 11, 2011 at 12:44 PM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

Oh that is a tough one! Our Kindergarten classes are capped at 21. 30 seems unimaginable!! We chose our home by picking the best public school in the area. HOWEVER, next year with a new principal, 3 fab teachers rumored to be leaving, we start to wonder, did we make the right choice? Should we have gone private? I think you have to make a decision based on this September and know you have the prerogative to change your mind down the road. Best of luck!

April 11, 2011 at 12:53 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

Our state has a cap. Well had. With massive teacher layoffs in Texas this year they are considering rewriting that cap law.

All my kids go to public school, but we are fortunate to live in a district that has top rate schools.

Of coure you know your child best and if you think he would benefit from private kindergarten...then you are probably right.

April 11, 2011 at 1:07 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

We send our kids to a public school and so far things are good but I sometimes I wonder if it was the right choice.

April 11, 2011 at 1:13 PM  
Blogger angela said...

We aren't at that point yet, and I don't know what we'll do. Our public schools are fine, not great, which bothers me a little. But private school would put more than a small financial burden on our finances. It's going to be a tough decision. Ideally? We'd move to a better district and try public schools, but it's easy to say that with a 1 & 3 year old. I think it's important to do what you're doing and look at the individual child and his/her needs before making a decision.

April 11, 2011 at 1:16 PM  
Blogger Not Just Another Jennifer said...

I hear you! We are struggling with this, too. DH went to Catholic school which he swore he would never do to his kids. Til we had some. :) I won't go that route, but have looked into Montessori and other Christian schools. S LOVES to learn, but likes to do thing on her own timeline. And she doesn't do well in a large group of kids. For example, her preschool has 8 kids. Perfect. Sunday school, has about 20 and it's overwhelming for her. And they aren't even really in "school" there. But we can't afford private school. I'd love to homeschool, but I work full-time. We have one more year to figure out what to do. Best of luck in your decision-making!

April 11, 2011 at 1:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While my son isn't old enough for school yet, this is something my husband and I have been talking about already.

I went to private school (a small Christian school) from preschool through 6th grade. I. Loved. It. I was a very early reader, and the principal (it was so small a school, the principal knew every kid by name) put me with a 1st grade class for reading while I was still in preschool. It was a nurturing environment with a lot of attention for each child, and I was in class with a lot of the same kids the whole time. My parents weren't super involved with me, so I got a lot of encouragement that I wouldn't have gotten elsewhere. It's also where I learned about Jesus, since I wouldn't have gotten that at home, either. It was exactly what I needed. I flourished, and when I got to public school in 7th grade, I was ahead of most of my classmates.

My husband went to public school and said it was fine, but since I've experienced both, I can tell you that I much preferred my private education, sheltered as it was. After all, I'm there for education and social skills, both of which I got in spades.

April 11, 2011 at 1:26 PM  
Blogger Jessica said...

It is a hard decision to make between public and private school. I think it really does depend on the needs of the child.

I went to public school and did just fine. My husband went to private school and he also did just fine. The difference for us was that his father had passed away right before he was to go into school and his mom didn't want him to get lost in the public school system. I didn't have anything like that so my parents had no concerns about public school.

April 11, 2011 at 1:31 PM  
Blogger Kir said...

I think your gut is the thing that you go with. The public school that is literally about 40 steps from our front door is said to be one of the best in the area, my best friend teaches for the PA public school system and I know that they would get a good education at a public school. But I went to Parochial School from Preschool to 12th grade, and my husband went from K-8th. If we can swing it financially they are going to Catholic school, for lots fo reasons..that I would be happy to discuss with you off the board. ;)

I liked my small classes, everyone knowing me and having church being a part of my life instead of once a week etc...I think it's important if we are going to raise them Catholic...I don't know what's better, but my gut and John's too is saying Catholic for now.

April 11, 2011 at 1:45 PM  
Blogger Jenny said...

You definitely have to do what feels right for your little man. As a teacher I am sure you have a pretty good insight into how he would cope with public or even private school. Good luck!

April 11, 2011 at 1:46 PM  
Blogger Maggie S. said...

I have and ed degree. When I finished student teaching, I knew I would home school my own children. They attended private school for one year. And I brought them back home. Now we are getting ready for high school, and I find my girls are not hardened enough for the public school (transfers are not available) and I hear reports of SEVERE bullying in the private school.

I would go Montessori if I had it to do all over again.

April 11, 2011 at 1:48 PM  
Blogger Cindi said...

Mine are all older now (early to late teens) but if I had to do it all over again, I'd choose private. Especially in the early (kindergarten/elementary) years.

First let me say I totally agree with Amy and everyone. Whether it's private or public school ... You are your child's advocate and, you do have to do what's right for each child.

I think it's important to lay a solid foundation in the early years and that may be easier with a smaller (private) class size.

Something else to consider is "hugability". No disrespect to public teachers but, ask yourself; do you want a teacher who is made to feel they're one hug away from a nasty law suit and loosing their license? Or, do you want a teacher that teaches and has a few more freedoms to hug and nurture a child when hurt or needs an emotional boost?

Lots of things to consider when making a decision like this but it's one we've all made. Good luck and prayers. :)

April 11, 2011 at 1:53 PM  
Blogger natalee said...

my boys go to public... i was a catholic school girl.. but in all honesty finances decided for us

April 11, 2011 at 2:09 PM  
Blogger Liz Mays said...

We always bought our homes in the districts with the best public school systems because private tuition was never an option for us. Then we never had to worry.

April 11, 2011 at 2:33 PM  
Blogger Not a Perfect Mom said...

we'd have to pick our favorite kid or the one we think will be a dr and send that one to private...
but seriously, I think no matter what everyone else tells you, it's your primal mama-ness that's going to make the right choice. If Bear needs that extra attention, and you think private is the way to go, then do it...
However, I will say this, as a mother with a special needs child. Where I live, Brooke wouldn't get the extra help she would need from private school, any sort of aides or therapy we'd have to pay extra for on top of tuition, whereas in the public school anything that is required and what I demand for her will have to be provided. And yes, she's only 14 mths old, but I've already accosted the principal at the elementary school and questioned her about school, as I've spoken to several private schools already...just to be ready..
So really babe, do your homework and do what you think is best...and remember-you're not married to the decision you make...at any time if it's not working you can switch...

April 11, 2011 at 4:09 PM  
Blogger Di said...

Go with your mommy instinct - its usually right. I have already started contemplating this with Jellybean and I am evenly split right now. I will have to wait and see what our schools are like when it becomes time to enroll him but I'm not biased against either yet.

April 11, 2011 at 4:22 PM  
Blogger Hutch said...

I started in public and moved to private in 3rd grade. The class size, my parents main reason for making the switch, definitely made a huge difference.

April 11, 2011 at 5:08 PM  
Blogger Erin said...

I started out in public school in 1st grade. I drowned there and would come home crying asking my mother why I was so stupid. She pulled me out and had me tested for a learning disability. We found out that I was Dyslexic. My mother found a private school that specialized in teaching Dyslexic children and I did a total 180 in school.
As for Sam I have a feeling she will have some learning disability because hubby has one too. Whether we send her to private or public school will depend of how badly she needs what and what we can afford at the time.

April 11, 2011 at 6:12 PM  
Anonymous Ameena said...

The whole school thing consumes me...we went with public for now and I constantly second guess my decision.

Go with your gut my friend! Whatever it tells you is the right thing to do.

April 11, 2011 at 6:18 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

So true! I often wonder where my own kids will end up some day :)

April 11, 2011 at 6:25 PM  
Anonymous Twinisms said...

I started my older set of twins in a private pre-K. We had a bad experience. Since then they have been in public. The girl has done great while the boy has struggled. My mistake was having the same expectations for 2 very different children. It's not a matter of public vs. private, but of your child and his needs. Good luck. You know best mom.

April 11, 2011 at 6:58 PM  
Blogger Natalie said...

Hi there! I just found your blog, and now a new follower and excited to read more! I am a new stay at home mom with a 6 month old, so you are giving me a window into my future with more kids LOL!

April 11, 2011 at 7:39 PM  
Blogger Sandra said...

And being a school teacher yourself, this decision would be even more grueling because you know what goes on in both the public and the private setting. Can't wait to read more though. I'm not worried, you're an extremely smart lady, you're choice will be the right one.

April 11, 2011 at 8:23 PM  
Blogger A Mommy in the City said...

I was also a public school teacher and I want to send Harlan to public school. My husband went to private school his entire life and wants to send her to private school. Unfortunately in NYC private schools are incredibly expensive and hard to get into. I think it will come down to resources as well as her individual needs.

April 11, 2011 at 9:28 PM  
Blogger Kimmer said...

Wow! So many comments that I doubt you will get to mine, but I'll throw it out there anyway!
Our oldest has a September birthday and because he seemed as mature as his preschool peers and because he knew everything and then some that a child should know when starting k, we let him start at 4. His attention span was long. He would know many of the children starting when he did. We feared that if we held him back another year, he would be bored when he started. All of these things weighed into our decision.
It was middle school before we pulled him out and began homeschooling. Private school is not an option for us. Homeschooling has not been a success and he will be returning to public school in the fall. He is 15.
Our two younger sons both have November birthdays which put them pretty close to 6 when they started school. They THRIVE in the same public school that I felt failed our oldest son.
They are all raised in the same house with the same parents and have been taught by several of the same teachers. I offer the same amount of interaction and support for all the boys.
Is the age what made the difference? I'm not sure. There are many things I'd do differently and holding him out for 1 more year is definitely one of them.

April 11, 2011 at 9:28 PM  
Blogger Lady Mama said...

We're not at that stage yet (our oldest is in preschool) but I agree that the decision has to be based around the child. Ideally I'd rather send my kids to public school, but if for some reason that wasn't working, I'd look at other options.

April 11, 2011 at 9:40 PM  
Anonymous priscilla - the wheelchairmommy said...

we went public. I love his teacher and the school but my gut told me he needed home from day one (I know not on your horizon, but still ...)

I should have gone with my gut. It's always right.

April 11, 2011 at 9:53 PM  
Blogger KristinFilut said...

I know we have had limited talks about this subject. I agree that every kids has different needs as far as schooling goes. I have spent the last 18 months searching for a good choice for 6th grade for Ahna, to no avail. My 1st choice would be the Montessori charter school, but it has a waiting list longer than the road from here to your house and only goes through 8th grade. Only you and Hubs know what Bear needs. Trust your gut, Mama. Love you.

April 11, 2011 at 10:29 PM  
Blogger Loukia said...

Hmm. A touch choice to make, for sure. We had a tough time deciding between Montessori and my son's school, a Catholic school, (in the public school system.) Monessori is really great, though. I love their teaching method and how children learn. And I think small classrooms are KEY especially at the kindergarten stage. The right teacher makes all the difference, too. Good Luck!

April 11, 2011 at 10:32 PM  
Blogger Tiffany said...

Miss K currently goes to public school and she is in the second grade. I have had mixed feelings about it and Little E is going into preschool this fall.
I have considered home schooling actually, since Private school is not an option financially for us. Academically, Miss K is a smart child, but she is so easily distracted that she needs a smaller class size. She is in a co taught class with 36 kids and I feel it's a bit overwhelming. I am going to have her attend public school again this fall and if she continues to struggle with behavior even in a regular class then I will have to make some serious decisions.
Personally, I plan on homeschooling her during for middles school grades 6-8 and re enrolling her for high school. The schools here are not the best.

April 11, 2011 at 10:47 PM  
Anonymous Missy said...

"It's about what each individual child needs." You said exactly what one of tenets of the Montessori philosophy. Our oldest spent 6 years in a Montessori school and our youngest will spend about the same amount of time. We have loved it. the educational foundation, independence and love of learning it promotes has made a real difference in our kid's lives.

April 11, 2011 at 11:05 PM  
Blogger AiringMyLaundry said...

My kids have gone and will go to public school.

If we had the money, perhaps I'd do private. As it is, we don't. So public it is. I went to public school and I turned out okay. Sort of.

April 11, 2011 at 11:21 PM  
Blogger Crystal said...

This is such a great topic/post. Every kiddo is SO different...even within the same family. You shouldn't feel guilty at all about either direction you go. It comes down to what is best for each individual child. On another note...sorry I've been absent lately. I love to come here...I'm usually "Johnny on the spot" but lately...well, I'm a hot mess!!

April 11, 2011 at 11:32 PM  
Blogger Mommy Shorts said...

I live in NYC so this decision is about to be a very big one starting with preschools next year. It will come down to money more than anything else.

But FYI, my sister, who is a developmental psychologist is a BIG BIG fan of Montessori schools.

April 12, 2011 at 12:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You'll make the right choice cause you're a good mom!

In this tiny town its either public school or homeschool. And I certainly dont have the patience for homeschool!

April 12, 2011 at 1:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I understand your decision. I will pray that the right choice makes itself clear to you and you're husband. I know you guys will do your best for your Bear.

April 12, 2011 at 5:39 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I agree 100% that it's not about what's the perfect choice for all, it's about what's best for your child. The classroom size here is a huge reason why we HS. My oldest really struggled in that setting.

I will be praying for your decision. I know it's hard to make them! Bear is blessed to have a mommy who recognizes his needs!

April 12, 2011 at 7:40 AM  
Anonymous heidi @ wonder woman wannabe said...

yep, most definately case by case and kid by kid basis.

we chose a private school for our kindergarten age son mostly because of the neighborhood we live in.

we live in a VERY urban atmosphere yet this God centered school is planted right smack dab in the middle of it (on purpose) the school is a mission and a ministry. the school leaders are committed to making enrollment possible to even the lowest of incomes. they raise money, have child sponsors from all over the state and base fees on income as well. It's really an amazing opportunity. Oh, and the classrooms are never larger than 20 students and each classroom has a teaching assistant.

if we were living in the 'burbs we might not feel the need to send him here - but it's less than a mile away from our home, so why not!

There are a TON of school to choose from here in Minneapolis (charter, public and private) and it's all open enrollment, so it's actually a bit overwhealming to try to decide.

Also, I worked in a Montessori classroom and even though it was a very positive experience, I wouldn't say EVERY kid should have that type of education either. Same thing - depends on the kid. There were some kids in our class that really trived and others that I think would have benefitted from a bit more structure. Kids really need to be naturally self motivated and curious about their environment to get the most out of a montessori method of schooling. (in my humble opinion) :)

April 12, 2011 at 9:01 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

In the end it really comes down to what is best for your child. We haven't had to worry about public vs. private, but it is there. When our expatriation ends next year and we have to send our son to school we have no idea what to do.

April 12, 2011 at 9:14 AM  
Blogger TerriG said...

Shell: With school choice around here, I visited each one. One public seemed like a good fit, but we decided to go with a very small Christian school for my youngest. I homeschool my 2 middle boys. I am all about homeschooling, I have been doing it for 9 years. But, each child has different needs and the smart parent will seek God's direction for each child.

April 12, 2011 at 9:33 AM  
Blogger Renee said...

I had to think about this one for awhile as it is such a personal choice. We send our children to private school, but it is a debate my husband and I have been having for years. I went to private school my entire life. It was a struggle for my parents to afford it for all five of us, but well worth it in the end. My husband did a combo of private and public. My education was excellent. His subpar (but so were his parent). In the end, our decision came down to religion. I wanted our children in an enviroment that mirrored the same values I teach at home. It is not always perfect, but I am pleased with their education...academically, spiritually and emotionally.

I know you will figure out what is best for your children and your family!

April 12, 2011 at 1:30 PM  
Anonymous Jack said...

I went public school and believe in it yet I send my kids to private.

For six years I have battled to keep them there not because I was concerned about the education but because of the price.

It has been wonderful for them but the cost for their parents has been significant and in some ways extends beyond financial.

April 12, 2011 at 3:53 PM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

Sage would've been a young five, but after much agonizing - MUCH agonizing - we held her a year. She will start kindergarten a few days before her 6th birthday.

Academics wasn't the issue. She was reading before she started pre-k. It was purely for social/maturity issues. And not even so much for now. What about high school, when all the kids (boys) would be so much older? Or when she competes to get into college?

She'd have been fine had we sent her this year. But we don't want her to be fine. We want her to be a leader.

BTW, there were 34 kids in Sawyer's K class last year and 32 in first grade.

I think you do what's best for each child. You know Bear better than anyone. I know you'll make the right decision.

April 12, 2011 at 6:02 PM  
Blogger HC said...

Good luck with your decision. It's so hard to decide and know exactly whats best for each child. Go with your gut!

April 12, 2011 at 7:15 PM  
Blogger Sheila said...

I don't envy that you must make this decision. It is a difficult one, but it sounds as if you've have weighed all the possibilities and scenarios.

My youngest will start Kindergarten next year in the public school system. I love the district...my 8 year old is in 3rd grade. What worries me is that she'll be going from a pre-K classroom of 15 to a K classroom of about 22. That's a big transition for such a little one to make.

Go with your gut. You won't regret it.

April 12, 2011 at 9:11 PM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

Holy comments, Batman!!! You know I struggle with this with the Crazies being born in August...12 days before the cut-off. Amazingly enough, I too have considered the private school option...and I'm a public school teacher too!

Then Husband said I could go work at a private school and our tuition wouldn't be so out of hand...he's kind of got a point there.

One of my tutoring students said that she really likes private school b/c of the class size. She says that she feels like she's held accountable and not ignored. I can totally see her point after spending years in a public school classroom. They're not all like that, but a lot are.

Tough choice...good luck.

April 13, 2011 at 7:44 AM  
Blogger mypixieblog said...

You know best, momma, and I think it's wonderful you're treating each child differently depending on his needs. I've had friends who were teachers with Montessori schools and have only heard excellent things. Whatever you decide, trust that you are making the right decision. XOXO

Also DANG! There are a lot of comments here. But I'm #100! WOOOOP :)

April 13, 2011 at 10:45 AM  
Blogger We 2 Bees said...

I totally believe you have to make the choice based on the need of each child. And it's good that you are a parent who realizes that and is willing to make decisions outside of the norm. We are in public school, and I'm a super involved parent. I am always making sure we are making the best decision for each child. We held my middle son back a year because we would have been the baby 5 year old and we didn't start him until he was 6 (now the old guy) but for him it was the best decision and people just didn't get it!
You are making great choices for your boys and I'm sure you will continue doing so!

April 13, 2011 at 10:59 AM  
Blogger Krystyn @ Really, Are You Serious? said...

Totally about the kid.

Ours are October birthdays (both of them) adding an entire other element. And, we've waited until the last minute to decide, and I'm confident, that if it isn't the right one, we can always make the switch.

I actually wrote about it recently,too here (hope you don't mind the link since it's relevant).

April 13, 2011 at 1:07 PM  

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