More Schooling Options: All Three?

Posted by  | Friday, November 6, 2009  at 12:00 PM  
This post is written by Leah's friend Pauline. She and her husband Doug have two children. David is a sophomore and Paula is a middle schooler. Pauline is the leader of Leah's MOMs group and serves in AWANA with her whole family as the TNT leaders. Here are her responses to the (slightly tweaked) questions:

1. What kind of schooling did you start out with? Why?
We started with a Christian preschool because it was a safe, nurturing, familiar environment. We wanted to use the local public grammar school because we felt called to be a light for Christ in that environment. We pulled the kids out of public school when the academics were too watered down to justify the amount of time they were in school.
2. Why did you switch to ____? Then switch to ____?
Then we switched to a private school for one year, which was supposed to be academically advanced. It was not. Then we homeschooled for 2 years. It was fantastic! Then we moved to a public school system for high school with higher academic levels and more options for science labs and advanced math. So far we are pleased.
3. What was the best part of each?
The best part about Christian school is the curriculum has a Biblical worldview, so you don't have to fight the culture (like evolution, or reading books with profanity or violent topics.)
The best part about public schools is they have top notch teachers with advanced degrees, excellent teaching skills, and the latest technology (graphing calculators, smart boards, web sites)
The best part about private school is creativity in the curriculum, teachers who encourage individual interests of the students.
The best part about homeschooling is a flexible schedule, the ability to taylor the curriculum to your childs needs, close relationships with your own children, no homework on evenings and weekends, no unreasonable assignments.
4. What was the worst part of each?
The worst part about Christian school is the favoritism shown by some teachers, fewer resources for kids with learning issues (advanced or slow), discipline issues, attitudes.
The worst part about public schools is unruly kids can bring a teacher or class to their knees, teacher to student ratio is 1:25, curriculum in math is seriously at risk in the elementary grades, lots of wasted time during the day.
The worst part about private schools is the teachers are generally underpaid, young, and transient. There are often strong cliques of parents and kids who have the 'ear' of administration. There are often children of faculty who wouldn't qualify for the school, but attend because they're family.
The worst part about homeschooling is having to constantly answer the probing questions from family and friends about socialization for your kids and if you're completely off your rocker for homeschooling. It also takes a lot of research to ensure that you're covering everything in a standard curriculum and don't have holes.
5. How have the changes affected your children?
My children understand that there is more than one way to get an education in America. They can extract information from a text or reading book better than their peers. They are respectful to their teachers and other students. They engage others in conversations and gym games. They appreciate when teachers or administration give extra effort or concern. They are wary of social services asking, "how do you feel about that?" (that's what your parents are for!). They are more aware of world issues and serving others outside of school. I think they are better citizens and well rounded.
6. What advice would you give to a family with preschool-age children working through this decision right now?
We've always felt that we cannot control everything that goes on at school for our kids, but we can control which pond they swim in. We've made a number of 'pond' changes, and prayed constantly for God's guidance over school choices. We do not regret any decisions we've made. (You have to live life going forward, not looking back in regret.) Research the schools in your area that are viable options and make the best choice you can... don't make choices based on hearsay (go visiting while school is in session). If you try a school and it doesn't work out, have the courage to make a change (fortunately we still have these choices in America). We used homeschooling as a last resort. Everyone I've met who homeschools does it for a custom reason (the husband is a pastor and they want to flex the family schedule, a child with a hearing issue, a child with ADHD, a teen that got into a bad crowd in high school, a bad public school, no money for private school....) If you have no better choices, try homeschooling. It requires confidence, organization, and support from your spouse. I think our public schools have had both the best and worst academics... it's very dependent on each individual teacher and how he/she runs the class. Private schools tend to shoot for the middle.

With your preschool kids, read to them as much as possible, and listen to books on CD in the car. Turn off the TV and computer. Play outside twice daily, rain or snow. Cook with your children. Make shapes with playdough. Use proper words for things (like fractions, tools, utinsels, etc.) Have educational and building toys. Let your 4 or 5 year old play the piano or keyboard. Answer their questions. Memorize scripture together. (All of these things will help effect what 'pond' your child is placed into for school.)

When your children are school age, volunteer at school so you can observe your child in his/her school setting. Get your kids involved with a music program. The band and orchestra families are also consistently more concerned about academics. Most importantly, continue to parent your child, especially in their spiritual education. Don't abdicate this job to a 'character counts' program, Christian school or church, thinking they will train up your child. The attributes that make our kids valuable members of society come largely from who they are in Christ, and from the training in righteousness they get from home. Continue to encourage them during their school years, daily. They need the support from home to make it through the day and stand firm in their upbringing and faith.

1 comment:

Jenn Hawk said...

So glad you found a mom to post about the combo option! I was homeschooled K-6 because my parents wanted me to have a strong foundation in my most formative years. Then I went to a small Christian school for 7th and 8th. This was an awesome transition into the classroom. I had small class sizes and I already knew a few of the kids in my grade from Church. Then I went to the local public high school. This allowed me the opportunity for advanced placement science and math classes, as well as many extra curricular stuff. I also got the chance to be exposed to people from all different faiths and backgrounds and live my life as an example to them. We joke around in our family that we are "educational mutts" because we tried all three options.

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