Kindergarten: High road or low road

on Monday, February 2, 2009

We are in the process of choosing a kindergarten for Little Man, my 4 year old. Without putting undue pressure on us...this is the single most important decision we will every make for him barring any other. We could, by choosing incorrectly alter the course of his life and put him on the path to mediocrity - or by choosing correctly encourage and nurture the man who will cure cancer, or become a train conductor. (he's already promised to let us sit in the front car with least once.)

Is that undue pressure?

(insert scream here)

HOW DO YOU CHOOSE? Private? Public? Catholic? Homeschooling?

My husband was a "public" as they were dubbed by us "privates" (being called a private doesn't sound very inviting now that I see it in print). He claims to have had an "OK" experience in school and doesn't feel it hurt him in any way. He's not quite sure it helped him, but it certainly didn't hurt him. I, on the other hand, was given the "greatest gift a parent can give " (this is a direct quote from my mother) by receiving 12 years of Catholic schooling. I can honestly say, all joking aside, that I do appreciate that my parents made the supreme financial sacrifice of putting me and my siblings through private school. To this day, my handwriting is better than any "public" I know. Beyond that, at the time I was in Catholic schools, Catholic schools in my area were head and shoulders above a public school education. But not only that, it was important for my parents that we were getting religious education every day of the school week.

Flash forward 20 years after I left the halls of my last Catholic school and new we have all sorts of options as far as schooling our children.

  • We can homeschool, if we are so inclined. There are so many resources out there for the homeschooling Mama that it doesn't even really seem like homeschooling...but a kinder, gentler, organic and exciting way to learn. Pros/Cons - Sounds wonderful, but the reality is that he would basically continue to have me as a teacher and quite frankly...he deserve more.
  • We can choose a non catholic private school, which with a hefty price tag will tailor the learning experience to your children's likes and dislikes and encourage their passions. That sounds really good. Isn't that what I've been doing thus far at home? Pros/Cons - we get to spend what we were planning on spending for their entire college education on his first year of Kindergarten.
  • We can go totally public and send our child down the street to the corner school, which has it's benefits and which has a GATE program which promotes and supposedly teaches to your child's level. (Isn't it obvious that any child of mine would be in a Gifted program???? :) ) Pros/Cons - Most people we know are going this route...but I have no faith in the public school system.
  • Or we can go Catholic, which is where my comfort and safety level lead me. (12 years of Catholic school also lead me here) But will he get good academic training along with religious training? I don't necessarily want a man who has FAITH that his future is secure but can't read past grade level 3. For my parents, it was important that prayer be a part of our day and that faith be taught. The schools I attended did their job, as did my parents, because a foundation of faith is important to me, too. Pros/Cons - If we send him to Catholic school, my mom will stop giving me dirty looks every time we discuss sending him to public school but I will have to start a daily novena that we have made the right decision.

I'm so confused. We want to give our son the best academic experience available. We want his opportunities to be abundant. WE DON'T WANT TO SCREW IT UP.

We've already signed the little man up at our parish Kindergarten. I've also put his name on lists at public schools in the area. September is looming. (OK, yes, I know that it's only February...but it feels like it's LOOMING!)



Pink Ink said...

I think it's great that you are thinking ahead of these options. I feel so lazy; we just said, okay, she's going to kindergarten.

I know kids could be challenged more, so definitely supplementing or replacing public school is worth looking at.

Good luck!

♥georgie♥ said...

That is awesome you are planning ahead...I was public and my beans are has it's drawbacks but we are satisfied...

my bestie was catholic schooled and she now works for her...

you will make the right decision for your family just weigh all the pros and cons

adlibby said...

What? You aren't holding him back til he's 6?!! =)

as if you didn't have enough to worry about! sorry! That's the big debate around here. Boys especially are often held back to start kindergarten a little later. Advantage socially, emotionally, and most won't admit it -- but for sports too!

My hubby is a product of Catholic School. I went to public school. Does going to a Catholic College redeem me at all? We've had this discussion ad nauseum.

It depends on the quality of the Public school and the resources at any of the schools you are considering. If it's a great one -- then I'm in favor of Public schools. They do have some advantages in terms of resources (for your obviously gifted children!). Where my littlest one has needed extra help, our public school has an Occupational Therapist on staff and a reading specialist on staff.

Ask a lot of questions and go with your gut! I know this one will keep you up at night -- but it will all turn it okay. After all -- they've got YOU! =)

Xazmin said...

Have you looked into the option of public Charter schools? They are publicly funded - so tuition free, but have atonomy from the school districts, so the founders/administrators have more freedom to try innovative new programs that the neighborhood schools sometimes aren't able to take advantage of because of all the beauracracy (sp?) and red tape of the public school system. Class sizes are smaller, and there are some amazing programs being offered by these schools.

I recently read an article on the top 25 high schools in the nation. 9 of them were charters!

And if a charter school doesn't "live up" to it's committments to student acheivment, they can lose their charter, so there is a lot of pressure on them for upholding student acheivement committments!

We love our public charter school.

wmn1dfl said...

I like a public education, but that's me. Bob and I both went; the kids too. I like the diversity of a public education. I'm sure that your children will thrive no matter where they go -- they have you and Eric!

The Me/ The Wife/ The Mom said...

Pink! Thank you for coming! - You aren't lazy, you are smart. At the end of the day, kids are going to do well no matter where you put them. I've always had a problem with the fear of making mistakes!

Georgie! This is the first time I've been accused of planning ahead! I'm usually a day late and dollar short! You made my day :) Thank you for your words of encouragement.

Adlibby! You know...quite a few people, not his teachers, but others have mentioned that since is b-day is in August and cut off is in Sept. We both feel he is more than ready to start. However, we have a Preppy K program for kids who are just barely old enough but that could wait...we are considering that as an option.

I'm relatively new to the area and have been a work at home shut in since moving here. The information that I've gotten from people who have elementary age kids varies...we are in a good public school district from what I hear...but I'm a product of my upbringing and I want a few nuns running around knocking heads together. :)

And BTW, your college experience does redeem you. I give you dispensation. Go and sin no more :)

Xazmin - thank you for your thoughtful response! I have friends and family involved in Charter schools on the east coast...but have no practical knowledge of charter schools here on the Left coast. We are going to do a test run at a charter school. Thank you again!

wmn1dfl - Cara! Your kids are a great plug for public - they are well rounded and brilliant - not sure if that's a testement to the school or the parents :)

Melissa, Multi-Tasking Mama said...

Good for you for looking into all the options- just do what feels right for your family and he will be fine!

Denyse said...

Definitely a tough decision, but sounds like you are thinking it through. I'm sure you will arrive at the right choice for your family.
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