Sunday, July 12, 2009

Education decisions...

So many ppl have been asking me if I'm going to send Aidan to kindergarten because he will turn 5 on 8/3. And each time they ask, I reply that I'm not sure b/c I'm really not sure. I'm been wondering about this for a while now and there are so many thoughts swimming in my head about this. But the more I think about it, the more confused I am - and here's why:

I've been waffling between sending the kids to school or trying my hand at homeschooling for a while. And I have friends on both sides who are strongly believe in what they've chosen for their kids, which helps me to see some of both perspectives. And this is what I've gathered:

Pros: Individualized attention; each kid can learn at their own pace; you can focus more on character because they will be with you more; less exposure to undesirable influences and teachings; flexibility in schedule; can incorporate religion; safe environment (at least more controlled)
Cons: You have to be organized, it's a lot of work; there can be oodles of paperwork and tests to show progress to the state; having young babies around makes it tougher; possible lack in social interactions (that depends on the mom); mom might feel indequate to teach certain subjects; loneliness if no one else by you is homeschooling; paying school tax for a school system I'm not using (that's the frugal side of me talking)
Other considerations: I've heard that if there is a good homeschool co-op nearby, there will be lots of social interaction (ie sports clubs, outings, etc) and lots of support. If I were to actually homeschool, I think having a co-op nearby would almost be a pre-req!

Pros: Teacher proficient in their subject(s) teaching my child; lots of social interaction; if regular school - exposure to different ethnicities, religions, etc; kids hopefully being a light at school; understanding of our culturel positive peer pressure from good friends
Cons: Being taught things I don't agree with; possibly safety issues (ie Columbine); regular school issues - bullying, teasing, etc; bad education; falling through the cracks
Other considerations: There is also alternative schools, such as Christian schoosl and charter schools but some of them aren't much better in terms of safety and teasing, which is bound to happen when you group kids together. Then there are the financial concerns - since we would love to have another, 4 kids in school will be very expensive...and that's not even counting in the cost of college!

But the questions I really have to ask myself after all this are: why am I choosing the route I am choosing? If homeschool, am I choosing it out of fear? If regular school, am I choosing it because it's easier day-to-day? What if there are no co-ops? Am I trusting God in my decision? The fact remains that public/private school these days are just not what they were when I went to school. Back in the 80s, there were no metal detectors and drugs weren't as rampant as they are today. Also, I feel that kids are being exposed to certain topics like sex and abortion earlier and earlier and I question the wisdom in that. And certain social topics I would really rather cover myself instead of having to correct what's been said at school. Also, with the reports of American schools lagging behind in academics and the solutions that have been set in place that don't seem to do the job, I'm even questioning what kind of education they will receive on the academic end. No doubt there are still great teachers out there (which make all the difference) and I thank all my teacher friends that are still out there (you are sooo needed!), but there are also the bad ones that can make you dislike a subject your entire life. (Though my teaching math might do that to the kids...hehe). Plus, each kid is soo different that it might be possible to choose homeschool for one kid and public/private for another...or would that even happen? That then gets even more complicated. I guess it all boils down to lots of prayer, asking God to show me what is best for the kids...which means spending more time with Him. I should do that more anyways. ;)

Back to Aidan...we sent him to preschool this year b/c after we moved to PA, I had a hard time finding boys his age for him to play with that were not in school. We went to playgrounds, malls, bookstores and libraries. And he really, really wanted some boys to play with. So, we were blessed to have found a Montessori nearby and enrolled him right away. Overall, he had a good time there but was teased a bit for wearing glasses and being different looking. That made him really sad and made me really annoyed. Plus, we had done a lot with Aidan and he was already reading some when he started preschool and they were just covering the basics of how to recognize numbers and letters. And since he was a bit bored and very active, he got in trouble a little. But don't get me wrong, he did learn how to color well and he now knows more of what it means to be a friend, which are important skills. Anyhow, I'm glad I have one more year to think and pray about this because we've decided to wait one more year before making a decision and if he were to go to school, I'd rather wait til he was 6. We'll see what happens, though. Either way, I know that God has a plan for him. :)

Anyone with any thoughts on this?


autumnesf said...

Sounds like you are thinking about all the angles.

I had one in public school and one homeschooled. Like you said...its about each kid. We have individual ways we excell or don't do well at everything...why would school be any different.

Co-ops are really great. Hope there is one in your area if you decide to homeschool.

And I think its GREAT you are going to wait until 6 to make a decision. If he needs the time...give it to him.

kevnjacks said...

Thanks for the comment - it's always nice to hear other perspectives and other experiences. I figure whatever I decide, if it doesn't work out, I can always go the other route. :)

Anonymous said...

This is a really tough decision. We feel like we trust the school district we grew up with in Naperville (IL) because it was and remains an outstanding school district, but here in Seattle (given the extremely liberal culture and values here, etc.) we really don't trust the schools at all. But we see the downsides of homeschooling as well. (There is a very big homeschooling movement here, though; we know several homeschooling families.) Natalie (age 4) went to preschool at our church's Christian school this past year and will be going again this year. We found it to be a very supportive environment. (She is generally a very reserved kid, and the teacher was good and worked with that and supported her rather than pressuring her.) It also reflects our values, and the kids generally seem better-behaved and more positive than secular kids, at least at our particular church. Tuition runs about $4000 per year, which I believe is relatively inexpensive compared to most private schools. We don't know if we'll keep her in Christian school always (our church does run all the way to 12th grade); with 3 kids, even our relatively inexpensive tuition will start adding up in a few years. Right now it seems like the right choice for us, though.

Sarah said...

Jacklyn, I have had so many of the same thoughts! I agree on your outcome...I also need to be spending more time with God and be praying more! =) One piece of advice that someone gave me that was really encouraging is that no one (but the Lord) loves your kids more than you do, and that you can't make a "wrong" decision. There are going to be pros and cons to each option, and there's no way of knowing ahead of time what the outcomes are going to be. Just some thoughts =)

Saph @ Walk With Me said...

I'm having to make that decision myself now and I'm going the homeschool route. I've always wanted to homeschool and be a stay/work at home mom. Now I've been given that opportunity since I just got laid off. God has directed me in the way of medical transcription to support my being able to stay home. I want to homeschool because I've seen so many other homeschooled kids graduate with top honors and are not influenced by the things of the world. My church has a homeschool group where the homeschooling families can meet up and go on outings so there won't be lack of social interaction there. Even it there wasn't one at my church, I can easily find other stay at home moms/homeschoolers using the web.
I can definitely change my mind about homeschooling later if I find I have a difficult time and then I would only consider a christian school because the public schools here are just not good enough in my opinion. Heard too many stories of bullying even at the Kindergarten, 1st grade level.

Sally said...

I am running through the pros and cons of all these options as well, and my list in my head would look very similar to yours written out. It's such a big decision, one I don't think about too often because it overwhelms me! Nathan (4) didn't love preschool last fall, so we took him out and are going to try another, Christian-based and "play-based" one that we checked out this week. They also have a 2-year old program which I think might help Blake with social interaction and possibly speech. Plus, it might just be fun for him, and he won't feel left out when I drop his big brother off. It's month-to-month tuition (only $165 per child per month for 2 days a week, with a flexible schedule) so we can see how it goes for a month and reassess. I really believe there is no right or wrong answer, just what you and your family feel is right and in line with God's purpose for you. That alone can be really hard, but I'm learning to take it step by step and not to worry! Because I certainly have worried about this and a billion other issues. Time for me to trust in the Lord now...
If we do go the public school route, we'll definitely do our homework and make sure curriculum is "clean" and the teachers are of good character (as much as we can find that out). Although there are lots of scary things happening and being taught in schools, it's not everywhere, and it's more based on who is doing the teaching. As parents with kids in public schools we'll do our best to be involved and in communication with the teacher and the school. I realize this is hard with little ones at home, however, it can't be more work than making and planning a curriculum would be! Plus, all the cool stuff (sets of toys, learning activities, and even a climbing wall) that the preschool has, I could not match. Then add in the social interaction- my kids are too little for me to be scheduling playdates all the time. If there were a coop nearby that would be another good option, but I need to look into that.