School Choice

As Mr. C quickly approaches Kindergarten, we soon have to decide where he is going to go to school.  It’s a common conversation among the parents we know around town.  Whenever I run into another parent of a kid about four years old, we end up talking about what we’re going to do about school next year.  Yesterday I met two other parents at a local indoor playground place, (a great thing to have nearby when it’s about five below zero outside), and while our kids played, we spent most of the time debating the school choice question.  That would be for close to four hours on that one subject.  Earlier in the week, I ran into another parent at the grocery store, and while we just spoke briefly, it was entirely about school choice.    I used to think that the parents who spent a lot of time preparing for kindergarten were too concerned with something that I thought was a minor detail.    After all, all kindergarten programs must all be the same.  I could not have been more wrong.  Now that I’m a parent, I think the more common fear is not so much trying to pick the absolute best kindergarten possible, but trying to make sure you don’t make a huge mistake and end up with your son or daughter hating school, or exhausted from a program that is not appropriate for them.   We live in a mid-sized city, so there are a few choices available.  We are also allowed to request to attend a school in a different part of town if we want.  Some schools are better than others, and there are entire websites dedicated to ranking the individual schools.

There are so many more choices now, compared to when my parents were getting ready to send me off to school.  A public school ?   A private school ?   A full day program ?  Or half-day ?   If half-day, morning or afternoon ?  If a public school, which one in the district ?   The one close by, which has failed the federal “No Child Left Behind” requirements, or the one further away in the nicer part of town, which has also failed, but hasn’t failed as badly ?  If a private school, which kind ?  Religious ?   Non-Religious ?      A Montessori school ?  A Waldorf school ?   Then there’s all kinds of specialized programs that emphasize one thing or another, ‘Arts’ schools,  ‘Nature’ schools, ‘Music’ schools, there’s probably even a ‘Sports’ school somewhere.  All this just for kindergarten.

The friend I ran into at the supermarket was really considering signing up for the private kindergarten, forty five minutes away,  at a cost of $28,000 for the year.  Despite the fact that both he and his wife are not employed full time at the moment and are getting by on short term and part-time jobs.  He’s not really going to go ahead and sign up, but this is how concerned the parents I know are.

Oh boy, here we go, registration starts tomorrow!    Anxiety and nervousness will continue like this through College, I guess!



7 thoughts on “School Choice

  1. It’s a really difficult decision, and I would say personally I think you need to try somewhere that you feel he’ll be happy – if you visit schools etc you do get a ‘feel’ for them, so trust your instincts. Good luck!

  2. As a parent who enrolled her kids in a school that was not our designated school, I understand what you mean and how you feel. My kids ended up going to kindergarten where they went to preschool (it’s a school district preschool, but still not free). This is the smallest school in town, only K-6, under 500 students. It’s a wonderful community where everybody knows everybody. Teachers really care about the kids, parents like me volunteer on a regular basis. You really won’t know about a school until you walk in and visit, talk with the principal, sit down in a classroom and watch the teachers at work. You may prefer one kindergarten teacher over another. I know I did and requested not to have a specific teacher, as her classroom would be way too distracting visually to my kid. I don’t see the value of paying for a private school when there are lots of public options, unless your public options are awful. But then you’d save money by homeschooling. Visit the schools. You can even change your mind if you’re already enrolled your son and found a better school for him across town.

    • The one option I didn’t include was ‘charter school’. We ran into yet another person who told us about a meeting at the library with the staff of a new charter school that is set to open in the Fall. I’m sure there are going to be 2,000 entries for the 20 spots open in the class!

      • I’d find it hard to pick a school that has no track record yet. Charter schools can be good in some larger towns, but if your town isn’t so big, I’m sure the public schools are doing well. A friend of mine enrolled her daughter in a Montessori school for kindergarten because she thought the current school system wouldn’t match her daughter’s learning style. All I hear is her complaining about the teacher and how little her daughter is learning and not being challenged. His son is in a public school’s kindergarten and having fun every day. I hope you get to visit schools and find the right one for your child.

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