I started getting asked how we were going to educate Stefan when he was just a few months old. I am worrying about nursing, sleeping, teething, and how much he poops, and I am being asked to make a decision regarding his school choice. Really? And is it really a one-time decision that we have to stick to for the rest of our children’s educational career? I don’t think so. We sometimes make this decision thinking that if we start down one path, we have to stay on it forever. We don’t. And maybe we shouldn’t.
Today I offer up three good reasons to choose public, private, and home school. There are many other reasons, I just chose to narrow it down to three. Please feel free to add yours in the comments. I speak here in generalities and the specifics will vary widely from school to school or home to home. Also, just because I included a reason for one choice does not necessarily mean it is completely absent in the others. Again, generalities. This is more to get you thinking, and to remind us all that each option is viable and meets different needs.
- Options for children with disabilities: Special education teachers, therapy, etc. Because public school has to, by law, provide schooling for every child, they have to provide for children with disabilities. This is not required of private schools.
- More extra-curricular options: sports teams, drama, band, art, etc.
- Cost. It would be impossible to not include this as an extremely good reason for choosing public school.
- Choice of school based on academic success or educational philosophy. This often comes with a high price tag. (In our current city there are numerous highly successful private schools using traditional, Waldorf, Classical, and other models.)
- Choice of school based on your religious beliefs. Remember, though, you might be sacrificing in another area, so keep that in mind!
- Smaller classrooms (usually), which allows for more teacher interaction which is invaluable.
- Option to tailor the teaching to fit each child’s learning style. (This is a lot of work to pull off, though, so do not assume it is easy!)
- Flexibility. This is probably one of the more popular reasons for homeschooling. You can choose to do the traditional school year approach, or a year-round approach taking days off when they are convenient for your family, etc.
- Ability to have a very hands-on approach to your children’s education, choosing different educational models that might not be available in your area.
The choice of schooling is a big one for every family. It is a very personal decision. There are so many factors that play into this decision that it would be wrong to put any one approach as superior or better. And we always need to be gracious toward others who choose something different than us. After all, you might change next year.
Ultimately, though, it is important to remember that you as the parent are responsible for your child’s education. Whether you choose to outsource the teaching or not is up to you, but you are still responsible. If your second-grader is struggling with reading it is not the teacher’s problem, it’s yours. If your home-schooled child is not excelling like he should be it is not the curriculum’s fault, it’s your problem to determine if that curriculum does not mesh with your child’s learning style. Figure out a solution.
Finally, it is essential to always keep re-evaluating. One commitment we have made as a family is that we will re-evaluate every year. This does not mean that we will change every year. But we might. Is this best for our family situation this year? Is this best for each individual child this year? Are there other options available to us that would suit our needs better? What is best for us today may not be what is best for us in five years. Or even next year.
The perfect education does not exist. Each schooling choice requires its own sacrifice. In essence, there is always an opportunity cost. The give and take of life is as evident in this choice as any. You must not only evaluate the education your children receive, but also its effect on your marriage and family, and your particular life situation.
Now it’s your turn. What advantages do you feel the different schooling choices offer?