Public school, private school, French school, home school?

by Susan

julia at school

Public school, private school, french school, home school?
Decisions, indecisions, second guesses, worried messes.

(I’ve been reading a bit too much Dr. Seuss lately.)

So after hours of agonizing over my children’s scholastic future, I registered Julia in French Immersion Kindergarten at the same school that her cousin Jackson attends.

Thrilled that we won the phone call queue lottery and secured her a coveted spot in the school of our choice, I began to relax that the decision was done. (We live in Canada and the government provides a limited number of French Immersion programs.)

But then at church on Sunday, I was chatting with another mother who also had a child entering Kindergarten. I mentioned my worry about Julia and her best friend Madison going to separate schools next year for Kindergarten. (Madison is going to the local public school just down our street and I’ve felt worried that Julia will be sad that she’s not attending school with her neighborhood friends.)

The other mother said, “Oh don’t you hate the new regulation of all day Kindergarten?”

A little surprised, I replied, “Oh, actually, I was kinda glad because of carpooling with my sister’s boy. So you wish the schools weren’t moving to all day Kindergarten?”

“Well, mine go to Christian school. And it’s always been only 3 days, but full days, for Kindergarten. They aren’t switching this year, but I’m not sure in the future. So I’m worried for my 2 year old when she gets there. She’s my last and I don’t want to miss that time with her.”

I instantly shrunk, feeling like a bad mother. (I have been relieved at the move to full days so I could save on child care costs and have less carpooling time.)

I replied. “You’re so lucky to have them go to Christian school. I wish I could send my girls there, but we just can’t afford it.”

And of course the kick in the gutt. “We just decided it was a priority and that is how we want to spend our money.”

I felt like a horrible un-Christian parent who clearly squanders her money instead of securing her children’s educational, social and spiritual future.

“Oh yes, it is so important, isn’t it. Perhaps when our girls get to high school, we’ll have enough money to send them there.” I answered.

Then the final blow, knocked me over and I spent the next hour reeling from the hit. “But, it can be difficult to integrate them in at that age. High-school is so difficult and even if it is a Christian school, kids are still cliquish especially when they’ve been together since the beginning.”

For the next hour, I sat at the back of Sophia’s 2 year old Sunday School class (she cried when I tried to leave) and ran horrifying potential footage through my brain:

My girls, shunned by the upscale Christian crowd, lurred into drugs by the evils of public school and me guilty of it all. I imagined them at public school in French immersion for the primary years. I tried to imagine if they would choose to continue French immersion in the secondary years. What if they switched out and couldn’t make new friends? If they always would feel like misfits.

I tried to imagine how they would be with friends and at school. Would they be shy and insecure? Would they be followers that fall into traps of peer pressure? Would they retain their faith even if their friends laughed at them?

What would happen to them? Would they be better off if I sent them to private school?

I watched my quiet, little Sophia sit in her Sunday School chair watching the other children. (We hadn’t been to church in a while and so this was her first time in the 2 year old class.)

I watched, prayed and knew that I didn’t really have a choice. There is no way we can afford private school and we’re blessed to have her learn a second language.

I tried to talk myself out of my panicked guilt. There are advantages and disadvantages of all the choices.

The fact is we can’t afford private school and we’re lucky to have secured her a spot at a good French Immersion school a short drive from our home.

It will be sad that she can’t walk to school with her neighborhood friends to the brand new school just blocks from our house.

And of course I’d love to have her at a Christian school, but we can’t go into debt to pay for it. But she’ll go to school with her cousins and learn a new language.

YOUR TURN: So where do your children go to school or do you homeschool? Did you have a tough decision? Do you ever wonder if you made the right choice?

Written by Susan, co-founder of the 5 Minutes for Mom Mommy Blog.
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Susan Carraretto and her identical twin, Janice Croze, created 5 Minutes for Mom in 2006. Susan loves all social media, but her top addiction these days is Pinterest. She recently published a children's book titled "The Pest Detectives" which you can download now in digital format for free.

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{ 71 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Beckie Tetrault January 19, 2010 at 4:43 pm

We choose to homeschool. It was not a tough choice for us, it fits our lifestyle and our children’s learning style best. I am also glad, that if the time ever comes that we can’t homeschool, there are several high quality, focused public schools in the area that I would feel okay sending my kids too :)

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2 shelly January 19, 2010 at 4:44 pm

I understand your mommy guilt. Everyone wants the best for their child.

I have mixed feelings about private vs. public school. I grew up in a public school and learned to deal with being “different” b/c I was a Christian. I learned how to relate to various people and still keep to my principles.

I ended up teaching at a private Christian school for ten years. And my son had the privilege of getting free tuition b/c I worked there.

I love the fact that he has more exposure to a Christian world view. However, I wonder if he is going to be more sheltered than I was growing up and will have difficulty transitioning when he has to go to a public high school. I can’t afford to pay for the cost of private high school and I don’t know if he’s going to be able to stay at his school through middle school even (his dad pays his tuition now that I don’t work there).

There are some very good public schools out there. And as a parent you can get actively involved in your child’s class and school and become a light to others. You can also promote a Christian world view in your home. So if you can’t afford a private education, you can feel like your child is still getting the education they need.

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3 Bethany January 19, 2010 at 5:02 pm

I got it with the “We decided it was a priority.” line when I mentioned I wanted to homeschool my daughter but just couldn’t afford for me not to work. It made me feel like the worst mother ever. I try to remember we are doing the best we can with what we have.

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4 Jen January 19, 2010 at 5:11 pm

My kindergartener goes to public school but I seriously considered both homeschooling and private school. We can’t afford the private and I KNOW he needs the socialization in public school, but I still worry it won’t meet his needs as he is exceptionally bright.

As a mom we are always going to worry, but if we go with our gut and continue to teach them our values at home I think our kids will do fine. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the subject!

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5 Marilyn January 19, 2010 at 5:23 pm

Our kids will be going to the public school that’s two minutes away from our house. We considered Christian School but can’t afford it and the French Immersion school is quite far from us. I’m not too worried about it.

I started my school life at a private Catholic school, followed by two other public elementary schools before high school. Each of my three elementary schools were in different towns. That mother was right – kids are cliquey (just like most adults) but it works out okay in the end. Whether your kids stay in the same schools or not it’ll be okay.

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6 The Praying Mom January 19, 2010 at 5:27 pm

My oldest will start K in the fall and we will be home schooling her. When my other kids start they will probably be home schooled as well. It’s the option my husband and I felt most comfortable with financially and educationally. It is also a very common thing where I live so there are plenty of socialization opportunities for home schooled students. As mother’s we will probably always worry about our choices, but as long as we do the best we can with what we have that’s all anyone can ask of us. Don’t let someone else make you feel bad about your choices because they are so sure that if you just “made it a priority” you could do it. No one knows better than we do what our families need and can actually do. Remember that next time you face those sorts of comments. You’ve made the choice you feel is best and that works for your situation. If we had a language immersion school near me I would seriously consider using that for my children. Then again, it would probably be a private school if we had one and we can’t afford that without going bankrupt lol

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7 Deb - Mom of 3 Girls January 19, 2010 at 5:36 pm

The decision of where or how to school our kids is such an important one that I think we all second-guess ourselves. There’s just no way to know how it will affect their futures (for good or bad) and a ton of time later on for hindsight to make us feel like we made the wrong choice, no matter what option we pick.

We send our girls to public school here in town. It’s the main reason that we bought this house (that we could barely afford) – to get into this school district. I love that the girls ride the bus (less gas it costs us to drive back and forth) and that their friends mostly live in town. We’re also extremely happy with their educations (so far – we’re only up to 3rd grade w/ our oldest). Both of my older girls are doing an awesome job academically and we have been very happy with their teachers and the quality of what they’re learning.

I know there are other choices out there, but I’m comfortable that we made the right one for our kids. I just hope that 20 years from now, I’ll feel the same way. :)

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8 Jennifer, Snapshot January 19, 2010 at 5:49 pm

My children have always gone to public school. It wasn’t a hard decision for us, but I know the agony that some face.

One thing that always helped me to feel better was the pastor’s wife addressed the Christian/public/homeschool debates by telling us to pray about it. If we felt okay with our decision, we had to think that God had directed us. She said that God cares more about our children than we do, and He knows them better than we do. Amen to that.

She’ll be going to school with Jackson, and I think that’s a pretty good confirmation.

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9 hotpantsâ„¢ January 19, 2010 at 5:51 pm

The public schools where I live are horrible. We plan on sending ours to private if we can afford it. It will be hard, but something we both feel is necessary.

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10 amanda January 19, 2010 at 5:55 pm

My daughter went to private schools until 1st grade then she started public schools. I wish we could afford private schools still but with 5 kids there is no way. I think about homeschooling every day but I doubt myself having what it takes to homeschool five kids every day. It is a difficult choice for sure and one I struggle with almost daily. It feels like the school is in charge and not the parent and I have a real problem with that.

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11 Susan January 19, 2010 at 6:01 pm

Thank you Ladies all so much for your feedback and support.

It is such a tough and very personal choice, isn’t it?

It’s funny how blogging has made me so aware of the popularity of homeschooling — especially among Christian Americans. Here in the west coast of Canada, the trend is really just beginning. I only know a few families locally that homeschool.

(There are of course many that do homeschool, but I don’t see it nearly as often in my offline life as I do online.)

I am AMAZED and impressed by all the mom bloggers who homeschool. I can’t even imagine it. I suppose I would do it if I felt the public schools available to us were unsafe or a poor learning environment… but I’m sure glad I don’t have to. LOL

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12 Angela Smith January 19, 2010 at 6:01 pm

I know every situation is different, but I’ll tell you my story in hopes that it eases your guilt. My parents started us in Catholic Schools when we were younger. By second grade they had told my mom that I would never read or write on my grade level. They said I was unfocused (and, I guess, difficult to teach). It turns out I was bored. My mom actually switched us to public school when I was in 3rd grade because my older brother needed some additional services. He had some learning disabilities. My 3rd grade teacher was impressed with me and pushed for me to take accelerated classes. I ended up graduating validictorian with AP English and AP Math scores that tested for college credit.

So… Christian isn’t always better. You don’t always get what you paid for.

My kids are only 3 and 18 months. We plan on testing them for the “academy” school in our system which has a stricter academic schedule, but will probably send them to public school down the street. I know I’m not disciplined enough for home schooling and would rather our money go toward college than private school for a kindergartener.

Good luck!

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13 Cat January 19, 2010 at 6:13 pm

We’ve always found public school to be the right choice for our kids. We intentionally moved to this overpriced, snobby town just because of the top rated public education offered here. Also, I think having the kids in a diverse school teaches them to embrace all kinds of people, poor, rich, black, white, gay, straight, and everything in between. You just don’t find that sort of diversity in the private schools around here.

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14 MJ January 19, 2010 at 6:14 pm

HELP!!!

we chose to homeschool our 12 year old daughter, we use to live in another country before and she used to attend a private christian school but now we are in California and we tried public school but the peer pressure was too much and the hormones and all the girls going through puberty they could be really mean, and my daughter used to come home after school unhappy just drained, no energy, bitter, she used to spend a lot of time in front of the mirror she felt so insecure all the time and finally she was making me feel miserable, so I couldn’t take it anymore and decided to help her by homeschooling her and ofcourse because of her temperament she was so happy and I got my sweet girl back, she started to be nice to be around again and everything, but now we face one big problem: she is in 6th grade and Math and writting are getting harder being that english is not our first language I can’t help her as she needs to be helped so I am feeling challenged everyday and also because of her temperament and mine we are clashing everyday. I know she can do better but I can’t quiet point her in the right direction been lost myself a little bit and she is a comformist she settles to the fact that it is just done so done is as good as it can be. I am seriously thinking of enrolling her back, I stopped working to homeschool her and now I feel like it blew up in my face no money and no good education, what can I do?

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15 Cat January 19, 2010 at 6:16 pm

I also wanted to add…when I was in grade school and went to middle school, most of my friends attended a different middle school than I did, but we reunited in high school…it was the hardest transition on me ever! Making new friends only to lose them to a different school then getting back together with old friends that had grown and changed…it was awful and always made me feel like an outsider.

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16 Karen January 19, 2010 at 6:28 pm

Boy does this subject speak close to my heart! My husband was homeschooled and I went to public schools. We have been struggling with this decision since our son was born. Now it is time for him to start Kindergarten in the Fall. We just began the application process at a local Christian School. This is where we feel he should go even though it will be tough financially. We will also be taking him away from the majority of friends he has made at preschool, which I’m sad about. We’re taking it a year at a time. If we don’t get into the school, we have several back-up public school options to turn to. We all want to make the best decision for our families. I have had this conversation with countless other moms and dads and people get really sensitive over this subject. I would never judge someone else for their decision because everyone’s situation is different. I wish you the best as your daughter begins her first year at the school you’ve chosen. Keep in mind that other opportunities may present themselves in the future. I am also amazed at the homeschooling moms. It is something my husband and I don’t feel is the right thing for our family, at least not at this time. Blessings!

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17 Holly January 19, 2010 at 6:36 pm

This is such a profound question. How we choose to educate our children is one of the biggest decisions we can make as parents. Thank you so much for asking the questions. We chose to put my daughter in a small Christian School. This was such a big decision for us. It does cost, but we do what we can to make ends meet. If a child is meant to be in Christian school I believe the funds will happen. But not every child needs to go to a Christian school. They should go where they will thrive and grow as people and as Christians. After listening to three generations of educational horror stories from my husband, his mother and his grandmother, and intentionally substitute teaching in the school system here I knew public school was not for My daughter. The school where she is meets her needs and that is the most important thing to us. We are blessed in North America to have an such an array of educational opportunities. I wish you success in your decision.

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18 Heather January 19, 2010 at 6:39 pm

I think we have to be very careful not to get sucked into the guilt we can create for ourselves. Each family is different, and what works for one family may not work for the next.

We homeschool. At first, it started as a “we’ll see how this goes.” It quickly turned into “we wouldn’t have it any other way”. It’s what is right for us and for our daughter. It may not always be easy, but we know it’s the Lord’s will for our lives.

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19 Tarasview January 19, 2010 at 6:54 pm

We have CHOSEN to send our children to public school. Even if there were a Christian school or other private school available for a decent price my children would NOT be going there. My husband was a youth pastor for several years and in our youth group there were four groups of kids- the public school kids, the Catholic school/french immersion kids, the Christian school kids, and the homeschool kids… they are all just kids. Each group had amazing Godly kids and each group had kids struggling. One group was not kinder than the other, one group was not smarter or more well behaved etc.. And the most surprising… the homeschool & Christian school kids didn’t know more about the bible or God than the public school kids. Kids are kids are kids.

When my son started school I got a LOT of flack for sending him to public school but it was a prayed about, purposeful decision. We are firmly in the “our kids need to learn to live their faith in the world” category. People were especially harsh because I am a pastor’s wife and my son has some special needs. People are still incredibly judgmental. But we have made the RIGHT decision for OUR family. My sons are doing awesome at school and we love their teachers and it has definitely been the best choice for us.

Let go of that mommy guilt- and tune out the condescension of other Christians telling you that you would be a more spiritual mother if you homeschooled or Christian schooled etc.. Everyone is entitled to their own choice and EVERYONE needs to remember that.

And just so you know I changed school lots because we moved lots and I always managed to make new friends… so it’s not like you can’t change your mind!!

Breath deep, throw back those shoulders and wear your decision with confidence :) Huge hugs to you.

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20 Cariann January 19, 2010 at 6:55 pm

We went the homeschool route for a couple reasons. At the time we were considering the Christian School but the price of gas has jumped and I couldn’t afford to drive into town 5 days a week twice a day… We don’t agree with the current system of public education and the anti-Christian nature of the curriculum so we decide that homeschool was the best. We have connected with a Christian Homeschool co-op where the kids are grouped by age and get some extra classes away from Mom… I don’t regret our decision in the slightest.

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21 Karen January 19, 2010 at 7:03 pm

We have homeschooled for ten years. My oldest is a freshman in college, and my 18 year old will graduate this year, leaving three to finish homeschooling. Homeschooling has been the joy of my life!

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22 Mom24 January 19, 2010 at 7:03 pm

Ummm, she sounds a little nasty to me, and this is from a Mommy that was very glad full-day kindergarten hadn’t been implemented here until after my youngest was out. Everyone makes the choices that are right for his/her family. Your children truly will thrive, pinky swear. You’re behind them and you will encourage and support them and they will do great.

Honestly? When they’re going through hard times with friends from school (inevitable at times) it will be nice for them to have separate friends in the neighborhood.

My kids go to public school. I’ve thought about homeschool, but right now they’re thriving and that’s what’s important.

Don’t beat yourself up. You’re a great mom and you do a great job.

I’m trying to give the other woman the benefit of the doubt, but it really seems like she wasn’t being very nice OR christian.

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23 Susan January 19, 2010 at 7:18 pm

You all are awesome! Thank you so much for your kind words!!!

~Susan

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24 Kathleen January 19, 2010 at 7:33 pm

We have done all three. Public, Private Christian School and homeschool. Four daughters! First daughter public, private, home, public High School, 2nd – public, home, public High School, 3rd and 4th – public, home through graduation.

It is a choice we all have to make for our own children. It is a difficult decision. I don’t think any of my girls were harmed by the changes made through their school years. We made decisions each year based on each child’s needs.

As a Christian I think we need to trust that God will lead us individually/couple in the path He has for our own family. We need not judge others decisions or second guess our own.

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25 Meant To Be Mom January 19, 2010 at 8:02 pm

I am an elementary school teacher and have had the experience of teaching in both a private school and a public school, and went to a christian school myself growing up. Having experienced all three I can tell you that it doesn’t really matter where your children are educated as long as you are an involved and loving parent. If you take the time to work with your child, read with them, help them with their homework, maybe send in a cookie every now and then for a classroom party or celebration, then you already on your way to mom of the year.

As you know, every child is different and it’s a strong foundation that comes from home that helps a child succeed. I think you should be happy that you are able to offer your child a second language and don’t place stress on yourself over your decision. Kindergarten is such a wonderful year for learners; don’t let any other mother, or parent, ruin this time for you and your daughter.

I enjoyed reading your post. Thanks for sharing a concern that so many parents have. My son is only 3 months old and my husband and I are already debating what type of school he will be attending :-)

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26 Amy January 19, 2010 at 8:06 pm

We homeschool. We have from the beginning. However, originally I didn’t really know I had a choice in the matter. I’m so glad for all the homeshooling families who went before me. Looking back 7 years later, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The great thing about homeschooling is that you have total control and total flexibility in how and when you school your children. It can be done cheaply and it can be done expensively and it can be done anywhere in between.

I don’t feel that I am judgmental of those who do not homeschool, but I am passionate about it. (and my guess would be that woman wasn’t trying to belittle you…she’s probably just passionate and it just came out WAY wrong)

We all make choices based on our family’s current circumstances, bu probably the most frustrating to me is when someone says they couldn’t homeschool b/c they couldn’t stand to be around their kids 24/7. That is just sad.

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27 Lisa January 19, 2010 at 8:08 pm

Let me put a little sunshine where the sun isn’t shining. We have done it all. We spent nine years with our daughter in Catholic school. I do believe it is difficult for some children to integrate into a system where kids have been going to school together for so many years but I for one loved it when we got new kids to mix things up a bit. In 6th grade, a new girl entered my child’s class and my shy daughter welcomed her with open arms, befriended her and they are best friends and are freshman at the same university today.

Now the table turns. My daughter’s school only went through eighth grade and we encouraged her to go to the private school on the island where we lived instead of the public school on the mainland. She finally agreed although she was always a shy child and a bit nervous about this. The majority of the 9th grade students had been together since kindergarten and now she was the new kid. By Christmas she was in tears and wanted to leave and go to the public school where all her friends from the Catholic school ended up going. We made her finish up the year and told her she could move her sophomore year. Once she got to public school which was very big and also an open campus much like a college, she thrived, joined clubs and really opened up and made lots of friends.

It was funny, at the end of her 9th grade year all the kids heard she was not coming back and she received the sweetest notes from some of the girls and one in particular stuck out and she said that she wished she had been a better friend to my daughter and spent more time with her and they all said they would miss her.

So yes it can be clickish, but they are all just kids with busy schedules and sports and sometimes they need a push to welcome the newcomers and I don’t think there was enough push by the faculty or parents.

So we have been on both ends but it all works out. There are ups and there are downs.

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28 Margaret January 19, 2010 at 9:17 pm

I was just having this discussion with my husband! My son started off in a private catholic school and in first Grade transferred to public school. It was a great choice for him and he has done very well. My daughter is gifted academically and the public school (which is very good) is not meeting her needs. I’m pushing to have her go to a private school where she has a scholarship offer. Hubby thinks it’s too far. It’s close to my job but about 15 minutes further for him. I know this is the best thing for her. However, if she does remain in public school, I will not feel guilty and just find other ways of stimulating her academically. So all this to say, you are doing what is right for your family and that is what’s important. Your child will have your love and support so she will succeed!

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29 Kristen M. January 19, 2010 at 10:07 pm

Just adding my two-cents about all-day kindergarten…My oldest went to half-day kindergarten & it was perfect for her. After moving to a new city my youngest attended all-day kindergarten. I wasn’t sure if he could handle being in school all day but it ended up being exactly the structure that he needed. I think he would have been bored in a half-day program.

Both my kids have always attended public school. We intentionally involve ourselves in their education so that we can be a Christian influence in the public school system. (I’ve actually been surprised by the number of Christian teachers in the public school systems that we have belonged to.)

That said, I don’t feel strongly against homeschooling or christian schools. There is no “one size fits all” educational choice. Nor do I feel that one choice is more “spiritual” than another.

Anyway, the point here is not to second guess yourself based on other people’s choices or preferences.

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30 purple moose January 19, 2010 at 10:13 pm

I am SO sorry about that conversation!! Parenting is hard enough without getting subtle guilt over difficult choices.

I was public schooled, my husband (at various times) experienced all three options. We’ve decided to home school our children. In a sense, it was an easy decision, I guess because we are not able to afford private school and are not willing to deal with the weak points of public school. Will our children turn out “perfect”? Not a chance. But I hope we are approaching this with open eyes to combat the weaknesses we know of in home schooling.

I think that ALL three choices are valid and while one may work better for one’s family than others, there IS no “one size fits all” option. And I try to express this when people ask. . . I’ve been the recipient of nastiness and I don’t like it, so I don’t want to share it with others!!

(For the record, the person who is condescending about your school choice is likely to be condescending of others who do not choose EXACTLY as she has. I see this in home schooling: people who have chosen one philosophy or program or method sometimes seem to think that it is the only viable option. So the woman you talked to probably looks down on other Christian schooling parents who don’t agree with her.)

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31 Lisa B. January 19, 2010 at 10:44 pm

We homeschool & always have. But that is what is the best decision for our family. Each family has to make this choice for themselves. Don’t let others influence you. Don’t second guess yourself. Although we ALL do! Trust yourself & your family to make this decision for YOU.

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32 Brandie January 19, 2010 at 11:01 pm

I am glad I am not the only parent that agonizes over everything I do or do not do for my kids. Both of my oldest children go to public school. They ride the bus and I worry about them everyday. I spend two days a week at their school one hour each day that I am there in each classroom. I help the K teacher with whatever and I read and do site words with my 1st graders classmates. I know I am probably not doing all I can but I am trying and know that I have my kids best interest in my mind and heart. That is all we can hope for. Hang in there your kids are lucky that you LOVE them so much.

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33 Bailey's Leaf January 19, 2010 at 11:07 pm

We chose public school. 10 years ago, we purchased our modest little home in a neighborhood that is in an excellent part of our city school district.

We don’t regret it. In fact, we believe that her teacher may very well walk on water in her spare time.

Our child has blossomed. Two weeks into kindergarten, she read a book to us. It was a more simple book, but it was the first real book that she read to us by herself.

She is listed as one of the top readers in her class. She is sad if there is no school and gave me a run for my money when school was canceled on a snow day a week and a half ago.

My daughter is on an IEP (Individualized Education Program) for speech therapy. She goes to a speech therapist at school twice a week and part of this is governmentally subsidized. She has made such huge strides in speech! The correction that is in place with her speech in such a quick time is stunning.

I’m not a homeschooling mom. I have nothing against homeschooling moms, but I’m not disciplined enough for it. I work on school work/supplemental work with my daughter as I have for years, but to be soley responsible for her education would cause me to never sleep another night in my life ever again.

Please don’t let other parents unintentionally let you question the choices that you and your husband has made for your children. You give your children wonderful opportunities. Just because you/we don’t send our children to private Christian school doesn’t mean we love them any less or what them to be less close to Christ. I could pinch every last penny that we have and it still wouldn’t be possible for our child to attend private school, period. That’s okay. We love the education that she is receiving and she is doing so well.

I’m sure that Julia is doing/will be doing very well. You are fortunate to have scored her a position in an immersion program that you have really wanted to see her in.

A “free” education doesn’t mean that you are throwing your child to the wolves. You are taking advantage of a perfectly wonderful education for her/them.

Sleep well and know that you are doing a fantastic job.

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34 Barbara H. January 19, 2010 at 11:15 pm

Your friend was just sharing her choices and priorities, probably not implying all that you read into her remarks.

Kids change schools all the time and survive.

The important thing is to seek the Lord and do as He directs and trust Him to keep our children. There is no one correct way for everyone.

Personally, we’ve had our children in Christian schools except for four years where we lived in an area where the Christian schools had problems we didn’t want to put our children into. For me it was not an option to put my child into public school. That’s where I spent most of my education, and there was much I saw and heard that pulled me down spiritually and otherwise. There was a time I would have said that no Christian should put their children in public schools, but I really can’t. In our area we have many Christians who teach in public schools, and I know several Christian parents who have their kids there with much alertness and conversation about what they’re learning when they get home.

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35 Upstatemomof3 January 19, 2010 at 11:35 pm

Oh well I sent my son to school at the public school (because private school is just no an option – even if we could scrounge together enough for my son one day when my girls have to go school it would be impossible). And after three weeks we pulled him out to homeschool him. The teacher was terrible. On the third day of school she taught the kids that anyone who is not white is “different.” When I tried to meet with her and the principal they did not show for the meeting. So we started homeschooling and we love it. It really was the best decision we could have made.

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36 Buckeroomama January 19, 2010 at 11:42 pm

I hear ya! It’s an agonizing decision where to send our children to school. Sometimes our choices are limited by our circumstances and I’m sure we all do the best we can. In university, I’ve had classmates who came from prestigious private schools and some who came from public schools and I’ve seen some from the latter do better than those who’ve had a more privileged education. We just have to trust that we are able to raise our children well (on the home front) that they have the self-esteem and confidence, the work ethic, the discipline, etc. to be successful (in every sense of the word –not just financially) later in life.

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37 Heather January 19, 2010 at 11:58 pm

My children go to a public “choice” school. It is a year-round school and it is smaller than the other elementary schools. A little of both worlds I suppose (public and private). There are advantages and disadvantages of every choice. You just need to figure out what works for your family and not worry about what other people say or think.

I live in Minnesota though, so I know our public schools are fantastic. Not sure about other states, but I’m hoping most are good too.

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38 NerdMom January 20, 2010 at 12:15 am

First off…. that friend who said how they made it priority financially to send their kid to Christian school You just retort how you decided to make it priority to let God lead you no matter where you end up!

That said…. homeschool!!!!!

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39 Vanessa from Portland January 20, 2010 at 12:44 am

Oh my! I’m pretty sure you wrote this post for ME!!! And I thought I was the only one that was so confused about the options for Kindergarten! I have been completely stressing this last year! It’s both a blessing and a source of complete stress that there are so many options!

So far, I’m hoping to send my daughter to public school, and I’m hoping that she’ll get into a language immersion program. The school that I’m looking at has a Spanish Immersion program, but we have to transfer in to the school, and the lottery isn’t open yet.

If she doesn’t get in, I’m not totally sure what we’re going to do! There is an option of keeping her at the preschool she goes to, which offers a Kindergarten class. But honestly, I can’t really afford that. I’m a Single Mom, and I work full time. If I didn’t have the expense of full-day private Kindergarten, it would really help us out.

Sigh….. decisions, decisions!

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40 Krista January 20, 2010 at 1:01 am

I’m sorry this is so hard for you! I hope that “if” something does happen to go “wrong” somewhere down the road you won’t blame your choice of schools for it. You can’t know what will happen in the future and it’s not like you made this decision lightly.

I’ve been reading some various things around the net today and it seems that a common theme is just this: “You can’t please everyone all the time. You have to make the best decision for you and then not be bothered by what other people say.”

Obviously that’s way easier said than done, but for real, I went to a public school and my brother went to a private Christian school. By “Christian” standards I’m the successful one and he’s the flake. Who you are as a parent and how you interact with your children will have more of an affect on them than you think. And being with her cousins will be a priceless lifelong bond. Honestly, how many of us are still good friends with people we knew in high school let along elementary school? But family is forever!

My son is only 2 at this point so we haven’t entirely figured out what we’ll do. But whatever we choose it will be okay. You (kids) can make the best of any situation and if you as the parent are okay with your decision and not second guessing it to the kid they will never know differently!

Plus, I’m all for children’s immersion programs! Good luck to you!

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41 adrian January 20, 2010 at 2:05 am

I am just starting to homeschool my 3 and 4 year olds. It is so much more do-able than I ever imagined. Before I had kids, I never imagined myself doing it, but there are SO many resources available (e.g., buying the lesson plans, etc). A quick internet search helped me realize there are so many groups and activities available for homeschooled children nearby. I just was not aware of them. Raising our kids with our values is too important for us to leave to someone else. They are already blossoming socially and academically. It is very exciting to watch them learn!!

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42 Amy January 20, 2010 at 7:08 am

My kids go to public school. We live in a town of 300, there are roughly 60 or so kids in the entire school, grades prek3-8th grade. There are 2 kids in our 8th grade graduating class and they are hoping to have the high school open this next year so they don’t have to travel to the next small town. We moved here because it was a small school. After living in Dallas/Fort Worth, it HAD to be done.

I have 7 children. My last 2 are still at home. My 2 year old starts all day preK3 this next year and the “baby” starts the year after that. To be quite honest, I am counting down the days! Should you feel guilty? NOPE! I have straight A students who rate in the top 10% consistently on all the stupid government tests. Just because someone spends a small fortune on education does not mean it’s a better education.

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43 Kristi January 20, 2010 at 7:21 am

here in Michigan there is yet another choice…charter schools. Public (tuition free) schools run by independently but following state run guidelines, governed by universities. They are the huge thing and both of my kids attend diffrent charter schools.

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44 Angie January 20, 2010 at 7:31 am

Susan,

I completely understand. Where I live now, my kids go to great schools. But I’m having issues in the home that I want to move, but I don’t want to sacrifice my children’s education. It’s a very hard choice. Where I live is a nice area, but it’s cheap for me. I’m a single mom and I can’t afford what other people can on a two-income budget. If I move somewhere that’s cheaper, I will sacrifice the cost of rent for a more dangerous school.

My daughter has ADHD and it’s so hard to get her additional help – I really wish I could homeschool but I have to work.

As for your situation, I wouldn’t feel guilty – people do what is right for them & we manage. With guidance, children are usually fine, even though their “environments” may not be.

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45 Michelle Cox January 20, 2010 at 7:33 am

I’m sorry you got the “mommy guilt” thing going. I went through something similar a few years ago with my oldest two. I was all ready to enter them into a rather expensive Christian school that feeds into a really good/expensive Christian High School. I’d paid the deposit, done the “faith/testimony” interview before the elders, and enrolled them. At the time, my freelance writing business was doing VERY good and the economy hadn’t tanked. In the end, something happened that made me back out and lose my deposit (long story). I was really sad and worried. Turns out God’s hand was in it all — if I’d enrolled them, I would have had to move them last year because we wouldn’t be able to afford it any longer. God is involved in your situation, too!

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46 Amanda January 20, 2010 at 8:29 am

Right now my son is still in daycare (he’s 3). I never thought I wanted to be a SAHM. What would I do with myself? I know that Ethan is the bright, funny, loving boy he is partly because of the school he is in. He’s been there since he was 6 weeks old and they are like our family.

My struggle may end up not even being a struggle. My husband has the potential to receive a fabulous promotion that could mean that I wouldn’t have to work anymore (yahoo). However, I’m not sure that I want to remove Ethan from his school at this point. And I just can’t justify staying home but sending him (and paying for it) every day.

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47 Mark January 20, 2010 at 8:40 am

Cream rises to the top. I sent my four kids to public school. Every step of the way I kept them ahead of the class by educating them at home. Thats why I developed Rhythm to Read 17 years ago and taught my children at an early age to read so they would be ahead of the curve. Three were top 10 in high school and went to top colleges. One graduating college last year with a 4.0 average, the other 2 maintain 3.94 averages and are freshmen in college – one ivy league. One is still in high school with a straight A average. Make your child the cream at home and he or she will rise to the top of any environment.

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48 MamaB January 20, 2010 at 9:36 am

We are struggling with this right now. Our Public school is less academically rigorous than the pre-K my son is in (and it’s only 2 hours!). I’m not saying my son is advance, but he is very bright and the thought of him being “bored” and not challenged at all in school is terrifying.

We also really want a Christian education for our children however we cannot afford the school with our church. It’s one thing to make it a priority, it’s another thing to steal from your children’s future to pay for the today. We are looking at 2 other schools that are nearby, not local, but good schools. It tears me up that he won’t be going to school with friends, or neighbors but he’s social and we will make new friends. We will do the best we can and pray that we find a way to make it all work out!

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49 Tina January 20, 2010 at 10:34 am

I just read your posting and although I don’t have children I wanted to let you know that I grew up in Christian school all my life. The struggles that children face in Christian school are absolutely the same ones they are going to face in public schools. I discovered the difference is, they are just less talked about in Christian schools (which isn’t a good thing).
I know adults who went to public schools, Christian schools, and were home schooled. The ones who had a strong Christian foundation at home with family love and support succeeded no matter where their education took place and turned into great adults. So as other people have posted, it is about your family life first and foremost and if you provide a strong support system for your children at home, they will succeed no matter where they are placed and it saddens me that you would be so hard on yourself in making that decision. Remember that where your children are now is part of God’s plan and He wants them there and will use them for His purpose!

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50 CaroleM January 20, 2010 at 10:53 am

Susan – you must be looking through the windows into our house (I live quite near to you, so not impossible… ha ha ha). Anyhow, I want to send our kids to the Christian School, but we also won’t know if we can afford it. But I have had that conversation with many people “make it work”. And my parents sent us all to Christian school even through the hardest of times, and they made it work. I think we will as for various reasons I really don’t want my kids to go to the public school. Now the all day vs. half day K thing – I am quite sure people will have a choice as to whether or not to send the kids all or half day. I hear you on the saving on child care costs, but I wonder if my guy will be ready for all day. But at the heart of it – Christian education starts at the home with the parents. So don’t beat yourself up over it. Pray over it, ask God to guide you as you send your child to a public school. Ask for discernment for her as she is challenged with various things over the years, and fear not, the Lord won’t abandon you and your family because they are going to a public school.

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51 Christine Jensen January 20, 2010 at 11:25 am

My 2 cents:

While I don’t know what the public school system is like in Canada I am usually a proponent of public schools. I feel like children get a more well rounded education through the public school system than others. They also are forced to socialize with children who come from different backgrounds. I think that this is a good thing… as adults we have to be able to work with people of all races and religions…why should we train our children to only socialize with one type of person when that is not what real life is like?

There are instances where choosing a private school or homeschool is the obvious choice for your family, but I believe that this is the exception as opposed to the rule.

If you are concerned about a Christian education, or that public school will teach subjects that are contrary to your Christian beliefs, you can combat that by teaching your children Christian topics at home. The home is a wonderful setting for teaching of Christ.

As for the French Immersion program vs the regular public school, I say go for it! If we had that option here in Utah, I would have tried to get my children in as well! A 2nd language is such an asset these days.

Good luck. We can agonize over our choices, or move forward with them! Agonizing gets us nowhere, while moving forward is the right direction. Have faith in yourself as a mother to your child. Nobody knows your children better than you!

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52 Trish January 20, 2010 at 12:20 pm

Many good comments above, so I’ll just throw out one question that occurred to me as I was reading the account of this conversation with the other mom….

Why would you want to pay to send her to Christian school so she can learn to be “cliquish”, exactly?

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53 Angie January 20, 2010 at 12:40 pm

As a Christian mom of 5, I’ve battled this own question over and over… and over. My husband and I used to have completely different views on this. You see, I was raised in Christian school. I started preschool there when I was 2, and graduated from a Christian high school. It’s all I ever knew. My husband, however, only went to public school. To him, Christian school kids were stuck up and snotty, and he never saw the need to have kids in Christian school. After all, Christian kids can get into trouble no matter where there are, just like “regular” kids.

When we were married, I had a daughter that was 5 and starting kindergarten. We decided to put her in public school. I spent the next 6 years fighting school board after school board over so many “issues” that I had with the schools. (In one instance, in her 5th grade class, boys were looking up p0rn on the internet during computer class. There was no reprimanding, and even after that, kids were still allowed to access anything they wanted on the computer. I had never signed any kind of a release to allow my daughter to use the computer, and I was angry.) My husband’s eyes were opened, and we started looking into Christian schools.

Where we live, we have ONE local Christian school, and it would cost over $600/month to send my 2 oldest there. Even if we lived off of bread and water, and gave up electricity, we still couldn’t afford to send the kids there.

So, we decided to start homeschooling. We’re in our second year now, and I LOVE it. I get to spend tons of time with my kids, I get to teach them, and it all has a Biblical foundation.

Maybe after hubby’s job promotion we’ll be able to afford the Christian school. But, for now, homeschooling works for us, and we’ll keep at it.

There are positives and negatives to every choice. You just need to find what works for you and go for it! Your daughter has YOU as a role model. Teach her what’s right, and she’s thrive no matter where she goes to school.

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54 Jessie January 20, 2010 at 12:42 pm

I am lucky to be home with our girls now so I am in a different situation with our options. However, we can not afford the awesome Christian school or any other school that requires us to pay to go there. I put her in preschool a few days a week now but next year when she has to go all day every day I am not so sure. We put our name in a lottery for a really great charter school in our area but if we don’t get picked I think that I will keep her home with me and see where we are when she is ready to enter 1st grade. Like some of the pp’s that I read have many homeschooling families in our area.
Best of luck to you!

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55 Kelli January 20, 2010 at 1:05 pm

We are a bit eclectic. :-) My husband is a teacher in the public school system. :-) My middle boy attends public school, my oldest is homeschooled, and the baby will most likely attend a Christian preschool next year.

We have chosen these as the best fits for our children. :-) Tripp has a pretty high IQ and several other “issues”. Being home in a controlled environment seems to work best for him and he doesn’t have to wait on other kids to catch up to him before he can learn more.

Zack is your typical, average, boy. He thrives in the public school environment and I can’t imagine putting him elsewhere.

Tank is a class clown. He would rather play than do anything. I think he needs one-on-one time, but he also needs to learn to play well with others. I think the small Christian School will be a great fit for his personality.

You can only do what YOU think is best!

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56 Idaho Jill January 20, 2010 at 1:54 pm

Wow, the French Immersion school sounds wonderful – I sure wish we had something like that here!

We are trying to decide between private and public, too. My husband doesn’t want to send her to public school, but private is too expensive. I figured we both turned out fine and we went to public…but, who knows. We’ll see!

Don’t make yourself crazy about your decision – like lots of other people have said, it’s a very personal decision & you have to do what’s best for your family – you know you are raising your kids right at home, and isn’t that all we can do as parents?

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57 Kelli January 20, 2010 at 2:45 pm

I have struggled with this same decision. My son is in public school right now and I wonder constantly if it’s the right decision. Should we send our kids to Christian school. But, like you, that isn’t really an option for us financially. We could make it work, but the sacrifice would outweigh the benefits, in my opinion. I’ve prayed over homeschooling a lot. Part of me longs to try homeschooling, but so far my husband and I neither one have felt God giving us the freedom to do that.

So each morning I put my son on the school bus with a prayer and a blessing. We are trusting that the Lord has placed this in our lives for a reason and are teaching our kids to be leaders and examples to the world around them.

It is a tough decision and it’s not one to be taken lightly. But we each have to do what we feel God has placed in our lives. He does not call us all to the same thing.

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58 Lena January 20, 2010 at 5:28 pm

My daughter started kindergarten in public school, and I think it was a right decision for us. A lot of it depends on the child, their personality and learning style. I come to volunteer in her classroom once a week and see a lot of kids who are behind because they don’t get enough 1-on-1 attention that they really need. Those kids would do so much better if they were homeschooled.

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59 Jennifer January 20, 2010 at 7:15 pm

She’ll be fine. As a teacher, I can confidently say that. She’ll find the friends who make her feel secure and confident. She’ll experience the things in life that will make her the person you’d want her to be.
MOST of this will happen because of her parents, not her friends or her school.
After 13 years I can say that parents are the BIGGEST factor I’ve seen in a child’s success – socially, emotionally and academically.
Best of luck!

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60 Rachel January 20, 2010 at 8:42 pm

I’m sorry that your Church friend put that guilt on you. Every family has to make their own choices in this area that are right for them – I truly don’t think that there is a right answer for everyone!!

There are kids that come out of ALL school choices great, and there are others that come out of ALL school choices awful. There is no magic solution! We just have to pray, ask God what is best for our kids, and keep praying!

Don’t worry – I’m sure she’ll do great!!!

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61 Angela January 21, 2010 at 12:02 pm

I’m feeling this very guilt right now. My 5 year old is in Kindergarten and my 7 year old in first grade, both have been in the same Catholic private school since Pre-K. Next year, we are switching to the public school – we can’t afford the tuition (we DID go into debt and need to get out of it) and my son has special needs that can only be met in public school with an IEP now. We hope to put them back for middle school because we are zoned for an awful middle school but I worry there too for that very reason above “But, it can be difficult to integrate them in at that age. High-school is so difficult and even if it is a Christian school, kids are still cliquish especially when they’ve been together since the beginning.”” I feel no matter what I do I’m screwing up royally.

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62 Nancy January 21, 2010 at 2:27 pm

We teach our 3 kids at home, 2 of them through a public school Virtual Academy that is offered in our state and about 15 others, and 1 we homeschool in the traditional way (independent of the public school system.) This works very well for us, we decided to homeschool our one child independently because he has some learning difficulties and wanted to individualize the curriculum, the pace, and the number of subjects for him. I love that the Virutal Academies take out a great amount of the record keeping and prep work away for me. We are able to supplement the materials they give us with Christian materials as well.

It is not without its difficulties, and we have talked about our other options, but every year we come back to this because it works for us.

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63 Magee Mommy January 21, 2010 at 4:48 pm

I’m hoping to get to homeschool our little one and send him once or twice a week to a private school for things I can’t teach(music lol).

I heard a speaker (Lisa Smartt) at a MOPS meeting regarding feeling mommy guilt from pressure from others. She said of all the people in the world, these children were given to you by God for a reason. So whatever choices you make for them, as long as you’re doing your best to follow God, has to be the best choices for your children. He doesn’t make mistakes and He didn’t make a mistake giving you your children.

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64 Karla January 21, 2010 at 11:37 pm

The school decision has been agonizing for me/us. We have a 5 and 3 yr. old. I stay at home with the girls and have made all neccesary cutbacks so I could do this. I have wanted to homeschool for years but my 5 yr. old and I can’t seem to make it work pleasantly together. We looked into Christian schools but were too far to drive. Our local schools are a Catholic school and a public school. Since we aren’t Catholic, my husband didn’t really like that choice and I just couldn’t do public (for personal reasons). So we are making homeschooling work for this year (and it has gotten better recently) and will see what happens next year. I am wondering if there are any thoughts on this question I have? Once both kids are in school, do I get a job to pay for tution (as long as I was home for them after school) or do I continue to stay home and quite possibly not be able to send them to a christian school?

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65 Miche January 22, 2010 at 9:36 am

OH don’t let that other mom make you feel guilty-what works for one family won’t work for another. I have a few friends digging themselves into crazy dept to go to private school, for my family, creating that much dept is crazy and not an option, even if we did eat ramen all week.

Anyways, I am going through the debate of preschool for our oldest-he misses the cut off for school, so all his friends will start kindergarten in two years, but he won’t start for 3 years. BUT all his friends are doing preschool this year-but if we do, then we will end up doing two years of preschool. Anyways, not sure what we are going to do this fall. No matter what, we parents will all wonder how it will be or what is best, until everything gets underway and we realize everything is fine. :)

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66 Forgetfulone January 23, 2010 at 1:10 am

I’m a teacher in public school, and I can’t afford private school, although I don’t know if I would choose that for my kids if I could. Maybe. A smaller learning environment would be nice. But they would miss the whole junior high/high school experience with big-time sports, bands, and so on. There is peer pressure in Christian schools and kids who do drugs just like in public schools. The key is to teach our children what we think are important values so when they are confronted with situations, and they will be, regardless of the school we choose, they will hopefully make the right decisions.

I could not home school my own children. I don’t have enough patience. I have the knowledge to take them through junior high, but I couldn’t teach high school math or science. Literature and history are my areas of expertise. Of course, I can’t afford to stay home with them, either, so that won’t work.

My twins are already age 13, 8th grade, going off to the big high school next year, which is scary for me and probably for them, too. But, I’ve taught them as best I could, and I pray they will continue to make good friends and choose wisely.

I teach in public schools, and we are looked down on, but there are so many good things about it as well. Public school is more like the real world, the global community, that our children will deal with in their careers.

There is no one right choice. I feel good about the school my kids go to. I live in a decent neighborhood so my kids can attend a decent school. If I could afford private school, I might consider it. The church I attend is connected to a school. Two of the pastors attend there, and one goes to public school. Again, there just isn’t one right choice. Sorry I’m babbling. This is a really hot topic!

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67 Forgetfulone January 23, 2010 at 1:12 am

I meant two of the pastor’s sons go to their private school and one goes to public school.

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68 Lorie Shewbridge January 24, 2010 at 11:49 am

Susan,
I completely agree with what Tarasview said. You thought your decision through and based on your family’s need and finances you made your choice. Don’t let the other mothers who think they are better than you or “more Christian” make you feel bad or give you “mommy guilt”. My telling you what I did or where my children went to school makes no difference because that is what was right for MY family. You need to do what is right for YOUR family.
You know in your heart what decision is best for your beautiful daughter and you will be there for her to make sure she is doing OK. And THAT is the MOST important thing after all.
Good luck!!

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69 Rebecca Miller January 25, 2010 at 10:55 pm

We made it a matter of prayer. Father in heaven knows what is best for our kids.

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70 Stephanie January 26, 2010 at 4:11 pm

Such a tough decision…but that immersion program sounds AMAZING! I wish there were more second language options like that here in the US. I’d love to get our girls into a program like that.

At the moment, our girls are 10-months-old and 3-years-old so we haven’t made any decisions yet, but…we’re leaning toward homeschooling for the first few years.

Best wishes to you!

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71 LizzieB March 19, 2010 at 5:59 am

Ohhhhh, Susan I feel your pain Sista! Living and raising a family in San Francisco, California is ridiculously expensive and the public schools here aren’t the best. The ones that are – are only available thru lottery. It’s sad but city statistics show that most families leave San Francisco when their children start Kindergarten because there aren’t enough affordable options. There are excellent private and parochial schools here but they’re difficult to get into and insanely expensive – the prices would shock you. I’d say the one thing my husband and I decided when we got married was to start saving for our daughters education. We knew we wanted to live in the city so we’d have to plan for it. Believe me it hasn’t been easy – cutting corners and sticking to a budget but it’s a decision we made a long time ago and we’re sticking to it.
The reality is – I can let self doubt creep in too once in a while and it makes you crazy. I wonder if we should be spending this much for an elementary education. Will she be exposed to children who have wayyyyy more than we’ll ever have? All you can do – is your best and pray a lot. I pray daily that I’m making the right choices and decision for my daughters and that if changes need to be made along the way – we’ll do what we have to do.

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