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How do you know your child is better off? - Page 2

post #21 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by karne View Post
 The private school needed the parent's tuition, which definitely inhibited asking kids with discipline issues to leave.  On the other hand, my middle schooler's public school has a fairly cut and dried behavioral policy.  Everyone is aware of the boundaries.  I may not always agree with what happens, but I appreciate the clarity because it makes for a safer feeling for my child..

 


private schools are hurting right now, and I can see how it could effect things at some schools. I volunteer at my kids' school 2 afternoons a week, so I see how problems are handled and I'm VERY happy with administration.

 

Every single school is different and there are so many things to consider. I feel very fortunate to have a wonderful option for my kids.

 

post #22 of 36
Thread Starter 

Thank you everyone for the thoughtful replies. I know it's not as simple as public vs. private, I guess I was asking more about whether or not you feel private school is worth the expense, but even that is kind of unanswerable.

 

I'm leaning towards something like Montessori, because I like the philosophy, but the hard part for me is actually believing that every teacher in the school practices what they preach. I guess from working in the schools I've become sort of jaded, so I don't necessarily trust someplace that looks great on the outside.

 

I believe that DH and I are most likely going to provide the kind of "lessons" that we want DS to learn, and if I wasn't so interested in giving him a rich social atmosphere I would consider homeschooling. I agree with pp who have said that they find the social aspect of school to be the most important.

post #23 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrs.t View Post

 

I'm leaning towards something like Montessori, because I like the philosophy, but the hard part for me is actually believing that every teacher in the school practices what they preach. I guess from working in the schools I've become sort of jaded, so I don't necessarily trust someplace that looks great on the outside.

 

 

 

You are correct, not every teacher will practice what they preach or implement the philosophy and methods of a particular school. I believe that the teacher is a very important factor in the learning environment, but the school can help teachers be good educators. If you choose a school that generally has a philosophy you like, and the administration sets the right tone, hires teachers who "fit", provides the right infrastructure to them, and supports them in these practices, it's more likely that you will be happy, And if you aren't happy, it's more likely that you can persuade the administration to help you and your dc. Not always, of course. There are stories about schools that say one thing but practice another. But there are also stories of teachers who are dismissed because they aren't abiding by the school's principles and policies. 

 

To get beyond outside looks, you need to get the inside information - from other families, students and graduates, and from speaking to staff, visiting the classrooms, going to school events, etc. Since you''ve worked in schools, you are a little ahead of the game, since you can probably do a good job evaluating the "sales pitch" against what you actually observe when you visit. 

 

 

post #24 of 36
It's not just the school, either. It also has a lot to do with how the whole picture of family life would be affected. For example, I am absolutely confident that a certain private school near us would be the best "fit" for my kids. But for them to go there, we would have to divert so many resources to making it happen. It would cost so much money that we would have to cut back on a lot of the enriching things we do as a family, for example. It would introduce a lot of stress into the household, by putting too much of a strain on our finances. Furthermore, it's farther away, and the day is longer, and there's no transportation, so we would spend a lot of time in the car going back and forth from the school, for the regular day, and for special events, and probably to visit friends the kids made, too, since the kids who go there are spread over a wide geographical area. Finally, the children who go there are almost universally of the same racial and ethnic group, and almost universally upper-middle to upper class, and we would likely be the "poorest" family in the school, which I think could lead to discontent with our own circumstance; plus, I'd like my kids to have the chance to know people from a wider range of circumstances.

So we went for the neighborhood public school. And while it's not perfect, we accept the warts because of all the good things there are. It's a good, caring environment. The academics are acceptable, and I feel like the enrichment we're able to give the kids outside of school will make up for what it lacks. The values aren't always consistent with ours, but that offers us lots of chances to talk about why we believe what we believe, and how we live it. So I'm satisfied. And every year, we take a look at the situation, and decide whether to make a change.

For me, the key was realizing that a school is only one part of the many influences that shape a child's growth, and that "good enough" was fine by me. It didn't have to be perfect.
post #25 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Llyra View Post

For me, the key was realizing that a school is only one part of the many influences that shape a child's growth, and that "good enough" was fine by me. It didn't have to be perfect.


Perfectly said.  I think sometimes we tend to segregate "education" from the rest of our DCs lives, when really (I think) education is a combination of many things (parental, school, extra-curricular stuff, individual exploration, etc.).  I think finding a balance between all is key to lifelong love of learning.   
 

 

post #26 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by CatsCradle View Post




Perfectly said.  I think sometimes we tend to segregate "education" from the rest of our DCs lives, when really (I think) education is a combination of many things (parental, school, extra-curricular stuff, individual exploration, etc.).  I think finding a balance between all is key to lifelong love of learning.   
 

 


Yes. That's why we've always looked for schools that welcome family and community participation. I've found that if parents and community members are contributing to school life and the school is involved in the surrounding community, then a positive learning atmosphere is almost guaranteed.

 

 

 

 

post #27 of 36

The private school my kids go to requires a 3 day visit for a student who is thinking about attending. It's really wonderful. At the end of the visit, the child talks to the administrator about the school, what they liked and didn't, whether or not they can learn there, etc. Then when the parent comes to pick up the child on the last day, there is another meeting with the parent to discuss whether or not the school seems to be a good fit for the child.

 

I don't know why this isn't the norm, but if I were checking out schools again, I would request something like this. With hindsight, I think it's silly to think we can select schools by reading their website and taking a 20 minute tour.

 

On the "is private school worth the money" question, it wasn't for us until we ruled out the other options. It is a big chunk of our budget, and many private schools have extra expenses not listed. The fundraisers are higher dollar than public school fundraisers, and our field trip expenses top $100 many months. I'd ask how much additional money you can expect to spend and various ages at the school. 

 

We love the school and it is totally worth the money for our family. We feel very blessed that we can make it happen for our kids.

post #28 of 36

It would really depend mostly on the schools and a little on the kids. I say it that way because some schools really are good with all kids, but sometimes, even the best schools have short fallings in some specific areas. Where I grew up, the public schools were definitely the best. Where I live now, the public schools are rotten, even the top ranked ones, the private are better. But I cannot say the private are that much better, but they are.

post #29 of 36

Okay, I confess, I just skimmed this thread, but I agree with the general sentiment I saw many posters reflect — it depends on the fit with the child and your family.  OP, your little guy is so young now it's hard to know if he'll be a bookworm type or a social butterfly who wants to be involved in tons of groups and clubs, much less what kind of educational philosophy will best fit him.

 

My kids go to a project-based private school that is a good fit for them, especially my dd1 who can be a challenging kid temperamentally. My younger dd, though, could thrive just about anywhere. She's there because big sis is.

 

Think about it like food choices. Some people like spicy things and some people don't. Some people live for chocolate and some people prefer savory. Your little guy is not really big enough now for you to know what style will work best for him. You can make some choices, a balanced meal with plenty of fruits and veggies and enough protein might be important to you, but as he gets older you'll know if he likes his veggies and fruit and protein all plain and not touching vs a fancy paella or casserole.

 

For our kids a project-based approach in a more fluid school environment has been the best fit. We know folks who left, though, to find more structure and rigidity which worked better for their kids.

 

I don't think there's any one best choice. In our area we're fortunate to have a huge variety of excellent schools with many varying philosophies. Some are private, some public and some public charter. We also have a wonderful supportive homeschooling community. The best fit for my kids is not going to be the best fit for everyone any more than my favorite dish to eat is going to be my neighbor's favorite.

 

 

 

 

post #30 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by ollyoxenfree View Post



 

You are correct, not every teacher will practice what they preach or implement the philosophy and methods of a particular school. I believe that the teacher is a very important factor in the learning environment, but the school can help teachers be good educators. If you choose a school that generally has a philosophy you like, and the administration sets the right tone, hires teachers who "fit", provides the right infrastructure to them, and supports them in these practices, it's more likely that you will be happy, And if you aren't happy, it's more likely that you can persuade the administration to help you and your dc. Not always, of course. There are stories about schools that say one thing but practice another. But there are also stories of teachers who are dismissed because they aren't abiding by the school's principles and policies. 

 

To get beyond outside looks, you need to get the inside information - from other families, students and graduates, and from speaking to staff, visiting the classrooms, going to school events, etc. Since you''ve worked in schools, you are a little ahead of the game, since you can probably do a good job evaluating the "sales pitch" against what you actually observe when you visit. 

Now

 

yeahthat.gif

 

We really hit it off with the director of DD's school and after talking with her the first time almost all our doubts were washed away.  Then after meeting her in person, visiting the school, and having DD there for a couple of weeks I can just say that everything fits very well with what we saw from the director initially.  She's definitely hired staff that fit her philosophy, which is great for us since we definitely see eye-to-eye.  
 

If you're interested in Montessori check out the subforum and there are some great questions in there to ask schools to see if they are a real Montessori school or not.  Like PPs have said, you've worked with schools so you'll probably have a leg up on finding the right environment for your child.

 

As for a private being worth its money... DH and I are of the belief that if the school fits it's worth your money.  We place a lot of value on education (we're both academics...) so we'd rather pay more for school than say, having a fancy car or a large house.  We'd much rather cut back on food costs, avoid hiring a babysitter, not travel as much etc.  Some people make different choices and that's ok.  It really comes down to what your priorities are for your family.  As a whole our family puts finding passion in your work as a very, very high priority (we've traveled the world, taken very low paying jobs etc to find jobs we're passionate about) and we feel a Montessori school will give DD the best environment to do just that so we don't mind the high price tag.  It doesn't come without sacrifices.  At the moment we don't have a car, so we have to rely on public transport, which certainly adds to our travel time.  We also have an apt that's furnished only with the very, very bare necessities because we haven't had a chance to buy the other furniture yet (we just recently moved).  However, those are OUR choices and we're happy with them.  You have to decide for yourself as a family what sacrifices you're willing to make. 

post #31 of 36

I think Montessori is great for some kids, but I would really caution on absolutely deciding on it while your little guy is just 1. I mean, I'm all for you trying out a Montessori preschool, etc, and seeing how that goes, but I'd caution against deciding that the firm path for your child will be Montessori thru grade 8 or something. It might be the perfect fit, but I've known folks who although as parents they were pleased with the Montessori school their child was attending it didn't meet their child's needs. The "work at your own pace" thing can be great for some kids and really not great for others. This is absolutely nothing against Montessori, btw. It's just like I was saying about my kids' project-based school. It works great for them, but not so great for some kids who have left for more structured environments.

 

Listen to your child and to your intuition (and to your wallet).

post #32 of 36

I agree with Beanma that Montessori can be great if it is the right fit for your child.  My DD is in her third and final year at Montessori, and while we thought it was an excellent approach in her preschool years, it is time for her to move into a different learning environment.  As she matures we need to be flexible in the approach. 

post #33 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by CatsCradle View Post

I agree with Beanma that Montessori can be great if it is the right fit for your child.  My DD is in her third and final year at Montessori, and while we thought it was an excellent approach in her preschool years, it is time for her to move into a different learning environment.  As she matures we need to be flexible in the approach. 



Can I ask why you think that? I really don't know much about Montessori but have several friends who are very happy with the elem school. I've been debating about moving my youngest (current 1st grader) there for next year for a variety of reasons. I haven't looked into it much so would be interested to hear opinions.

post #34 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by lindberg99 View Post





Can I ask why you think that? I really don't know much about Montessori but have several friends who are very happy with the elem school. I've been debating about moving my youngest (current 1st grader) there for next year for a variety of reasons. I haven't looked into it much so would be interested to hear opinions.


It is just the nature of the specific school and not Montessori specifically.  The school goes through 8th grade level but on average the school only has, at most, 4 kids in the elementary to middle school level age group.  The four or so kids are great kids and I understand that they are all close and work well together.  We are more interested, however, in presenting DD with a little more diversity (cultural, ideas, whatever) and I think that her new school will present her with a wider spectrum of people.  And, while we have had great experiences at this particular Montessori, they do tend to recycle projects and events year after year and we think it is time to move on.  Don't get me wrong, we have loved it, but like I said in my previous post, we have tried to remain flexible about the process and feel it is the right time to move her into something else.  We also travel an hour by subway and bus in both directions to get to and from school, and the new school is in our neighborhood.  Travelling like this in the winter months has been a little stressful and de-stressing DD's day is one of the factors.  So again, the decision has been very subjective. 
 

 

post #35 of 36

Well I don't know if my child is better off because we haven't really started yet, but just wanted to offer a couple thoughts.  We've just been through the kindergarten selection process for September.

 

When DD was 2 or so I was exactly where you are...thinking OMG there are so.many. choices and a lot of people just seem like they're married to a particular philosophy and all other philosophies are terrible.  And then there's the idea of a good 'fit' with school admin and teachers, which you're not going to be able to tell that until practically the day of.

 

With a toddler it isn't really apparent what your child's abilities and learning styles will be.  With my four year old, some things have become pretty clear!  I've noticed over the past couple of years that she is extremely interested in letters, numbers and reading and has nearly taught herself to read from TV and video games - which are limited to 30 min/day and she doesn't always watch the educational stuff.  I also notice she isn't especially visual, isn't as interested or creative with drawing as some kids, but is very musical and sings on tune.  She's done really well with structured activities like swimming lessons and dance.  She is social and extraverted and won't get lost in the crowd no matter what crowd it is.  That's a lot of information to work with that you just don't have when the child is that young!  I realize you need to start some things, like Montessori, very young, but that gives you plenty of time to test it out and see if YOU think your child is better off before you commit to a kindergarten.  Even after kindergarten, if it doesn't work out, you can always decide to change it up then.

 

That said - it's a very, very good idea to do your research early and get on the waiting lists well in advance.  For certain private schools in town you need to be signed up practically from birth.  You can always pull your name off if you change your mind as your child gets older.

post #36 of 36

The choice of school types can be about a lot more than simply which school "works better" (Our kids started with a small alternative private, home schooled and are now in public school).  For example, especially living in a rural community, we also considered which type of school was fostering more of a sense of community.  How much time spent commuting to school can influence a lot about how you feel about a school, as can whether costs of education are leaving you feeling financially stressed.  There's also the matter of how much and what sort of parental involvement is involved.  Homeschooling obviously requires a different kind of involvement, but some private schools do, too.  Then beyond these issues there's differences between schools of the same type. A large, busy city school would not have suited either of my sons (daughter probably would have been fine either way) but we have a small school and class sizes where we live, and lots of active, hands-on programming, so public school is working for us.  Most importantly, the teachers make a huge difference.  We had nightmarishly poor relations with my eldest's grade three teacher before moving where we are now (in a public school at the time) no matter what efforts we took, then he thrived under a different teacher in the public school out here.  There's way too many variables for this to be a cut and dry kind of thing!

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