help me pick a school! - Mothering Forums
View Poll Results: Which school should we go to?
Option 1 -- public school 7 58.33%
Option 2 -- progressive private school 5 41.67%
Voters: 12. You may not vote on this poll

Learning at School > help me pick a school!
sarahr's Avatar sarahr 02:21 PM 11-11-2010

We're struggling with what to do with our dd next year, who will turn 5 shortly after school starts.


Option 1 is kindergarten in our local public school. It's a "fine" school -- well supported and attended by the community, active parent body, good test scores. Very traditional in instruction -- I observed a kindergarten class for about 30-45 minutes one morning, and the kids were sitting the entire time, mostly with the teacher "lecturing" and very little (but some) participation. Kids in kindergarten only go outside once a day (it's full day) and there is no music, or science (although the principal claims that all those things are done with the classroom teacher). They do go to art, although I can't remember how often. Large class sizes -- in K, one teacher with 22 kids, in upper grades one teacher with 25-26 kids. We live half a block away.


Option 2 is kindergarten or pre-k (our choice) at a private, progressive school. I just visited today, and it's everything I would want a kindergarten to be -- lots of time outside, lots of free choice, toys and blocks and dolls and art in the classroom, time spent in science, "creative movement," art, music. The rest of the school is also progressive, but I didn't focus as much on what that means in the upper grades (it goes through 8th). Small class sizes. The downsides: it's expensive (although we can handle it, with the help of willing grandparents, but there is likely little socioeconomic diversity) and it's 45 minutes away by school bus, so long commute to/from school and friends will likely live far away.


There are other private schools closer to home, but none are as good -- or as different from the public school -- as the school in option 2.

ananas's Avatar ananas 02:35 PM 11-11-2010

I would probably give Option #2 a try just to see how it works out. It sounds great! Do you think DD will be able to handle a 45 minute ride to/from school each day?

tatermom's Avatar tatermom 05:55 PM 11-11-2010

I'm picking the public school because I can't imagine a kindergartner on a bus for 45 min each way, at least not if there is a closer alternative-- and there is, the school that's half a block away which seems to have a solid, if uncreative, program.  If I were you I would give the public school a try-- I think there are wonderful benefits to the sense of community you'd get out of being at the local school, and you may get a great K teacher who really does incorporate all of those things you want into the classroom.  It's hard to tell what the K program is really like from a 30-45 min observation.  What do the other local parents think of the school?  Personally I'd be very hesitant to head straight for the expensive, far away private school without even giving the school that's practically next door a try, especially if you've heard good things about it.

Llyra's Avatar Llyra 08:00 AM 11-12-2010

I picked the public school.  A full day of kindergarten was exhausting for my DD1, even with our only five-minute bus ride.   90 minutes on a bus each day is too long, IMO, unless there's some very serious reason to avoid the public school. 

Linda on the move's Avatar Linda on the move 08:43 AM 11-12-2010

why not drive to the second school?


The second school sounds a little like the school my kids go to. We also have an animal center, a green house, pottery kiln, darkroom, etc.  It's amazing. The youngest children are 5 and it goes through grade 12. It is absolutely wonderful for my kids and it's having an impact on how they are turning out.


There is some socio-economic diversity. All the families are doing OK, but some families are obviously well off and some families are making real sacrifices to have their kids there. It's less than at some public schools, including the one my kids went to last year, but it's still there. I suspect that there is some diversity at the school you are looking at. I'd also ask what they do for community service, which is stressed at the school my kids attend.


However, there is more neuro-diversity. By that I mean that there are more kids with mild special needs such as high functioning autism, for whom traditional school was a bad fit. What kids learn about diversity is more.....real. It's personal. There is a 6 to 1 student teacher ratio and "socialization" is considered important. Working together is important.


We live 5 minutes from the school (we moved to be close to it) but some of the kids live an hour away. My 12 year olds best friend at school is one of the kids who lives an hour away, so they don't see each other outside of school, which is too bad, but it's still the best school for my DD, and her friend, and her friend's 5 year old brother (who is highly gifted), and my older DD who has Asperger's. And the kids all know each other. There is a connectness with kids of different ages and abilities that is sweet to see.

sarahr's Avatar sarahr 08:54 AM 11-12-2010

Thanks for the feedback, everyone. Keep it coming!


It's not practical to drive her to school, at least every day. We would get caught in heavy traffic on the way home, and that much car time isn't fair to the baby. Not to mention I don't think I could get everyone, including the baby, ready to get out of the house that early (it's still half an hour, even by car). But maybe we could carpool, if there are families close by.


It would be a long day, which is one of my main concerns. I would hope that some of that long-ness is off-set by the ample outside time and free choice time, but it's certainly not ideal. There's also rest time if we choose to put her in pre-k.


At the public school, she would be the youngest kid in the class, which I worry makes its expectations even more difficult. But it is a great community that *I* would like to be a part of.

LuckyMommaToo's Avatar LuckyMommaToo 08:59 AM 11-12-2010

I voted public school. I would at least give it a try for a year.If it's not a good fit, the private will still be there. We go to our public, which is 8 blocks away (and has even larger class sizes than yours). We LOVE the community. DS sees kids from school everywhere we go, and it makes him so happy. I feel like I'm finally building the village I've needed.


Linda on the move's Avatar Linda on the move 09:26 AM 11-12-2010

Originally Posted by sarahr View Post
But it is a great community that *I* would like to be a part of.

that's really huge.


School feeling like community is wonderful.

ollyoxenfree's Avatar ollyoxenfree 09:30 AM 11-12-2010


I voted progressive private, but I was assuming that both choices are full day kindy.


If the public is half-day, then I would try it, and use the extra money and time for lots of activities and outings on our own. 


It also depends on the child. The public kindy doesn't sound too attractive but for some children it would be a complete disaster. Others would do fine. 


sarahr's Avatar sarahr 03:04 PM 11-12-2010

We just walked up to the playground at the public school in option 1. We go there a lot, since it's so close. We got there shortly after school was getting out and there were tons of parents standing around talking while their kids played. Is it terrible that I want that for *me* even if the school isn't the best fit for *dd*? Clearly, dd is going to school, not me, but how much do my needs/wants get to count?

LynnS6's Avatar LynnS6 12:48 PM 11-13-2010

How many kids your daughter's age are there in the neighborhood? How many go to the local school and how many go to private schools? Our neighborhood is about 1/2 and 1/2 so the kids do socialize outside of school (OK mostly during the summer). But it is hard having kids in different schools. What would your dd do for playdates? Where do the families in the private school come from? Can you drive her to playdates? Would she feel like an outsider in the neighborhood?


My vote is for the local public school because you don't know that it wouldn't meet her needs. The other school sounds cool, but the expense and the distance would make it a non-starter for me. I would however, work on getting the local public school to increase the amount of time in recess. My kids go to our local public school and they have recess 2x during the day. 3x if you count the 20 minutes before school. That's true for K, 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th (I don't know about 5th as we haven't gotten there yet). That time is crucial for kids to get their brains cleared and learn better.

Linda on the move's Avatar Linda on the move 03:35 PM 11-13-2010

Originally Posted by sarahr View Post

 Clearly, dd is going to school, not me, but how much do my needs/wants get to count?

Your needs/wants get to count a little, but it is mostly about her. I'd focus on WHY the local school would be a good fit for her.  Lots of play dates, being part of the community, etc. is really big FOR HER. Don't discount it. It sounds like it would be easier for you to be involved in school, which most kids really like. What would your family do with the money saved? Would that money be spent in ways that would be good FOR HER?


Besides, if the public school doesn't work for her once she's there, you will feel differently about it. Public school worked fine for one of my kids. She's an easy child who can blossom in any decent situation. We only sought out alternatives because my other child needed something different.


Give it a try, see what happens. It's possible she'll be quite happy there.

sarahr's Avatar sarahr 12:53 PM 09-01-2011

After spending more time in our local public kindergarten, we decided that it wasn't right for our daughter at all. So, we chose the farther-away progressive school. It's only been 2 days, but so far my daughter absolutely loves it! She's made a good friend, who happens to live really close to us, and absolutely loves the bus ride. We'll reevaluate next year, when I think she's more age appropriate for kindergarten (she's in pre-k now), but right now it was a good choice.