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#1 of 36 Old 03-27-2011, 10:39 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Let me start by saying I'm not challenging anyone's education decisions, nor am I trying to start a debate. I have a genuine curiosity about how to decide what kind of education is "best" for my DS. He is barely one year old, but already the idea of choosing a school for him is daunting. There are local montessori schools, as well as a few other private schools, and numerous public schools in the area. The closest public school is said to be one of the better schools in my neighborhood, so I figured we would just send him there. However, after really thinking about my own experience (I work in a public school in the special ed district) and my own schooling, I came to the conclusion that it's really the teacher/administrators in any given school that set the general tone.

 

So my question is this: Do you feel that private school provides a better education than a public school would have? By better, I mean respecting your child's own talents and cultivating them? I have a nephew in montessori who seems to be doing fine, but he doesn't really seem to love or be overly involved in school. I have a niece in public school who thrives; she is in chorus, drama, and has tons of friends, is in arista, etc., and she loves it. I know it depends on the particular child, but my concern is that private schools may not offer a ton of things to get involved in, whereas the public schools around here do. I don't really place a lot of value on what the public schools teach, because they tend to teach for the standardized tests. I am presuming that private schools don't do this, but I'm sure many of you can correct me if I am wrong.

 

I really have thought about what kind of education I want my son to receive, and I just want him to be able to pursue his own interests without feeling like he has to be good at everything. If we are encouraging that kind of learning at home, does it even matter where he goes to school, since we aren't the kind of parents who are going to demand he get straight A's in every subject?


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#2 of 36 Old 03-27-2011, 11:47 AM
 
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I have a 10 and 14 year old (5th and 9th grade.) We've been through all sorts of academic and schooling situations. We're confident that the kids are getting what they need to grow and be happy. Does that mean I always think they are getting "the best" all around. No. Not really. For us, it's been about knowing our children and prioritizing what is most important for them individually.

 

For my DD (14) the local public school was the best place for her. It was the school that was most flexible and willing to try many different techniques to give her both a good education and lesson the feelings of iscolation her abilities tend to cause. The private schools we interviewed looked much better on paper but they didn't want to offer my DD the individualized education she needed along with an environment she was comfortable in. DD is now in a high school performing arts magnet. It offers "enough" academically but I know she could be getting better quality in a different school. However, the opportunity to share a campus entirely filled with kids who share here passions and understand/support her has been remarkable.

 

DS (10) is also in a public school but it's a specialty tri-lingual school. We really wanted DS to have an education that didn't allow him to compare himself to DD easily. It's really fit his particular needs very well. We didn't even consider the private route for him because we knew this would suit him (I was part of the founding group and so we got to tailor to what we wanted for the most part.)

 

Whether a private school teaches to the test or not depends on the school. Some absolutely do. Others do not. Some public schools teach to the test, others don't.


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#3 of 36 Old 03-27-2011, 12:50 PM
 
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For my child, yes a private schools provides her a better education then a public one would. The public schools are not bad here, they are just fine. She thrives in alternate settings though. DD1 is 8 and in 2nd grade at a very small (less then 100 students for PK-8th grade) private school. She is dyslexic, has SPD, and anxiety issues. The public school system here does not recognize SPD or dyslexia as dxs to offer services for, she would of qualified for extra reading help under a general learning disability title, extra help meant maybe twice a week group reading time in the library. This was not enough to satisfy me when she was 6 and couldn't even recognize her own name. We found a private language therapist that has worked with her for 2 years 4-5 hours a week, she goes into DD1's school to work one on one with her and works very closely with the teacher. This would not happen in public schools here. 

 

Now that we are here and I see what this particular school can offer us, I don't want to go anywhere else even with my children that are "normal". She gets 1.5 hours of outdoor time every day, they are free to roam the large school grounds, go sledding in the winter. Outdoor education is very important and each class has a half day a week where they either are outdoors learning or working on a community service project in really bad weather. My PK student is allowed to garden, grind her own wheat for her snacks that she gets to help bake daily, and run around barefoot outdoors. Certainly this type of place isn't for every family, but this is what I love so much about it. I love that my children come home covered in dirt from exploring, DD1 can identify mountain lion tracks, and build snow caves in the winter for shelter. I feel that the entire child is embraced, and they are allowed to just be children. 

 

Sure, they miss out of some stuff, DD1's class gets drumming lessons but none of the other classes have music programs. There isn't after school clubs or much extra, but I am fine doing extra activities outside of school so that is what we do. DD1 adores her school, she couldn't get any more involved then she already is, she begs to go all the way through 8th grade there. Our school only does the IOWA test of basic skills for 3rd+ grade, and many choose to opt out which is fine by the school. No other tests are done and the school does not teach for the test. Children like my DD1 who would be considered below grade level because of her reading, do just fine in the same class with highly gifted students. Everything is catered to the particular student and where they are at, the teachers seem to have no issues making special arrangements . We have yet to have a single issue with DD1 and her schooling even though she does operate quite a bit below her grade level, the work is just modified for her without any fuss. I was very worried about putting her into any type of school because I didn't want her self esteem to suffer, for her to feel stupid. It has turned out to be a not a concern, I would go into her class last year and all the students would be clamoring to be her reading buddy that day. She is very sensitive and yet has never once had anyone comment on her weaknesses, that just is not tolerated there. I hear the stories of public school children that transfer in and the 2nd grader was being teased as school for something petty, and I just don't feel that DD1 would fair as well there. Here no one looks at her any different, if anything she has too many friends! We will be shopping and I will have a 7th grade boy come and start talking to her, I'll ask her his name, and she just shrugs and says she can't keep all the boy's names straight. lol.gif


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#4 of 36 Old 03-27-2011, 05:39 PM
 
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I don't think that one option is best for every child, or that the same option is necessarily best for a child for their whole education. And I don't think you can compare two different kids in two different schools.

My kids have home schooled, public schooled, and currently attend a private alternative school. They haven't always done the same things at the same time.

For one of my dd's, it's really clear that she is happiest and most engaged where she is right now. Homeschooling was isolating for her and public school was overwhelming.

For my other dd, it's less clear. She's done just fine everywhere-- she has a bubbly, easy personality. She likes where she is right now the most, but for her it is more of a trade off. For now, she wants to stay where she is, and she's 12 so we are quite comfortable leaving it to her to decide.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#5 of 36 Old 03-27-2011, 06:57 PM
 
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Private school works for DD because it works for us, as a family.  Public schools are decent in our area, but because DH and I are both WOH parents, the private school offers the consistency and safety that we desire at this point in DD's life.  She would probably excel in any environment, and I think that private school is more for our (the family's) benefit than anything else.  We feel like we can exert a certain amount of control over her education, and that is very important to us.

 

I'm in the camp that I believe that parents play just as important part in the educational process as the school.  The school we choose is only one of the mediums that contribute to DD's education.  There are so many other important factors and variables.  We (the parents) are the most important factor.  


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#6 of 36 Old 03-27-2011, 10:29 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrs.t View Post

 I came to the conclusion that it's really the teacher/administrators in any given school that set the general tone.

 

So my question is this: Do you feel that private school provides a better education than a public school would have? 


I think you answered your own question. It all depends on the administrators at the private school and the public school. AND I would add that it depends on the fit of the school to the child. I know kids in private schools who've gotten a good education. My own dh got a mediocre education and was stifled in many ways (it was a fairly conservative religious school). I went to public K-8th grade and thrived. I switched over to private high school because my parents (educators) got really bad vibes from the local high school. I know someone who's fled a private school because the bullying was out of control and the administration did nothing.

 

Our kids currently go to the local public school and are thriving. They'll have a couple of different options for middle school starting in 6th grade, and I'm going to have to tour them to find out who has the best administrators and the best fit for our kids.

 


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#7 of 36 Old 03-28-2011, 05:08 AM
 
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So my question is this: Do you feel that private school provides a better education than a public school would have? 

I don't think there's a universal answer. The private schools near us certainly do not provide a better education. We did tour them and tried to stay really neutral about the schools until we'd seen all of them to compare. If we were in another area, then I'm sure that wouldn't necessarily be the case. There likely would be private schools that were top-notch academically, but the ones near us aren't that way. Our public schools are solid, but they're not spectacular. If they were either awesome or terrible, then obviously that would sway how we felt as well.

 

As far as respecting my child, I actually felt that the private schools we considered were worse, in part because they can choose to be. Both of my children are gifted. I don't necessarily have DD pegged on the spectrum yet, but DS is highly gifted, perhaps profoundly so in math. When I asked about acceleration at the private schools, the answer I got was that "all of our children are advanced." Well, no, actually they're not. That line of reasoning is a pet peeve of mine and pretty much says everything I need to know about a school's philosophy. In fact, DD will be going to preschool at one of the local private schools, and we went into the K room while we were there (they really want you to commit for all of their school years). What they're doing is the exact.same.thing that DS is doing in his public school K class. 

 

The benefit for our family is that we have some (though very limited in our state) ability to force our public school to provide accommodations under the "adequate education" provisions of federal and state law. Private schools have no mandate to provide what any child needs, which is why I tend to think that the average private school doesn't serve either end of the spectrum well. We would pay, however, significant sums of money to send our children to a school geared specifically to (objectively tested) gifted children because that would be worth it to me. In that case, I don't think public school can compare because even in the public "gifted" schools we've considered, parent recommendation is one of the criteria for admission, which means that some kids aren't really gifted but have parents who want them in that school. (One school, for example, has only 60% of children who test proficient. Clearly it's not a school that's actually full of gifted children.)


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#8 of 36 Old 03-28-2011, 05:38 AM
 
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I agree with what many of the ladies here have said - that it depends on the child and the school. My son is in public school and he is thriving there. Maybe there are "better" private schools out there, but I'm content with where he is, because I see he has all the tools he needs to learn and grow where he is.

 

One thing I've picked up from a friend who has older children who have been very successful in school and outside of school is that kids don't need the perfect situation. He's told me that when the kids had less-than-perfect teachers, or just one of those unproductive years in school that everyone seems to hit, he stressed to them that it was their job to make the most of the situation and learn as much as they could despite the teacher (or the class dynamics, or what have you). Putting the responsibility for learning back on the kids seems to have worked out well for his family, and it makes sense, doesn't it? I think sometimes kids might be better served by teaching them to thrive in a less-than perfect situation than by always giving them the best opportunities.

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#9 of 36 Old 03-28-2011, 05:39 AM
 
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For us we looked at our family and the available schools.  We would struggle financially to afford private school (i'm in the UK) but there were several different types of state school and we looked around them.

 

We have an extroverted, outdoors-loving, socially-minded kid here, and she will start at our local primary school (we moved to this area for the school) in August.  They have pupil councils, a garden and animals they keep and are very flexible about finding what works for the individual.  The staff seem motivated and engaged rather than burned out and exhausted.  

 

The school and the kid have to fit.  There is no "answer" which will fit every family or every child.  I think from your post you actually know how to look for a good school, so go out and do it, see what is available, see what you like and what you don't and watch your LO as he grows to see where he might get the best for him from what is available.

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#10 of 36 Old 03-28-2011, 06:29 AM
 
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We've done both, first private, now public.  As a pp said, the private school served the middle OK, but kids who needed support, and kids who needed challenge were completely under served.  My kids are thriving in PS.  I would say that you need to know your child, and be willing to be open as to what their needs and desires are.  My middle schooler, who I always assumed would need/want a small, nurturing environment, is quite vocal about her love of her public, middle school.  It's not very small, and not perfect, but the variety of kids, extra curricular activities, great teachers who have a true gift with adolescents (!), and appropriate academic support make for the right environment for her.

 

I also think that you need to know whether you, as a parent, have something invested in where your child goes to school.  Are you looking for a community for yourself, lots of volunteer opportunities, etc.?  Sometimes a parent's needs for themselves via their kids schooling plays a role in what feels "right" as well. 

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#11 of 36 Old 03-28-2011, 08:40 AM
 
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My dc have attended public and private schools. Most of the public schools have done a fairly good job at accommodating their needs. When they have been offered, we've taken advantage of special programs in the public system. Both kids attended gifted programs. I have known gifted students to leave their private schools because the schools weren't doing a good job of accommodating them. So I wouldn't say that a private school necessarily offers a better education - at least for these students.

 

Currently both kids attend a performing arts high school in the public system, where they had to audition to be admitted. They have friends who are attending language immersion schools, alternative/independent learning schools, IB high schools, digital graphic arts programs, science and technology programs and high performance athletic programs - all offered by the public system. I can't think of an elite arts school in the private sector that could compare to the public arts school in our region. I realize that not all public school systems offer so much choice, so it may be very different where you are living.

 

I think the school can matter and can make a difference. I think students and parents need to consider carefully individual interests, learning styles, and overall "fit" when they choose a school. You may take a very relaxed approach to schooling, but if your child is inherently a high achiever who thrives on pursuing academics, s/he may become frustrated, disappointed and disillusioned if they aren't kept challenged and engaged in the classroom. OTOH, if s/he isn't academically inclined, then a school with an IB program or an expectation that most students will take AP courses may be a bad fit. 

 

I also think it's important to choose a school with a program and curriculum that you can honestly support. If you don't value what public schools teach because they are only teaching to standardized tests, then it's possible that attitude will be picked up by your children. I don't think you have to accept mindlessly everything in the program. I think it's fine and good to question a curriculum and to look beyond it for greater, broader learning opportunities. That's what we do in our family. If you don't value what's taught though, you won't really have any honest answers if your children decide that they just can't be bothered learning it. You may be setting up a conflict needlessly. 

 

Mostly, when looking for a school, I look for a nurturing learning environment that will maintain my children's interest in a broad variety of subjects, keep them engaged in their studies, and provide them with lots of opportunities to develop in new areas. 

 

 

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#12 of 36 Old 03-28-2011, 09:51 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrs.t View Post

 I came to the conclusion that it's really the teacher/administrators in any given school that set the general tone.

 

So my question is this: Do you feel that private school provides a better education than a public school would have?

 

Private school does not mean it is better. If you read back through older threads you will find many complaints about private schools as well as public schools. Each school is unique. Also, "better" depends on what you are looking for and what fits your child. Sometimes the school that fits a parent's ideal is a poor fit for the child.

 

I do agree that teachers and administrators set the tone; this is part of the reason we left ds' last school in a highly rated district (he attends a charter school now).


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#13 of 36 Old 03-28-2011, 10:21 AM
 
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As far as respecting my child, I actually felt that the private schools we considered were worse, in part because they can choose to be. Both of my children are gifted. I don't necessarily have DD pegged on the spectrum yet, but DS is highly gifted, perhaps profoundly so in math. When I asked about acceleration at the private schools, the answer I got was that "all of our children are advanced." Well, no, actually they're not. That line of reasoning is a pet peeve of mine and pretty much says everything I need to know about a school's philosophy. In fact, DD will be going to preschool at one of the local private schools, and we went into the K room while we were there (they really want you to commit for all of their school years). What they're doing is the exact.same.thing that DS is doing in his public school K class. 

 

 

Is that school in Lake Woebegon, where all the children are above average? lol.gif

 

OP, I feel like if you want your child to receive a religious education at school, then a private religious school is the way to go. Other than that, it all depends.

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#14 of 36 Old 03-28-2011, 10:32 AM
 
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I agree that there's no blanket answer.  But I also think that your definition of what's best for your child is very different than my definition of what's best for my child.  Respecting my child's talents and cultivating them is not of primary importance to me in selecting schools.  I want my child to receive a solid, well-rounded education first and foremost.  We do many extracurricular activities which cultivate my kids' talents, and their specific academic interests can be somewhat cultivated with electives in high school, and by choice of study in college.

 

Where I live, there is really only one private school that I think does a superior job.  It runs about $20K-$25/per year.  It has a vigorous curriculum, excellent teachers, a lovely campus, and fine arts programs.  If we were to send our kids to that school, we would be totally unable to send them to college.  Personally, I think providing my kids with four years of college is much more important, so that is not a cost I'm willing to assume.  The other private schools are religious, and I think they provide a much inferior educational experience than do our public schools from what I have seen and experienced.  I am opposed to charter schools, so they are not an option.

 

We live in a very highly rated district, and for the most part, are happy with it.  It's why we bought our house.

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#15 of 36 Old 03-28-2011, 04:14 PM
 
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I think asking public vs private shows a lack of understanding of the range of options in many cities. For my kids, an alternative education is a better fit than a traditional education, but there are alternative charter and magnet schools in some cities that could work quite well. Also, many private schools are very traditional, with less leiway for individual differences than most public schools!

 

We've moved a lot for my DH's job, and the school here that is the best fit is a private school. Where we last lived, it was a public school. How the school is funded is not the be-all and end-all. One nice thing about being private is that we don't have to bother with the stupid state test and having everything governed by No Child Left Behind. Another is that children who do not respond to correction are asked to leave.  We have a lower student teacher ratio than any public school and a fraction of the discipline issues, so the teachers get to spend more time teaching.  Those wouldn't be enough reasons for me to choose the expensive of a private school, through.

 

For me, it really comes down to how a typical day at school is spent and how that works for each of my kids. My kids go to a school with a green house, an animal center, a dark room, a kiln, and an outdoor skills program. The have open blocks of time, and the art center is always open. Classes are tiny and kids are taught at their level in each subject. It's a dream school, and well worth the money to us.

 

But we did try both homeschooling and public school before deciding it was worth the money.

 


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#16 of 36 Old 03-28-2011, 05:41 PM
 
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For me, it really comes down to how a typical day at school is spent and how that works for each of my kids. My kids go to a school with a green house, an animal center, a dark room, a kiln, and an outdoor skills program. The have open blocks of time, and the art center is always open. Classes are tiny and kids are taught at their level in each subject. It's a dream school, and well worth the money to us.

 

But we did try both homeschooling and public school before deciding it was worth the money.

 


 

You know, I agree with everything you've said, yet I think picking the school with the best resources doesn't always ensure the best education. My kids are younger, so I'll have to compare the expensive private preschool/4K/summer camp we use to the public school. Our preschool/school age summer camp has a terrific campus - a nature center with several acres of hiking trails, a barn with horses, llamas, etc., Waldorf-like playground and classrooms, classroom pets (which are cared for by a vet who comes in weekly from the university and also does education programs), a theater program. It is a great school - and yet, I sometimes feel like my older child has learned more at his very traditional public school.

 

I do wish NCLB were not in the picture, though. I have two main issues with my son's school - the way lunch and recess are handled and the amount of time that is spent on standardized testing. A repeal of NCLB would go a long way towards making me much happier with his school experience.
 

 

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#17 of 36 Old 03-28-2011, 06:09 PM
 
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 One nice thing about being private is that we don't have to bother with the stupid state test and having everything governed by No Child Left Behind.

 

Another is that children who do not respond to correction are asked to leave.  We have a lower student teacher ratio than any public school and a fraction of the discipline issues, so the teachers get to spend more time teaching.  

 

 

 

 

 


I agree about the testing, although it's not a deal breaker for us.  I do like to have some standards, but I object to how much time it takes up.

 

The discipline issue was entirely opposite in our experience.  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.

 

I don't yet know what we'll do for high school.

 

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#18 of 36 Old 03-28-2011, 06:54 PM
 
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I agree that there's no blanket answer.  But I also think that your definition of what's best for your child is very different than my definition of what's best for my child.  Respecting my child's talents and cultivating them is not of primary importance to me in selecting schools.  I want my child to receive a solid, well-rounded education first and foremost. We do many extracurricular activities which cultivate my kids' talents, and their specific academic interests can be somewhat cultivated with electives in high school, and by choice of study in college.

I totally agree, especially the bolded. I'm looking for a solid education that will prepare my kids for college, in a relatively nurturing environment. For my kids, that's our local public school, with its project-based learning, laid-back atmosphere, student gardens - and good academics. It all depends on what you're looking for and what the public and private options near you are like. There is no way to make a blanket statement that one is better than the other.

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#19 of 36 Old 03-28-2011, 07:06 PM
 
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man how much you learn after your child starts their education.

 

before dd started school i was so into the academics. which school provides the best, etc.

 

hah!!! i discover the most important part of school for dd is the social aspect. she is underchallenged by school. she will always be underchallenged in school no matter it is public or private, no matter which school she goes to. at least in our school system. the great schools are all 3 hours away from us.

 

for dd it is all about projects and understanding around them. so while for instance 3rd graders are learning challenging math and language with a wee bit of science and social science thrown in - dd is ready to go to better and bigger stuff than just reading and math. hopefully next year will be a better year when she actually starts with subjects.

 

yet she wants to go to school. she wants to go for her friends and a few special times in school.

 

she is learning one big important thing. that life sometimes is a mix of opposites. and she is learning really well how to take care of herself when things dont go her way.

 

she has the perfect personality for unschooling but i dont have the choice to do that.  


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#20 of 36 Old 03-28-2011, 07:52 PM
 
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I have to agree with a PP who said that the issue is so much more complex than public vs. prviate.  Where I grew up there were public schools and private religious schools, nothing in between.  There the public schools were by far suprerior to the small, conservative religious schools, which practiced indoctrination more than education (trust me I know because I spent some years there). 

 

Where we live now is vastly different.  Private schools dominate here and basically if you're lower middle class or up you go private.  Public schools provide absolute no differentiation amongst students (they actually have anti-gifted education laws here) and homeschooling is illegal.  That leads to an education environment with many great private schools with just about any type of educational philosophy that you can imagine. 

 

We're really pleased with a Montessori school that we've found for DD.  She LOVES it and asks to go to school and play with her friends there all the time.  What DH and I love about it is that they promise to work at her pace (we feel strongly about child-led learning) and that it's a multi-age environment.  We also love the beautiful campus, the caring teachers, and the kindness we saw amongst the students when we visited the campus.  Ok, I could go on and on but I'm spare you. 

 

I've done a lot of research into various schools and this was the one we felt most comfortable with.  DD is also a sensitive kid and gets overwhelmed in loud noisy environments so we felt that a small school with a very small student-to-teacher ratio would be the best fit.  DD is also pretty stubborn and when she gets it in her mind to do something it's very hard to dissuade her so we wanted a school that would let her follow her passions instead of forcing her to learn what the teacher decided is best (can you tell we're a family that hates teaching to the test? ;) ).

 

 


 

 

 

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#21 of 36 Old 03-28-2011, 09:24 PM
 
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 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.

 


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#22 of 36 Old 03-30-2011, 05:30 AM - Thread Starter
 
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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.


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#23 of 36 Old 03-30-2011, 07:02 AM
 
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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. 

 

 

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#24 of 36 Old 03-30-2011, 07:14 AM
 
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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.

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#25 of 36 Old 03-30-2011, 07:31 AM
 
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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.   
 

 


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#26 of 36 Old 03-30-2011, 07:44 AM
 
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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.

 

 

 

 

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#27 of 36 Old 03-30-2011, 07:47 AM
 
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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.


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#28 of 36 Old 03-30-2011, 08:18 AM
 
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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.

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#29 of 36 Old 03-30-2011, 08:34 AM
 
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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.

 

 

 

 


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#30 of 36 Old 03-30-2011, 10:14 AM
 
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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

 

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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. 

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