My 3yo dd is a bright, friendly, socially-inquisitive child. In other words, she seems like she'll do just fine at public school. But I would like her to remain that way.... The big fear with public schools are of course the pressures to confrom, both socially and academically. Anyone succcessfully helping their child resist labels and being categorized? And are you noticing any dampening of their spirit as academics come more into their life?
I have noticed on some of the other forums that parents were "traumatized" by their public school experiences, and this is why some are choosing alternatives. Neither my husband nor I had that experience, but, I do see many failings of public education. Homeschooling doesn't feel like an option; I have to work.
We had her in a Waldorf-inspired preschool this last year and I really liked it but it completely broke our bank.
We live in an area with very good public schools, so all may be well, but for the little ones???
I have a second grader and a kindy, who are very different in personality, and I can say that I am "perfectly satisfied" with our local public school. My kids have had excellent, loving teachers who really get to know their students. The school community is fantastic. I make it a point to volunteer in each class once a week and do my best to facilitate a good relationship with each kid's teacher so if something does come up, we already have a foundation to work from.
Just this week a reptile lady came, DS's class grew caterpillars into butterflies, and they had an assembly where a fun brass ensemble came and talked about their instruments. DS did have his first standardized tests this year, but it didn't seem to be a big deal to him.
I really, really, really wanted to send my DS to a private school when he was entering kindy, and I am forever grateful that my husband said, "You know, I think we should try the local school. If we don't like it, we'll look for other options."
Momma to 8 y.o. DS and 5 y.o. DD. Married to a Maker!
Our school district has a lot of problems, but I'm fairly satisfied. Ds gets music, art, drama, and teachers who truly truly care.
I'm really not one to worry about squashing his spirit with academics. If I felt something was too intense for him, I would deal with it on as needed basis. He loves to read and I don't think Waldorf would have been good for that.
What I am most dissatisfied about honestly is food that they serve at special events and for classroom parties and the MIC crap they use for fund raisers. No in line with our values at all.
I have children in 2nd and 4th and so far both have had wonderful experiences in public school. I live in an area with "good" schools and so far have had nothing to complain about. Both of my children love learning and teachers have been able to offer them materials in line with their needs. We are fortunate that where we live school is very much like it was when I was a kid in elementary school in the 70's. They have Art, Music, Library and Phys Ed. Students can join the newspaper, yearbook, school play, student council, recorder club or and/or chorus. There are enrichment classes available for those that are advanced and a variety of resources are available for those that need assistance. My kids are happy and miss school when it is out. They still have plenty of time for their outside activities.
I too would read quite a bit about parents complaining that schools are "teaching to the test." State standardized testing here starts in 3rd grade, so when my DD started 3rd I thought to myself here it comes. On meet the teacher night in the fall I sat in the classroom and listened to the teacher. I got the feeling I wasn't the only one concerned about standardized testing. When the teacher was done and opened the floor for questions, people immediately asked her why she didn't mention the testing at all. Her response was interesting. She said that as a parent she too had the same concerns. Then she started teaching 3rd grade and looked at the tests. It was all things the kids should have learned anyway by the time they take it so if she is doing her job they will be fine. That was basically the attitude of every teacher at the school (and apparently in the entire system). The school system does fine on these test with around 95% meeting the necessary benchmarks and 80% of the students testing a few levels ahead.
I guess my point here is that not only are they happy with daily school existence but they are not being subjected to the standardized testing pressures and detriments that I was so nervous about. Good public school experiences do exist. Get to know the school your daughter will attend and the resources that will be available to you.
We were very happy with DD's elementary and middle school years. Yes, she had labels but they were labels that made sure she got what she needed. She graduated 8th grade still passionate and driven to learn and explore. It wasn't until we changed districts for high school (our local district doesn't have a high school) that things soured. However, she was accepted into a new school for fall which she's VERY excited about and that passion and drive just bounced right back. DS's situation was a little rockier due to some bully issues starting in 3rd grade but that was more the kids involved and their parents than the actual school. He's in middle school now, away from those kids and he loves it... truly. He has labels too but again, they get him what he needs.
I was perfectly satisfied with public school for one of my two children. We had home schooled previously, and she absolutely blossomed when she started in public school at age 10. She met so many nice kids (isolation is one of the reasons we were looking for new options) and her teacher was a peach. We found that once my DD saw what other kids her age were doing, she became FAR more motivated to work and learn and achieve. The school had a nice selection of other activities, and my DD's friendships solidified as she spent her days with the same kids that she was in girl scouts with, saw at the pool, etc. It was great for her, and we wish that we had started her sooner.
It didn't work out that way for my other child, who is both gifted and on the autism spectrum. Some of this really is about finding a school that is a good fit for your child, but for neural typical child, a good public school was a good fit.
but everything has pros and cons
We have been basically satisfied with the education our children have received. We have one in 11th, one in 8th and one in 1st. There have certainly been things that needed to be addressed year to year, but overall we are satisfied customers.
We've had ups and downs with our public school experience. Mostly it has been positive, but there were a few rocky years for the oldest in the early elementary years.
I practically homeschooled her in certain subjects, and was surprised how weak certain subject matters were compared to what I would have expected the typical experience would have been for a private or public school kid in my time.
I don't think it's fair to expect anyone to be completely or perfectly happy with a years-long experience. There are ups and downs. As long as the ups well outweight the downs... all is good.
That said... I am as happy as I think is reasonable with the experiences each of mine had, through the years. Yes, they had some bad experiences, some less than perfect teachers, etc. But overall? They each - from two completely different schools - got an excellent education and an opportunity to grow into themselves.
My oldest has ALWAYS marched to his own drummer. How many teens do you know who "spin" from the gym to the fields for PE? Or who decides to offer "Free Hugs" ro all and sundry. Who truly shakes off the negative comments and thoughts, and carries on with a laugh and a smile? PS didn't stifle that at all.
My youngest? No filter. She makes no bones about who she is, what she believes, or what her opinion is. None. Yes, she has lost friends for it. Honestly? She's the kind of person you either love to bits, or you hate her guts. There IS no middle ground. PS didn't stifle HER, either.
I don't think many parents are going to ever be completely and totally happy with every aspect of *any* school. That's just not the way things work. And even if a school is great (organized, great services, good community feeling), like the public school our son went to at first, the dynamic within a specific class may not work for a specific child. That's what happened to my son and we moved him to a Waldorf school where he is thriving. Meanwhile, a friend of my son's started off in the great Waldorf school (where my DS now goes!). However, his parents moved him to the public school because he has ADHD and needs the structure (and services!) from the public school.
Basically, in my experience, schools are organic organisms, constantly growing and changing. Likewise, every child is different and a child's needs can change.
There are really good public schools and really bad ones. There are fantastic private schools, crappy ones, and so forth. Don't dismiss public schools just because people bitch about them.
It's so hard to know what's best, especially when your child is so young. Visit the schools, talk to people, and see how it goes.
This is our first year in public school after being in a crunchy private school. There are things I miss about the private school and things I'm glad are different now. Our private school was pretty loose and I felt like I could just drop by anytime and there was less bureaucracy and officaldom, but there was a smallness and exclusiveness (not fancy exclusive, but not inclusive) to the social side among the kids, parents, and administrators that was not good. We didn't have to fill out forms to go by and visit, but the director gave lip service to having an open door, but did not have a welcoming air.
Dd1's (5th grade) homeroom/science/reading teacher this year is as good as any teacher she had at the private school and she loves being in his class. She also has always been a kid who dances to her own beat and has had a little bit of trouble with a couple of the other teachers (both women coincidentally and she usually gravitates toward women first). These teachers are more "old school" and dd1 finds that intimidating and they both work on math with her which is not her strongest subject. She's doing awesome in science, though, and that's one of her favorites. So some things have been a little bit harder for her, but socially it's actually been way, way better. The private school was just too small and while she liked some of the girls there sometimes they were pretty catty and she didn't fare well with that girl drama. She has more friends this year and gets along with them much better.
Dd2's (2nd grade) year has been perfectly adequate. She's made friends. It hasn't been particularly challenging for her, but I think 2nd grade is a catch-up year for a lot of kids. Next year we will probably try to get her in the gifted program. It starts in 3rd grade. They've been pulling her out for some small groups work, but overall she's felt like school has been pretty easy this year. She is another kid who has a strong sense of self, but she is more adaptable than dd1. I look forward to next year. I think the 3rd grade teachers are maybe a little bit better. Her 2nd grade teacher has been okay, but I think some of the boys in her class have been discipline problems so the teacher has maybe had a more difficult year than some.
I agree with mtiger. I don't think it's reasonable to expect anyone to be completely or perfectly satisfied, but overall it's been fine. There have been a few ups and downs, but it's really been okay this year. That said, next year we're going to try out a charter school for dd1. She has some anxiety issues and I think this charter which has an environmental education and arts focus is (on paper) right up her alley and is smaller. Hopefully we won't run into those social issues we had in private school, but if it doesn't work out our public middle school (which is great, but big) always has to take us back!
"All you fascists are bound to lose" — Woody Guthrie
Thanks these are very helpful! I guess one thing I hadn't thought much about is that it's never too late to make a change. You just have to try something out and go from there. I see many kids moving from public to home schoolong, and home to public schooling and everything in between.
My twin sons just graduated from public school, and we were very satisfied. One of the boys had a really crappy teacher in 3rd grade - but I've been hearing horror stories about an elementary school teacher at a local private school (in fact, the parents are moving the kids ot public next year).
One of my sons suffers from depression and anxiety, and the high school bent over backwards to help him. Every step of the way, the emphasis was not on "these are the rules, so this is the way it's going to be". It was ALWAYS about "How can we make this work for J?" His biggest advocates (after me) were the associate principal and the school counselor.
My kids received a terrific education; the music and fine arts programs (especially theater) are fantastic, and the school itself felt safe and welcoming (in spite of a student population of about 1200). I think they will both hit the ground running next year in college.
If the chips are down, the buffalo is empty.
I have one who has finished his first year of university and the other mid-way through high school. They are satisfied with their public school educations, which is really what matters, and I am, too. I should note that they have both spent some time in private school and homeschooling. I have offered the option to homeschool but they both wanted to attend school.
We have used formal labels when there has been a benefit like accessing special programs and resources. They have embraced or spurned informal labels (nerd, freak etc.) whenever it has suited them. DS was the punk rocker with a green Mohawk who also happened to be an honour roll student beloved by many of his teachers (the ones who didn't mind being challenged in class). DD isn't quite so flamboyant in dress, but she has her own individual style, and she too is respected as an honour student. Since she was a primary student, her teachers have identified her as someone likely to be a successful leader when she is an adult and just this year, she was chosen to be stage manager for her class play. There are positive labels.....
There have been bumps along the way but nothing that couldn't be managed, and my view is that it helped them develop persistence and resilience. We've been fortunate to spend most of our time in cities with large, reasonably supported public systems that offer a fair amount of choice in programming. We've found schools with well-developed arts and sports programs to ensure robust, well-rounded learning opportunities and experiences - far more than if they had been learning at home on their own.
I've got 6th and 1st grader and I've been thrilled with our school for the last 6 years. The only thing I can really complain is that they refused to push my son harder, even when that is what he needed. He's brilliant, but lazy :) Our schools rank very high and we're really happy. It's one of the reasons I'm scared to move.
I've been very satisfied with my kids' public school experiences, but I would never look upon their school, or any school, as the total solution to educating them. My kids are not optimally academically challenged, their teachers admit this, but they are already a year ahead in their areas of strength, and they are comfortable there. They are involved in musical pursuits that challenge them, and the school has been excellent about supporting them in their music learning. The school district does not offer music experiences appropriate for my kids, and they're happy to grant them time off for learning-related pursuits that challenge them, and to grant credit for out-of-school learning. In the past they gave my eldest (now graduated) time off for part-time work, for international travel, and for her music.
Our situation is a little different in that my kids were unschooled until they were teens. Their self-concepts were pretty secure before they headed off to school, and have only been strengthened by their school experiences. We have a tiny (TINY!) under-funded rural school which, by Canadian standards, rates (according to standardized testing) fairly well compared to tiny rural schools, but in the bottom half compared to schools in general in our province. The high school portion of the school now has just 30 students. But it is run by very good people with very outside-the-box approaches, and this has worked very well for my square-peg kids. I particularly value the way in which the teachers are welcome to share who they are as people, rather than sticking rigidly to professional personas. The whole thing has more of a mentoring feel to it, and my kids have thrived in that environment.
Mountain mama to two great kids and two great grown-ups
. I feel peace in my heart knowing she is safe. And I hope dd2 will be happy there, too. I moved constantly as a kid and switched schools even more than I moved, so it has been a goal of mine to get my kids into a great school system and keep rhem there through graduation. With that said, I wouldnt hesitate to send dd2 to private special needs school or homeschool dd2 if they were miserable socially- my second high school was good academically but horrible for me socially and I should have been HSed at that point. . I'm hoping it never comes to that, though.
I think being perfectly satisfied with any school choice is unlikely. Unsatisfactory experiences can be had in any school setting and I've read posts here with complaints about all types (public/private, religious/secular, traditional model/Montessori, Waldorf, etc.), and no particular school setting is inherently free of social/academic pressure or labels. Also, sometimes a parent's ideal school/education is not the best fit for their child.
We live in a large, well-regarded district. Ds' first year of K in regular public school wasn't a good one; some of the factors involved were a new school in it's first year, a whip-cracking principle with mediocre people skills known for being sent to start-up or fix schools, and a second career teacher unsuited to K in general and ds in particular. The school patted itself on the back for "not considering ADHD before 2nd or 3rd grade" while scratching their heads over ds who was academically advanced for his age but had significant behavior problems. Even when I began to get a clue about special education law and tried to get him help under Child Find they basically said that there was nothing they could do since he didn't have a speech problem and he was on grade level . So lack of appropriate labels was a detriment there.
After looking for somewhere (anywhere) else to send him I found the charter chain of STEM schools he attends now. This school is small (about 700 K-12) and youngish (about 5yrs.) but ds has had two awesome primary teachers and their special ed program is improving year to year--a school lunch aide at ds' school came to ds' IEP meeting this year (ds has previously had a lot of problems in the lunch room) and showed a greater understanding of ds than anyone at his last school. This school's LSSP essentially told me that this school's SpEd program is learning on ds (with his particular combination of ADHD and Asperger's) but their willingness to try in combination with the small school/we're in this together type atmosphere is working for us so far. Ds' social skills deficits would be a problem for him almost anywhere so we have to pay particular attention to how this is handled at school; I feel more comfortable at this school than at our neighborhood school which is helpful in advocating for him. The socio-economic/racial/religious diversity at this school is a plus--almost everyone stands out as "different" in some way, but that doesn't mean that there aren't any issues. This year my dd (in K) had to work quite a bit on standing up for herself and others; she had a "mean girl" to contend with much of the year but not allowing herself to be treated badly and encouraging others not to accept it either gradually neutralized the "mean" girl's power.
My son is 7 and has autism (he is very verbal but does need some accommodations due to sensory and behavior challenges). I am 100% satisfied with his public school experience. His teachers are truly caring people who have many years of experience working with children who have special needs. I went into him starting school expecting to have to fight tooth and nail for all of his rights and needs- hasn't happened- I have actually been blown away by how well they "get" him and how creative they are in anticipating and responding to his needs. He was learned so much that I honestly was at a loss of how to teach him. Because of his special needs, he desperately needs all the help he can get learning life skills and basic academics. I am so thankful he has a right to that through the public school and there are caring people who work with him not because of the meager salary they get, but because they want to help. He gets occupational therapy, speech therapy, and an aide when he goes into mainstream classes. He gets to eat lunch in the classroom because he can't handle the lunchroom. He is happy and loves school.
I went to public schools my whole life and graduated at the top of my class from a private university. I learned so much about myself and others from being in the thick of a diverse group of students 6 hours a day, 5 days a week.
Jen Mama of 2 precious boys (9) (6) and still in with my Matt after 12 years together.
Domestic Violence Children's Advocate and Counselor
I'm thrilled with my kids public school! I think we are pretty lucky to have had the teachers and support we've gotten. My oldest is 13 and on the spectrum, highly functioning. He has been in special ed since K, and the progress he has made has been breathtaking, especially in the last 2 years. OK, yeah, I'm teary eyed.
My ds2 is gifted with a learning disability, and the school has gone out of the way to figure out what works for him. He's so damn smart, but he could not, for the life of him, get his ideas out on paper. He could tell them to you, act them out, etc, but not get them on paper. They've provided him with all sorts of technology so that he can shine despite his struggles.
My ds1 is neurotypical, as far as we can tell at this point, and the school has been equally supportive and helpful to him. He rocks in math, but struggles with reading. So, he's in a special math group with more challenges and he's in a special reading group with more support.
The teachers and staff get back to you within a day usually, a couple of days at most. They have great programs for the kids in and out of school. And they support the families as a whole.
So, yes, I'm 100% happy with the public school my kids go to.
I'm certainly not saying public schools are all created equally. They are not. My sister has been a special ed teacher in Baltimore City, and she has horror has horror stories about trying to get services for kids who need it. It's a lot harder to offer the services when your school is already being hit with major cuts.
perfectly satisfied? NO
dd has been in 2 schools. we changed due to academic needs.
socialy we are happy with both schools. however we prefered the first school as the principal, teacher, parent and student interaction felt like one big happy family.
dd has been incredibly lucky that she has had memorable teachers every single grade.
academic needs - much to be desired. the teachers try their best. really they do. but they are too overwhelmed. however they work with the parents to have hte best action plan that they can do.
one thing is for sure. in our case i think going to school has been advantageous over homeschool because of funds.
it is NOT EASY being poor and trying to homeschool. dd has gone to incredible field trips - many not open to the public.