Anyone have a child at a small religious school? - Mothering Forums

View Poll Results: Should I send DS to a private Christian school instead of public school?
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#1 of 11 Old 11-04-2012, 02:32 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Want to give me pros and cons?

 

I'm starting to wonder if this would be a good option for my son (7.5, currently in second grade in public school).

 

You may remember seeing some posts from me before about a desire to homeschool, but the more I reflect on that option, the more I think that trying to be my son's teacher just wouldn't be good for our relationship. Don't get me wrong, I think homeschooling is wonderful for many families. I've just finally come to understand why DH kept telling me he didn't think it would be a good idea in our particular case with this particular kid.

 

So, DS mostly likes school overall this year, but he's dyslexic and below level in both reading and math and the school simply doesn't have the resources to give him the attention he needs. He goes to a reading tutor for two hours a week after school and that has really helped him. However, the reading intervention he gets at school is pretty much worthless. Last year, though he liked school less overall, his teacher was pretty understanding about giving him extra time to do work, etc. His teacher this year has kept him in from recess to finish work, which I think is ridiculous.

 

We have a first quarter conference next week, and we may be able to resolve some of the issues we've had this year, but I still wonder if simply putting him in a school in which he'd be in a smaller class would be a better situation for him. Also, the tutors from the place where he goes are quite willing to provide one session a week at the student's school. They go to several local private schools, but our district won't allow them access. I can't know for sure that the school I'm considering would allow them access, but chances are they don't have an official policy, so they'd at least consider it.

 

So, if your kids attend a private religious school, what do you like about it? What do you not like about it?

 

Here are some details for clarification:

 

1. My husband and I are evangelical Christians. Our son isn't really old enough to have his own religious convictions yet, but we certainly hope he follows in our footsteps.

 

2. We're considering a small Christian school houses in an Assembly of God church. The school is nondenominational.

 

3. Tuition is the lowest of the local private schools. We'd have to adjust our budget, but it's affordable without huge sacrifices.

 

4. The school is quite small, one class for each grade in K-8. The classes average 12 students in each. 

 

5. The public school DS is at is well regarded and we like a number of things about it, but worry that he gets lost in his class of 28 as well as getting distracted both by the kids in his class and by the other classes in his room (at his school, four classes are grouped together in one large "complex" room.)

 

Thanks for any advice you can give me!


Happy transplanted resident of the "not so deep" Southsmile.gif. Married to a great man for 9 years and countinglove.gif. Mom to two wonderful gifts from God: DS (8) jog.gifalways moving, atypically thinking, ballet dancing boy and long-awaited DD (2) fly-by-nursing1.gifcuddly, curious, fearless, book loving girl.

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#2 of 11 Old 11-04-2012, 02:47 PM
 
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Originally Posted by kentuckymom View Post

 

So, DS mostly likes school overall this year, but he's dyslexic and below level in both reading and math and the school simply doesn't have the resources to give him the attention he needs. He goes to a reading tutor for two hours a week after school and that has really helped him. However, the reading intervention he gets at school is pretty much worthless. Last year, though he liked school less overall, his teacher was pretty understanding about giving him extra time to do work, etc. His teacher this year has kept him in from recess to finish work, which I think is ridiculous.

 


This really seems like the crux of the issue, and I question if the small private really has better resources to give him the attention. Smaller classes might or might not mean more and better attention. In my city, the Christian schools have higher academic standards and less help than the private schools. I would REALLY check this out before switching.


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#3 of 11 Old 11-04-2012, 03:38 PM
 
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I second Linda.
My dsd was put in a very small religious school after struggling in public school.
She had been held back in 2nd grade and still wasn't ready for 3rd after another year of2nd. Mind you she was in a very small rural and poor public school.
They moved to a large city and the child was finally dx with some learning issues and was given the help she needed to really bloom.
Personally I believe the small public school didn't have the resources to help and the religious school just accepted her as slow and felt academics weren't necessary to be a wife and homemaker

mom to 14yr dd and 4yr dd
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#4 of 11 Old 11-04-2012, 05:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the replies so far! I think you're all right. We'll only seriously consider the switch if, after talking to the staff, we feel like DS would fit in there and they'd be willing to work with him on his weak areas. There's an Open House later this week and I'm hoping that, if we attend, the staff will be willing to talk with us about our situation. We'll see.

 

Of course, we may be able to resolve (or at least start the process of resolving) some of our issues with his current school at our conference early in the week, so, if it's a really positive meeting, we'll table the idea of private school at least for a time.

 

My mother is of the opinion that just putting DS in a smaller class would be a big help because he has some inattentive ADD-ish issues (I think he's on the borderline, and I've never tried to have him diagnosed) and he gets easily distracted with all the action going on in his big room at the local public school. I can see her point, which is part of the attraction to a small private school.

 

If anyone wants to speak to general pros and cons of private religious schools, I'm all ears.


Happy transplanted resident of the "not so deep" Southsmile.gif. Married to a great man for 9 years and countinglove.gif. Mom to two wonderful gifts from God: DS (8) jog.gifalways moving, atypically thinking, ballet dancing boy and long-awaited DD (2) fly-by-nursing1.gifcuddly, curious, fearless, book loving girl.

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#5 of 11 Old 11-04-2012, 06:35 PM
 
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My girls are at a small religious school and we love it. We actually are atheists but still feel welcome here. This particular school is Seventh Day Adventist and quite "crunchy". DD1 is dyslexic, severely so, and it has been a wonderful fit for her. The classes at our school are spilt grades so 1/2, 3/4, etc.. Less then 100 students for PK-8th grade so not very large at all. The classes max out at 18 students, although rarely do they have that many, DD1's 3/4 class has 13.

 

What I love more then anything is the willingness to work with DD1 and I. This particular school's motto is actually about honoring each child as an individual. Since they are so willing to work outside they box, it attracts a lot of boys, learning disabilities, and gifted students. DD1 has special accommodations in just about everything in the actual classroom, and they could change daily/weekly/monthly depending on what is going on. All I do is email/text/call the teacher, no fuss, no questions, I get what I ask for. For 3 years we actually had a private tutor come in and work with her 5 days a week at the school, she was pulled out during reading and spelling time. The classroom teachers would have meetings with our tutor and anything that she said or suggested would be changed right then. 

 

We are obviously not the same religion as the school, but because the school is so warm and welcoming to any family of any religion, it has never been an issue. We are respectful of the religious teachings of the school and then have our own family discussions. It will be up to our children to decide what they believe. I do admit to banning particularly annoying religious songs in the home during the X-Mas season when the students are preparing for the big annual play and my kids coming home singing the same songs day after day. wink1.gif I see it along the same lines as singing the Wheels on the Bus over and over again though! 


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#6 of 11 Old 11-04-2012, 11:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, Peony! That's exactly the kind of thing I was hoping might be available in the right school, and I'm glad to know they're out there. Schools are so variable. Ideally, public schools should provide the best accomodations for students with learning differences, but there is so much red tape involved in getting an IEP or 504 plan, and so much of what you can get depends on what resources the school has. I know many private schools would be a disaster for a kid like my DS, but I'm hoping there might be a school out there that's willing to work closely with us like your DC's school is.

 

This whole discussion may be tabled in our family depending on the results of our conference with DS's teacher, but the situation seems to change every year, so I'm still very interested in learning about people's experiences at a school like the one I described.


Happy transplanted resident of the "not so deep" Southsmile.gif. Married to a great man for 9 years and countinglove.gif. Mom to two wonderful gifts from God: DS (8) jog.gifalways moving, atypically thinking, ballet dancing boy and long-awaited DD (2) fly-by-nursing1.gifcuddly, curious, fearless, book loving girl.

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#7 of 11 Old 11-05-2012, 11:37 AM
 
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Originally Posted by kentuckymom View Post

 but there is so much red tape involved in getting an IEP or 504 plan, and so much of what you can get depends on what resources the school has. 

 

 

That's exactly why we are here. No red tape. DD1 could be having a bad week, she has an anxiety disorder, and decides to freak out about learning spelling words. I am able to text the teacher and tell her that DD1 will only be doing 10 spelling words this week or no spelling at all. We spent 3 years not doing any spelling. We don't do reading journals or logs because I want DD1 to like reading and not feel forced to do it. Again, no questions or hassle. She always fails most science or vocab tests because she tests very poorly. We are trying different methods, currently the teacher quietly reads her the test and then allows DD1 extra time to go back over it later to read it herself. Percentages are never put on DD1's tests unless they are amazing so that she doesn't see them. I could go on and on about all the accommodations that are made, we have so many but what is important to us, is that they are so easy to get.

 

DS1 is ASD and has an IEP for all of his services (OT, SLP, and special ed) that he receives through the public school system even though he attends preschool at the same school DD1 does. Due to his age and no public preschools that can accommodate him, they instead pay for his private school tuition and send therapists there to work with him until he is K aged. So I still have deal with the nightmare that is IEPs. I've been trying for 3 months to get his modified! And I finally have a meeting scheduled for next month, eyesroll.gif I am so utterly grateful that we don't have to do this with DD1, that her school is so willing to work with us instead at her level rather then me suiting up for battle every other week like it is with DS1, and that is only me fighting for the actual services, not the school itself! 


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#8 of 11 Old 11-05-2012, 12:08 PM
 
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Our childrens (9, 7, 4) small private school is REALLY small--as in, my 3rd grader is one of 6 kids, my 1st grader is one of 12, and my youngest is one of 16 in pre-K.  It is like this warm, kind, caring family.  It is a positive, nurturing environment.  We had our oldest at a large adademically driven public school for K and 1, and we switched him partway through second.  None of my kids have any learning needs requiring additional help, but both the 3rd grader and 1st grader have kids in their classes who do, so I have an idea of how they address it.

 

This is what I'd consider pros/cons, and using my experience with the public school to compare:

pros--more 1:1 time and more time overall devoted to going at the pace of all the kids.  recess is never missed because of work not done, and there are 3 recesses/day until 3rd, when it goes to 2. the kids never complain about school and if we had homeschooled using a curriculum, I can't imagine I could do it much better than what they are doing.  my input matters--last year I requested some of the homework to be optional, and though there was some resistance to it, this year the homework is very limited.  Plus I know the principal and every employee by their first names, I know their kids, etc.  At the public school I never had even 1 conversation with the principal and barely ever saw her, even though I volunteered almost every week, was the class mother, was part of the PTA, etc.  I feel like I have the same kids before school as after--in the public school, between the bus ride to school, the very loud and chaotic class (though the teacher really did a great job managing it), the lack of exercise time, the fact that my kid still had an hour of homework to do when he came home--my oldest was a very, very tired kid at the end of each day.  my kids also are friends with all different aged kids, younger and older, because it is so small.    

 

cons--though diversity was the same in both, the opportunity to have a friend you really click with is harder, especially when a few of them become really tight early on.  my oldest son, though a much happier and less stressed kid overall, really really really misses his friends at the public school.  we do make a point to have playdates with them but he's aware he misses out on events he would have gone to had we stayed at the public school.  at the private school the school library is super small and we don't have a paid librarian.  I'm not crazy about one of the teachers--and because the school is small they don't switch for most subjects, so my kid will have her teaching him almost everything.  at the public school they were switching for classes starting in 1st grade, so even if there was one you weren't crazy about or your kid didn't click with, your child still had others teaching him/her.  another con--cost!!  its definitely a sacrifice to pay for education when there is a free public school.  if you live on a budget it wears on you after awhile even if you believe you are doing the right thing.  at the public school, we definitely felt like we were part of the community we live in; we regularly saw all our neighbors.  at the small private school, our kids classmates come from all over the area, which can also make it harder to have playdates sometimes.

 

I think they do a really great job with the kids who have additional needs in my children's classes.  just a note though, in the public school, I know my older son wasn't always aware of who was getting additional help, because the class was so large you didn't always notice someone leaving for 1:1 in the hall.  however in the private school--b/c it is so small, all the kids know all the others quirks and challenges (as well as who always does their math the fastest!).  our school is amazing and I haven't yet seen any picking on; but there are a few other small private schools we looked at around here, where I definitely heard stories of kids being labelled early on in them and ostracizing going on.

 

those are just the things that come off the top of my head initially.  good luck in your decision!

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#9 of 11 Old 11-06-2012, 10:40 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, everyone! I just love hearing that there are indeed small private schools that not only accept kids with special needs but work with them to help them succeed.

 

I just came from a conference with DS's teacher, and it was very positivethumb.gif. After another conversation about his strengths and weaknesses, we've come up with some ways to work together to try to meet his needs better and help him focus in the distracting environment. We're also going to start the process of having him evaluated for ADD (which I'm sure will involve a HUGE pile of paperwork and take forever).

 

Barring a massive breakdown in the system, our plan is to keep him at his school for the remainder of 2nd grade and reevaluate at the end of the year. There's always a big jump expected in third grade (and an even bigger one in 4th), so, depending on his progress, we'll consider again whether his current school will be the right place for him. The school does a lot of things well and DS is happy there overall. Plus, when it comes to stewardship of the environment, you can't beat a school that you can walk your kid to and from smile.gif


Happy transplanted resident of the "not so deep" Southsmile.gif. Married to a great man for 9 years and countinglove.gif. Mom to two wonderful gifts from God: DS (8) jog.gifalways moving, atypically thinking, ballet dancing boy and long-awaited DD (2) fly-by-nursing1.gifcuddly, curious, fearless, book loving girl.

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#10 of 11 Old 11-08-2012, 07:37 AM
 
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My three children all attend Catholic schools. I consider it small, 60 kids per grade level, but in looking at numbers on here, maybe not so much.

My oldest, a boy, has Aspergers. The structure and sameness of the religious school worked for him. The best part was they didn't need a 504 or piece of paper to accomodate him. My nephew is in a great public school system about 30 minutes away and the teachers couldn't and wouldn't do anything unless the SBLC person told them to. I am a public school teacher, so I get it. I just liked the fact that if my son needed to go to the resource room for Sister Julia's ridiculous religion test (cut and paste the old fashioned way) he could go without a meeting and IEP.

That school was large enough that it did have a resource teacher as well as a gifted teacher.

Good luck with whatever you decide!

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#11 of 11 Old 11-09-2012, 05:49 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by mar123 View Post

My three children all attend Catholic schools. I consider it small, 60 kids per grade level, but in looking at numbers on here, maybe not so much.

My oldest, a boy, has Aspergers. The structure and sameness of the religious school worked for him. The best part was they didn't need a 504 or piece of paper to accomodate him. My nephew is in a great public school system about 30 minutes away and the teachers couldn't and wouldn't do anything unless the SBLC person told them to. I am a public school teacher, so I get it. I just liked the fact that if my son needed to go to the resource room for Sister Julia's ridiculous religion test (cut and paste the old fashioned way) he could go without a meeting and IEP.

That school was large enough that it did have a resource teacher as well as a gifted teacher.

Good luck with whatever you decide!

I think "small" is in the eye of the beholder. Compared to most public schools, your kids' school is small. There's actually a Catholic school in my city that a friend has encouraged me to send my son to. Apparently they have a great reading specialist, and quite a few kids from the school go to the same tutoring center my son goes to, so the school is familiar with it. I think if I chose a religious school, however, I'd be more like to choose a protestant one. I'm glad your son is having a good experience in a religious school without red tape, however. Though DH and I have decided to try to make the system work for DS right now, there may come a point where it's no longer working or just where it's kind of working but we're sick of all the red tape. This thread has shown me that my idea that a private religious school can work for a special needs kid is not totally off base. I'm glad I can add that category to the list of things to look at if we decide DS needs a change at some point.


Happy transplanted resident of the "not so deep" Southsmile.gif. Married to a great man for 9 years and countinglove.gif. Mom to two wonderful gifts from God: DS (8) jog.gifalways moving, atypically thinking, ballet dancing boy and long-awaited DD (2) fly-by-nursing1.gifcuddly, curious, fearless, book loving girl.

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