Sunday, February 26, 2006

School Daze

First off, my apologies for the lack of new posts! As with most any project, I start off strong, get distracted by the "must dos" of day to day life, and then find a balance. Hopefully that balance will include more posts than this past week!

We're in a season of decisions....private kindergarten? Public kindergarten with after care at a new day care? Public kindergarten in a district school (not our home school) with in-school after care? The words and options all begin to run together and my mind slowly but surely shuts down after only a few minutes of the conversation. Unfortunately, money is a consideration. We have struggled with the day care costs for two children, dipping monthly into our savings account to ensure our bills are paid. While we want to ensure we begin to stabilize a bit more with Kyra in kindergarten, we don't want to make a poor choice based on our well-known cheapness!

Last night Matt and I attended a function at the college where we're both employed and received the full court press to consider sending Kyra to a small, private K-5 school in close proximity to campus. The school was founded by the former spouse of a campus faculty member, and the principles upon which the school was created seem a good match for Kyra's personality. We believe in the value of their education; we just don't believe in its cost.... After a few minutes of listening to one colleague criticize some parents' unwillingness to invest adequately in their children's education, I wanted to say, "We are the happy, successful, intelligent products of public schools! And since when is the only investment monetary?" I firmly believe we will be volunteers in our children's schools, we will provide feedback and stay connected to their experiences, and I personally want to start with the "norm" and then modify our plans if the situation is not meeting our expectations. I'm not intending to criticize those parents who select and sacrifice for private education. I simply believe I should not somehow be "less than" because I'm not eager to go there. I still want my kids to have vacations, to see their family across the States, and to have educational experiences within the context of family--none of which we would have if paying for this particular private school.

The other dynamic in all of this is our desire that our children be educated in a classroom with children of different colors, faiths, socioeconomic circumstances, etc.--and this is lacking in some of the more prestigious private schools. While my priorities are for my kids to be safe and feel whole wherever they are, I want them to be as much in the world as they can be. Maybe I'll be singing a different tune come September, but this is where I'm leaning right now. (We'll see where I stand if I actually dare to attend an open house at this infamous campus-neighbor school!)

In the meantime, Kyra's day care owner/operator is starting a new optional homework club. Homework for four year olds? Honestly, this child could not live in a more language-rich environment and be more naturally curious about words and the letters that form them. But peer pressure (because let's face it, Kyra's friends will be participating!), and the promise of a single ice cream at Friendly's after 27 weeks of participation (no kidding!), have me feeling compelled to give this a try. Is anyone else interested in American students' declining abilities in relation to compulsory test-based learning? But don't get me started....


Kristen said...

Good luck on the school decision - it can definitely be overwhelming and stressful. It's interesting - you are looking for diversity for Kyra, and this pushes you toward a public school setting. In my region, one of our big considerations for the private school we chose for Bryce was based on the LACK of diversity at the public school he'd go to. In his class, he's definitely still in the majority, but it's more of a 60-40 majority than the 95-5 he'd have at his public school.

Also, I think public vs. private is irrelevant in terms of how successful kids will ultimately be in garnering the best education for themselves - what has much more impact (in my opinion) is the parents' level of involvement - something in which you and Matt are already setting a great foundation. I know Kyra will be happy, healthy, and fulfilled no matter which school she ends up in.

The homework thing - it's possible you and Matt provide a much more language rich environment for Kyra than many of her peers. Unfortunately I know many parents who don't provide this, and the early "homework" assignments (really short writing games, really, from what I've seen) give the kids a chance to hone their skills and learn to enjoy it. Unfortunately for you, it's really going to be unnecessary, since Kyra is doing this on her own already. One of the downfalls of teaching to the lowest common denominator (not meant to be derogatory, but a trend I've recognized as Dylan and Hannah have gone through grade after grade...).

Okay, I'm done monopolozing your comment box now!

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