By Jennifer Norton
Being in the middle of summer, it is hard to believe that we will be running to the local store soon to stock up on school supplies. It can be an exciting time but also confusing and stressful especially when parents are faced with the question of keeping their children in private school or public school, homeschool or any combination of the above. Typically, decisions are already made but I have run into numerous families that are still on the fence for the next school year.
Any option has its pros and cons and seeking God’s counsel is going to help make this decision for you. Having the opportunity to be part of both public and private systems, here are some considerations and questions to ask yourself while deciding.
Tour your schools and really get to know the staff and the “personality” of the school. Each campus is so unique and offers different opportunities that getting a feel for the day to day activities is essential. If they have you tour the school while it is closed, be sure to ask for a follow up while school is in session if possible, though if you are making the decision during summer, that might be a little harder. The schools might be able to give you a few families to reach out to that would be able to offer a different perspective.
Look into the curriculum being taught. There are some new state mandates that are being placed on our schools, so be sure to research this out and ask the Principal if you have any lingering questions. Private schools have a little more freedom on what can be taught so the state directed curriculum likely won’t have an impact.
After school clubs and activities are an important part of childhood development and socialization so make sure there are opportunities that would suit your child’s personality and needs. The smaller schools might not have as many choices but typically, there is something to choose from. Along the same line, if your child has special needs, be sure the school can accommodate. Most of the services a child would need for public school are less expensive or even free, where in the private schools, services typically are not subsidized by the state.
For working parents, afterschool care may be an important consideration. The schools have a list of what is available on-campus or near the campus. You may have to be creative and look outside the provided list.
Tuition and other fees can be one of the biggest factors in this decision, especially if you are on a budget. Be sure to map out any of the fees for school, supplies, activities, uniforms, etc. When you add all these fees together on top of any other extracurricular activities, this could be very telling.
The God factor was huge in making our decision. We were worried about moving to a public school as our child wouldn’t have His influence in the day-to-day teaching and that was worrisome. After praying about this decision as a family, we realized that even though public schools don’t offer a Christian based curriculum, as parents, we are and should be modeling Christ-like living and thinking. If we instill in our children a foundation on God at home, and teach them His word, our kids will be able to better see Him throughout their day and in their education. And, of course, your family’s connection to the church is crucial. The church and the support offered by children’s ministry only reaffirms and further fills their hearts, minds and souls with His word no matter if they are in private school, public school or are homeschooled.
Ultimately, when making the school decision, seek His direction most of all. Pray as a family over your options and trust that your child will be exactly where they are meant to be.