Education choices for my children | Bert Anderson for Thirsties

Last Thursday my husband and I embarked on a new phase of parenting: Kindergarten orientation and registration. It’s been five years since my son has been born and this coming fall he’ll start educational phase of life. It should be simple, shouldn’t it? Sending a child to school seems like an easy decision to make, one that’s not filled with second guessing or too much anxiety. What I’m beginning to learn is that it can be an easy decision, and perhaps it really should be; but in a day and age where there are so many options and so many opinions it can drive a person insane.

My core group of friends have children who are either homeschooled or attend a local charter school. When my son was an infant and young toddler I was certain that we would homeschool him. I liked the ability to set our own schedule, to monitor what my child would be learning and to control the social settings he would experience. As my son aged, it soon became apparent that he and I are so much alike that homeschooling him could be disastrous for our relationship. I also began to realize that like me, he is incredibly social, thriving in a social setting where there are other children and adults he can interact with. Like me, he also is competitive; heck, it’s how I get him to clean up! We race each other to see who can clean up the fastest. Since he started attending preschool he has really blossomed into this mature little boy because he’s excelled by being in a classroom setting.

Then there’s the charter school option; initially I was set on sending my children to the same charter school that my friends send their children to. The school places a high emphasis on academic learning with its curriculum being set in “classical education.” These children are bright. They are learning how to learn in a very vigorous educational setting. While it works for my friends and their children, the more I learned about the school, the more turned off I became. I feel that kids should be allowed to be kids. I’m not saying that I’m dumbing down my children by wanting them to have a typical elementary education. What I’m saying is that I want for my children to experience the holiday parties, the arts, and the physical education that a public school has to offer. Plus, I really do believe that my children have the rest of their lives to be a grown up; it will definitely be a longer time than being a child. I want right now, for their most difficult decision to be whether they should play with Legos or wooden blocks.

Without second guessing my decision, and after discussing it with my husband, we are sending our children (starting with my son) to the public school in our town. Without comparing my child’s educational experience with another or worrying about whether or not he’ll learn enough to function successfully in life, I will “go with the flow” so to speak. I will be involved in his education; it starts at home with my husband and me. As a parent you must be involved in your child’s education. You cannot solely rely on your child’s teachers to do it all.

That’s what we’re doing: sending our son to public school next fall. If it completely fails, we can always go a different route. Nothing is set in stone.