It wasn’t until Kathryn invited me to blog on the subject that I gave careful thought to why I chose public school for my children. It led me to realize that I never had any question whether or not my children would attend public school. They would. I did. My husband did. Where they would go was a much bigger decision because it would have to be the best. We spent months scouring the Houston area, looking at data, talking to other parents, visiting neighborhoods until we found what we truly believe is the best district as well as schools in our area. Not all public schools would be right for us, but where we are now is perfect for our family.
I am writing this post from a unique angle as not only am I a Catholic mother of two (sixth and second grades) attending public school, but I have also been blessed to teach in public schools for the last 10 years. The responsibility of faith falls squarely on my husband and myself when it comes to the religious education and upbringing of our kids. While challenging, it puts an ever important purpose on faith in our home and teaching our kids how to personally incorporate their beliefs in school as well their whole lives. What I have humbly learned as both teacher and parent is while our choice of public school came automatically, we do still continue to choose and love sending our children to public school.
10 Reasons We Continue to Choose Public School
- Financial. This is quite possibly the biggest reason private school never occurred to me when we were moving and looking for that “perfect school” before our oldest began Kindergarten. We simply could not afford to pay private school tuition when our firstborn started school. Even though it could be an option now, our children are thriving with friends, activities and are happy. Happy kiddos = happy mama.
- Neighborhood friends. Even when I taught at a different school than my home zoned school, my husband and I felt very strongly about our children going to their home school so they could have friends that lived near them and even ride the bus once in a while. Nearby friends give us that small town community feeling and we love it.
- Diversity. While I do constantly worry about what my children may see, hear or learn from other children who come from families with different beliefs or expectations, I truly believe these differences also offer wonderful learning opportunities and discussions for us. For example, my daughter was having difficulty with a student in her class being mean to her. One day I asked her about it and she told me the girl was absent, most likely because she missed the bus. It gave us an opportunity to talk about how sad it must be that even if the child missed the bus she had no one to take her to school and we were able to talk about what her home life may be like and link it to why she may be lashing out at my daughter. It also resulted in my daughter adding that child to her evening prayers. It also gives my children experiences I may not be able to give them, such as attending church with a friend of another faith or eating dinner at a friend’s house whose family speaks another language. The exposure to different faiths and cultures leads to acceptance and appreciation that our way isn’t the only way.
- Special education. I am fortunate and blessed to have kids who are strong students and love school (for now!) and find it easy (also for now!), however not all children do. I have absolutely adored watching both of my children embrace the children in their classes and school with such empathy and understanding. I truly feel the understanding of others’ special needs is crucial in our world. Public schools are equipped to serve children with disabilities and tailor their education plan just right for them.
- Real world. I think public education is a great way to prepare children for dealing with all walks of life, be it at the grocery store, The Nutcracker Ballet, an airport or the zoo. Going to school with peers who have more or less and of different backgrounds gives my kids knowledge as well as sensitivity to those real life experiences.
- Curriculum. Public schools have to follow state guidelines on what our children learn. With technology, our school has given me a wealth of resources as a parent to not only stay informed with what my children are learning, but also resources to encourage, reinforce and enrich these subjects. We are also able to check our children’s grades and schedules online.
- Continuity. Due to the state having required curriculum and expectations, I feel confident if we were to move anywhere in the state, our children’s learning would stay on track.
- Extra-curricular activities. Our elementary school offers a wide range of activities including chess club, Name That Book, Fit Girls, Student Council, Cup Stacking, Choir, Music Memory, Destination Imagination, Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts, just to name a few. There are even more to choose from in middle and high school.
- Positive atmosphere. We absolutely LOVE our school. It is exemplary in ways far beyond testing scores. From school fundraisers at Orange Leaf and Sonic and the annual Family Fun Fest to book fair, author visits, teacher websites, communication, technology and activities. As a family, we could not be more pleased.
- Us. Our parents raised both of us in loving, Catholic homes and sent us to public school. We took after their lead, as not any public school would do for us and both of our families moved to different homes so that we could attend specific schools. Our education has played a large part in the successes of my hubby and me in every role we play: husband, wife, mother, father, friend, teacher, techno-geek. Our faith and upbringing has led us to continue to choose to send our children to public school and as of right now, we wouldn’t have it any other way.