July 30, 2007

Schooling Options: How Do You Decide?

Where I live, state law mandates that public schools not open until after Labor Day. Even so, retailers begin sneaking out their back-to-school displays just after the Fourth of July. If you’re in a community where school starts by mid-August, you’re already inundated. And, just as your child must choose from a dozen different styles of backpack or notebook, you face a multitude of schooling options for him.

Should you choose public, private, or homeschool? A daunting choice in and of itself, but it doesn’t end there. If you go private, you can choose a secular, an interdenominational, or a denomination-specific school. If you homeschool, which of literally hundreds of curriculum programs should you purchase…or should you “unschool?” Even the public school choice is complicated. You can opt for your neighborhood school. Or you can send your child to a magnet or charter school…or even use school-choice to go across town or to an entirely different district.

Dozens of books have been written touting each of these possibilities so it’s impossible to succinctly explain here the pros and cons of even one. Besides, at Celebrate Kids we don’t advocate one schooling option over another, as each can be a valid choice under the right circumstances.

That begins, though, with being deliberate in what you decide. In other words, don’t default to the neighborhood school simply because it’s a few blocks away. Don’t send your child to a parochial school just because three generations have gone before her. Don’t homeschool because your best friend does. You need to put in the time and effort to thoroughly investigate all the possibilities.

In your research, the starting and ending point needs to be the answer to just one question: What is best for this child? If you know your child well – his personality, her multiple intelligence strengths and weaknesses, his special needs – and have an “educational mission statement” (i.e., an understanding of what you want an education to accomplish for her), you can then rate each schooling option for how well it fits your child’s needs. Then you can rest in knowing that your well-reasoned choice is the right one.


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