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      Just Ask Mom: Public vs. Private Education

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      Chances are when you were growing up, where you went toschool was a no brainer decision for your parents. You probably went the gradeschool just around the block from your house or maybe even the religious schoolthat was just a short bus ride away. The choices today are not so simple.

      The topic of education has become a complex, nationaldialogue with questions about policies for bullies, accountability,standardized testing, curriculum, class size, and teacher training. Regardlessof whether the school you went to was good enough for you when you were achild, it's now time to consider where your child will go and it is one of thelargest decisions you will make as a parent.

      There are several things to consider, can you afford privateeducation, is the curriculum what you are looking for, what about the valuesand morals being taught? How involved can I be?

      What are the benefitsof public education?

      When my daughter entered into Kindergarten, she went toschool two blocks from our home. This ensured she would play on the playgroundshe had always played on and would interact with kids she knew.

      You Get to KnowEveryone

      Public schoolsgenerally have a range of children from the whole gamut of socioeconomicclasses and a wide variety of backgrounds. This is the type of community thatmost people occupy as adults, and public school is an opportunity to meet itand learn to negotiate with other points of view an understand people withdiverse backgrounds and values.

      More opportunities

      Public schools are funded by our tax dollars and government;generally speaking, the more kids the more opportunities for extra activitieslike art programs, field trips, science fairs and more. These types of opportunities expose yourchild to an array of situations, people, and often help your child discover anddevelop her own hobbies.

      Private Education

      We began considering private education when we felt ourdaughter's needs were not being met in the classroom. At the time, our brightand exuberant daughter became more like a wallflower in the classroom and onthe playground. She was struggling with reading, speech, and had to wear an eyepatch. Not wanting her to fall behind in her education or risk her socialdevelopment, we turned to private education and kicked ourselves for not doingit sooner.

      IndividualizedAttention

      Private education often means smaller class sizes and moreattention. On average, private schoolshave a student-teacher ratio of 9:1 as opposed to about 17:1 in public schools.When Cheyenne entered Faith Christian School, she was given the attention andbreathing room she needed to work on her reading skills. At the time she wasentering third grade and could barely recognize key words, by the time shefinished her first year, she was reading short chapter books at a 4thgrade level.

      According to the National Center for Education StatisticsStudy, private schools tend to be half the size of public schools. Many expertsfeel that children are less likely to get lost in the shuffle if they attend asmaller school, which naturally nurtures a sense of community andbelonging. On average, private schoolshave a student-teacher ratio of 9:1 as opposed to about 17:1 in public schools.

      Strong CharacterBuilding

      Regardless of whether your family is religious or not,private schools focus on core Biblical values, which in turn raise great kids.In a world where the motto is, do what feels right for you, private schoolsteach the Golden Rule among other core values. Studies have shown students withstronger values make wiser choices in High School and College versus theirpublic counterparts. Private schools tend to teach children to look outsidethemselves and how they can serve others. This includes community projects andgiving.

      Strong ParentalInvolvement

      One of the most annoying conversations every mom on theplanet has goes something like this:

      "How was your day?"

      "Good."

      "What did you do?"

      "Nothing."

      Granted I still have that conversation with my son, butthere are more hands on parental involvement at his school. Parents whose childrenare in private schools are generally more involved. This is because parents areasked to volunteer at some level, either for fund raising, being a Teacher'saide, or some other role.

      Not only do parents volunteer, but parents are in closercommunication with their children's teachers. This means parents know if theirchild had a rough morning, whether new concepts are frustrating the child ortheir child is learning to curb his attitude. Not only do private schoolsencourage parents' participation, but it's also true that the parents ofprivate school students tend to be committed to having a say in their child'seducation.

      Theeducational opportunities are endless these days between public and privateschools. My kids are benefiting from both as my oldest enters 8thgrade in public school and my son enters first grade in private school. Ultimately the decision comes down to what isbest for your child. In the end, no matter what school you choose, what's mostimportant to remember is that you, the parent, will have an enormous influenceon your child's educational outcome.

      Courtesy- Heather Riggleman

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