April 22, 2010,
H.O. asks from Cedar Park, TX on April 21, 2010
K.B. answers from Houston on April 21, 2010
As with everything else in life, there are good private schools and there are bad ones and there are good public schools and bad ones. You'll have to compare those schools that are available to you.
The one thing that does bother me when I speak to SOME parents who send their kids to private schools is that they seem to think all the problems that kids face today seem to stop at the private school door and they don't have to deal with them. I actually had a parent say to me "I'm so glad my child goes to private school so we don't have to worry about drugs and teen pregnancy!" I was shocked. She didn't think these things could possibly touch her children because of the school she sent them to. If a private school is the best educational setting for your child, great but don't assume that you don't have to still deal with educating your children about these issues because they do still exist and private schools actually tend to do a lot less talking about these issues then public schools so the burden is even more so on the parents to educate the kids about these things.
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D.B. answers from Charlotte on April 21, 2010
Really and truly, it's according to the school itself. Christian school means two things - private where people have to be able to afford to send their kids, so there aren't a lot of lower economic families there, and the school can say no to any kids who don't meet their criteria - ie behavior problems or learning issues. The second is religious - the type of religion that the school pushes, which can be liberal all the way to evangelical conservative - so if your personal beliefs are really different than the way the school leans, it can be hard on your child. And between all this, there is usually not a lot of diversity.
Now, that said, it can be much easier for you to navigate a smaller school where there aren't a lot of or any at-risk kids, so the teachers are focused on teaching rather than disciplining.
Here's the other side of it. If your child has any learning or behavior difficulties, the private school can say goodbye to you and your child, because they either don't want to or don't have the ability to work with special needs. A public school that is worth its salt will put together an IEP for a special needs child and get them extra help to keep the child on track. It can be a godsend for your child, IF you have a committed teacher and staff - but even with the best IEP, if the teacher doesn't follow it, it isn't worth much.
Regarding the religious aspect, just because the school is Christian doesn't mean that it is a good school. My mom was a public school first grade teacher for over 20 years and loved teaching. (She is also a devout Christian.) She taught in a low school in the bad part of town because she felt those at-risk kids needed someone who would love them and challenge them - I respect her so much for that. We didn't attend the school where she taught, but at one point she decided to put my younger sister in a Christian school because people talked so highly of it. Just months into the first semester, she knew she had made a mistake. My sister wasn't learning anything - the teacher sent home assignments and notes with poor grammar, misspellings, work that was far too easy for the grade level, etc. My sister lost a year, so to speak. My mom thankfully understood what was happening, since she was an educator. She moved my sister back to the public school and got extra help for a while to get her caught up.
So really do your homework before making a decision. I was overseas for 6 years and had my children in a private Catholic international school whose academics were very rigorous. I loved that school, and still do. But we were lucky. Coming back to the US, I have put my kids in a public school, and they are doing well.
All my best,
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C.S. answers from Medford on April 21, 2010
I have this debate with my friends everyday it seems. I chose to send my kids to a private christian school whereas most my friends send their kids to public school. It's not that I hate public school, but we can afford to send them to private school. We have a set amount of money that we have always paid out in daycare and we chose to continue using that money for education.
My #1 reason for sending my kids to private school is that they will get education on Our lord and savior. That will not happen at public school! I am not a pastor, nor am I well versed in the bible and I want my children to get as much education on Christian life as possible. If they grow up and choose not to use that knowledge thats up to them, but I want to make sure that I give that gift to them.
My #2 reason for sending my kids to private school is sheer class size. The "best" public elementry school (the one that everyone wants to get in) lost a teaching position last year and now has 30+ kindergartners in one class!!! My daughter could not succeed in a class that large. She would be too overwelmed.
I personally feel like private school is more structured than public school and that is something that my daughter needs to be healthy and happy. She is very smart and extremely creative, but she has a difficult time dealing with chaos (like her momma). :) I just want to give her every opportunity to be the best that she can be. As long as we can afford to have our kids in private school we will.
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A.S. answers from Boca Raton on April 21, 2010
IMHO it depends on the child, the schools in your area, and your family. There are a number of variables in that equation.
That being said, with my own children I've come to realize that kids spend a great deal of time either at school, or doing school activities. Therefore, their characters will be greatly influenced by their environments and peers. So, the choice of school is important and does not solely pertain to education (though ideally it would).
We have always been in private school and now we homeschool. However, I would consider public school, too, given certain opportunities that are available there (i.e. great band or theater dept., science & technology specialties, etc.).
If I had it to do over again I would stay more flexible and realize that if we made the wrong educational decision we could do something differently without agonizing over it.
Good luck in your decision.
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C. answers from Houston on April 21, 2010
I didn't read the other answers, but thought I would throw in my husband's experience. He spent his first 3 years of school at a private, Christian school, then the rest of his years in public school. He says that those first 3 years might have been the only thing that kept him grounded in his faith. He says the only goodness he has he feels he got while he was in Christian school. I didnt' have a lot of time to write, but thought I'd toss that in. We're homeschooling our 3 (4th on the way) kids. If we ever decide we need to put them in school, we're hoping we can afford Christian school.
Good luck in your decision. Just spend a lot of time in prayer!!
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M.M. answers from Jacksonville on April 21, 2010
Here's what we did.
In VA, where they have very good public schools, we sent our girls to the private Christian school. My son stayed in the public high school.
My reason were truly selfish, my kindergartner was in a class of 27 with no teahcer's aide. Plus mom's were not welcome into the school and when they wanted to help the teacher, had to use the workroom, and go newhere near the class. My daughter developed severe school anxiety at 5 so we put her in the private school.
My other daughter was in 4th and didn't need to go to the Chritian school but we put her in as her sister was accepted. She was bored. She made good friends and loved the atmosphere 100% more than that of the public school but they would not budge and let her take the higher math and language.
Here in NC we started all 4 in public school. Right now we can't afford nor do I want ot drive to the Christian school, so I homeschool my youngest two.
My daughter who was in 5th and 6th in the Christain school learned some very good study skills and is a very strong Christian, big plusses, but in the high school she attends now she has been able to take Advanced AP classes as a freshman. Classes that aren't even offered at some private schools.
I will continue to homeschool my now 6th grader through 8th grade then put her in the public high schoool, even though this summer we are moving back to the same community we left three years ago. I will put my son in the public middle school. As much as I love the privater school's ideals the level of education was not as high as the public schools.
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J.F. answers from Phoenix on April 21, 2010
I would first check out the standardized test scores for the private and public schools and compare. You can do that at www.greatschools.net. If both were comparable, I would choose the private school if they had daily Bible study or religious classes. The private school would put more emphasis on behavior, attitude, hard work, ethics... as they relate to Christian principles. If they have that moral compass, they will better be prepared for life as adults. Of course, you can supplement if they go to public school but it will be more of an uphill battle. If I had the funds and the education is good, I would put my kids in private school!
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S.T. answers from Washington DC on April 21, 2010
i sent my older son to one for a year (i'm not christian but he was at the time.) while the classes were small and they were very good to him, i was rather surprised to discover that his grades were improving so much because the curriculum was incredibly dumbed down (and of course the science was completely off.) since i wanted him to be better educated, not just have better letter grades, i pulled him out after a year and homeschooled him, which worked out far better.
on the other hand, i attended a fairly large private christian school for most of my childhood and loved it. but it was under the british school system so the educational standard was very high (and it was very strict, which i also loved). in america the standards are almost non-existent for private christian schools, so check yours out very carefully. i expected my son's experience to be like my own, and it wasn't even close.
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