Kindnergarten - Public or Private?

Updated on February 02, 2011
D.S. asks from West Warren, MA
10 answers

My DD (4.5 years old) currently goes to preschool at a private school - decision based solely on teacher and school schedule, not religious practices. My husband and I have always thought that we would send her to public school starting in Kindergarten. However, when we went to open house I actually liked the private school more than I thought I would. I liked that they teach as a "whole" and not to the standardized tests, they teach compassion, caring, sharing, and how to be a good citizen as well as core classes. Most of the teachers are not nuns (My husband is opposed to having our daughters taught by strict nuns). This school is not in the town that we live in, however is in a neighboring town. I have concerns about the social aspect of not going to school in your town, the extracurricular activities offered by public vs. private school, migrating into public school in 9th grade, quality of education of public school, and a ton more. I am hoping the mamas here can tell me if your kids go to private or public school and why you made the decisions you did? Also can you tell me if you would have decided differently knowing now what you didn't know back then? I am really up in the air and it is quite a bit of money for something I am not 100% committed to. We also have a 1 1/2 year old daughter and will most likely send her to the same school her older sister goes to.

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answers from San Francisco on

we moved to an area with good public schools and the decision worked well for us. It's a district with small class sizes (they're in 3rd grade and so far their classes have all been no more than 20 kids), a very committed parent population that contributes loads of volunteer time as well as financial commitments to support the city-wide and school-wide educational funds that pay for classroom aides, art, music, library, and computer classes, awesome teachers that get the kids enthused about learning not just academics but also being kind and respectful and ecologically conscious. And it's great that their friends are nearby too.

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answers from Jacksonville on

We kept ours in private until our son hit middle school age. There was a big jump in tuition costs at that level. I think they were challenged far more by their private school curriculum than my son has been since he has been in public school (last 1 1/2 years). The class sizes are also WAY smaller generally speaking, in private schools. If your child is a quieter personality, it might suit them better when they are still really small. I also seem to have noticed, at least in OUR experiences (daughter has been in public for 3rd and now 4th so far) that the children in private school exhibit fewer disciplinary problems during class time. I will not attempt to attribute that to anything in particular... likely it is a combination of factors all working together. The expectations were definitely higher for our children in private, and they were given many more field trip opportunities than they have in public school.

If my youngest was not qualified for G/T, I don't think I would be as happy with the public school system now. They have virtually no music or art classes any longer, due to the cuts and furloughs. Which our kids DID have weekly in private school, along with foreign language and computers.

Compare the two actual schools and consider how your children (with their own personalities) will fit into each school. You can always move them later. And yes, having two, impacts the ability to pay the tuition a great deal. Been there.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

My son goes to our public school (2nd grade now).
He is taught "compassion, caring, sharing, and how to be a good citizen as well as core classes" as well, but it's your dime.
We have several private church-schools in our area and the kids all play sports together, etc. So, it's your dime! Our public school district is a "good" O. so I didn't see any reason to "do" private school.

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answers from Los Angeles on

My husband always said that he's not paying $12,000 a year for our kids to cut and color in Kindergarten. So we put them in our public school but our schools are considered good public schools, also. On the other hand a few parents I knew kept their kids in private K and then transferred them to public in 1st grade-mostly because it was a longer day at the private one. There weren't any problems with socializing after moving schools, either. You can always start in public and switch if you aren't happy.



answers from Boston on

I went to public school from K-3 private 4-8 and back to public 9-12. my sister went to private for all grades. My parents didn't like the education I was getting in public during the 3rd grade so that was why they decided to put me in private school. I remember being in 4th grade and having to go to math with the 3rd grade class because I was so far behind, other than that it was just school to me. I demanded to go back to public school for 9th grade - mainly because that was where all my friends were going and the private high school was in a neighboring town no in our town. I adjusted fine going back and forth. My son is in 2nd grade at public school and is much more advanced than I was at his age - we have both loved all the teachers he has had and he is a straight A student and he has very good friends. We decided on public primarily due to finances but have been very happy with the school system.


answers from Dover on

Unless you are going to send your child through to graduation at a private school, I suggest the public school (unless you have real issues with it). Kids who do elementary and middle school at a private school and then transfer to a public school go through "culture" shock in high school and have a bit more trouble fitting in.

I prefer starting them where you intend them to finish.



answers from Chicago on

If you are part of a decent school system and approve of the ciriculmn they are using save your $$$$$ for college.


answers from Hartford on

I went to public school for elementary and middle education and an extremely competitive private school for high school. I had a little bit of a learning curve when I got to private school to keep up with my private school raised peers, but I surpassed them. Great teachers can be found everywhere and a child will excel based on their family support and personal motivation. Personally, private school would have been a waste for me at an earlier age; high school was when I needed it. I was well prepared for university and I had the college search support that is lacking at the public schools. In addition, the students that had been in the private school system their whole lives were out of touch with the reality of working class families. So, socially I also feel like experiencing both worlds at an age when I could reason was also beneficial. In any case, it is a personal decision. Do what feels right to you.
Good luck,



answers from San Francisco on

I love the parochial school my children attend. It is a close knit community and the friendships that we have made there extend past just playdates. During my last pregnancy, I was on bedrest. A mother in one of my kids' classroom (that I did not know well at the time) took it upon herself to organize meals being made and delivered to our home every other night. Many of the families had playdates or picked up or dropped off my kids too.

I know that my children are receiving a 'well rounded' education. In the era of 'extras' being cut from public school, my children still have p.e., art, a science lab, Spanish lessons, etc.....

I know that all the children they go to school with want their children to receive a great education. We are all there for one purpose not just because the state says children have to be in school.

I too, as a child, went to a parochial school that was in the next town, like your situation. My mother did have to make an effort to make sure that I had playdates even though she had to drive farther. I then, went to a private high school in a different town and again had to make friends. It all worked out and I don't remember being tramatized by this at all.

I then went to a state college. My dorm roommate and I were probably 'equals' in terms of how bright we were. But I had an easier time during the first year of college and I do credit it towards the great education I received before attending college.

I am also a credential teacher. I have worked in public schools for eleven years in California. You can get a good education in a public school but you do need to know your area well so you know where they are score wise. Besides test scores, check out if they teach p.e., a second language, etc.... What are the demographics of your area? What are the socio-economics of your area? In my town, if my children went to the public school they would not be with their peer group (the majority of their peer group go to private schools). But if we lived a few towns away, I would send them to a public school because it would be like a private school and the children would be from homes that value education greatly. I will never forget that when I taught Kindergarten in a public school a little girl flipped a little boy off in the classroom. Luckily, the little boy did not know what it meant but she certainly did and when I brought it up to her mother, she did not see what in the world was wrong with her daughter expressing herself this way. I was pregnant at the time with my firstborn. I remember rubbing my belly and saying, "Don't worry; you will not go to school here."

Good luck, certainly not an easy decision to make. Just educate yourself with all of your options and then go with what feels right.



answers from Kansas City on

We are Catholic and my son attended preschool at the Catholic school in town for 2 years. My husband and I always attended public school, I taught in a public school before our children were born, and I fully intended to send our children to public school. However, that all changed when we enrolled him at the Catholic preschool (it's a preK-8 school). His preschool teacher was AWESOME. The curriculum was very challenging and he really got in with a great group of kids. Each month the school has family events like a Sock Hop, Bingo, and Fall Fest, which really build the home-school community. We decided to send him there for kindergarten and do not regret it! My 2nd son will start preschool in the fall. Our public school options were also good, but there was just something special about the private school. We are a military family, so we will have to move in a few years. When we move, I will openly consider the public and private school options.

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