Dear Michelle,

My son is about to enter kindergarten and I am talking with my husband about where he should attend school.  My husband went to a Christian school and he believes that this would be the best route for us to send our son.  I, on the other hand, went to a public school and think that might be a better choice.  My reasons have to do with overall diversity and my husband believes that a private school that is in alignment with the values he grew up with is going to provide a better foundation and would be more in alignment with his belief system.  We are considering a move to an area where the public school system has exemplary ratings and I just do not see why we would pay to support such a school system and not use it. What are your thoughts?  – Torn over Schooling

Dear Torn,

I appreciate your concern.  First let me just say that it’s commendable that you both care so much about your child’s schooling.  Obviously where you ultimately decide to send your child might have a significant impact on his future.  Issues like safety, curriculum, and an overall sense of belonging will go along way in your child’s future.

When it comes to deciding where to send your child, I would probably make a list of pros and cons for both the religious school and the public school system.  As you mentioned, diversity can be a considerable pro as your child might be able to experience first hand what it’s like to exist in the real world, which is made up of all different people who share both common and different opinions.  This might be a considerable plus.  On the other hand, having an education that is consistent with what your husband’s religious belief may be a significant advantage, as well.  Diversity of views can still be taught in a private school.  In addition, there are other places your child might experience interaction with those who do not share the same religious views such as athletic leagues, clubs etc.,

Choosing where to send your child to school is a very personal choice.  My experience as a student in public school was mostly positive.  My experience as someone who has taught various grade levels has also allowed me to have some additional insight into the public school system.  That being said, nothing is perfect and there were surely things I would change.  Sending your child to a private school does not guarantee your child will not be exposed to things you cannot control but might allow you to feel you have more of a sense of control.

One thing you did mention which might be something to consider is the overall expense involved.  As you said, you are going to be paying taxes toward a school system that if you opt out of sending your child there might be considered a waste.  Have you thought about having your child be involved in the church programs without actually sending him to the school?  This might allow for the perfect balance.

What might make sense is to consider just what it is your husband is so focused on with the private school?  Many believe that the public school system detracts from having children believe in God or a higher power, and if this is the case it might be something your husband is completely against.  Additionally, some people do not want their child exposed to what they consider liberal values.  Of course, your child is likely to be exposed to various things through television, movies, and interacting with friends outside of school, which might cause him to be curious.  In other words, there is only so much shielding one can do before their child ends up having access to information that might be contrary to their parent’s belief system.

What matters most of all is that you and your husband talk together about your desires for your son’s education and that you remain actively involved in the learning process.  Safety and an overall sense of belonging, as well as, a solid fundamental foundation of core curriculum is key.  As you consider the pros and cons remember that you can always change course if you find that the school your child is in simply does not seem to provide the right fit.  Maybe to begin with one and monitor how your son does will be a good route to choose.  If he’s thriving and happy in the school you choose, you’ll know you have made the right choice.  If he’s not doing well and you find you are having problems once your child has been learning, you can always change course.  It might not be the best thing for your son to change from one school to another once he’s enrolled but it’s not impossible either.  With loving parents who care about his future, there’s a pretty good chance that no matter which road you choose, it will be the right one.

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