If you are able to choose a private school or even move a school district, I’m sure you have tried to weigh the pros and cons of education for your child. Last year, as we navigated the school scene and during that time, I wished to just have another mom’s input on what she valued with choosing a school. So in an effort to be that “other opinion” to someone else, here’s what our experience was like.
We researched every private school in our area, called about our districted public school and scheduled a handful of tours. We made a list of things that were important to us in a school and discussed the sub-points.
Pre-K Decision Makers 🙂
Safety: Aware teachers, secure school grounds.
Part-Time Pre-K: I LOVE time with my girl and so does her brother. Being in school 8-3pm, 5 days a week seemed way too heavy for our 4 year old… and for Mom! This cut out our great districted public school.
Proximity: A school in our community was a priortity. I didn’t want to be driving 30min several times a day. This cut out a good majority of the private school options.
Education: A place that fostered a love for learning. Keeping classroom size small and learning personalized was important.
After a couple open houses and school tours, our hearts kept finding peace in a small private school near our home. The families we had met were friendly, the students were kind, the administration was very involved and aura of the school was one of humbleness and respect. Every time we were on the campus, we felt a sense of overwhelming peace. I felt excited to send my daughter to school!
Before our school tour and teacher observation, I would NEVER have chosen this school. They had some of the worst uniforms (in my opinion :)) and their website seemed very stale. However, I am so thankful that we left all our options open. In being open to God guiding us, we found a place that was the perfect fit for our family!
We pursued enrollment and started Pre-K last August. Our daughter (surprisingly) loved the uniform, her teacher and her sweet new friends. I felt so grateful to share our first school experience with six other families that loved their Pre-K kids so deeply. The teacher knew our daughter and cared for her! We only went to school 8hrs a week and pick-up took less than 10 minutes. All our decision makers seemed to align.
In the beginning of the school year, our daughter struggled with the academic requirements. I could list the things she needed to work on, but at the time of parent-teacher conferences, the list seemed endless. The teacher had told us that though our daughter was a “wonderful friend”, she rarely engaged in the learning process. The teacher poured out love on our girl, but all I felt was defeated. I was not upset with our daughter, not disappointed in her at all- just defeated. I wanted her to love learning, to love the pride that comes with conquering new material and to feel successful. I wanted Pre-K to be a peak into the wonderful world of education.
After conferences, we spent several weeks purposefully learning basic information through lots of educational play. I hoped that if she could learn a baseline of information, she would catch on to the flow of learning. I spent many nights wondering how to make shapes, numbers and letter sounds stick in her brain. I didn’t want her to feel pressure and I quickly realized she learned in a much more hands on fashion that I do. I asked Josh if we should pull her out of school. She wasn’t necessarily behind, but maybe a Montessori school would be a better option? I just wanted her to love learning. Josh naturally just laughed and hugged me, insisted that she would be just fine and that she did LOVE going to school.
He was right! 🙂
Out of the blue, we picked up a paper one evening to practice blending letter sounds. “H”-“a” (hhhhaaaa) and she just took off down the page. Like she knew them all along. I sat, flabbergasted and hugged her tight. After that, learning was a blast for both of us. Reading new words, blending new sounds- it was a constant light bulb/smile on the face effect. She was so proud of herself!
She conquered all her Pre-K learning objectives and more! She was reading Kindergarten level by the end of the year, counting to 100 by 1’s and 2’s, knew her shapes, patterns, and money values. She could say the date and tell the time, she knew 13 sight words, and she even memorized all of Psalms 113.
But, the best part of all is that she learned to LOVE learning.
Choosing the right school for your child is priceless! Entrusting someone else to influence and guide them for several hours a day is a big step to take, but knowing that you made the right step brings peace you can’t explain. My advice is to make a clear list of the elements you value, research your options, tour places and get input from alumni or students. Then, you ultimately have to make the best decision you know. As a parent, our kids are given to us to guide and love. God gives us wisdom and in our soul, I believe we can really “know” the best place for them!