Public vs. Private School: How Does a Parent Decide?

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Should I send my child to public or private school?


It’s a question many parents grapple with. I know, as my kids neared the end of preschool, my husband and I sure did …


Should we keep our kids at the private school at our church where they currently attended? we wondered. Or should we have them register at the local public school in our neighborhood?


There were pros and cons to both decisions, and we weighed them all. I remember writing a list of all the things that I thought were good and bad about each option.


We loved the private school our kids went to preschool at; it was already like home. Yet many of the kids in our neighborhood would be attending the school around the corner, and we loved that sense of neighborhood community, too.


The public school was within walking distance.


The private school wasn’t. And while the tuition there was worth it, it was expensive.


Back and forth we went, not sure what the right choice was.


We talked about it. We talked to others about it. We prayed. We researched.


And in the end, we’d gathered enough information to decide: We would register our daughter for kindergarten at the public school around the corner and see how it went. We knew that nothing was permanent and we could make a change if we needed to.


Well, no change was needed.


Our daughter, and then our son, went the school in our neighborhood and loved it. We did too. Everything about it—the teachers, the administrators, the quality education, the location, the friends our kids have made.


The friends we’ve made.


And now, years later, I’m sad at the prospect of my kids ever leaving their school. For us, the decision to send them there was the right one. Looking back over the last several years, I know that in my heart.


But, again, I think this decision is different for each family because it depends on so many factors. Every school, community, and family is different. I have friends whose kids are homeschooled, friends whose kids go to private school, and friends whose kids go to public school, and they are all happy with their decisions. The situation can change over time too, as kids move from elementary to middle school, etc.


So, to hopefully help, here are some things parents can do when trying to decide what to do:


1. Get information (Talk to parents who’ve chosen the option you’re considering. Read and do research too.)


2. Visit the school to get a feel for it. Talk to the staff there.


3. Weigh the pros and cons (Make a list like we did; it really helped.)


4. Consider what might be gained or lost by each decision.


5. Think about where your child would thrive (You know your kids best so if there’s a compelling reason they should be in one setting vs. another, consider that).


6. Listen to your gut (You can never underestimate a mother’s or father’s intuition).


7. Last, recognize that nothing is permanent (of course you want to minimize change for your kids, but if you make a decision and realize it’s the wrong one for your family or kids, change is always possible).

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