Finding the Best School for My Child: Education Options
This post is the 2nd installment in the Strategies for Raising Great Kids Series. For more ideas, check out the first post, Fine-Tuning Motherhood: Post Survival-Mode Strategies for Raising Great Kids.
Which School is Best For My Child?
Being that we are now in the school-days phase, one of the obvious places to start was there. In 2016, a lot of Mom-hype and strategic advertising convinced me to apply my children to a local charter school.
Their curriculum was different than the traditional methods and it seemed to be something my children would enjoy. Their GreatSchools.org rating seemed to only match up with our local public school, and they were located further away, but the eccentricity of their curriculum was appealing. Generally, public charters have an open-enrollment period followed by a random lottery. The application deadline was upon us, so I decided to give it a try and applied my kiddos to the school.
We were waitlisted. *Surprise, surprise.*
I wasn’t much disappointed in the fact that we were waitlisted. I was still researching the school and the process was new to me. So in the coming school year, our children went to the local public school instead. No biggie, right? I mean, they both had matching ratings and the public school was so much closer, so… (Just to clarify, charter schools are public schools paid for by the taxpayers/state. I just refer to the local public school as such to differentiate between the two.)
By the end of 2017, (which also happened to be within the first 4 months of the school year) I started to examine, more closely, whether or not my children were getting the best I could offer them in terms of education. I had one child struggling in math. As soon as we realized my little one was having trouble, I voiced my concerns to the teacher who provided little/no support. I asked her if there would be tutoring available (as there was in our old school). She told me that they would not examine the possibility of offering tutoring until mid-year.
Mid-Year? How far behind would we be at that point?
On the flip-side, my other child was excelling at school and is very obviously gifted in one area, but because of ridiculous standards, would not be offered any special services.
This led me to look into what our schooling options actually were. What is the best school for my child (ren)? We are not in a position to afford private schooling, so that was out of the question. I wasn’t really sure what was available to us or where to even start in my search, but I knew we had to find something better. The first thing I did to start my search was to create a list of the things that I was looking for in a school.
Narrowing Down School Choices
Things on my list included accelerated learning programs, tutoring, a second language, increased play time, and a school that would not only teach my children to be academically talented, but one that would reiterate the values we are trying to teach in our home.
And it had to be low-cost or free.
To get a good grounding on all of my options, I researched and found an article on Understood.org that concisely explained the differences between public, charter, and private schools. As I went further to search for options specific to our area, I found FamiliesEmpowered.org to be very useful, too.
From there, I learned that I liked the idea of Dual Language Schools, Immersion Programs, and Charter Schools (that offer language options). The fact that this could be something standard that my children could learn in addition to their regular curriculum was really appealing. I discuss, in depth, dual language and immersion programs in San Antonio in my article: The Immersion Option in San Antonio Woman Magazine.
With the additional help of an awesome local resource (www.SACharterMoms.com), I was able to get more information on charters and even got some helpful parent reviews on the schools we were considering.
I loved hearing the good, the bad, and the ugly because this is something new to us. It made such a huge impact on our choice and I suggest that if you are looking into your child’s education options, that you find a Facebook Group or Parents in your area that will give you the real deal.
Fortunately for us, there were a few schools that met our requirements. On the advice of other parents and charter school resources, we applied to a few of the schools we liked. Not only would this give us more options, but it increased our chances of getting in SOMEWHERE.
Ultimately, there was this one school that made it to the top of our list and stole my heart. This school encompassed all the things I had in mind for my children… it felt as though I had found the best school for my child (ren), but there was only one minor obstacle between us and a better education… the waiting list.
Are Charter Schools Worth It?
We applied, crossed our fingers, and prayed. This school had a pretty lengthy waitlist that some people stayed on for YEARS. Because it’s a random lottery, even if we were waitlisted at a low number, but didn’t get in, we’d have to apply all over again during next year’s enrollment period. It could very well turn out that we would never get into the school.
This is perhaps the worst thing about charters- not being able to get in. It’s frustrating, but I understand the need to be fair. Everyone should have the same opportunity when it comes to a school that’s paid for by the state. I get that. So as we waited for the lottery to take place, I did even more research on charters. (This only made me want to move my children even more.)
Are Charter Schools better than regular public schools?
On paper, they seem to be, but there also seems to be a mounting number of articles written against them. It is a controversial topic, filled with many mixed emotions, and I encourage you to self-research and see how you feel about it. In the end, it’s a personal choice that requires much thought.
Through my own research, I became confident that a charter school would be better for my children. They offer so much more than traditional public schools and can make a better impact on my kids’ education. I have deemed it worthy to try.
Will this be the right fit for your family?
I couldn’t say. I don’t know which options are near you or how they measure up. I also do not know what the right learning style or environment is best for your child. Are they a self-led learner? Do they need a little push or tutoring? There’s a lot to take into consideration when searching for a school. Everyone learns differently and not every school is right for every family (or even every student within that family).
If you need help in finding the best school for your child, here’s a FREE printable/list of things to consider when looking for a school! Click on the image to get yours:
Utilizing our Education Options and Finding the Best School for My Child (ren)
I regret not having looked into my options sooner, but I’m glad we finally did. My children’s education is so important to me and just like every other parent, I want to offer them the best I can.
We were lucky enough to have been accepted to one of our choices and although the curriculum will be drastically different than what my children are used to now, it will be plentiful and has the ability to mold them into the responsible, forward-thinking, contributing members of society that we want them to be.
It will be a while before we find out just how well this new system works for our children, but the thought that they are getting a better education and that this will have a positive, significant impact on their lives has me sleeping better at night.
Strategies for Raising Great Kids
Finding the best school for my child (ren) was the first step in the 12 Strategies to Raising Great Kids. It’s likely the biggest step that we’ve had to take and although we won’t reap instant rewards, I’m content with the fact that the process will be beneficial long-term.
If you’re looking for more tips, check out the other installments in this series: Fine Tuning Motherhood and The Damaging Effects of Screen Time on Kids (and How to Fix it).Have you looked into your school options? Could your children be getting a better #education? Find out what we did and why here: Click To Tweet
Have you looked into your options? What did you find? What are your thoughts on Charter Schools?
Pamela is a Freelance Writer, Blogger, WAHM of 3, and Veteran Military Wife living in Southwest Texas. Raised in the Northeast and having lived a few years in the Pacific Northwest, she likes to write about mom life, parenting, frugal living, experiences, and WINE. (Lots of wine!) When she’s not busy chasing toddlers around, you can find her on the blog or on social media. Check her out on Instagram: instagram.com/wineandlavender