Beginning late in the calendar year (now!), a lot of parents begin to ask, “What are we going to do about school for next year?” And while I hope for the sake of their kids very few parents are hopping from one option to another every year, I love that mindset.
Just by virtue of asking the question, you are part of a tribe of parents who view the education of their children as their responsibility rather than someone else’s (the school’s, the teacher’s, the government’s…).
Here are some questions to ask that might help you put everything you’ve learned together and find the best option for your child.
1. What options are you and your spouse seriously considering? If there is an option that neither of you is seriously considering at this time, stop turning that option over and over – take it off the table!
2. What will your days look like as a family with each of these options?
3. Where will your child thrive? Some questions you might ask are:
- How is your child doing academically?
- Overall, how is your child developing socially? This can be a challenge when we’re considering where to send our kids for kindergarten. At four, our children act like preschoolers! They are, at times, rude, selfish, embarrassing, unable to play well with others, and completely self-involved. However, you are probably getting a sense of how well they play with others their age.
- How creative is your child? Does he or she love unstructured and/or creative play?
4. What are the “costs” of rejecting each option? For example, a cost of rejecting public school might be going to school with most of the other children in your neighborhood. A cost of rejecting homeschooling might be the opportunity to be your child’s primary teacher. Sometimes examining decisions this way will help you say, “Yeah, I can live with that cost. It’s this other cost that I’m not sure I can live with.”
If I were you, I would have this conversation at a table with my spouse, some pieces of blank paper, and some colored markers. That’s how I operate best, but I’m guessing it won’t look like that unless you’re a school supply nerd like me!
Maybe you’re an abstract thinker who could create circles containing all of the above information. Or you could dedicate a column to each option you’re considering and write anything relevant to that column underneath (rejection costs, why you like that option, how you think your child will do socially, etc.).
If you put together all of the information swirling around in your (and your spouse’s) brain in a visual format, talking it through as you go, a clear “winner” will start to emerge.
The hardest part of this process might be letting go of the unchosen options. But if you’ve accurately identified the costs of rejecting each option, you will clearly understand the pros and cons of the choice you’ve made. And you will also understand, based on the cons you’ve identified, where you might need to shore up the choice you’ve made.