Saturday, April 16, 2011

Worrying About School As Our Son Just Masters The Potty

Just this morning with the Potty Master himself
Our son just graduated from Pull-Ups to big boy undies, and now I find myself consumed with thinking about his next big step: big boy school. Since he will start kindergarten in Fall 2012, we only have a little more than a year to figure out where he will go. In the past, parents didn't blink twice before sending their children to the local neighborhood school. But, these days, parents are busy researching their options to secure the best opportunities possible. 

Does this mean that there is a single best school out there? No. The best decision will vary for each family and possibly even for each child within a family. It's all about what is the best match. For our family, we live in close proximity to three different primary school districts: Cajon Valley Union School DistrictSantee School District, and La Mesa - Spring Valley School District.

Here are a few of the many factors we're considering:
  • Location - We want to pick a school that is within a 5-10 minute drive from home. We want our kids to attend a school that is in our general area so that they hopefully feel connected to and accepted by the community. We want them to be able to easily get together with school friends to play or study. And, for practical reasons, we don't to add the burden of a lengthy commute to our already crazy work schedules.
  • K-5 vs. K-6 vs. K-8? - What do we think will be best for our kids? Are kids at K-8 schools (i.e. Santee District schools in East County) kept more innocent for longer, or are they too sheltered and have a difficult transition into high school? If they will need to go to a separate middle school, which one would we pick?
  • High Schools - I know that this is a long way off, but I'm thinking that the elementary school we pick will determine the friends our kids make and thus where they want to go for high school. What will matter most in a high school: social climate, school size, test scores, class offerings?
  • Academic Rigor and School Culture - How can we determine the academic rigor of schools other than by their test scores? The schools immediately near us have pretty low test scores. Do we try to get our kids into "better performing" schools further away? If we send our kids to these other schools, will they feel like outsiders because they are "transfer" students? Will they be more influenced to develop an entitlement attitude if they go to school with more "privileged" kids? How much do we prioritize sending our kids to a school with more "diverse" populations? It's easy to quantify test scores, but how do we measure differences in the values and self-image our children will develop?
  • Public vs. Charter vs. Private? - We've always believed in sending our kids to public schools, but with public education getting hit harder all of the time, are we stubborn and crazy not to consider other options?
If anyone reading this has advice or opinions on local schools, please contact me! I'd love to hear how people feel about them firsthand.

1 comment:

  1. Good food for thought. i don't cover schools but i know some are better than others... lemme know if you hear anything back from people on this matter!