Saturday, February 21, 2015

Our Private School Experience

Well, we are well into the school year so I wanted to share our experience with private school thus far. From the time Amelia was born I knew where I wanted her to go to school. It was not a decision we made on a whim, but instead well thought out with a lot of research involved. Now this post is not at all intended to say that private school is better than public, just our thought process and experience on the matter.

Mark and I both went to public school. I loved school and had some of the most amazing teachers in the world. I remember every teacher from kindergarten on and could sit here and tell you why I liked each of them, what they offered me and the life lessons I gained from being in their class. There are a few of my teachers that I continue to keep in touch with even now. I don't remember a time when I was ever bullied or made to hate school. I played sports, was involved in several clubs, was a member of ASB and also had opportunities to tutor other students. Overall, my school experience was wonderful. 

Fast forward to our preparation, as parents, to send our daughter off to school. Here are some of the reasons why we chose to have her attend private school and some of the reasons why we fell in love with it after the school year started.

The program. It was refreshing to see a school with such a solid education program. Before we applied, I met with administrators at the school and talked with them about what the school had to offer. I loved seeing programs like music, art, PE and Spanish offered to grades K-8. We see it on the news all the time, schools cutting programs because it doesn't fit in the budget. It really is a sad situation. I fondly remember having music, art, calligraphy, band and other electives before I even reached high school.

Class/School Size. Before school even started there were several staff members who knew us. It was so welcoming to have the secretary approach me as I walked in to pick Amelia up from her first day and say "I bet Amelia had a wonderful first day. Those little kids are just so cute". She already knew who I was and which child belonged to me, and she took the time to stop me and make me feel welcome. Class sizes are small; Amelia's class has 18 kids. Amelia's class has both a teacher and full time aid. The kids get plenty of attention and help.

Uniforms. I love the idea of uniforms and love that more schools are adopting this dress code. There is no reason why a child should have to be made fun of or talked bad about because of the clothes they wear. A uniform dress code puts all kids on an even level. I know one of the arguments against uniforms is that it is more expensive. Amelia's school uniform policy allows khaki and navy pants, shorts, skirts, skorts and jumpers, white blouses and red, navy and white polos. Her school also has a plaid. It's not required to wear the plaid, but that adds a few more options. With stores like Target and Old Navy offering uniform items, it really doesn't cost any more than regular school shopping.

Location. We don't own a home yet and haven't yet decided where to put down roots. We know the city, or better yet the outskirts we want to live in, but there are so many elementary schools around there that I didn't want to have to move her a time or two before we bought a house. Buying within a specific school district would limit our options.

Field Trips. Amelia's teacher is amazing at planning unique field trips for the kids. They are getting ready to go on their 6th field trip next week. They did a SOLVE park clean up, went hiking and learned about forests, visited the local police station and met with a judge, police officers and a k-9 unit. They've been caroling to a retirement home and visited a Christmas tree farm and picked out a tree for a family in need. Next week they are going to Market of Choice grocery store to learn about nutrition. I love the variety of trips they take and the incredible knowledge they gain from them.

The Community. With a small school I've noticed that parents, students and staff are able to get to know one another really well. There are so many opportunities to volunteer with others and attend fun after hours school events. It feels like one huge family.

Strong Values. Growing up in the public school system I can definitely tell a difference in how the children at Amelia's school behave. There is a really high standard set for them and the children all do really well with it. Every morning the entire school gathers for prayer time. The kids recite the school motto, expectations and the ways they can add value to the school and their community. In Amelia's class specifically, the kids are all so kind to one another. There aren't groups that ignore other groups. They all talk to one another and play well together. If one of them is out sick, the rest pray for them. If one of them gets hurt at school, the others all rush over to help.

Parent Involvement. Each family is required to volunteer a certain amount of hours each year. I think this is great! It ensures that parents are around to play an active role in their child's education. It allows us to get to know our child's classmates as well as their parents. I love feeling included in events and being around to help Amelia and her friends.

I'm sure I could continue on this topic, but this post is already so long. I didn't know how much I would love her school when we applied, but I'm so glad we chose to have her attend. It is our hope that she will be at her school all the way through 8th grade. 

2 comments:

  1. It sounds like Amelia's school is a wonderful place to be! Great choice for her and what a nice tribute to her teacher/school. I'd imagine she'll feel really lucky that she got to spend her days in such a wonderful learning environment.

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  2. Thanks for stopping by my blog the other day! =) I love the idea of a private school, and if we had one in our area, I'm pretty sure I would be sending my girls there. I absolutely love the idea of a uniform for school. No hassle in the mornings about what to wear, and since everyone would be wearing the same thing, there would be no making fun of anyone.

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