When one of our children was having difficulty in his elementary school, we set conferences, brainstormed with teachers, and met with the principal. Our goal was to create the best possible learning and growing environment for our child. After meeting with the individual who could have (and should have) solved the problem, he responded in defense of his school–“You have no other choices.”

(Have you ever felt trapped into your education choices for your children?) IMG_2077

You can picture what happened next. My husband’s eyebrows–and his temperature–rose. “Oh, yes we do. We have many choices. Your school is just no longer one of them.”

Sometimes, people’s statements or undesired obstacles set us on a new course we never intended. But the hard work is not in the recognition of what isn’t working. The hard work comes in finding what will work best, and if I can afford it (time, effort, and money).

We know that getting a good education is paramount to a child’s development; however, academics are not the only consideration in choosing where a child should go to school. For children, the school experience is about developing the ethics of learning, striving, achieving, discovering gifts, making and maintaining personal relationships, developing leadership, and being exposed to new experiences.

There’s a lot on the line emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually while a child is at school. And every child is unique. Even in the same family, multiple children learn and respond to stimuli differently. That’s what makes the whole school decision so hard; we tend to pick a school based on our area’s “norm” or even our first child’s needs, and then we can become frustrated or confused when successive children don’t thrive in the same enironment.

A lot of moms have come to me over the years to discuss education because I have experience teaching multiple grades,  and I have dabbled in various types of learning environments as a teacher and a parent. I’m also not a believer in “one-size-fits-all.”  So rather than write a piece on why you should homeschool, send your kids to Christian school, or utilize the public school system, here are a few things to consider:

  • how does your child learn? (visual, auditory, tactile)
  • what are your child’s personality traits? (introvert, extrovert, sensitive, resilient)
  • how does your child interact within a group dynamic? (leader, follower)
  • what is your child’s birth order? (first boy or girl, middle child, baby, step-child, adopted)
  • how is your family health & dynamics? (relationally, spiritually)
  • what are your resources? (time, money, family support, academic counseling, educational testing)
  • what are your child’s strengths & weaknesses? (cognitive, character, self-esteem, confidence, attitude, work ethic)
  • how much time does your child need to spend on extra-curriculars, electives, & core subjects, based on skill level, interest, and deficiencies? (arts, languages, athletics, academics)
  • what special needs does your child have? (in relation to amount of stimuli, diet, emotional disorders, physical handicaps, learning disabilities, relational concerns)
  • how are the schools in your area? (public & charter, private, Christian/parochial, home schooling groups)
  • what school models do you favor? (traditional classroom, untraditional classroom, homeschooling, un-schooling)

Answer these questions and then tune back in for 4 successive blogs highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of the four basic schooling options that most people have available when looking at schools for their children. You will hopefully have a few more guidelines for choosing the right educational mode for you and your child!