For the past couple weeks, every time I log into Facebook, my newsfeed is inundated with adorable children, freshly scrubbed and smiling. Some have backpacks, some hold signs. Some look excited and others a bit nervous. Each photo makes me smile and then a wave of anxiety washes over me.
Like so many things in parenting there is no right answer when confronted with the question of where your child will be educated. The options are as limitless and your time and funds allow. Public school, private school, charter schools, home school, unschool. When going over our options it feels like I am reading from a Dr. Seuss book.
One school, Two school, Public school, Private school,
Charter school, Home school, Old school, New school.
This one you get to by car.
This one isn’t very far.
Say! What a lot of schools there are.
We knew that eventually our musings and idealistic conversations on the topic of our child’s education would have to focus and become a real decision making process. But when you are up nursing a six week old or helping your one year old learn how to walk, it seems like a far-flung reality. No rush. Right?
Kind of. We dragged our heels. In our defense, we were renters up until last year when we made our house officially our home and signed those really scary and exhilarating papers. We lived our lives one 12 month lease at a time. We had no idea where our next adventure would take us, leaving school a hard choice to make. We didn’t know where we would be living. No idea on what town, or even state. We tossed around the idea of home schooling our daughter. That way, it wouldn’t matter what our zip code was.
As we settled into our house and it became clear that we were going to buy it, our discussions became more serious. Were we still going to home school? Or would we send her to the public school that was nearly in our back yard? We checked out private schools but I couldn’t justify the expense. We paid taxes. A lot of them. For school, one that I could see from my kitchen window.
Our daughter turned 3 and we decided to wait on pre-school for another year. I worked from home and made sure her days were full of play and friends and hands on learning. Maybe next year, we said.
As the winter turned to spring and pre-school registration arrived we decided to tour the program, get on the waiting list, and see what happened. A month later we got the acceptance letter. Now, we really had to make a choice. She would be four this summer. This was our last chance to send her to pre-school. We weighed the pros and cons. We talked to her. We further explored our options. I searched for the owner’s manual that I was convinced she HAD to have been born with. (I had no luck finding it….)
After weeks of conversations we decided to hold off on formal pre-school and instead become more active in the local home schooling community. We saw this year as an opportunity to test the home school waters. Would it work for us? Would it work for her? Both my husband and I were happy with our decision and our daughter was excited to not have to go to school every day.
Then, the back to school photos started rolling in. The school behind our house woke up from it’s summer slumber and the sounds of laughing children filled our yard every noontime during recess. I started wondering if we had made the right choice. Our daughter started asking when she would be able to join the other kids at school. Our confidence in our decision faltered. Had we made the right choice?
That is the thing with parenting, life even. There is rarely a right or wrong choice. When you find yourself standing at a fork in the road, there is no way of telling which turn will work best for you. All you can do is make a decision and hope you had enough information and gumption to have made the best one.
We are sticking to our plans to home school this year. As kindergarten registration comes up next spring we will revisit them. We will have more discussions and we will tour the school. We will talk to our daughter and together, as a family, decide what will work best for us.
In the meantime, I am resuming my search for that owner’s manual. It has GOT to be around here somewhere. Right?