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Growth Spurts: School Choice

I went to a parochial school kindergarten through college, with the exceptions of a six-week stint in a public school in third grade and a year of homeschooling in fifth grade. After five years at Mississippi College (Yes, I took a victory lap.), I found myself teaching high school English at a public school in Texas. It was a really good school, but I found that teaching was not my passion and, therefore, took early retirement after two years.

I loved my school years, except maybe for junior high. But junior high is rough no matter where you go to school. There were good things about each of the schools I attended. Probably my least favorite was homeschool (No offense, Mama.), because I missed the classroom setting and my friends. I think there were other reasons, too, and somewhere they were documented, because my mother made me write an essay on why I didn’t like homeschooling. It would be interesting to read that bit of masterful writing now. Interestingly, my oldest sister (the only one of us five siblings who was not homeschooled) is the very one who homeschools her own children now.

My husband Kevin was in public schools kindergarten through his senior year of high school and then attended Mississippi College (just four years…that overachiever). Because we had such different schooling backgrounds, it was a very big decision for us to make when it came time for our children to attend school.

I was pretty confident that I wasn’t going to homeschool (See paragraph 2.), and finances were definitely a factor in not choosing private school. Honestly, I didn’t know much about classical school, university model school, Montessori school, unschool, or other such things. Kevin and I researched and talked to other parents, teachers, and administrators and decided that we wanted our children to attend our area public schools. And I have to say that we have had great experiences!

I know that public school is not for everyone. But neither is private school, homeschool, and all the others. I believe that each family should decide for themselves which method is most effective for their family. Even then, they might need to break the decision down further, according to each child’s needs within that family. Further still, they might need to reconsider the schooling options with each new school year for each child. I once read of a family that had four children, and each child was involved in a different type of school. I admire those parents (Although, honestly, it makes me tired just thinking about doing all that simultaneously. Kudos to them!).

The method of schooling your children is a big, important decision–not to be taken lightly. You have to figure out what’s most important to you. What are the non-negotiables? I dare say that there is not a single school in the world that will satisfy all of your child’s and your needs every single day of every school year. There will always be issues. So figure out what you need most and find the school that best fits your criteria. Do your research. Talk to other parents and students. Get a feel for each environment. And then go with your gut. (But also give yourself the grace and freedom to change your mind down the road. Kids and their needs change over the years, after all.)

Lastly, I’d like to ask all of us to be kind to one another in our words and attitudes regarding schooling choices. Encourage each other, even! Each family has its own values, beliefs, and desires when it comes to education. Some families live in areas with limited schooling options. Some familiescan’t afford many of these options. And most families are just doing the best they can. Let’s not be snobs about which school we think is best. Let’s be on the same team–the team that wants the best for each of our kids, no matter what that looks like.

 

Carrie Bevell Partridge would like to thank her parents for all they did to ensure that she and her siblings had a great education. She loved her ECS Eagles!

About The Author

Carrie Partridge

Carrie Bevell Partridge grew up in Memphis, TN with her parents and four siblings. She attended Mississippi College, where she met her husband Kevin. They have been married for 20 years and have five children. They live in Ridgeland, MS. Carrie has written the “Growth Spurts” column and managed social media for Parents & Kids Magazine since 2011. You can read more of her work at carriebevellpartridge.com and Facebook.com/carriebevellpartridge.

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