From the second you find out you are pregnant or going to adopt, you start making decisions. Some you’ll get right, and some you’ll get wrong. Some matter a lot, and some not at all. Unfortunately (for your kids and your guilt-factor) you don’t have any way of knowing ahead of time how much weight any of your decisions have.
The kindergarten Decision is huge. If this is the current ‘season’ of parenting that you are in I completely feel for you. It is an exhausting time. It’s like being in school again yourself except you are doing homework and research and you won’t find out your grade for another 12 years. Some of also you have to make the Young Fives/kindergarten decision. Or the homeschooling decision. Or the school of choice decision. Or the “we didnt’ get in where we wanted – what now?” decision. It might very well just be one of those things that in the end, doesn’t really matter. Or it might. That’s the part that sucks.
We wanted a good reason to send our kids to our neighborhood, public school. We talked to parents and teachers in the school district who encouraged us to send our children there. Why? Because “we need parents like you“.
We wanted a good reason to send our kids to the school affiliated with our church. We went to the open houses and met with administrators who encouraged us to send our children there. Why? “Because it’s more convenient. They get their sacraments right during school”.
We wanted a good reason to send our kids to a charter school near our house. We went to the information nights and orientation. They encouraged us to send our children there. Why? “Because we are diverse.”
Well, the fact that a school needs us wasn’t compelling enough. We can volunteer there – but what good will it do my kids? The convenience of receiving sacraments at school weren’t worth the cost – we can drive them to church on Wednesday nights for free. Diversity is good. Of course it is good. But how does that translate into a good education?
The school that ‘hooked’ us was one that talked about character development and was able to demonstrate that they actually walked the walk. It was also the most academically challenging school. It’s not that this was the best school. It was the best school for us. It forced us to choose between service to community, religion, exposure to diversity, and character and academics. As parents we pride ourselves on making all of these things a priority – but when we had to pick between them, it was impossible not to feel a little disappointed in ourselves. At the same time; two years later we both still firmly believe we made the right choice.
I have very little to offer you other than empathy; but I hope you will accept it.
If you are in the Grand Rapids Public School district and your child will be 5 years old by December 1, you are invited to attend a program called “Kindergarten, Here I Come!” on Tuesday, March 9 from 5:30 – 7:30 at the Grand Rapids Public Museum. Representatives from the district’s elementary schools will be there, and admission to the event (and the Museum!) is free. Call Lesley at 819-2111 for more information.
And… good luck.