I spent three full years anxious about school for our children. We live in a city with excellent public schools, a nearby excellent private Christian school, and we have a complement of truly awesome friends who are homeschooling their truly awesome kids.
Which would we choose? And Why?
The decision seemed almost impossible to make. Each of the parents I spoke to had such good reasons for the choices they had made. We prayed and weighed the options. In the end we eliminated the Christian school option (too expensive), and opted against homeschooling (I can harness kindergarten-awesomeness for about 24 hours, and after that – I’m done. We figured our daughter needed more than 24 hours of awesome in a school year.)
So public school it was.
We are now in our second year of public schooling, and we are LOVING it. Not because it was the “only one left” after the other options had been ruled out (although that is true). Not because it’s free (although that is awesome). Not because it is perfect (no education ever is).
We are loving public school for one main reason: it has allowed us to participate in and belong to our community like never before.
After more than 9 years in the same city, we have made wonderful friends. Most of these have been through church, or through people we know from church. It’s been through activities sponsored by church, service projects run by church, moms groups springing out of church friendships. You get the picture. Quite churchy.
Yes, I have met people at the park or at play group, but without regular, sustained contact it is hard for deeper relationships to develop. One needs proximity AND regular contact to make friends, especially when you are in the “I can only talk for 90 seconds before someone asks me for juice” phase of life.
How wonderful, then, it has been to be in a public school filled with diverse and fabulous families from EVERY demographic in the community. My daughter loved her first week of public school for all the wondrous things that happened in the classroom, but I loved public school because of the wondrous parents I met waiting OUTSIDE the classroom at pick-up time. Interesting, educated, kind, marvelous, NOT-church people.
We LOVE it. Our family is meeting other families, and we are experiencing a feeling of community belonging in a totally new way.
We are loving birthday parties and play dates with new families. We love being able to trade kindnesses, to learn about different cultures. I love that, after more than a decade of feeling like “I wanted to make friendships outside of church, but not wanting anyone to feel that they were my “project””, that these friendships are organic and fun. And it DOES feel like they are organic and fun, because they ARE organic: we have something in common. We are parents-of-school-kids together.
This does not mean that I think public schools are superior to any other type of schools. This post is not a rejection of or judgment on different educational choices.
This is just me saying I’m grateful. Grateful for my children getting the instruction and care of a very experienced teacher. Grateful for a variety of excellent options, all locally available. And today, grateful for the community of families that public school has introduced us to. We’re ALL IN. And (just one more time, let me say), we LOVE it.
This is day 3 of 31 Days of Belonging.
Photo Credit: www.ncpubliccharters.org