Tuesday, December 13, 2011

School dilemma

Just when we thought we had all of our ducks in a row as far as the kids' schooling goes...ahh...another humbling experience lies ahead.

I am thrilled that Bobby is enrolled in a Catholic school. It's been my hope to be able to provide my kids the opportunity to be educated in an environment that welcomes God and encourages prayer. That is something I was not privy to growing up (through no fault of my parents; I'm one of four and the resources were just not there). Rob, however, did attend a Catholic school and I believe it played a key role in shaping him into the faith-filled husband and father that he is today. I desire the same for our boys...

The school that Bobby attends is staffed with wonderful, loving, caring teachers and an excellent principal (the best I've seen in my years as both a student and teacher). The curriculum is interesting and challenging for the students and it is not uncommon for students to be able to read before entering kindergarten. The problem: it's 30 minutes away. The commute isn't so bad since Bobby is our only child enrolled at this point but what about when David starts? What about when Bobby is full-time and David is part-time? That would mean driving back and forth six times in one day...THREE HOURS of driving every day just to get the kids to and from school. What does that mean for any other children we may have at that time? Is it fair or healthy for a baby to spend that much time in the car? That is precious time I could be working with him/her on important developmental skills. It just seems unnecessary to me. But this reason alone may not be enough to sway me...

The other issue at Bobby's school is the disturbing and worrisome smell. The building is old and the ceiling is constantly leaking. The lower level of the school has a musty, mildew-like odor and I'm willing to bet there is mold in the walls and/or ceiling. I'm no expert on mold but I do know that black mold can create lifelong health risks for people and even result in death. Is that something we really want to play around with? The school does not have a lot of money and to my knowledge, there are no plans in the works to repair any damages the building has sustained over the years.

So where does that leave us? There is one other Catholic school and it's an hour away. Not feasible. I'm not a fan of public schools, namely because prayer is banned and students are exposed to a variety of topics entirely too early, in my opinion. That leaves us with private school or homeschooling. Homeschooling had been of interest to me a few years ago but I have since changed my mind. I believe there is something to be said for my children learning to obey other adults and being exposed to methods of teaching different from mine. I think it is healthy for my children to have a piece of their day that doesn't include me and I've enjoyed watching and hearing about Bobby flourish in settings outside the home. It makes me feel like I'm doing a decent job of raising him to be independent while still treasuring family and time at home. The bottom line is that if my heart is not 100% in homeschooling, I would be doing my children a huge, almost irreparable, disservice. They deserve better than that.

There is a private school with a Baptist affiliation in town that I've recently discovered. I don't know anything about it so I would need to make an appointment for a tour, probably after the holidays. The state of Kentucky has mandatory full-day kindergarten which I am opposed to, simply because I do not believe 5-year-olds are developmentally ready for such lengthy academic demands. I understand that parents have to work but for those of us who do not, why can't we be given the option of full or half day? As it turns out, private schools do not fall under the same legal umbrella and this particular school has half-day kindergarten, from 8 AM until noon. Perfect. Rob is a little worried about what the tuition might be and I am concerned about the religious teachings not being completely in sync with our beliefs. But when push comes to shove, would a Baptist school teach our children anything harmful? Of course not. There may be distinct differences between Baptists and Catholics but God, love, stewardship, community, and reverence are at the center of both.

So...lots to think about. And even more to pray about.