A note before you begin reading this post: We parenting bloggers write posts that stem from our experiences as parents. In this case, this is something we’re going through and experiencing and since it occupies a lot of my brain space, is something that I want to write about and share. That said, I don’t want anyone to read this and think that I’m slighting public school as a choice for education for your children. If we didn’t have the means to do otherwise, and I am beyond grateful for that, Willow would be in a public school and I’d be happy about that choice. This is just a post about why we have chosen private school as our path and what prompted our decision. It will also document the struggle and sacrifice we’ll be making to be able to choose this.
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Willow is on her way to three this year and with that comes the thoughts of pre-school and school. We have been thinking about schools for Willow for a long time now and we’ve always gone back and forth between alternative, private and public school. When we moved into our house, we scoped out the nearby facilities and one of those facilities was a public school. The school is within walking distance of our house and would be a perfect location for Willow to go to school. Except that it’s really, really full. So full that it already has three portables behind the school and there are talks of adding even more.
This past year, the Connecticut school shooting happened, which forever changed our hearts and minds. It was really hard for parents to send their children to school after that happened and many did so with hesitation and nervousness. Thoughts of, “What if this happened to my child?” ran through people’s minds. It was a time when anxiety levels were at an all-time high and school seemed like a scary place to send your children. During that time, I remember thinking to myself, “That’s it! I’m homeschooling Willow!” Now, I was only half serious but it got me thinking – children spend more time at school than they do at home during those years so where did I want Willow to spend the majority of her time?
Willow is also an extremely bright child. I know that all parents think their child is extremely bright so I might be biased but she really is a smart little girl. My mom has told me that when I was in grade one, I was at a grade seven reading level and she sees the same qualities in Willow that I had at her age. I know that when I was in school, I was bored out of my mind and often got in trouble for chatting but it was because I would get my work done so quickly and then not have anything else to do while the other kids finished. I don’t want Willow feeling the same way when she is in school. I’d love to see her challenged more and in a smaller class size where the teacher can get to know her and help to nurture her talents and abilities.
Mostly though, I believe that education is one of the greatest ways to set yourself up for future success. If Steve and I can make small sacrifices now to be able to give her the best in education, we know that she’ll reap the benefits of that education down the road. We know that having a more tailored and intimate experience with school will give her the foundation she needs to really develop a love of education and of school and perhaps give her the drive to continue that beyond high school.
Or, maybe we’ll choose private school, dislike it and move her to public school or an alternative school.
For my husband and I, we need to make decisions and strive toward that particular goal. So, the goal now is to create the plan for paying for private school – regardless of what it means sacrificing (so long as it isn’t sacrificing our health, well-being or our financial situation – ie: going into debt over it). We may not be able to go on two trips per year (or even one) and we may not be able to buy ourselves new clothes every month but at the end of the day, we’re setting Willow up with the best start we can in life so it’s worth it to us. Steve isn’t working right now, he’s a stay at home dad, and we haven’t missed his income so when Willow goes into school and Steve goes back to work, it’s extra money for us. We can funnel that into her education and pretend like we don’t have it.
The other thing that makes private school more of a possibility for us is that we’re planning on only having one child (which is a whole other blog post!) so for us, we aren’t looking at double, triple or quadruple school expenses. We’re already saving money into an RESP for her higher education (college/university) and my parents gifted Willow at Christmas an on-going, monthly contribution to her RESP/future education so now it’s just the yearly private school expenses that we’ll be looking at covering.
It’s a huge commitment but to us, it’s one that we’re willing to at least try out to see if it is the best thing for her. It’s scary to commit to paid schooling year after year and it’s also hard to not look at that expense as everything else it could mean for us but at the end of the day, we all make our own sacrifices to provide our children with whatever we can.
All that said, I would love to hear from you if you’ve chosen private or alternative schooling for your children. Is paying for schooling something you get used to (cost-wise) and what were the steps you took to choose a private school? Any advice you have would be appreciated!