Before I get to Part 3 of Making Your School Decision (Private Schools),
there is a group of moms I want to virtually hug right now.
You are stressing. Big time.
I have been there.
I have been like a crazy person. I have driven around looking at preschool with an 18-month old sweating that “if she doesn’t get into THIS preschool, she won’t get into THIS pre-K program and she won’t get into THIS private school and basically her hopes for the best college are OVERRRR!!!!”
It seemed so real then… and thankfully now I know.
Repeat after me:
This child, this season, our family, our finances, our goals, our way.
Ok – breathing a little better?
So, after some sense was knocked into me – I realized my priority was not the “top” preschool. I needed rest and a break when I was pregnant and extremely sick with Larson. So, a super close and loving Mother’s Morning Out then Preschool down the road was the ticket for various seasons/days/hours.
I am going to fast-forward to the Kindergarten decision, but I have a LOT to say about preschools too. I will come back to that another week. (We loved Smyrna First in Atlanta and we adore The Weekday School in Orlando).
As we were exploring our decisions for Ella (Kindergarten) in Atlanta – like many of you – we had a lot of things to weigh:
- GEOGRAPHY – realities of where we lived and traffic in Atlanta and location of Ron’s job; his desire to be involved and help
- PUBLIC SCHOOL – the school we were zoned for was not our best option for Ella, but I am also a big believer in this route. See tomorrow’s post.
- MOVING – we discussed moving into a zone would excite us
- PRIVATE SCHOOL – we liked this option, but had to take hard look at finances and decide the main WHY we would go this route
- HOMESCHOOL – This was not on the table for us, but as I learn more about it and experience the coming/going/busyness and lack of time home with my baby – I GET IT and encourage MANY to check out this option. Really. See yesterday’s awesome post.
Ron and I had an official meeting (Fall of Ella’s pre-K year) covered in prayer and post-in notes and brainstorming pads all over our dining room walls. That’s what happens when two PR majors get married. I was so thrilled by the end of the night when we had clarity.
There was no perfect solution. We could not have it all. So, we had to decide the number one focus and goal for ELLA. Not all of our kids for every grade – for this child, this first year of school.
Our desire was to have her in a TRULY Christ-centered private school that would integrate top education with biblical teachings at this sponge-filling age.
Oh, relief! We had clarity! Together! This was the goal.
Our goal was never the cutest uniform (although it makes sweet photos) or to get a certain magnet on the back of our SUV or to go where “X athlete in town was headed” – some of that stuff makes me barf a little.
We could move forward because we had agreed it would work in our budget AND because we know the type of school we were looking for. There are lots of private schools around that say similar things, but we needed to find one that truly focused on our goal for Ella. There was also freedom (thanks to Regina) that we could change our minds – not the lifetime decision.
Then… got the news. We were moving.
We had two days to pick our new school for Ella during a trip down to Orlando – but we already knew what we were looking for. I called friends that grew up here and asked, “Can you tell me a Christian school that is truly centered on Christ – not one that just says it on the website – but the teachers live it?” And, The Christ School kept coming up.
We visited the school and one other on our whirlwind two-day trip down. I had tears with Marketing/Enrollment Director Nicole Millard and she confirmed what we wanted for Ella. She told us Ella would have prayers requests around the table with her friends. And daily chapel. And an annual service day in the community with the entire school. The size was just right. I could see her in the halls. Ron and I just stared at each other. We knew.
We expected a lot and have received about 10x more. Since she started this fall, she has learned more than we can imagine about writing, reading, etc – but her A-HA moments about the Bible and faith have astounded us. I am so happy to partner with them on this journey for our child. The caliber of families and how they have embraced us here has been one of our biggest blessings.
Her teacher (over 40 years in the classroom) will be sharing her thoughts with you on Friday on Kindergarten readiness. I have watched that woman unleash serious potential in Ella. Make her a passionate lover of learning new things – of art – of the Bible – of doing the right thing.
This woman had me with this prayer on the night before I let my baby girl go…
I am well aware that no school is perfect. However, we feel so fortunate to have found a wonderful fit for us where a majority of families have values and goals similar to ours. They are involved. They are kind. Their kids are precious.
This is such a personal decision and if you feel THIS is the way to go, I have seen God provide financially for many families. I have seen many families cut back and make this their #1 priority – drive old cars, no vacations and stay enrolled. I also know other families that say ‘ENOUGH!” and grab their sanity and margin back and make the smart decision to call it off when finances are tight. Those decisions I cannot make for you.
If I emailed Andy Stanley, Louie Giglio and 12 other of the top pastors in the world right now – I bet you would hear a mix of public school, private school and homeschool. God would be laughing at our crazy stress right now. He’s got this! He has your child’s heart, faith, and education. He can take kids in the middle of Africa and rescue them and use them for changing the world. He can do anything He wants. It’s a big deal, but it’s really not. It’s school – and they are in loving homes or you wouldn’t be reading this blog!!
As a mom of my first Kindergartner, I am also realizing…
MORE OF OUR STRESS IS ABOUT LETTING GO,
LESS ABOUT SELECTING THE SCHOOL.
In every scenario, it begins the process of putting them in another person’s care and love. Letting them go and learn and even watching them lose some innocence. Picking them up to hear a new, tough question. It’s emotional and hard and thrilling. That is why I love God working in all of it.
Pray for clarity. Pray for educators and students to surround them with love and life’s beautiful lessons. Pray for a partner completely aligned with your hearts.
IF YOU ARE CONSIDERING PRIVATE SCHOOL…
CLICK HERE FOR A LIST OF QUESTIONS TO TAKE WITH YOU.
IF YOU HAVE KIDS IN A PRIVATE SCHOOL…
please share your experience or tips here with these parents weighing this decision.
Share the greatest benefits in your mind.
This is why we are doing this!
So ask away – tough questions and all (in the sweetest way of course.)
IF YOU’D RATHER SHARE WHY YOU LOVE PUBLIC SCHOOL MORE… that’s tomorrow! Save it!