School Options: From Someone Who Has Done It All

It is rather bold, I admit, to say that I have done it all when it comes to school options. But I have participated in almost every kind of schooling. I have had at least one of my five children in the following:

            Elementary school–public, private, private home, charter

            Middle School–public, private, public online, charter

            High School–public, public online, military, dual enrollment

            College–public, private

It sounds crazy, but my kids are all crazy different. I have biological, adopted, boys, girls, artistic, athletic, gifted, and disabled. In fact, I have one child that never went to school until we adopted him at age nine and didn’t learn to read until he was 2 weeks short of eleven years old. I have another child who was so creative she got a music scholarship but we had to homeschool for a year and change middle schools to foster her gift. And I have a child that is so brilliant (she is adopted so not boasting here, she did not get it from us!) that she did high school online in 2.5 years and went straight into the Nuclear Engineering Program with the Navy at age 17.

All five of my kids graduated high school on time or early. But they all accomplished it very differently.

If you are like me, you carefully researched where your first child would go to school and then you assumed the others will follow. That did not work for me. My first child loved her school and the second hated it. The one that hated it was my artistic child. By third grade she was bored and it reflected in her grades. She was underachieving in school but she was excelling in her extracurricular activities. That is when I became aware that not every type of school is great for every kid. It is also where I learned that it is OK to step out of the box and make a better choice for your child.

So where will your child go to school next year? What must you overcome to make that happen? Here are some options I want to encourage you to pursue if you feel your child needs more than what they are getting:

Online or Homeschool Pros & Cons:

You Work—virtual schooling or homeschooling can be tough if you work. I didn’t work during the elementary years, but I did work part-time in the middle and high school years. As the kids get older it gets easier because the kids learn to be responsible enough that you don’t have to be there every minute. Plus, the virtual school teachers are very engaged and have regular check-ins with students to ensure they’re on track and to provide extra help if kids are struggling in certain subjects.

Socialization—A lot of moms seem to be concerned about not enough socialization, but I’ve found this isn’t an issue. The kids who received an education from home – either through homeschooling or online school – were often happier and more in tune to their friends than my other kids who were often overwhelmed and distracted by the drama at school. The good news is that today there are so many more options for socialization. Connections Academy schools provide a lot of opportunities for socialization with their live online classes and a variety of in-person extracurricular activities and field trips. Some virtual schools even have a prom, and most celebrate graduates with an in-person ceremony.

Charter School Pros & Cons:

Options—Every state has different options for charter schools and finding a school you like and trust may take some research. Some online schools are even charter schools. This resource, a 50-state comparison of charter schools from a non-profit called Education Commission, provides valuable information on each state’s requirements and more.

Travel—It’s not easy getting your kids all over town and I know this from a lot of experience. Again, things have gotten better. This resource, updated in 2016, lists all of the states that provide busing to charter schools.  But even if you don’t have busing options, don’t be put off by a charter school choice. Talk to the principal and ask her about other families who may be able to carpool.  It is a great way to get to know families and save time. Or, you can always look into online charter schools and school at home.

Education takes exploration. I really don’t have any regrets being adventurous with my kids’ education. It definitely paid off. My last child “on the Merrill Family payroll”, as I call it, will graduate from college this year and join the ranks of his self-supporting siblings. Unless he goes through with his desire to go to grad school. If that happens I will have to add to my resume of schooling experience!

Connections Academy reached out to me and asked me about my opinion of school options and sponsored this post. The opinion posted above is 100% mine.

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