School Questions

Since we have enrolled Bailey in a real brick and mortar school, I’ve had a few people ask what we are going to do about the younger kids.  Will we be sending them to school, too?

Piper is actually in first grade this year and would be eligible for school.  In fact I could also send Katie, because Bailey’s school has a preschool program.  I could ship all three of the older girls off each morning and just have Sabrina and Cassidy to deal with every day.  But we didn’t even consider that for a second.

For one thing, while there is a significant tuition discount for sending multiple children, we are still adjusting to the cost of sending one child.  It is going to require some sacrifice on our part since we are far from being wealthy.

Secondly, I think Piper’s temperament is probably more suited for homeschooling.  Piper likes to live in her pajamas.  She usually doesn’t care about doing classes and activities.  While she is perfectly social when we have play dates, she’s also extremely content finding things to do by herself or with her little sisters.  Plus, she will probably be starting second grade math after Christmas, so I think at this point putting her in school would be a major academic setback for her.

However, in fairness,we did decide to give each child the option of going to school one they reach fifth grade.  Financially, this would keep us from having more than two kids in our parish school at time, keeping it more affordable.

Plus, it would give the younger kids more time to work at their own pace during the early years of schooling when the developmental timetable for children is more likely to be varied.  If I have one that is a late reader, they can have more time to develop those skills without the pressure of keeping up with 20 other kids.  (Studies show that reading levels between early readers and late readers tend to even out around 5th grade anyway.)

Or in Piper’s case, if she continues to stay ahead in math, she won’t be held back by other kids who aren’t ready for certain concepts yet.  This could lead her to decide that she might not want to give up the individualized instruction of homeschooling after fourth grade.

Of course I’m sure that some people wonder why, given our finances, we chose to send Bailey to our local parish school.  Why didn’t we send her to the local public elementary more or less for free?  For one thing, I have fond memories of my years of Catholic schooling, not that it was perfect, and I know some of the advantages of private school.  Private schools do tend to have a better academic and disciplinary records than public schools.  Plus, just going by testing, our local elementary is the worst in our academically average district.

Our parish school is small, with Bailey’s class being the largest at about 32 kids, but it has a lot to offer from teaching the basics of multiple instruments in music class to smart board technology in every classroom.  There are the school traditions that bond the students into a community.  And since the school is attached to the parish where we attend Mass, we as a family are further bonded to a larger community of people.  This is a lot different than what my husband experienced in public schools.

We are a Catholic family, so it makes sense that we would consider Catholic school.  Of course, as I know from personal experience, not all Catholic schools actually teach the faith well.  Many are not much more than private schools that were founded by Catholics, and some actually teach heresy.  In fact, a few years ago our parish school had a bit of a reputation for not having very much more than a nominal Catholic identity.

But that was before the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecelia took over operations.  They are a traditional, habited order that has a reputation for teaching orthodoxy in the schools they run.  One of the things that impressed my husband the most during our meeting with the principal was when she said, “If we aren’t preparing them for heaven, then we’re not doing our job.”  You’re certainly not going to see that idea in a public school setting.

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