Do you want to know how to find a good school for your kids? Are you disgusted with the random mandates from the state and the lack of Christian values? Perhaps you are done with the anti-American curriculum and CRT (Critical Race Theory).
I know these are weird times, and it is easy to get fearful. Rest your mind…I’ve got all the goods. In fact, I’ve got important insider secrets that will help you make an informed decision about your kid’s education.
I am a Christian teacher-mom who has taught in private school, public school, and I have also homeschooled. Furthermore, my kids have attended these three school options, so I have the perspective of both mom and teacher.
Whatever you choose, realize there is no perfect school. There will be some give and take.
For more information, check out these 29 things to consider when choosing a school. There are both pros and cons of each choice, school hacks, and insider tips.
PUBLIC SCHOOL HACKS
This is how to find a good school for your child when considering a public school:
1. Large selection of classes. Most schools offer theater, art, dance, gymnastics, swimming, architecture, etc. There is an opportunity for your child to try about any and everything. You name it, they probably have it. My son acquired a boater’s license through one of his classes. He was elated.
2. Close in proximity. There is not a lot of driving when it comes to playdates, sports, school visits, or dances. Your child’s friends will be within about a 0 – 10-mile radius. It is nice to drop off and pick up within a 15-20 minute time span.
3. Multiple facilities. Our public high school has a large baseball field, football field, a practice field, multiple locker rooms, a swimming pool, several gyms, a large auditorium with high-tech lighting, classrooms with technology, etc.
Because a public school is funded by the government, there is more money to meet the needs of the students.
4. Teachers are licensed. Teachers are required to have a license to teach in a public school. Both of my kids had excellent teachers almost all the way through. But that isn’t always the case these days.
In order to find a good school, you need to know what they are pushing in your specific school. Do the research.
INSIDER TIP: Look at the teacher turnover ratio in the school no matter where you go. I taught in a public school that had a 50% rate of turnover. The principal was horrible, so it made the school horrible. Unhappy teachers make an unhappy school. And in turn, make unhappy kids.
My school ended up on the local news for riots. It was horrible.
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1. Teachers do not reinforce biblical values. Some public schools are void of teaching any real values and morals in the classroom. It is illegal to pray in class, have the Ten Commandments on the wall, or acknowledge God due to the separation of church and state. Gee, I wonder why the public schools are a mess!
This may not be a problem for some. Personally, I found it disheartening, especially now that the climate has changed to an anti-Christian agenda. Find a good school that will reinforce your values and beliefs because biblical values matter more than academics.
2. Safety. Public schools cannot be selective about who enters their doors. Sadly, lots of kids come from difficult family situations. While we need to be sensitive to these kids, we also need to understand the risk. To date, there has only been gun violence in public schools. If you want to know how to find a good school, then consider the safety factor.
3. Drugs, alcohol, promiscuity. Illegal and immoral activity seems to be normal for most kids. We found many parents were okay with it. This kind of behavior happens everywhere. It’s just in your face in the public schools.
School Hack: These problems may make you think twice about public school. Personally, I found it difficult to navigate through the lack of morality among the kids, anti-Christian curriculum, and families who didn’t embrace Christian values.
If you are going to put your child in public school, you need to closely monitor what they are teaching. I mean daily. And monitor friends. (You should do these things anyway.)
INSIDER TIP: I suggest staying involved with your local school board. Better yet, run for a position on the school board. What happens there affects the school district.
Speak up when you see “woke” behavior. It is hard to find a good public school when the state controls the curriculum, but it is possible if you help drive the choices from the local level.
PRIVATE SCHOOL HACKS
This is how to find a good school when it comes to private education:
1. Freedom to teach values and morals. The teachers and administration have the freedom to pray and talk about values and morals. They constantly reinforce them biblically which is nice.
This does not totally eliminate the drug, alcohol, and promiscuity, but it does give your child a chance to hear about a better way to live. And positive reinforcement to make the right decisions.
2. Academics. Academics are strong in most private schools because the teachers don’t have to stop for a lot of discipline issues. They can present material and teach the full allotted time.
3. Small class size. Most private schools keep their class ratio small. In my experience, it has been around 22:1 or less. This allows for more individual instruction. In some cases, the honors courses will be even smaller. This is almost as good as private tutoring.
4. Quality of families. Students and families are vetted. There is a long application process and interviews before a student is accepted. This makes it easier to connect with other like-minded families who reinforce the same values at home that you do.
5. Sports. In a small school, your child will get to play almost every sport. This can be a huge benefit if you know your child has the kind of athletic ability that may get overlooked in a big school.
School Hack: Private schools probably won’t be teaching Critical Race Theory or push for crazy lockdowns and mandates from the state. They have more flexibility since they take no public money.
INSIDER TIP: There is more of a chance for your child to get an athletic scholarship at a smaller school if he or she is a superstar in a smaller pool. Find a good school that will lean to your child’s gifts and talents.
If you want to know how to find a good school, then remember this tip when looking at your local private schools.
1. Cost of tuition. The cost of tuition is usually high. This makes it impossible for the majority of people to have access to a private school education unless scholarships are given.
2. Lack of facilities. There are no public tax dollars going to a private school. This means everything has to be built with private funding.
Many private schools have been around for a while, so they have had a chance to grow. Other private schools still struggle to keep up with the same quality facilities as public schools.
3. Class and sports variety. The number of classes offered or the variety of sports may not be as extensive as a public school. Small schools don’t always have the money to fund specialized teachers or multiple sports.
This may not be the best school for your child if your student has a unique gift such as swimming, gymnastics, etc.
4. Possible reform school. Many private schools are less picky about their enrollment because they need money. Students who have been kicked out of public school end up in private school.
It is a great opportunity for a second chance, but it can be a big problem if the student does not take advantage of this gift.
5. Entitled children. Private schools cater to a wealthier group of people. This means some spoiled children may act entitled. This problem is everywhere, but it is more pronounced in private schools. If you want to know how to find a good school, then think about this issue.
School Hack: When looking for a school, it is wise to ask about the characteristic of your child’s potential class. (This isn’t possible for kindergarten.) Consult teachers, administrators, and friends who already have children attending the school.
This is especially important if you are choosing a private school with a class size of under 50 students in each grade.
INSIDER TIP: Some classes have mean girls or bullies. If the class is not characterized as nice, consider another option. Yes, it is that important.
A couple of bullies or mean girls can destroy an otherwise perfectly good group. I’ve seen it happen over and over again. These kids are toxic and can make the class environment unbearable for your child.
If you want to know how to find a good school, then think through all of these options.
This is how to find a good school when considering homeschool:
1. You are the teacher. You decide the curriculum. It is really fun to have complete control over what your child learns. There is an opportunity to present material that would never be talked about in a public or private school.
You can literally pour Jesus into your kids every day.
2. Safety. There is a 0% chance of a school shooting, your child being bullied, or ever feeling threatened by another student. This may be the best school for your child just to keep him out of harm’s way. Furthermore, there are no mask mandates suffocating your child throughout the day!
3. Opportunity for outside development. Many parents have opted to homeschool because their child is gifted in an area. For instance, a gymnast or an ice skater would have more time for practice.
4. College Advancement. Starting junior year, your child could be eligible to take courses at the local junior college for free. Yes, it is free until 18 years old in Dallas, Texas. (Books are not included.) Check with your local junior college to see if your area has the same program.
School Hack: Even if your kids are not especially gifted, they can make more time for ballet, horseback riding, part-time jobs, or internships. There is also extra time for family vacations during the offseason.
We went to Disney World offseason which was nice!
1. Lack of social interaction. I have noticed students who are homeschooled sometimes struggle socially. The longer they have been homeschooled, the harder it is for them to translate social cues.
This could really hamper your child long term on getting a job and making friends if you don’t have regular activities planned with other kids. I suggest a homeschool co-op, homeschool sports, and lots of church activities to mitigate this issue.
2. Teaching quality. Many parents think they are qualified to teach any and all subjects, at every level. Or believe there is a video to teach the material. While it is true there is a video, it doesn’t allow for questions, feedback, and individualized reinforcement of the material.
3. Depression. Some students become depressed because they are isolated from peers their own age. As much as you would like siblings or the occasional church friend to be their buddy, sometimes it’s just not enough interaction.
Homeschooling may not be the best school choice for highly social kids. I know this first hand.
4. No dances and/or big sporting events. Missing out on dances may not be a big deal. There is a lot of needless drama and money spent on one night. However, it is important to make sure your child is active.
Playing a team sport not only helps your child get exercise, but it teaches teamwork and social skills.
School Hack: There are very few people who are truly qualified to teach at all levels. When your child enters junior high and/or high school, I recommend you supplement with a tutor or join a homeschool group that offers classes in advanced material.
If you are in a rural area, you may not have much selection. A video will suffice, but it is not my favorite.
INSIDER TIP: Check out this book Consider Homeschooling for more information. In this “why-to” book, Cari Kelemen makes a compelling case for why she decided to homeschool her kids, from kindergarten through high school, while answering the most frequently asked questions from parents just like you.
It’s a quick and easy read. You can get through it in about three hours
Charter, Magnet, or Montessori School Hacks
This is how to find a good school when considering other options:
1. Charter schools. They were established in 1995. In the last 10-15 years, these schools have become recognized as a viable alternative to public schools and could be a place for you to find a good school for your child. It is interesting to note they have gained traction in areas where the public schools are failing to do their job.
Charter schools are still funded by the government, but they have fewer state laws governing them. The reduced legislation allows them more flexibility to be creative in the way they run the school.
Many of them have the feel of a private school. I have read about some of them using a classical (liberal arts) or Montessori approach while other charter schools only offer online classes with a teacher-facilitator.
Some charter schools are great.
Other schools are more of a receptacle for kids who have been kicked out of school for behavior issues, teens who are going back to get a GED, or students who are suffering from a health issue.
It is worth checking out the ones in your area to see if they meet the standards you have set for your child’s educational needs. If you want to know how to find a good school, then remember this.
2. Magnet schools. They are an extension of the public school. They specialize in dance, art, music, law, science, agriculture, etc. The majority of these schools are academically selective. You can definitely find a good school for your child with these academic and art specializations.
I know several people who have their kids in a magnet school. Many go on to prestigious colleges and become very successful. It is definitely a good opportunity for a child to attend one of these schools given the opportunity.
3. Montessori schools. It is a teacher-directed, less controlled education geared toward children who love to learn. Kids are given lots of freedom to learn through play and discovery. Its primary philosophy is to teach using all 5 senses.
I have neither taught nor had my children attend this type of learning environment. I do think it is a wonderful way to learn when a child is young. It’s not for everyone. This is a great way to know how to find a good school for your child.
School Hack: Montessori Schools fall under the private school category mostly, but as I said, there have been charter schools that use this model. It is a good school choice for those kids who are more of a self-starter and can handle lots of freedom.
How Do You Research a School?
I found the website Great Schools to be a wonderful way to research school districts and individual schools in each city. It gives public school rankings by state. It is the best tool for rating schools academically (not spiritually).
It shouldn’t be the only thing you use, but it is wise to consider it as a valuable piece in your analysis.
What Makes a School a Good School?
If you want to know how to find a good school for your kids, then consider all your options, but remember that godly values are more important than anything. If you have kids who are educated but godless, it does them no good. Or our world.
Yes, academics are important too but don’t ignore the other. Following Christ will save your kids a lot of heartaches when they get out in the world.
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How Do I Choose Between Schools?
If you want to know how to choose between schools, I suggest you pray.
Pray for wisdom and direction.
God clearly showed us what to do with each of our kids. I would have loved for both of them to attend the same school for all 13 years, but that was not possible due to moves, and the changes in our culture.
God used every school to strengthen their moral character in one way or another, so I am grateful. He will do the same for you if you just ask Him to show you.
Do you have tips on how to find a good school for your child? Comment below.
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