We're less than a month from the new school year starting, and I'm having so many mixed emotions. My oldest, David, will be entering first grade come September. He had a great kindergarten year at our local public elementary school and that's where we have him enrolled for the coming year. It's less than a mile from our house, so we often walk to and from, and he has lots of good friends there, most from close by. We live in a rather dense area in terms of housing, so the school pulls from a fairly short radius - meaning most of his school friends live within about five minutes, if not right down the street. And like I said, he had a great experience in kindergarten.
So why am I so torn about whether we're doing the right thing in terms of his schooling?
I can't stop thinking about Catholic school or homeschool. I never, ever would have thought I'd be a homeschooler, and in a lot of ways I think it's more a temporary brain malfunction that is making me even dream that it would be a good idea for our family. And yet, I can't help but wonder if this school is the right place for our kids.
This isn't a reaction to anything negative. He was fine at school, learned plenty, enjoyed it a lot. In fact, the kid loves school. He was heartbroken at the end of the year because it was over for the summer. He does very well in a classroom environment - he likes being good and being praised for being good, and he thrives when given opportunities to accel. Give that kid a challenge, and he will rise to it and be glowing with pride when he does well. He likes attention and being with others - being alone is about the worst possible thing he could dream of. School fits him well.
He's also quite smart, and I know, everyone loves to brag about how smart their kids are. I'm not simply going off on a mommy-brag here - he is very smart. His only complaint about anything school-related (other that the school year ending) was that he was bored learning stuff he already knew. He's not the kid who will get bored and act out because of it; he has too much of a drive to be good and follow the rules (I was like that as a kid too). But I wonder how this year is going to go and how they're going to manage to keep him challenged and help him reach his potential.
Which is one of the reasons I keep scouring the website for our local Catholic school. The problem with that? Well, it isn't free... We should be in a financial position to afford it, but we've made some bad financial decisions and we're paying for them now (literally), so we really can't. I honestly don't see how we could afford the tuition for just him, let alone our other two when they get to that age. Plus, the campus is split into two locations. The K-2 kids have to go to the campus that is a good 40 minutes away. That's pretty far from home. Once he's in 3rd grade, he'd go to the campus that is closer, but even that is way on the other side of town from where we live.
But I love the idea of our kids being in a Catholic school. They'd be learning about God and the Church right alongside their other studies. Prayer and mass would be a regular part of their week. They'd be in an environment where faith isn't an afterthought, something only brought out of the closet on Sundays. I love that.
And I have the perception that Catholic schools are better academically than public schools. I'll be honest - I don't know if that's actually true. I haven't looked into this school to see if it is genuinely "better". But my preconceived notion is that it would be better for him academically.
So my mind keeps wandering to the two schooling alternatives. With the school year right around the corner, we certainly aren't changing anything at this point. But I want to be open to other possibilities. There are pros and cons to all the options, as they relate to our children, our finances and our schedule. I need to prayerfully consider all of this, and probably keep writing about it, since that helps me figure things out. That and see how this school year goes.