Going Public

Dan and I decided to send the girls to public school next year, and possibly the year after. It’s part of the attempt to get our financial house in order, a task that is proving more challenging than I thought it would.

I’ve been filling out the paperwork for about the past week now — so much paperwork! — and I should be turning it in next Monday. I’m hoping to get things squared away in time to get Flora on the soccer team, and see what activity Kate wants to pursue. We’ve told the girls the plan. They seem apprehensive, but not overly anxious.

Based purely on finances, sending the children to public school is a no brainer. Aside from tuition, costs associated with private school are not inconsequential. Costs of time as well as money, and while I happily give as many hours as I can, it can be wearing. I am hoping there will be opportunities to participate as a parent at the schools my children will be attending next fall, but I won’t have to stress out about getting my volunteer hours or meeting my fundraising obligation. Plus, they will be busing to and from school, and thus we will be saving money on extended day care, which was a huge expense for us.

But based on other things, choosing to send our girls to public school is fraught for me and Dan. We feel terrible that we can’t afford it right now. We work so hard, and we feel like we just can’t get ahead. We will have to work harder to continue to pursue their religious education. I’d like to get them will rooted in a faith tradition.

Additionally, I worry about the social upheaval for the girls.

Flora said to me recently, “Do you think I’m good at making friends?” I answered honestly that I did think she was good at making friends. I think Kate is good at it too. They are easily social, comfortable with themselves, and not overly shy. I also think that at the ages they are now, making friends for children like them is a natural, organic process. They aren’t yet crippled by the self-consciousness that comes with teenage-hood and the social pressures of that age.

Kate vacillates. “I’m nervous. What will I say?” or “I’m going to be fine at my new school. It’ll be good.” She wants to work on a script for when she introduces herself in her classroom.

They don’t start for six weeks. This child.

Kate and Jester.

Anyway, my biggest challenge at this time is trying not to show the children how anxious I am for them. Because I am anxious — probably overly so. I wish I didn’t have to make this change for them. What if their current friends forget them? What if no one talks to them their first day? Who will they have lunch with? What if classes are harder or easier than they were at their old school? What if children make fun of them for being Catholic?

Ultimately, aside from religious education, I don’t think sending them to public school will be a problem in the long run. Our school district is a good one. Dan and I will be involved. I’m looking forward to the diversity at the new schools. That will be a refreshing change.

How do you feel about making big changes for someone else?

Last day of school outfits
True colors.

7 thoughts on “Going Public

  1. They will make tons of new friends. Their old friends will NOT forget them. Their classes may or may not be harder, however they are entering a new grade and having new teachers, that was going to happen anyway.

    As far as “will other kids making fun of them because they are Catholic?” Um, what? Welcome to public school, where the beauty of it is that they will now hang out with people of ALL faiths (and no faiths). Public school is not checking your faith at the door, it is just a lack of discussing YOUR faith while in school. Discussing their religion is up to them and you. I have never, ever heard of anyone being made fun of for being Catholic. In or out of school.

  2. my oldest daughter (that’s you Red Pen Mama) once told me she loved hearing my stories about past events in my life, too bad my kids can’t learn anything from them because they were not their experiences! I think the same concept works for parent’s fears. Mom and I have often commented on how much we have worried about things that never happened. You and Dan are making a decision to benefit your family, you both will be able to help your children understand and deal with the changes. xoxo dad p

  3. I’m sure that was a hard decision! Maybe you will find that doing religious education together as a family will be a wonderful blessing to your whole family. I hope it is a smooth transition for all.

  4. I’m sorry you are forced to make this decision.

    I know we are very fortunate to be able to afford to send our kids to Catholic school. Our parish has a “fair share” model which is essentially a sliding scale based on need, a scale that parents come up with. The school says “this is the cost to educate, pay what you can” and we pay what we can. Some years we pay full tuition, some years we don’t. Nobody looks at us funny (well, except during mass because our 14 month old is loud).

    If we had to pay the full price for all the kids I don’t think we would be able to afford it as well. Any job I get outside the home would not generate enough income for it to be cost effective for having to put the kids in child care. Again, we are fortunate I am able to stay home.

    This is a decision you don’t come about lightly. This is your children’s future. Maybe not 3rd grade itself is going to be the thing they blame you for when they are 35, but I think you get my point. The choice of education and their experiences there will shape their later school career and choices.

    The less stress and financial worry you have in the home will have a positive impact upon the kids.

  5. We made the same move in 3rd grade. The first year is the toughest–for the parents (or at least this mom). The kids thrived! They had a wealth of opportunities and met kids of all cultures and religions. Looking back, I’m glad we could no longer afford Catholic school.
    Save your money for the school that really defines their future, as college will be here before you know it.
    Additionally, take them to the school a few days or even weeks before it starts, several times if they’d like. Let them become familiar with where everything is. Ask the counselor or one of the principals for a tour. Let them meet their teachers. That helped my kids immensely to feel more comfortable on the first day.
    Just my 2 cents…

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