Making a School Decision: What Should I Ask?

October 20, 2009 at 11:42 am 74 comments

Our oldest son, Orison, will start kindergarten next fall! We’ve been evaluating our options for a loooong time, and feel like the right thing for him is to send him to school, as opposed to doing homeschool. Perhaps that’s another post.

Anyway…

We’re considering a few different options for schooling. We’ll be looking at a few private Christian schools and a couple public charter schools (classical education). We live in a very urban neighborhood, and feel like the public schools in our immediate area would not be a good fit for Orison.

I’m really new to all this school stuff, so my brain kind of turns to mush when I start trying to figure it all out.

So… do you wanna help me out?

One of the Christian schools is a Charlotte Mason school. If you subscribe to that theory of education, let me know what questions I should be asking, or what I should be looking for at the school.

Both of the public charter schools are Classical schools. Same dealโ€”if you have experience with that model, help me know what to look for or what questions to ask.

I have the book The Well-Trained Mind, but feel really overwhelmed to even crack it open. And plus it’s a homeschool book, so I don’t know how relevant it’ll be for my current search.

And to be honest, I’m a verbal processor. I feel like I learn best through talking! And since I can’t sit down and have a face-to-face conversation with all of you, I’d love to learn from you through a blog conversation.

Thanks in advance for your help!

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Entry filed under: Books, Family, Orison.

Felicity’s 2nd birthday (mostly in pictures). Blogs I Read: Improv Everywhere

74 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Emily  |  October 20, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    This isn’t specific advice, but just general encouragement to not stress out too much regarding the decision. As long as you’re a caring, involved parent- I think most kids can thrive anywhere. Let’s say you make a decision, and after a month or two- you realize that it’s a really bad fit after all- you can always make a change later on down the road. Even if you find what you think is the “perfect” school, there’s always a chance that factors could change by the time your son enrolls (i.e., the wonderful kindergarten teacher takes maternity leave and doesn’t return, a new principal steps in and makes some unwanted changes, etc.).

    I agree that it’s good to look at the theory of education that is practiced at the school, but i think as you look at each of the theories, you need to take a step back and look at your son and think about how he’s designed, how he learns best, and the environments that HE enjoys the most. (i.e, does he love little furry critters? then you’d want to find out if there are classroom pets- does he need a lot of time outside, running around to use up energy?- does the school have a decent-sized play area- etc.)

    Oh yeah- and definitely talk to fellow parents (or teachers) at the specific schools, they always seem to have the clearest ideas about the schools- (i.e., a highly regarded “Christian” school near us has a pretty “unChristian” administration- something I would never have known if it weren’t for talking to two teachers/aids who work at the school.)

    Reply
  • 2. milieuofme  |  October 20, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    This is a GREAT question. I’ve been pondering the same thing for my little man! I’m excited to see what everyone has to say. My husband has a heart to send our little “light” into the community, and I’m so nervous about it!

    Reply
  • 3. Brook (Matt5verse6)  |  October 20, 2009 at 12:36 pm

    I’m sorry I cannot be of much help to you on this one. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ There are four children in my household. Two of which attend public school and the other two are enrolled in a charter school however they are doing distance learning (the school supplies everything, gives the assignments each day, curriculum, etc. but they do their work with me at home…which I love). I wish you all the best with your decision.

    For His glory,
    Brook

    Reply
  • 4. Kimberly  |  October 20, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    I’m no help, but you are so wise to ask others who’ve been there for help!

    Reply
  • 5. Casey Zachary  |  October 20, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    I am a product of public, private Christian, and homeschool.

    I did k-8 in a public school in rural Indiana. I believe this is where I received the most sound education.

    Private Christian school didn’t have resources.

    Homeschool I did in Haiti and figured out how to cheat the system through my high school years.

    I taught in an urban public school in New Orleans from 06-08 and I would not send my child there. ever.

    Your kids have kick butt parents, so use diligence, but try not to over think it.

    Reply
    • 6. Molly Piper  |  October 20, 2009 at 4:04 pm

      Yeah, I’m a product of public schools all the way through. Totally have nothing against the system as a whole, necessarily. But the ones in our neighborhood… yikes.

      One thing I don’t like about my education, though, is that I never learned how to think critically. I learned how to test well and get good grades. But after a test was over, the information was gone. I want my kids to learn how to synthesize and draw conclusions and think critically. My brain never got that kind of training.

      Reply
      • 7. Tim Visher  |  October 21, 2009 at 9:37 am

        Hi Molly,

        ‘nother public schooler here and I loved the system, although I had a tremendous public school with some very high quality teachers so I don’t think I had the most unbiased experience.

        However, specifically to this point I’d like to advise that I also didn’t learn critical thinking from my school (in general, there were several teachers who really took me under their wing). But I wouldn’t have had to. I would get home from school every day and my dad would ask me what I had learned about and then try to ask me what conclusions I drew from it and if I had considered this position or that angle. It was long conversations with my dad that really molded me into the thinker I am today. Do I wish that behavior could have been slightly more rewarded at school? Sure. But at the same time, I think its ultimately in your hands.

        All that to say that where you put them is much less important than how you engage them yourself. They’ll look to you and Abraham to figure out how to look at the world.

      • 8. Emily  |  October 21, 2009 at 10:34 am

        so totally agreeing with tim here- it’s ultimately in your hands- i’m all about the “public school/ homeschool” DIY combination- kids learn neat stuff and skills in a school setting, but then we as parents expand on school learning at home- obviously if your son goes to a secular school, you’re guiding his biblical learning, but there are lots of other opportunities as well (such as what tim described)-

        there’s little stopping you (except perhaps time) from doing cool “homeschool” adventures and learning with a non-homeschooled kid- going on mini vacations to learn history and geology in your neighborhood, museum passes for repeated visits to a favorite exhibit supplemented with library books on the same topic,

        this might sound silly, but if the lack of “critical thinking” instruction is what you regret about your education, there’s nothing stopping you from pursuing this as an adult (with your family by your side learning with you)- and naturally, as you seek to “think critically” about and challenge yourself with subjects around you (news stories, various ethical dilemmas, life decisions, even this topic of “what to look for in a school”), your family can be involved. you mentioned that you’re a “verbal processor,” it seems like you (and your husband) will be teaching your kiddos “critical thinking skills” just by discussing tough topics that are on your mind.

  • 9. Alison F.  |  October 20, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    Hi Molly. I taught in a school that was (believe it or not) a combination of Charlotte Mason and Classical Education. Taken separately, the two models could be very different environments, so I agree with the previous commenter that you need to think about your son’s personality and temperment and factor that into the decision. Both approaches are based on developing a love for learning, just in different ways. I have visited classical schools where all of the emphasis was on memorizing (it’s true that kids in the lower elementary grades can memorize extraordinary things), but not enough on the experiential play/discovery of God’s creation (which is a major tenet of Charlotte Mason). At the same time, it is possible to have a classical model and include the learning by doing philosophy. I think I would visit and ask questions about some of these things, but ask if you can also sit in a classroom for 30 minutes or so. That will give you more of a feel for the atmosphere.

    My children still attend this school where I taught, and as they grow (they are 7 and 9), I am amazed at their love for good literature and their grasp of history and how God has moved through the ages.

    It is a great thing to have so many good options available. I know God will guide you to the one that fits your children best.
    Sorry for the long message–please email me if you have other questions!

    Reply
  • 10. laurie  |  October 20, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    Either method will be great for kindergarten. At Orison’s age the classical method will really take advantage of his ability to memorize – they are little sponges at his age. Charlotte Mason will introduce him to fabulous literature and help him learn to summarize information well. My boys preferred the classical method. I preferred Charlotte Mason (I homeschool – but wouldn’t necessarily if I had your options).

    Reply
  • 11. EA  |  October 20, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    Would love to hear your thoughts on public/private/Christian school versus home-school. Please do make that post soon.

    Reply
  • 12. greenchickadee  |  October 20, 2009 at 1:40 pm

    I totally agree with Emily at the top. Kids grow up so very differently and overall, they turn out healthy and well adjusted if they have a loving, encouraging, intelligent, and caring family.

    Don’t be afraid to read “Well Trained Mind”. It’s just a great book and I know many teachers who have read it and used it in their own classrooms!
    Also, truthfully, kindergarten is really just about learning to read, counting, and adjusting to other kids who are a little different than you. There isn’t much to it, so no matter where he goes, he will learn something! Then, you can reevaluate again next year.
    Pray, talk, and then just take the plunge. God can use any situation for His good, and children are no exception!

    Blessings to you in this journey because I can completely relate to the stress and overthinking. It will all work out, Promise!

    Reply
    • 13. Jen B.  |  October 20, 2009 at 8:57 pm

      I, too, am intimidated by The Well-Trained Mind…and it’s what we use to homeschool!! I just have to read ONLY the chapters relevant for the age my children are. Otherwise, I get too overwhelmed.

      Reply
  • 14. Kaci  |  October 20, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    I would absolutely love a post someday about why your family has chosen not to homeschool! I will wait anxiously for it.

    Reply
  • 15. sheffieldfamily  |  October 20, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    Hi Molly,

    I agree with the encouragement above not to get stressed out about it all and to keep in mind your child. It is very overwhelming. Though I don’t have children of my own right now, I taught at a classical Christian school. These are some questions I would ask from my experience with teaching and working with parents (but not necessarily in this order, mind you):

    1) What is their philosophy of discipline?
    2) How is the Gospel taught (directly, indirectly) in the classroom? (Obviously this applies to Christian schools.)
    3) What is the plan for students who excel beyond the classroom teaching? Get as many specifics as you can.
    4) What is the plan for students who need extra help in specific areas? Again, probe for details.
    5) Is there any way you can go in and observe a few hours in the classroom? (Especially the grade/teacher he will have when entering, if that’s possible.)
    6) Can you talk to other parents involved with the school? (This will provide some insight that parents start to gain after the honeymoon phase.)

    As much as you can, get detailed responses. Writing down their responses helps me not be overwhelmed or feel like I have to immediately process through every piece of information. It can be very overwhelming. Spend plenty of time in prayer (as I’m sure you have) and keep in mind Orison’s personality, strengths, weaknesses, etc. (and it sounds like you’re doing that as well). God will work out the situation for His glory!

    Reply
  • 16. cvonhelms  |  October 20, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    We live in Texas, in a small town so our options are limited, but we have our son in a private Christian school about 20 minutes away. Last year we lived in NC and also had him in a private Christian school. Both of these school had the same label but approached education from a totally different perspective. One thing that you may have figured out is something that being at these two school taught me, I have to know what I want my son’s education to look like, and what I expect from my school. So here is what is important to me and the questions I asked?

    1. Consistency – Have the teachers been there a long time, how familiar are they with the curriculum that is being taught? If a school has a high teacher turnover each year, that tells you something about the administration. Also with consistency, how will kindergarten and first grade be linked, same principles in class and expectation carried across the board?

    2. What theological background will science, history, Bible be taught from?

    3. What are the extra subjects (other than math, reading, etc..) that are offered? Especially once your child moves beyond kindergarten.

    4. How many students are in each class, and what is the diversity in the school. (I’m so sorry to say we lost this when we moved to TX, before my son had 5 countries represented in his class and learned tons about other cultures even in 1st grade.)

    5. What are the expectations of parent involvement? (My son’s school now has very limited parent involvement, but last year I was at his school once a week helping the teacher and got to know all the children in his class – it was great.) Some school don’t want parents there and prefer almost a closed campus.

    6. What are the expectations of the student? Sometimes you can find a very rigid atmosphere which is not helpful as far as creativity goes.

    Hope this helps. Having been at a different school for kindergarten, 1st and now 2nd, (which is a story in itself, change was not because of the school) I know how confusing it can be. With each school, I could tell from the atmosphere when I took the tour if my son would be comfortable there. So, ask for discernment and don’t be afraid to go with your instinct at the visit.

    Reply
  • 17. Heather  |  October 20, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    You’ve received so many good comments already. But I’ve read about the CM and Classical education. We’re going to homeschool and I lean more towards CM. I think you know your son.

    Also, don’t be afraid of The Well Trained Mind. If I can read it and understand, so can anyone!

    Reply
  • 18. kendra  |  October 20, 2009 at 3:04 pm

    we are in LOVE with the classical school where our son will go to kindergarten next year. there is NO 2nd option for us! we will do whatever it takes to send our children there. we got to step inside each classroom…oh. my. word. if you can set up a tour/informative meeting with someone from the schools, it’d be so helpful. that’s what REALLY did it for us.

    we love:
    their philosophies of learning.
    their vision/goal of educated Christian children who can encounter the secular world effectively.
    my word, the amount of knowledge these kids are pumped full of!
    their goals, morals, theology, way of thinking, curriculum, etc. are all exactly what we want for our children.

    we’re not going to homeschool and do the classical method, when our kids can go to the classical school and have all the benefits of being with super-qualified/experienced teachers and of being in that kind of learning environment.

    definitely visit each school you’re considering! that will tell you more than anything!

    Reply
  • 19. Liz  |  October 20, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    Well Molly, you have opened a good can of worms. As you know, we have done a variety. We even did Public School IN MPLS!!! It was just fine – in fact Gus and I were just saying that he had the best 1st grade teacher EVER. So…get into the rooms. That is my advice. Find out if they use music and movement…that was one of the best things in Anders’ room last year and even now, this year. Both the teachers use lots of music as cues to move to the next thing. I imagine that Orison would enjoy a room like that. You can also tell a lot about a teacher from the very first interaction with Orison – does she bend down to his level and look him in the eye or just talk “at” him. Yes, in kindergarten some teachers do the latter – I don’t get it. So…and as always, if you want to actually chat about this – you can call. I love chatting about this and don’t have a vested interested in a particular school. (save for Bancroft in Mpls…down by our old house ..it WAS the best-kept secret in Minneapolis for years, I think…don’t know what it’s like now.)

    Enjoy the process and don’t fret too much! :)_

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    • 20. Molly Piper  |  October 20, 2009 at 4:01 pm

      Thanks, Liz. We visited CCS yesterday and I liked it! The K teacher was doing circle time with a fun phonics song where the kids were punching the air and saying their sounds. She was energetic and they all seemed to be having a lot of fun.

      Reply
  • 21. Whitney  |  October 20, 2009 at 3:18 pm

    Great comments so far!

    I love the Well Trained Mind. It’s a huge, condensed book and it cam seem very overwhelming. But there are other resources out there if you want a glimpse of the classical method for a younger kid. I’d strongly lean in that direction (my son is too young for school, but I’ve taught it). Kids can memorize and are, like someone else said above, sponges for knowledge. One downfall of the classical method is that it CAN be used to just do rote and not interact with literature and other learning aspects. I would see how that school handles the daily activities depending on your son’s personality.

    Reply
  • 22. Anita Koller  |  October 20, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    Well, we’ve homeschooled our children all their lives, but I know that isn’t always an option for everyone. But it is an option.

    1. Look at the curriculum
    2. Ask about funding (government funding requires government regulations)
    3. Are the teachers certified (some schools do not always hire certified teachers) So ask about teacher qualifications.
    4. Class size, what is the teacher to student ratio. Smaller classes mean more hands on and better quality education.
    5. Parent involvement. Are parents allowed to visit classrooms unexpected to see how things are going.
    6. Ask about parent teacher relationships.
    7. Are the teachers properly screened.

    I hope this helps

    Reply
  • 23. jennapants  |  October 20, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    Knowing which schools you’re looking into, I think you’d be happy with ANY of them (mainly because there’s book club kiddos at ALL of them, right?!)

    And, I think Orison will just LOVE doing school no matter where he is, because he’ll be feeding on all sorts of new information and songs and art projects.

    Reply
  • 24. Anita Koller  |  October 20, 2009 at 3:48 pm

    OH and don’t be afraid to visit the schools you are considering and ask for a tour during school hours. Also go to open houses now and see how the parents and children interact.

    Reply
  • 25. Anita Koller  |  October 20, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    Oh and it’s okay to ask about student grade averages. Sorry, but My mind keeps clicking here.

    Reply
  • 26. Anita Koller  |  October 20, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    Oh and if you desire to find out about the Charlotte Mason style of education and what to expect, you can check out http://www.amblesideonline.org. It’s meant for homeschoolers, but has ton of info on the charlotte mason method.

    Reply
    • 27. Molly Piper  |  October 20, 2009 at 3:57 pm

      Thanks so much, Anita! I laughed out loud when I saw your 3 consecutive comments. I know *exactly* how that feels to think you’ve “finished” your thought, and then, nope, they just keep comin’!

      Reply
      • 28. Molly Piper  |  October 20, 2009 at 3:59 pm

        And now I’m replying to myself and you… one of the schools we’re looking into is in a network of schools called “The Ambleside Schools.” Thanks for giving me this website. I hadn’t seen it before.

  • 29. Tracey Kolbrek  |  October 20, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    Hi, Molly. I invested a lot of time in figuring out which option to choose for my kids and after a few years in school, they came home for school with me (we are just beginning our third year). I really like the Charlotte Mason approach and there is a new school called RiverTree here in the Twin Cities that implements this method. I know the people at RiverTree and think they have a beautiful approach to what “education” means. You should look them up. I also appreciate elements of the Classical approach and use a lot of these elements as I teach my kids. I think the biggest thing I’ve learned is that you have to choose the best option for your family, not just for your child. I echo the thoughts of some other posts here which say that your child will likely do well whatever school you choose because you are the type of parent who will be involved in your child’s education no matter where he is.

    Reply
  • 30. Ellie  |  October 20, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    Hi Molly,

    I’ve been both in public, several different private Christian, and homeschooled as a kid. As a mother, I’ve had my kids homeschooled, homeschooled in a co-op, and in a private Christian school. Next year, we have to make the decision of where to send our oldest who will have outgrown the private Christian.

    I went to a total of four Christian schools myself (ok, my parents were gypsies!). As for what people say about them, such as having no resources and other things, I would say look at the ones you have available and don’t listen to a generalization. The four I went to were very different. One seemed nice, but a teacher there abused some kids. (Don’t assume safety with a Christian label.) The next one was regimented, but very loving, and I thrived there. Then we went to homeschooling, which I generally liked.

    The next school was a Christian school which was more classical. Our teacher was wonderful. He showed us respect, gave us dreams, taught us to work through issues from a Christian viewpoint, and despite the very classical set up of the school, introduced us to great literature and read to us during the day. He taught us in informal reading times how to see the story in books, how to read an allegory, and to appreciate literature.

    My fourth experience with Christian schools was in highschool, and I was very disappointed. The school was Christian in name only – belonging to a certain denomination, and it seemed that teachers only had to be from that church to be hired – no real relationship with God or character qualities needed. I did have in there, two teachers who were wonderful, but others weren’t. Later I said I almost would have been better in a public school were I expected such behavior than in a “Christian” one.

    So check out your schools carefully.

    Homeschooling. I liked it. But I also liked school. There is something to be said for learning along with others, and from others. I homeschooled mine when we were in a situation where that was really our only choice. My kids enjoyed homeschooling and did well. They socialized well since we were always with people, so I did not see that “danger” that others level against homeschooling. The next year, I taught three families homeschooling. That was much more fun – but warning – It is a full time job! That gave my kids the chance to compare and compete. It cut down whining because they saw that other kids were reading faster, so they pushed themselves to keep up.

    I went to public school, but in a small town years ago and it was a great experience. I would not send my little kids to public here. It is just not an option.

    Now my kids are in a private Christian school. It is good. They have a chance to see other adults live real Christian lives in front of them. They see them getting along, working out differences, and working together. The families are very involved in the school and we work together as families to help our children learn. I help out in the areas I am good at – including teaching other kids who struggle, and other parents help in areas they are good at, things that I could not do. It is not perfect, but I am happy in letting my kids learn from others, too, since I don’t have everything in me that I think they need to know. They benefit from learning from others.

    The questions someone gave to ask a school are good. Not only what do they do to help strugglers, but what they do to help smarter kids is a very wise question. It is one of the trade-offs we have in a smaller school. I have a son who could have benefited from an advanced math class, but there is none. Instead, we challenge him at home. But, he is a great goalie in soccer – something he might not have been if his friends didn’t spend hours at recess playing soccer and if the parent who was a professional soccer player had not taught them.

    The question about teacher turnover is also good to ask, but don’t assume that high turnover is because of bad administration. It may also be because of poor pay. Christian school teaching is, as my sister says, “an expensive hobby”. Also, don’t assume that positive feedback from parents means all is well. After all, more students = more tuition = better school. So ask, listen, ask, watch, sit in a class or two – not only the kindergarten, but also the older grades. See how the school is later on, too.

    Over all, I am happy with our school choice. It is not perfect, but we fit in there. I am often with my kids, which I can be now with no babies left. I would homeschool again if we moved to a place without a good Christian school. I might have to consider public school or homeschool for my son’s next year, and I don’t know yet what I will choose.

    Good luck!

    Reply
  • 31. Becky Marshall  |  October 20, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    Hi Molly, My name is Becky Marshall, and I’ve been a hidden reader for a couple of years now. My son Thomas is I think a day older than Morrow. I’m from Albuquerque, NM and know the Nielsens very well. They have helped to start a classical academy here in Albuquerque called Oak Grove. I don’t know much about it at this point, but you may want to get in touch with Kim, or go to Oak Grove’s website (I think you can google it). From what I remember, there are a lot of great articles on classical education on the website. Let us know what you decide!

    Reply
    • 32. Molly Piper  |  October 20, 2009 at 4:38 pm

      Hey Becky,

      Yes! She was telling me about it when she was here! I LOVED the concept. LOVED it. I have to look it up and see if there’s one around here. I don’t think there is, but I’m still gonna check.

      Thanks for the info! Molly

      Reply
  • 33. kendra  |  October 20, 2009 at 4:39 pm

    “One downfall of the classical method is that it CAN be used to just do rote and not interact with literature and other learning aspects.”

    All I’ve seen is the opposite…it interacts and weaves everything together in a way that far surpasses any other “typical” Christian school. That is a HUGE emphasis of the classical method, from what I’ve learned, read, and seen, and is one of the biggest draws for us…learning all the connections and correlations, weaving everything together to be able to think well.

    Reply
  • 34. Laura @ Texas in Africa  |  October 20, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    Molly, I’m not a parent, but from the perspective of a college professor, you want to pick a school that will teach them to be critical thinkers. The requirements of No Child Left Behind are destroying a generation of kids’ minds. I’ve a severe decline over the past five years in the capacity of freshman to critically reason, make arguments based on facts (not opinions), and argue for both sides of an issue whether they like it or not. They can’t write coherently and our problems with plagiarism, etc. are constant – in many cases because the students don’t actually know what to do. More and more, taking standardized tests is all that many students know how to do by the time they get to us. It’s a huge disservice to the kids, and it will be a disaster when they’re leading the workforce.

    So I would say that finding a place that teaches critical reasoning above simple memorization is really important. Beyond that, from my observations, that the child goes to good schools with dedicated teachers makes a huge difference. Whether that school is public or private, or of one method or another doesn’t really make a difference. Having a stable home life makes all the difference as well.

    If you’re going the Christian school path, I’d also encourage you to find a place that will (again) teach your kids to think. I used to adjunct at a private Christian university and we had so many sweet, kind, caring students who had been homeschooled or raised in Christian schools but who had never been confronted with arguments that were different from their very specific beliefs. They just didn’t know how to respond. I think many of them were done a disservice as well. A good education prepares a child to deal with the world and all the different types of people and views within it. Best of luck as you discern what to do.

    Reply
    • 35. Liz  |  October 20, 2009 at 8:40 pm

      YES!!! Well said!

      Reply
    • 36. sara  |  October 21, 2009 at 8:06 am

      We go to a church where 95% of the children are homeschooled. Most of them do debate as they get into middle school/high school years. If one chooses to homeschool, I think this is a huge help in learning critical thinking and being able to defend your beliefs.

      Reply
      • 37. Laura @ Texas in Africa  |  October 21, 2009 at 5:58 pm

        That’s a great idea and such a good way to develop the skill of critical thinking about issues from many perspectives with older kids.

    • 38. Crystal Nale  |  October 26, 2009 at 8:25 am

      These are some great points, but I would just throw the idea out there that you have to remember to look at the whole picture. If you look just at what children are doing in a K classroom in a Classical school, it may seem like a lot of wrote memorization and very little critical thinking. But that’s part of the big picture of a classical approach to education as a whole–filling the little sponges full so that they can revisit for understanding when they are developmentally ready and later use their knowledge to think critically and soundly in the rhetoric stage. That’s my best summary of the big picture of Classical, but it’s taken me at least 2 years to get there.

      I don’t have experience with classical schools (otherwise we might be drawn to that option if one were available), but we have chosen to take a classical approach to our homeschool. I can identify with your thoughts about your own education, and I love the idea of teaching my children HOW to learn rather than how to get good grades. That’s what drew us to classical. That said, I have been reading more about Charlotte Mason’s philosophy lately mostly because I want to get a good grasp of how the two are different. I think with homeschool, the two mesh quite well, but I’m unsure how that would translate into a classroom.

      I agree with the comment above about Classical weaving things together. That is definitely been my experience as well–the interweaving of all subjects with God at the center is our focus. I also agree with Dorothy’s comments below about homework because when it comes down to it, that’s a practical thing that will affect your whole family. There is also an idea referred to as “afterschooling” that seems to be growing. We know some families who take that approach with their children in public schools here and we’ve talked to others in various places. I don’t know a lot about specifics, but I like that parents are making a point to be involved in their childrens’ educations no matter where they receive their primary education–as I know you and Abraham will. All that to say that there is a section about afterschooling on the Well trained Mind forums
      (http://www.welltrainedmind.com/forums/), so you might find some interesting information over there.

      Wow. I didn’t mean to open the flood gates, especially since we don’t really feel like we have options here besides homeschooling. But I have spent quite a bit of time working through our philosophy of education.

      Reply
  • 39. Dorothy  |  October 20, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    Ask about the homework in grades 1+. I am amazed at the differences there are between these two particular schools of thought – and I for one don’t want to spend my evenings doing homework with my kids! The other best question we asked when we were looking at schools for John was directed at the Principle of each “Would you send your child to this school? Why or why not?” It was amazing the answers we got and thye are a large part of the reason we ended up starting with homeschooling.

    Reply
  • 40. Charmaine  |  October 20, 2009 at 6:50 pm

    I didn’t read through all the posts so I apologize if this is duplicate info. I have a 12 year old in seventh grade, a 6 year old in 1st grade and a 4 year old in pre-school. We are soooo blessed to be able to have all our kids at the same school. We also live in an urban area and to be quite honest the public schools aren’t very good at all. So we have our kids in a private Christian school. Soooo…what to ask? You really want to know what kind of curriculum they are using our school uses the Abeka cirriculum which I think is wonderful! Also ask about what the homework expectation is. There are very different schools of thought. Our school start them off pretty early, but both my 1st grader and my 12 year old were reading at a 1st grade level by the end of kindergarten. It may seem simple, but also ask about naps. They stop taking naps at kindergarten at our school (kids start at age three which is K-3). That was a really hard transition. If you can, I would also find out what the schedule is for naps before Orison starts and get him on that schedule for at least a month before (if he currently takes naps).

    I hope some of that helps!

    Charmaine

    http://www.twitter.com/mrsJRold

    Reply
  • 41. Meredith  |  October 20, 2009 at 8:27 pm

    Hi Piper family! This is Graham’s wife Meredith from (deadmanspipes.com). I saw your post about school. If you would like more info on Charlotte Mason I would be glad to help in anyway I can. We have been using this method for 5 weeks now and so far so good. Our 5.5 year old has really thrived under this method. It’s also very flexible and works with having two other younger kids around during schooling. I could send your attachments with book lists etc if you end up using this method. Although I love our method I am more and more convinced that I don’t think the method matters as much as just spending time with your little ones reading, reading and more reading. One thing I have also learned through this process is you need to love the method you choose enough to get the kids excited. If the parent’s aren’t excited neither will the kiddos.

    Blessings,
    Meredith

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  • 42. Katie  |  October 20, 2009 at 8:45 pm

    The Well-Trained Mind IS big and intimidating! I’m still a year away from Luke starting school, but I recently checked this book out from the library and read the beginning through the “logic stage” and then a few of the chapters at the end. (I’m starting to break myself of the need to read EVERY book from cover to cover; my pile of “books to read” to too tall right now!) The parts that I did read solidified my desire to pursue a classical style education for my kids; there’s a Christian Classical school in my area that combines both a classical philosophy and the Charlotte Mason approach, so I wonder if that combination is becoming more popular.

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  • 43. Brenda Thorsen  |  October 20, 2009 at 9:49 pm

    Hi Molly! This is the first time I’ve read your blog… my husband reads Abraham’s blog and told me you were blogging about classical ed vs. Charlotte Mason. Thank you! I’ve picked up a lot of great info here.

    Our oldest also starts K next year and we have been debating the where oh where do we send her to school thing since before she was born. I’m feeling a little Brett Favreish (pre-signing with the Vikings) in the amount of waffling I’ve done on this issue. At any rate, we are doing preschool at home this year as a trial run for K, but are continuing to look at private Christian schools. We absolutely love CCS, but it’s a good 1/2 hour from us (we’re south of Mpls). We haven’t found any other schools near us that offer what we feel they do, so homeschooling seems the best option at this point. If we go this route, we’re looking into a classical education co-op, but I love the idea of using Charlotte Mason as well, but was concerned it wouldn’t be Christ-centered. I’m thrilled to see it is… or can be if taught in a Christ-centered home.

    Your comment about wanting your kids to be able to synthesize information and think critically hit home. I was also a great student on paper, but the information “learned” was out as soon as it came in, and I don’t want that for my kids. I might be naive in saying this, but I think this is something we can start teaching our kids at a very early age, and I’m sure you are doing this too…just not formally. For instance, when I tell my girls something, I often ask both of them “why?” which is a nice change of pace from hearing them ask that of me. And then we walk through the steps. At this age, it’s often about actions begetting consequences. At any rate, I think it’s getting them on the track of critical thinking, which is the beginning… I’d love to find a good book, geared toward young children, on teaching these skills. Perhaps they cover this in A Well Trained Mind. If I wasn’t also a bit fearful of this book, I might know that.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
    Brenda

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  • 44. Deborah  |  October 20, 2009 at 10:43 pm

    Hi. I’m also a “hidden reader” and have to say that I really enjoy reading your thought-provoking posts. I’m quiet by nature, so I don’t often comment on blogs.

    Wow. Does anyone else find some of the information in the comments a little overwhelming? ๐Ÿ™‚

    I’m in agreement with one of the other posters who said that if your kids are in a sound, learned environment at home, they will probably do well at ALMOST any school. We read a lot at home, memorize a lot of scripture, teach the Bible, etc.

    This may sound like a sort of silly, trivial reason for choosing our school, but we chose a public one that was in close proximity to our home. My husband takes our one vehicle to work, so the kids and I walk the half hour to school almost every day (and then back again, of course.) And might I add that we live in frigid Canada:) The kids LOVE it. We have fabulous conversations on the way to school about God, nature, whatever… And on the way home I find that they talk more about their day than they would at home with all the other distractions of toys, chaos, etc. I think a healthy dose of fresh air and exercise each morning is beneficial to their learning for the day. I also like having my babies physically close to me. I really would find it hard to have them half-way across the city!

    Also, my kids have non-Christian friends whom they’ve invited into our home and want to invite to Sunday School and VBS. I think there’s something to be said about being the “salt and light” in a public school. However, I may change my mind on that one as they get older! (They are 7, 5, 3 and 1). Peer pressure isn’t so much of an issue now!

    Anyway, just wanted to throw a little comment in. Of course, if the school was a horrible one, we would have never sent them there in the first place. We prayed about it, and have found it to be an excellent one.

    Oh, and I have to say that I really admire you homeschool moms! I wish I had the organizational skills, patience, etc. to do it!

    Good luck in your choosing a school!

    Deborah

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  • 45. Courtney  |  October 20, 2009 at 11:02 pm

    We homeschool, but if we had the options you do I’m not sure that would be the case. In our home we use a lot of the Well Trained Mind type curricula, but we are definitely bibliophiles so if it’s possible we’re Classical Charlotte Masonites, lol! Your remark about wishing you had been taught to think critically immediately made me think that classical is what you’re after. I was in the same boat. 4.0 student who doesn’t remember ANYTHING. I was great at knowing what I needed to know to pass the tests but that’s all the deeper it went. I never owned the information. I think that classical schooling forces you to dig in and discover the why and how. Whatever you choose I’m sure that Orison will excel, he seems to be an incredibly bright kid.

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  • 46. Chris  |  October 21, 2009 at 7:56 am

    This is a topic I love and there is so much to say!

    From what I can tell about Orison from your blog and Abraham’s, I think classical education would be very good for him.

    I’m not familiar with how public schools do this. I only know about it from Christian schools and homeschooling, which I preferred for our kids (we did all three).

    I think public school can work only if it is truly where God wants you to be, which is between you and the Lord. If you really feel He is leading you there, don’t let anyone make you feel bad about it, but also don’t choose it because it seems easier (which I don’t think you would).

    After you visit the schools, if you are not certain public school is for you, perhaps you can find some other homeschooling families with kids his age (and other ages) to work with. Veritas Press has a lot of resources for classical education that you can use. http://www.veritaspress.com/

    Some churches (like Covenant Life in Gaithersburg, http://www.covlife.org) seem to do a great job of running a Christian school and helping families homeschool. Maybe you can find something like that.

    The thing that I think is most important, though, is praying specifically for the school option you choose with other moms. You can learn more about this at http://www.MomsInTouch.org. I would definitely do this, and have been for about 19 years.

    Blessings to you!

    Reply
  • 47. JenR  |  October 21, 2009 at 9:09 am

    I grew up in a church that was mostly Christian schooled and I was public schooled. I would ask what the avg or median income is of families who attend the school. My experience is the higher the income, the worse the kids. Financial peer pressure is, in my opinon, worse than religious peer pressure. I encountered very little religious peer pressure in public school. Ahh-Ben is trying to type-will write more later.

    Andy was everything-schooled, practically. He was in France public school from ages 4-9. Came back to Atlanta where he was the only white kid and he didnt speak English. Then went to another public school that was black/Vietnamese in a rough area. Then homeschooled in middle school. Then in a private (mostly Muslim) school in Saudia Arabia where he had to memorize the Koran and do the prayers. Then back to public school in Atl. He speaks positively of all his experiences save one (and it wasnt the Saudi school). I say all this to say that God gives a lot of grace to these decisions and to pray and not stress to much!

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  • 48. JenR  |  October 21, 2009 at 9:18 am

    What are the driving distances to each school, esp in rush hour? Do the private schools make all the siblings go there also? Do they give financial breaks with additional kids? Is kindergarten all day or half day?

    Reply
  • 49. JenR  |  October 21, 2009 at 9:35 am

    If this is a school that Orison will be going to his entire education, here are some more questions based on conversations with my friends who are making this same decision:
    1. is the school accredited and if not, are there plans in the next 5 years to become so?
    2. If a Christian school-does the counseling dept push kids to consider only Christian colleges? What are the 10 most common colleges students here go to?
    3. If O gets into sports-is there a separate fee for extracirricular activities? How far away will he travel for games/meets/matches?
    4. Do you have to pay for books?
    5. Will there be a bus or are you responsible for all pick ups and drop offs?
    6. What is the geographical area covered by students who attend? Are you okay with O potentially having school friends who live an hour away that he wants to play with? Or doing community activites not in your community? Having recently left a church that was 30 min away from us, this question hits home-I would never want to live that far away from my social circle or my community. It is too hard to get involved or even excited about the work being done.

    Sorry for all the comments!

    Reply
  • 50. Tim Visher  |  October 21, 2009 at 9:49 am

    I didn’t see this mentioned yet so I figured I’d throw it out there. As I mentioned earlier, I went to a fantastic public school and so I don’t really know what this is going to look like yet, but my Pastor has an interesting view on this.

    I too live in an urban environment where the school system has a very low reputation. My pastor, though, believes that if we are to truly minister to our city, we must put ourselves in their shoes. This would involve sending our children to the same place that they are ‘forced’ to send their kids to. That’s the tricky bit, if you choose to live in these urban areas, you’re very different than 90% of the people around you. These people moved their because of money issues. If they had more money, they’d almost certainly leave. So they don’t get the chance to send their child to a private or charter school. They just have to deal with the public system. I say that to introduce a missiological angle I haven’t seen discussed yet. Are we responsible to walk the mile that the people we’re called to must walk, even if that means potentially endangering our children’s health and education. I don’t really have the answer to that, but it’s worth talking about.

    Now for sake of disclosure, I have a 1 year old daughter and another child on the way, so I haven’t had to _really_ face these decisions yet. I’m also 24 years old and I don’t think I’ve lost the idealism of my youth just yet. My tune will almost certainly change over time. However, right now our plan is to home school until our children exhibit the ability to critically address ideas, and then immediately send them to public school so that they can learn to deal with the world while under our direct care and discipleship. This could mean that one of our children could go to public school in kindergarten while another would wait till junior year of high school. It all depends on the grace God gives them. But we believe that the only skill necessary to successfully navigate the waters of the world is critical thinking. If you understand that that those in ‘authority’ over you do not speak gospel truth 100% of the time, you can deal with them.

    So that’s our plan and kind of a middle ground between being out of the world for fear of infection and in the world naively believing that the world can exert no influence over our children.

    Reply
  • 51. Andrea  |  October 21, 2009 at 10:47 am

    We just went through that decision this fall. Because my daughter is SO social and I cannot keep up with her need for playdates, we chose to not homeschool. Instead we got her a spot in our local charter school. They are a core knowledge school (using the books “What your __ grader Needs to Know”). They use similar curriculum to homeschool including Riggs phonics (amazing stuff) and Saxon math. But what threw me over the fence was when I discovered her teacher is a missionary. The school can be great but it is the teacher that sets the tone for Kindergarten. She keeps them in line but allows them to be 5-year olds and enjoy school. I am very glad with the decision we made… I only wish our school was a bit more wimpy about snow because with today’s storm I’d really prefer not to have to do the carpool run. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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  • 52. Kelly @ Love Well  |  October 21, 2009 at 10:56 am

    You’ve gotten many great comments.

    The only thing I would say add is that, for me, decisions about kindergarten were GREATLY influenced by all-day or half-day/part-time schedules. I did not want my kids suddenly thrust into an all-day, every-day schedule at 5. (Especially since my oldest started kindergarten just 6 weeks after her birthday.) So having the option to go half-day or part-time (my son this year goes all day but only T, R, F) was huge for us. I wanted them to start out liking school, not seeing it as a burden.

    Reply
  • 53. Michelle Ray- This One's for the Girls  |  October 21, 2009 at 11:54 am

    Hey there Molly-

    Mother of 5 here– ages 4-18. We’ve done it all– homeschool, public school, private classical school. Currently, I have a 12th and 10th grader in public school, a 7th and 5th grader in private classical shool and the 4 year old is still at home with me. She goes to private classical school next year.

    My greatest suggestion would be to go and sit in on a few classroom sessions. You will know much more after you do this.

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  • 54. Phyllis  |  October 21, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    The bible says, “in a multitude of counselors there is safety”. I find it wise to seek advice from others.

    But the advice that I give to my children and, as a Pastor’s wife, to our parishioners is this; God will show you. Don’t let it sound cliche’, take all that you’ve heard, weigh it, commit it to the Lord, and he will give you direction.

    With that having been said, I will also share with you what I’ve told many young parents lately; If I could start over with my children, in light of the world we live in today, I would send them to a school where they could be taught and become fluent in at least four languages.

    With our world becoming global, I believe this would be the most valuable education. However, God will show you:)

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  • 55. Ellie  |  October 21, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    The point about critical thinking is very important. Like the professor in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, “Logic! Whatever do they teach children in schools nowadays?

    Logic – critical thinking – how to take facts and come up with solid conclusions based on facts is extremely important. But… most of that honestly, will be taught at home. We even discuss and debate the views taught in the Christian school.

    I was amazed in college (secular) how many kids totally lacked even the ability to take a statistic and know what that meant. Or to know absolute truth.

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  • 56. Debby  |  October 21, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    Glad you posted this, Molly, even though we’re planning on homeschooling David. It’s just nice to hear others’ thoughts! If we *did* send him to school, the CM school I recently heard about would be the first place I’d want to check out. Reading about her method of education really resounds with my soul (so far…I’m bumbling through books & stuff myself…SO MUCH INFO!!).

    Blessings to you guys as you dig and search and pray for what’s best for your O.

    Reply
  • 57. Paula  |  October 21, 2009 at 8:11 pm

    I am currently a teacher at a Classical Christian Homeschool Academy so I thought I’d throw in my 2 cents. By the way, the homeschool hybrid thing is VERY popular here in GA- where the kids go to a school 1-2 days a week and then do the rest of their work at home. I love the program in which I teach and we plan on starting our oldest daughter in K there next year.

    At any rate, we use a Classical curriculum infused with some Charlotte Mason methodology. I think that happens at a lot of schools. There are some great techniques and strategies with CM that go very well with the Classical method of teaching. You may have already read it, but I love Dorothy Sayer’s article “The Lost Tools of Learning” which can be read here: http://www.gbt.org/text/sayers.html

    It was a huge help to my own understanding of Classical education, even though I had to read it several times : )

    My other advice would be to see if you can observe in a classroom at the schools. Seeing first hand how the teacher interacts with the children and how the children behave, learn, and interact with the teacher and each other can be very helpful.

    God Bless!

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  • 58. Dawn  |  October 22, 2009 at 6:54 pm

    My 8-year old attended public school for kindergarten where he expressed an avid interest in dinosaurs. The teacher was more than happy to oblige his interest with “facts” about dinosaurs. In the end, it was her position that dinosaurs evolved slowly over time millions of years ago, against ours, that man and beast were created by God in a seven day period. We felt that the public school was (unitentionally) teaching our son to mistrust us and mistrust the authority of the Scriptures. We have enrolled him in a private Christian school for first through third grades.

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  • 59. Chris  |  October 22, 2009 at 7:05 pm

    I agree with Dawn. We had a similar experience in public school. I think it was unintentional on the school’s part. And one of our kids really didn’t mean to be going against us, but she really thought the teacher was right and it took a long time to convince her otherwise–about two years!

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  • 60. Kelly  |  October 22, 2009 at 9:31 pm

    Hi Molly!

    I too would love to hear your thoughts on homeschool v. private/public school!

    Reply
  • 61. Jamie  |  October 23, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    Molly,
    I just want to recommend a great book “Going Public”
    “Your Child Can Thrive in Public School” by Kelli Pritchard.
    Excellent book. We have 4 children. 2 in college, 1 in High School and 1 in Jr. High. All 4 have gone through the public school. I read this book this summer and even though I had already figured out alot of the principles and ideas they write about I thought; I wished I had read it 18 yrs. ago when my first one was off to kindergarten. So, as an somewhat older women let me just say, though schooling choice is important, the teaching in the home is vital. What is taught and demonstrated in the home will stay with them long after graduation. There is a lot more I could say on this subject just read the book.

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  • 62. Erin  |  October 24, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    Mrs. Piper–
    I just wanted to chime in here and put in a good word for Classical Christian schools. I’m a senior this year at a Classical Christian school in PA. This is my eleventh year, and I have been blessed by the education that I am receiving. It has been hard at times, but every school will have its challenges.
    We studied Latin beginning in 3rd grade, and it has helped widen my vocabulary, as well as help me on the SAT’s. We also study logic and rhetoric. In logic, we studied fallacies and looked at everyday examples, such as watching recordings of commercials during the superbowl and critically assessing their arguments. Like I said earlier, they are challenging, however, but I can see already how much I have learned specifically in how much my writing and public speaking have improved.
    Also, my sister is a junior this year in college and tells my family frequently of her gratitude for the education she received.
    Overall, I would have to say that the environment of my school is key. God has used the teachers, other students, classes, and the institution as a whole to mold me into the person that I am, and am becoming.
    God bless you with your decision!
    Erin

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  • 63. Jeannette  |  October 24, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    O Molly, I feel your struggle.
    We homeschool (I remember being paralyzed with fear when we first decided it), but always had a back-up Christian school in mind.
    As far as the charter schools are concerned, they are still public schools. On that subject I can’t get past what Gordon H. Clark says “The school system that ignores God teaches its pupils to ignore God; and this is not neutrality. It is the worst form of antagonism, for it judges God to be unimportant and irrelevant in human affairs. This is atheism.”
    God be with you.

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  • 64. Matt  |  October 24, 2009 at 7:04 pm

    Send him to Hope. Then I can run into Abraham at parent meetings.

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  • 65. Home School College Counselor  |  October 24, 2009 at 10:48 pm

    Homeschooling is always a good option. You CAN do it, lot’s of great info out there to help you out!

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  • 66. Jennifer  |  October 25, 2009 at 9:14 pm

    Hi Molly,

    I’m a public school teacher that will probably struggle with this same issue when we have kids.

    I would say first really check out the public schools near you. In many schools visitation is allowed and parents can request teachers. You can learn a ton from visiting a school and sitting in on a class for even an hour. Also, don’t hesitate to look at a school’s curriculum. They should send you home with the texts that they use so that you can look them over.

    Christian students can be such a light in the darkness of public schools. They can speak the truth that I’m not allowed to in the classroom. Also, parents that are believers are such an encouragement :).

    Of course, there are public schools and teachers that I would never trust my child with. I know homeschooling can be a lot of work. I would really pray for wisdom about whether you feel called to do it. Sorry,I know very little about private schools.

    Keep us posted on your decision, I empathize with your dilemma!

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  • 67. Ronnica  |  October 26, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    Not a mother, but I’ve worked with kids for a long time. No matter WHAT the schooling option you choose, the best thing is to be involved…know what is being taught, know what your son is reading (when he begins to read), and be willing to re-evaluate if something isn’t right.

    That said, I’m a fan of classical education. Seems like a very good base (though I don’t know about those schools in particular, obviously).

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  • 68. Tasha Irving  |  October 27, 2009 at 7:26 pm

    Hi Molly, I taught Orison’s preschool class last year and have enjoyed reading your blog, especially the one’s featuring Orison!

    You may or may not know that our kids go to Nova and have since Kindergarten. Right now we have a 4th grader, 2nd grader, Kindergartner and we just adopted – yay! Anyway, if you would like to chat sometime about Nova from a parent’s perspective let me know. I am on Facebook so you can contact me there.

    You have a lot of great feedback!!

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  • 69. Hallie Bandy  |  October 28, 2009 at 8:15 am

    I will repeat what several have said: sit in on a class, visit the school.

    I was very idealistic when my first child started school. What I know now that she’s a senior, is that the idealism of any method (Charlotte Mason, Classical, etc.) is only as good as the reality of the individuals who put it into practice.

    My kids have had amazing teachers in public school, who probably never heard of of Charlotte Mason. Some of their greatest learning and growing has been under teachers who directly challenged their beliefs, and encouraged them to debate important issues articulately. And while I love the concept of classical education, in our area, the public school kids consistently outscore the kids who go to the local classical and Christian schools.

    Also consider family time and dynamics. I homeschooled for several years, and my primary reason was because it allowed the best schedule for all my kids. Sometimes it’s great to have one go to school for a few hours to allow one-on-one time.

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  • 70. Lizzie  |  November 1, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    A Charlotte Mason school? WOW:)! We use CM for homeschool and it’s been an amazing experience.

    I’m not sure what you would ask. Perhaps ask to see the curriculum, learn about CM and see how they implement it.

    I’ve written quite a bit about our love for CM on my blog, but I’m not sure how that would translate to a school setting.

    Most of all pray. God knows where he wants your son:)

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  • 71. Venessa  |  November 6, 2009 at 3:20 am

    Seriously, at five most of us don’t have little lights. Most of us have unsaved heathens which we pray that God will save. So, schooling isn’t about just learning, it’s about seeing God in everything. Seeing Him as the Creator, Lawgiver and Saviour and I can tell you that education provides plenty of oppuntunities to do this. Is your child’s teacher dedicated in your child’s spiritual well-being, are they qualified through their walk with God, can you say to your child with a clear conscious, look, watch and learn from the person that Daddy and Mommy have put over you to care for your heart for six hours of the day. Now, these will be the questions that I would ask of the school that I was considering for my little blessings.

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  • 72. Alli  |  November 10, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    Hi!
    I’m a senior in high school and went through the Charlotte Mason system of education for 1st through 8th grade. I can not even begin to describe what a blessing it has been for me. Charlotte Mason Education does more than teach students information required for the child to pass each grade. Rather, it instills in a child a love for learning and an interest in the world God has created. Children are taught valuable study skills and techniques for approaching vast quantities of information. The curriculum takes the child chronologically through the history of the world, with enrichment activities to make history more tangible. The education I received in 1-8 grade has laid a very strong foundation for my high school years. Every year, students graduating from high school that attended my Charlotte Mason school consistently rank in the top of their class. Anyway, I just thought I’d share and I wish you the best in your decision!

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  • 73. kara  |  November 18, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    Very delayed response…
    Charlotte Mason is my new friend…but not sure how I’d feel about a whole school of it. I’ve been enjoying her writing and writing about her for several months now.
    Seems like the questions to ask are really more about who your kids are and how they best learn.
    Classical would’ve been a top choice for us, but our oldestd is dyslexic and all the early years of memory work would’ve been a nightmare for her. LOVE Charlotte Mason’s focus on helping kiddos see God’s glory through nature….just posted recently about why that is crucial.
    What we’ve learned so far….is pray…and then step forward…and realize that you aren’t committing to a decision for the rest of their lives…even if something else is a better fit down the road…a lot can be learned through the process.

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  • 74. Suzanne Marsh  |  January 12, 2010 at 9:06 pm

    You probably have aready made a decision, but as a mom I just couldn’t resist throwing out my thoughts.

    I homeschool our 4 children ages 5-12. When we first decided to homeschool it was for more child centered, protective… albeit “Christian” reasons… as the years have gone on God has done a work in us as parents, and we know really have a passion for the hours that our children spend under us in instruction.

    In a world that is quickly changing, our freedom to homeschool may be but a thing of the past by the next generation… countries like germany and sweden already do not tolerate homeschooling and the governments socialistic agenda prevails in their public schools.

    So for us we feel like this is our chance to teach our children all subjects in awe of God. In a world that is trying capture the minds and hearts of our children, it is a battle to keep our children from become peer oriented/ world oriented. We spend a lot of time learning the Bible/ catechism.

    I used to use more Charlotte Mason/ Ambleside in our schooling, however, we have swung more towards Classical… but really I prefer to think that we are not driven by any one philosophy more than we are by “Him”. Their education should be one that helps them to serve and bring glory to God… not to themselves…

    I have found the resources suggested by Veritas Press to be wonderful. They do promote a very rigourous education, which, we have modified according to the abilities of each of our children. They also have online classes. There is a wonderful course that you can take online from grade 7-12 called Omnibus (history, theology, literature all in one).

    They also have a number of resources/ curriculum written by Douglas Wilson/ Sproul…I think that “Desiring God” is on the curriculum list for grade 10.

    http://www.veritaspress.com/

    So ramblings and opinions aside, I pray that you will find His will for your boy as you embark on an exciting time of growing your boy in wisdom, stature, and in favour with God and men (Luke 2:52)

    Blessings,
    Suzanne

    Reply

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