My kids will be going to kindergarten in a few days. Its been a complete confusion and a chaos the last few months to decide a school for them. I am mostly a no-pressure mom , but everyone around me was all about this! That got me thinking! I had already missed a few deadlines and does kindergarten admissions really have an effect on the kids chances to get into a Harvard or MIT! Off course, no-one can stop your child if he/she is a prodigy, but what about all of ours in the middle spectrum? I honestly don't know, and at this moment I am just not ready to take in the pressure.
When we were growing up, the choices were simpler, selection was between public school or private school, affordable school or premium priced schools , home schools or boarding school - the choices were based on affordability, circumstances and accessibility .But now its a different ball game all together! I am in the Silicon Valley ,but these choices are coming everywhere if not already, then soon!
Here are the choice of schools we have:
1. The regular public schools following common core.
2. The lottery/Magnet public schools following common core plus, giving the students some edge!
3. The Charter schools/independent public schools which define their own curriculum and/or follow common core but they are not regulated like the regular public schools and have more independence, so it does tackle bureaucracies better.
4. Alternative Schools - Public schools which still adhere to common core standards but adopt an alternative teaching philosophy.
5.Co-op Schools - Activity Community and intense Parent Participation schools to shape the education and learning.
6. Private academic schools which offer intense aggressive academics.
7. Alternative schooling like Waldorf schools.
8. Experimental schools like Khan Lab School which follow personalized and project based learning.
9. Balanced Private Schools - which adopt a well rounded approach and balance academics with inspirations from alternative pedagogy.
--- these are the one's that I have come across in the past year, and there might be some more options. Also, these are elementary school options, if you are a considering preschools there are a few other options like Montessori, Reggio, play and learn and the like!
What's my choice - I love co-ops, the learning as a parent and exploring education is very enriching. I did opt for this as a preschool option. (It is quite different than a Mommy and Me setup , its intense). We were in a fantastic play and learn co-op school for most part of preschool, and for the last one year we did both a co-op setup 2 days a week, and a balanced school (drop off's) 3 days a week.
For elementary school, time permitting co-op would have been a great choice, and we have a very distinguished elementary co-op school near me, so it would have been really perfect - but now balancing life and work, this option I have to rule out for now.
We are the first few in the wait list for lottery/Magnet school in our area. We missed the deadline on the charter school. My husband and I went back and forth between regular public school (which is the only available option for us right now) and private school and also on the learning approach. We believe alternative school would be a great choice, but after considering our children's personality traits and the Waldorf school approach, we did not find a 100% match, as much as we love the approach, we still think we need a better defined structure for them.( I think this gap is somewhat solved for by schools in India adopting Waldorf compared to a proprietary Waldorf school here in the US)
We finally decided to go with the Balance School approach which has a structured learning focus and at the same time adopts various alternative learning processes.
As my kids start school, I will share more experiences and the impressive curriculum which I am very excited about!