Thursday, December 02, 2010

Kai's School

We are giving ourselves one month to figure out where Kai will go school in September. Honestly, I just want the decision made because we (really I) have been thinking about this for FOREVER. So, I would appreciate feedback. That doesn't mean tell me what to do, it just means, please point out what I am forgetting. Please note that for high school, we plan on sending him to the Christian school with Gary because then he can just go back and forth with Gary and the main thing of driving won't come into play. Also, both are great options. The reason I care so much is that wherever he is, he will be spending more time there than with us, which is crazy to me!

I have briefly considered homeschooling, for kindergarten, but that is not going to be one of the options presented as I need to work during the day and that happens when Koen is napping (or when our baby will be napping). And, I think that for our family, the two schools are two fabulous options.

So, as my dad would say, make a list of pros and cons!! Let me know if there is something that I'm missing. I'm basing this on visiting both schools and talking to multiple parents from both schools.

Christian School Pros:
-smaller class sizes (kindergarten this year has about 14-15 kids per class)
-option of part time kindergarten (60%)
-I know many of the teachers and I know he will be known and loved
-great community feel and also spending time focusing on the global community (supporting the school in Sierra Leone)
-ample PE, library, music and computer time AND running club two times a week during the school day.
-helping Kai grow in all areas which includes spiritually
-great playground AND a very fun forest to play in (Kai would love that part)
-my heart feels like this is the best option

Christian School Cons
-it does cost money (although part time kindergarten is just under $3000.00 which is just twice the cost of preschool this year AND there is a tax deduction. Also, once you have two kids going, you get a deal...and I love a deal!)
-THE DRIVE. I will be able to carpool, but still, it is a 20 minute drive each way. This means packing up the kids and driving 20 minutes there, 20 minutes back, two times per day. YIKES. I don't even like driving to preschool just 4 minutes away.
-Kai will live further away from his friends which I had to deal with growing up. I didn't like it one bit. Who we invited to our birthday parties depended on who lived closest.

Public School Pros
-SUPER DUPER CLOSE. Like, one block away. This means, no time spent in the car. Saving at least an hour of driving per day, or, an hour more of him being away from home.
-brand new school (2 years old)
-Kai's friends will be close by for get togethers etc
-if we bring home our baby in 2011, it will be VERY practical to have the school right there. No packing kids into carseats etc.
-new playground
-I know I said this but I am a super practical person and the fact that I can WALK to school one block away is huge. My head loves this.

Public School Cons
-overpopulated school which means less gym, music and computer time.
-I don't know the teachers (but I would once they were there!)
-larger classroom sizes (still within the limit but def. meeting that limit)
-no Christian education

By the way, you know what is most important to Kai? He says learning about artists. They do it at preschool and he loves it. I have to admit that I am learning a ton with him:)

I would love your feedback. I am basing this on two particular schools so it will be harder to comment. If you are a lovely student who attended that very Christian school I am talking about, please let me know your thoughts! I guess we could always try one and if it wasn't working, we could switch. I know Kai would handle that quite well.


  1. I would say start with the public school and after a little while (when Koen is close to kindergarten) you'll have a better idea what's a good fit and can make the choice of a switch.

  2. Anonymous9:34 AM

    Here are my top 3 loves about being in a Christian School K-12:
    -some of the friends I have currently are still from early elementary school years! In grade 12 being able to sit beside someone in class who was just an acquaintance and being able to laugh about how we were best buddies in Kindergarten (those were some of my favorite memories!)
    -I am so thankful for the Christian influence on the curriculum (esp. now that I volunteer there). Devotions in the morning and afternoon and learning how to love other kids. Awesome!
    -it was always felt like a safe place because of the amazing community.
    What a tough choice! I'm sure either school would be good for your Kai because he has a good strong base at home. 'happy' deciding! hannah mallie

  3. Sometimes a bigger school has the advantage of multiple classrooms for each grade. This can be good to get a slightly different mix of children in your child's class each year. Having the same group of children year after year can sometimes work out well, but it can also have disadvantages if some children clash with each other.

  4. Anonymous9:53 AM

    They definitely study artists at the Christian school, Janelle is in kindergarten this year and just finished a unit with Emily Carr. I will pray that you will have peace with the decision that you make.

  5. I'm fairly practical too. It's funny to me because I pour myself into research and thinking about birth practices but gave about half a second worth of planning which school my kid would go to. Ha ha. Different folks. BUT I would have done more research if we lived by Douglas Park, for example, and I would have homeschooled if we lived in a tiny town like Lytton or something, so it's not like I didn't think about it. I just figured we were in a good neighborhood and I had heard good things about our school from our neighbor. Good enough for me!!!

    BUT preschool I did more hunting and I drove A 20 mins each way every day, and I gotta tell you, that got O.L.D. real fast. My one requisite for Matthew's preschool was that it be within walking distance.

    Here's my take on your criteria (feel free to discard as needed):
    -If you add up the hours your kid is in school vs at home, school takes up 40% of their waking hours, not more than half like you said. (this is based on a 7:30 to 7:30 sleep schedule)
    -that said, I do NOT agree with all day kindergarten, I think kids are too young at 5 yrs to be away from their parents for six hours
    -elementary aged kids are still very much spiritually influenced by their families, so you can disciple your kids while they go to public school and balance it quite nicely with learning diversity at school and religious truths at home
    -as a boy, especially if you walk to and fro, they get plenty of extracurricular PE time. Especially if you do a sport.
    -computer education is overrated as to its value, IMO. Far more valuable to spend time outdoors or doing imaginative stuff: our kids are growing up in the computer generation and will learn it by osmosis without the school needing to invest massive funds and time into computers

    My vote is that kids in your neighborhood have high quality teachers, albiet maximized class sizes. Your kid is bright and won't need special one on one time or speech therapy or language assistance, so the BC standard max. class size won't be a major hindrance for him. It won't help him out, but it won't hurt him either.
    You are in a good socioeconomic class: not too low, not too high (never underestimate the power of being surrounded by rich peers on a child's developing self concept and values), with lots of families in your neighborhood to draw friends from.

    Therefore I would vote go for the public school in your neighborhood, then do private for high school and university, when peer influence is stronger and spiritual discipleship is shared between home and social surrounds like peers, teachers, and other leaders in their lives. Those teenage and early 20s years are critical for establishing what we believe and who we are: so valuable to have a Christian community to surround them then!!

    My $0.02

  6. Being in said Christian school. I agree with Hannah that it is a great thing to be able to have friends that you know from kindergarten through grade 12. You grow up with them and build strong friendships. It is a safe community and the teachers are all very caring. having the Christian education is a good thing.

    Although I do wonder what it would have been like to be in a public school, and sort of wish I had that experience. It is less sheltered, but I would imagine that students and teachers wouldn't have as good of a bond. There could be a lot more challenges in public school (most likely in the older grades).

    if he went to public school it would be easier to be to be around friends, they would all be very close. It is harder for the Christian school because people live all over.

    This is a very tough decision. I wish you luck deciding. By the sounds of it I think Kai would do well in either, but you can always change your mind if you need to.

    Michelle VM
    P.s. I love reading your blog. Kai and Koen are adorable. :)

  7. Anonymous6:01 PM

    I think what Melissa said about public schools makes a lot of sense. I agree with all her points. Have you asked Kai what he thinks? Perhaps he's a little young to know the difference, but from reading your blog, he seems like a smart kid, so maybe talking about it with him will give you some more insight into making a decision. I'm partial to public schools and having friends close by is really great for playdates. Good luck deciding!

  8. Hi Louise - always hard decisions. I am definitely a biased vote, but I guess you are looking at both sides. I had a great experience K - 12 Christian school at Pacific Christian (with my dad as a teacher :), and Mike has loved teaching at Fraser Valley, Calgary Christian, and now Unity. We have loved the community of kids and their families that he has been involved with at each of these schools, and while kids can connect with that later, this community does start in elementary school, for both the kids and the parents. Mike grew up going to public schools and definitely did not have the same school experience that I did growing up. I still have a strong tie to the school and people that I went to school with. That said, while I am pro-Christian school, we live in a country with a great public education system, so I think that this is definitely a good option too!

  9. Hi,
    It is Mike not Haley. I went to a public school and I enjoyed it. However, I think I would have loved Christian Education even more. I love the lifelong friendships that I constantly see kids form. I only have 1 friend remaining from HS. How many do you have? I also love it when kids are in it together from k-12. It is so cool to hear their memories. I also value the worldview more.

    Now for a more opinionated, yet curious question,.... is there no obligation to send your kids to a Christian School when you teach at 1? When we hire, it is 1 of the 1st things we ask (we wouldn't force but would hope a teacher in a Christian school would want to). I guess you covered that with, "when Kai is in HS".

    I really enjoyed this article from the banner.

  10. Lou,

    From those arguments and my perspective, I'd let public win.

    I went to public french immersion school in canada for 1 year before leaving to SA. I am still in contact with 5-6 of them (incl Colleen)25 years later. Great relationships aren't exclusive.

    80 mins a day is a long time.
    If you spend that extra 20 mins a day doing something exciting (it's "free" time - what you didn't spend commuting - so don't allow yourself to be too busy for it), you will be stronger as a family. Family before school.

    Driving sucks. Close to home friends that you can supervise, get to know and nourish will do wonders.

    Exposure to different backgrounds is so important; he will automatically get the Christian through you. You will probably not actively seek out close relationships with e.g. a sikh family for him and wouldn't otherwise meet the kid to make the relationship when @ christian school. Sharing a room with a jewish, muslim and various cultural groups develops understanding that can't be taught.

    You can always reconsider later once you have an educated assessment of your local school.

    I was at my naughtiest ever when I lived in a convent. Just sayin'


  11. While I don't have the time to put together coherent thoughts, it seems that you sure have put some great time and thought into this decision. I think what I would offer is that if you always the needs of your family and Kai in mind, the decision you make will be best for you. Go with what you believe to be the best decision, educationally and spiritually and I am sure it will all work out. That being said, you can always re-evaluate and change your mind. I personally wouldn't put too much decision into the friends side of it because it seems like Kai is very friendly and outgoing and I don't think it would ever be a problem for him to make friends. Some people just have that gift.
    Just to point out another side of things, could the long drive to christian school be seen as a positive? Time for Kai to decompress and share his thoughts with you about the day. Time when you can connect without the distractions of toys/tv etc?
    Good luck with your decision!

  12. all I have to say is follow your heart.

  13. Another quick comment, as a mom to three boys: decompression for boys is more effective if physical. Our walk home from school after school makes such a huge difference in our boys' emotional state and behavior that we will go massively out of our way to ensure it happens (like I drop Brent off with the van and drive it home while he walks the boys home). Decompression in the car might work for a girl, but not for my boys!

    I agree, though, that Kai is good at making friends so wherever he goes he will be okay that way!

    It's appealing the idea of the k-12 relationships thing, but I don't know that it's a dealbreaker for me. That happened in the french immersion school in our town, but otherwise not: I thought it was neat, but on the other hand you never got an opportunity to start fresh socially, without your grade 2 nosepicking incident and your late puberty humiliation and etc following you around your whole life....

  14. Well, you know we are facing the exact same decision and it's TOUGH! Though I do feel that I'm 90% sure we'll send T to part-time Christian school kindergarten b/c she knows the school, will have a friend in her class, and it's PART-TIME which is the hugest draw for me. i don't know if we can continue to afford sending her there long-term, but i know it's going to be really hard to get her into the choice public school that's right by our house, if we wait until grade one or later. I guess we've mostly decided for kindergarten and then will take it from there...*sigh* oh, the decision!!!
    hope you are able to make a decision you feel peaceful about.

  15. I have to say that I've been doing the commute thing (around 25 minutes) with the situation that you could be facing (baby and toddler along for the ride). It's not easy lugging everyone in and out and around, especially with a very active toddler who just wants to stay and go to school too!

    That being said, it seems to be that there really is no wrong decision - they're just different. I suppose, given our lifestyle lately, I'm pretty flexible to change. If Kai isn't thriving in whichever situation you choose for him, just switch it up next year. He doesn't have to stay in the same school for his entire schooling. I liked some of Tess and Si's arguments about having interactions with others of different cultures/backgrounds. That is really important.
    It's not an easy decision. We're debating a lot in our family, too, for Ayva. Of course, our decision involves other continents and languages, but that doesn't change the root of the issue - we just want the best for our kids. Kai is really blessed to have you for his mother, Louise.