Monday, March 15, 2010

Hot topic: When one kid is in public and the other private

This from a reader:

I have a potential scenario where my two children (elementary school aged/one grade apart) would attend different schools...One private, One public. I would like to get input/advice on pros and cons."

12 comments:

  1. The main concerns I would see are transport and child care logistics, money, and a feeling that you can't have your feet in two school camps, especially if one is public and the other private.

    I have known a number of families who have put some kids through private and others through public. Usually it's based on parental perceptions of each child's needs and talents. Interestingly they are often school teachers and administrators.

    If you have that kind of family and the money and logistics are not a problem, go for it. Don't let anybody make you feel guilty about looking at your children as distinct individuals and doing the best you can within your means to meet each child's needs and nurture each child's gifts.

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  2. I think a lot of it has to do with the reason for the difference in schools. When I was a kid, my parents sent my sister to a private school for gifted kids. They thought she was brilliant and wanted to give her every opportunity. I was left in the NYC public school system. To this day, as much as I understand why they did it (my sister is quite brilliant and went on to be a specialist doctor) I still resent the fact that my parents treated us differently. It has kept my sister and I apart even after my parents passed away. We have two kids now and I have been very careful to make sure they are treated equally.

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  3. To 6:40,

    What were the obvious differences between the schools and when did it occur to you that the schools were so different, vs. just for you and just for her?

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  4. I have siblings who went to different schools and we all realized we fought less and became our own people. Home was our core and we remain close although we all have different interests.

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  5. The differences were pretty stark. Her school had beautiful grounds. My school had basketball hoops without netting. My mother tried to put a good spin on it -- we can't have both you girls at such an expensive school and such. And they probably couldn't have afforded both of us going, but I was furious.

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  6. I know someone with Twins where this is the case. One child needs a lot of extra attention, the other excels at anything. So the later goes to public school and the former to private. It works for them.

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  7. Our neighbors did this. Their older child did the lotto and got assigned a school they didn't like so they went private. Then their younger child went thru the lotto and got a trophy school and they just couldn't pass it up. They do carpools and such. To me, it said a lot about the public trophy, that they felt it was equal or close enough to the private school.

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  8. As a teacher I would possibly do it only for the reason that one of the children needed special services that a private (because my private choice would be parochial) school could not offer. If it was for any reason other than needing services for significant learning disabilities, I would not separate my children.

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  9. We have neighbors with one child in private and one child in public. The eldest, who is in private school, has a complex about their 3 bedroom flat being too small. The youngest, who is in public school, thinks their apartment is just the right size for their family ;-)

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  10. My older child is in public and my younger one is in private. They were both in the same private school until we transferred our son out - it wasn't the right fit for him. We're applying to private again for him, and am hoping for good news this week.

    Public vs. private debate aside, the challenges in having kids in both private & public schools are:
    - the everyday logistics (pick-up and drop-off times)
    - different vacation schedules (no ski week in public, spring breaks do not overlap, and different summer start/end dates). It's a nightmare when you're planning family vacations
    - splitting your time/commitment between both schools. I volunteer a lot at both schools and it is a huge time drain because their needs are so different.

    We've done the best we could juggling both, but it hasn't been easy.

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  11. 6:40, this sounds like a family I know except the twist in their case is that the child in private is their biological daughter, whereas the one in public is adopted. I don't them well enough to ask, but have wondered whether the adopted child felt resentful about this.

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  12. Decide what is right for your kids and your family. I have one kid in private and one in public, and I know several other families who have made this choice and it seems to be working for all. Yes, you need to give some thought to logistics (start times, carpools). We volunteers in different areas for each school - depending on how we can make the most impact and fit in our schedule. Both of my kids are happy, both have nice friends, both are challenged and getting good learning experiences. At some point we will roll the public one in with the private one for middle school but at this point the younger is not disadvantaged by being in public at all and we can do some nice things with the money we would have spent - like giving some of it to the public school.

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