private vs. public schools

Lisa - posted on 07/12/2011 ( 3 moms have responded )

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My son has attended a Christian school from pre-k3 to 6th grade (he will start 7th this fall). The classes are very small and the students are always the same people (only 15 students). Each school year, the amount of students gets smaller. He does well and has great character and behavior. However, I feel like he is missing out on 'real' social skills. (ie. kids can be mean, there is bullying, you can have more friends, not all teachers will like you, etc.). I feel as if 'reality' has not been shown to him. It is such a controlled environment, it is unrealistic lately. For socialization skills, public or private? The public school here has a 'fair' rating.

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♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 07/12/2011

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Lisa, you are very correct! (cute guys you have too!)

What area are you in?

In this area, we've had the "Columbine" incident, a few (wow a lot more than a few now) years back, with a couple of unrelated but similar things since.

The Columbine incident was started because the boys thought they were bullied, and didn't have any recourse.

Most of the time, when a kid brings something like that to school, it's because they feel that they don't have any other type of coping mechanism, nor a support system. You can fix that with your son, by being the MAIN support person and giving him the skills to "deal", such as who to contact in certain situations, etc.

Honestly, if your son has good, strong character, and a strong moral base (sounds like he's got both), he'll be fine. Like I said, the adjustment period is the worst, but if he'd be "adjusting" with the same peer group he's already in, it may be easier. If it's just him, I'd contact the counselling office to see if there's a summer activity he can get involved in before school starts, to get to meet some of the students. I'd also take him in, introduce him to the office staff, and principals, and any teachers you can find. I did that with both of my sons for the transition from elementary to middle school, and it seemed to help them. It gave them a sense of "who to go to" in an emergency.

Best of luck, dear!

♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 07/12/2011

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One thing, Lisa...If you switch him to public, make sure that he's prepared for the additional demand!

In our area, there is a Catholic school, similar to what you're in (from the sounds of it). Very small class sizes, no bullying, no ridicule, and the teachers like everyone. When they come into the public school system they sometimes have a hard time of it. A lot is the fact that they are used to SMALL classes (15 or so, all the same). In public school, the class sizes are larger, and as you get into middle school, etc, you don't have the same kids in each class. Sometimes not even the same grade level!

I've always thought that kids from private schools were lacking in a lot, especially social skills. They tend to get clique-ish, think they are "better" than everyone, etc... We had 2 private schools in the area when I was growing up. One was the Catholic school, the other was the “prep” school at the University, only open to kids of University employees. The “prep” kids were teased, ridiculed, etc, unmercifully until they learned that they, like us, were people…they ate the same things, were interested in the same things, etc, and they figured out that they weren’t “better” than anyone else. The Catholic school kids had it a little easier, maybe because most of them had other social opportunities to learn that they weren’t “elite”.

As long as your son understands that it will be a completely different environment, and you give him the skill set and support needed to get thru the transition, it should be fine.

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Thank you Shawnn. Your response is important to me. I am going to have a long 4 weeks (before school starts) to think this through. Back in February, a student brought a stun gun to the public school. Nothing else has really happened before or after, but this type of thing scares me. The child said he brought it to school to protect himself. There is just so much to think about. At my sons school, they get a warning just for looking in the wrong direction at the wrong moment. Kids need some of this exposure, yet I am afraid. When you look at my son and his friends, they have good character. Problem is, they seem out of touch with reality. Character and academics are important, but learning how to deal with social challenges are equally important right?

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