I really did a google search of that question. I was surprised at the results that were returned. Lots of talk about the educational differences between the two, how they are funded, how enrollment differs, but that was it. I couldn’t find articles talking about the difference it makes being within walking distance, or how the two different schools address the creation of community.
Last minute switch
So there we were on Friday night wondering the halls of our local neighborhood school during their “preview” night. The halls were filled with excited children and friendly teachers. With so many new faces, no one recognizing that we don’t fit in. Well, I shouldn’t say no one. The minute we walked into the school I was recognized by an old co-worker asking if we were enrolled. I didn’t know how to answer! I honestly did not! We had gone in unassuming. Unsure of our next move. But more than anything unclear of how we would even begin to broach the subject with our daughter. As we talked, Roxie started to pick up on what was happening, grabbing my ear and telling me she liked her school and didn’t want to change. “I know sweetie” was my only reply.
How did we get here?
Top 5 reasons for choosing a Neighborhood School vs a Charter:
1) Built in Community
Instead of needing to artificially create community through “morning coffees” or special events, you just naturally have more opportunities to connect with parents and students because they are right in your backyard most times! The first day of school we were walking over by the canal and Roxie recognized a classmate on the other side of the canal and said hello. CONNECTION. Just like that. I didn’t have to schedule a playdate. Or attend an event. We just bumped into them, right in our neighborhood.
4) Connecting with my Neighborhood
As I mentioned above, I had spent the last year thinking about how I could get closer to Roxie’s school in Garden City to allow us to walk. Turns out this thinking really did a number on my feelings about our current house. It was like I had one foot out the door. When we made the decision to shift Roxie to the neighborhood school, it was like my green light to dig in and grow roots. I started looking at my neighborhood in a new way. What are the things I love? What can I do to make things better? Committing to stay put has allowed me to open my eyes to the good around me, and invest in growing deeper connections.
5) Services (Lunch, Music, Library, GATE)
This one almost didn’t make the list because it was definitely not the REASON for the shift. It is more like the unexpected perk! I did not expect these extra services, so when I found out about things like FREE LUNCH for all students, or the possibility of weekly visits to a music specialist and library full of books it was like *extra brownie points* for our neighborhood school. And although I don’t know that Roxie will be recommended for GATE as she continues to grow, the fact that this is available on-site should she want/need it in the future is also a perk.
What’s right for your child?
As I mentioned above, choosing the right school for your child is an incredibly personal choice. I was having a conversation about this with some fellow parents and we all remembered this not really being even a discussion point when we were growing up. You didn’t “choose” where you went to school. You didn’t have a choice. There was one option and it was the neighborhood school. In the age of School Choice, it’s important to talk about and reflect on these often overlooked elements. School is about more than teaching methods, academic rigor and test scores. School is an important place for your child and can be a great source of community for your family.
Good luck fellow parents!